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Editorial Chamber music

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Ten years ago, no one was talking about the Celtic Tiger. In fact, when people mentioned the Irish economy, they usually lumped it together with European basket cases such as Greece or Portugal.

Against this background, it’s easy to understand why some people would have said that the timing was then not right to establish an organization such as the Irish Chamber of Commerce in the United States. But established it was and since that time the organization has enjoyed a success that has run parallel with Ireland’s growth.

Much of the credit for ICCUSA’s success goes to Patrick Keogh, the organization’s first president and chief executive officer, who has now stepped down to become vice chairman. From the outset, Keogh ensured that the chamber never veered from its central mission of creating business relationships between Ireland, all of Ireland, and the United States. From the outset, the chamber wisely avoided any sectarian or political affiliations.

Perhaps the two most obvious monuments to the success of the chamber during the past decade are its U.S.-Ireland trade directory, the third edition of which will soon be published, and ICCUSA’s information retrieval system from its fax library, an invaluable service to anyone doing business in or with Ireland.

The chamber has played a valuable role in deepening the commercial and economic links between Ireland and the U.S. and in providing support and assistance to Irish industry doing business in the U.S. There has been the annual business partnership conferences, the contacts and friendships created and, of course, the annual American Celtic Ball, at which ICCUSA celebrated the 10th anniversary of its foundation last October.

Keogh was one of the founding members of ICCUSA but he never envisioned that he would hold the top spot for 10 years. "When I came on board I decided to do it for two years," Keogh told the Echo on Monday. "It’s now 10 years later and for the last couple of years I wanted to retire and do some other things. After all, there is life after the chamber."

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Keogh added that, 10 years ago, he never thought he would see the economic miracle that is the Celtic Tiger today.

If any word characterizes the role of ICCUSA, it is partnership. Not just recognizing this but acting upon it, and providing the leadership to implement it, is perhaps Keogh’s greatest contribution to helping various Irish and U.S. businesses benefit from what is today a boom time on both sides of the Atlantic.

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