2001-04-14 / Columnists

Chatting with Chapey Cead Mile Failte: A Hundred Thousand Welcomes to the City Hall Event

Chatting with Chapey
Cead Mile Failte: A Hundred Thousand Welcomes to the City Hall Event

In the historic grandeur of City Hall Chambers, Pipers Kathleen Travers, Finbar Devine and the Richmond County Pipe Band with their beautiful stirring music led the honored guests to the dais. Curtis High School students led the "Call to Arms." Dignitaries included Sr. Elizabeth Hill, President of St. Joseph’s College; Barrie Robinson, Consul General of Ireland; his lovely wife Alice; the Honorable Peter Vallone; Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; Randi Weingarten, President of the United Federation of Teachers; Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey, New York State Board of Regents; Raymond Teatum, City Clerk; Fr. Sweeney, Chaplain of Immigration; Dr. Michael Costelloe and his charming wife Flora; John and Anne Garvey.

The City Hall event was the culmination of a series of wonderful activities celebrating Irish American Heritage and Culture: The IAH Arts Contest, the Oratorical Contest and the UFT’s conference on the Great Hunger.

The highlights of the evening were the performances by New York City students. Under the direction of Kathleen Desvigne about sixty children from P.S. 174 Queens rendered a delightful series of melodies ending with "Danny Boy."

Elizabeth Khau, a student at Staten Island Technical High School and winner of the citywide Oratorical Contest delivered a magnificent rendition of "Women in the Workplace." On display were pieces of artwork sketched by New York City students who were contest winners.

To all the principals, assistant principals, teachers, coaches and parents whose students participated in the activities fostering a knowledge and appreciation of the Irish American Heritage and Culture Week, we send a special thank you. What a tremendous demonstration of the excellence of the public schools.

Central to the festivities were the presentations to the Honorees: The Thomas J. Cute Award to The Honorable Denis Butler; The Irish Man of the Year to Brian O’Dwyer, Esq, The Irish Woman of the Year to Bettyanne McDonough.

The Honorable Denis Butler, NYS Assemblyman for twenty-four years, was for the last eight years the Assistant Speaker of the Assembly and Chair of the Queens County Legislative Delegation. The Honorable Denis Butler has been the recipient of numerous awards for his outstanding leadership, dedication, and commitment to the people of this great state. Among the awards bestowed on him were the New York State Catholic Conference Public Policy Award presented by John Cardinal O’Connor and the Bishops of New York. Assemblyman Denis Butler led the State Delegation in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan and received the 1999 Charles Steward Parnell Award. Denis Butler has made a difference in the lives of the people of Queens and of New York State. Mary Butler, the charming and vivacious wife of Denis and a tireless worker for our Queens community, was present at City Hall and recognized for her contributions.

Brian O’Dwyer, a law partner in the firm of O’Dwyer and Bernstein, has a tremendous record of public service including 3 years as Commissioner of Human Rights, Counsel for the Department of Community Affairs for Puerto Rico, Treasurer of Outreach Project, Vice Chair of the National Ethnic Commission for Organizations and officer and committee member of numerous associations. Among his many awards, Brian is proudest of the following: His investiture as a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre; his serving as the Honorary Grand Marshall of the Puerto Rican Day Parade; and his selection as one of the "Top 100" Irish in the United States. Brian’s lovely wife is Vice Chancellor of the State University of New York.

Bettyanne McDonough is a dynamo of energy and talent and an indefatigable leader in education and in Irish Affairs. Starting out as a teacher of Social Studies in Franklin K. Lane High School, Bettyanne rose through the ranks to Assistant Principal, Sheepshead Bay High School and Principal of Westinghouse High School. She is a founding member and past Vice President of the Emerald Society, Board of Education, founding member of the American Irish Teachers Association and current Trustee of the Irish American Heritage and Culture Week. She is a Lady of the Holy Sepulchre and Past President of the Cathedral Club of Brooklyn and former President of the St. Joseph’s College Alumni Association.

Kudos to the outstanding professionals who made this memorable occasion possible: Carol Gillen Costello, Chairperson of the Irish American Heritage Committee; Bettyanne McDonough, Chair of City Hall evening; Patrick Dunleavy and Dr. George Hoffman, consultant.

A delectable and gracious hospitality hour followed the ceremony providing for delightful socialization.


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