Rachel Gaffney's Letter from Texas

Rachel Gaffney

The famous foodie who’s flying the tricolour for us in Texas tells us all about the Texas Emerald Ball that’s to be held next March - and some of the people who are involved with it…

My husband, Peter Smith, and I will be chairing the 4th annual Texas Emerald Ball, for the Texas Chapter of the American Ireland Fund on March 5th 2016. The Worldwide Ireland Funds was founded in 1976 by Sir Anthony O’Reilly and Ambassador Dan Rooney, and is now operating successfully in 12 countries.

“The Worldwide Ireland Funds are a philanthropic network that supports worthy causes in Ireland and around the world. Our mission is to be the largest network of friends of Ireland dedicated to supporting programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland.”

Once the date and venue were secured, it was time to choose the theme. Here in Dallas, themes such as Mardi Gras, Monte Carlo, Hollywood, Masquerade and Broadway Musicals are a frequent occurrence.

For well established charities that have a well established and loyal following a theme brings a fun element, allows a wide berth for creative decorating, the printing of elaborate invitations and amazing party gifts.

Choosing the theme for the 4th annual Texas Emerald Ball, required far more than the decorative element. The theme needed to convey a message. “Come celebrate the many connections between Texas and Ireland, and make a few new ones..”

The historical links between Ireland and Texas go back as far as 1767 when Dublin born Hugh O’Connor was appointed acting Governor of the state of Texas for 3 years.

Irish people were actively involved in fighting for the liberation of this state, when 12 Irish born men died at the ‘Battle of the Alamo’ in March 1836.

The Irish in Texas are instrumental in the growth of this great state, like fine threads woven in a great tapestry. It is through these stories and connections that we can learn and grow together.

Texas Emerald Ball

While visiting Austin in September 2015, I had the honour of meeting with the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Mr Dan Patrick. It was during this meeting that I became aware that his wife Jan, a retired school teacher, has Irish ancestry. It was also during this meeting that I asked Mr Patrick if he would be the Honoree Chair for the Emerald Ball - and it was during this meeting, much to my delight, that he agreed.

Mr Patrick is well aware of the presence in Texas now, of the IDA and our new Irish Consulate office in Austin. It just seemed to be the perfect fit to foster relationships between Ireland and Texas.

We can both benefit from increased trade relations, reciprocal education relationships, tourism can be developed further between both locations and hopefully, just hopefully, one of these days, a direct flight between Dallas Fort Worth, Austin and/or Houston can be established once and for all for the thousands who have to fly via New York, Chicago and London to get to Ireland, adding so much more time to our journeys and often making it prohibitive.

In the meantime, the Irish Diaspora continue to raise funds for the non profits in Ireland, always giving back as we never forget our roots. In a sense, when you emigrate or have to be transferred, your identity is very important to you. You want to continue to support your home and family. The people that educated you, nursed you and loved you.

Although we may have to suffer modern travel headaches, at least we can travel back to Ireland. People like Hugh O’Connor, Fr Michael Muldoon from Co Cavan (Born in 1780), John McMullen and James McGloin (founders of the San Patrizio Colony), Rosalie Bridget Hart (born in Wexford in 1825), James Power (an Irish immigrant land agent), Margaret Heffernan Borland (famous cattle rancher) and Thomas Power (born in Wexford in 1819) never had the luxury of returning to Ireland.

On March 5th 2016, we honor the many connections between Texas and Ireland. These great and brave souls who emigrated and died here will not be forgotten.

Seven Premium tables will be available on the night. These tables will be named after a product, brand and designer that continues with the Irish Texas theme and supports commerce and branding.

The Arista Table: www.aristawinery.com

The price for this table will be announced soon. Named after the famous Arista Winery in Russian River Valley; owned by the McWilliams family from Texas, whose family tree traces back to Co Longford. Their extraordinary Pinot Noir will be featured for all guests at this table and, as if this weren't enough, the table for 10 will be hosted by Vineyard Owners, Mark McWilliams and his wife, who will fly in for the gala evening. All guests will dine with them and be presented with commemorative 3-litre, hand engraved bottles of the much sought after Arista Pinot Noir.

The Jacqueline Quinn Table: jacquelinequinn.com

The Dublin born fashion designer, now living in New York, will host a table for 10. Guests dining with this designer can hear about her behind the scenes work with New Balance, Viviscal, her styling for the Grammy’s. Each guest will receive a couture design product, presented by Jacqueline Quinn. Hear about her new brand FAST, Fashion and Styling Trends and ladies will be sure to get the inside scoop and be ahead of the crowd.

A trip to Ireland will be auctioned off on the night for 4 people. This trip promises to highlight the luxury, history and culture that Ireland has to offer: unusual experiences, access to people you would not ordinarily have access to, fine dining , architectural visits, Irish gardens and medieval heritage.

If anyone is interested in partnering with us, please contact me directly. We want to highlight the products, places and people in both Texas and Ireland.

Oh and in case you are wondering, we do have some Texan items in the works y’all !

Rachel Gaffney's Real Ireland


: Rachel Gaffneys Real Ireland
Follow me on Twitter: @Rachelgaffney

Email: Rachel@Rachelgaffneys.com

Watch 'The Irish Kitchen' now on HULU


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