Category: Archive

Tracings AIB’s West Coast launch kicks off lively SPD marathon

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Olivia Tracey

The West Coast may not have enjoyed its usual bright skies this St. Patrick’s Day, but there was nothing dull about the celebrations around town. Indeed, streams of green-clad merrymakers formed fun-filled lines outside every Irish bar from Santa Monica to the San Fernando Valley.

In my case, I started the day off in tremendous style altogether with lunch at noon in the very select California Club in Downtown L.A., courtesy of Allied Irish Bank. What a treat. The occasion was the official launch of Allied Irish Bank’s newly opened Los Angeles office at 777 South Figueroa St., adding to its 1,000 branches worldwide from Ireland, Britain, Germany, Poland and Singapore to New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Impressed? Well there’s more. AIB also enjoys a premier position as the only Irish company to be included in the Dow Jones Euro 50 Index, as well as being deemed "Best Bank-Ireland" and "Best Smaller Bank-Global" in Euromoney Magazine’s Awards for Excellence. And if you happen to be in the not-for-profit sector, this is your lucky day as the L.A. branch will specialize in providing loans to the church and non-profit organizations for the building of schools, churches, low-income housing and cemeteries on the West Coast. So there is indeed much reason to celebrate, and what better day to do it than St. Patrick’s Day.

Speeches of the best kind were made, all brief and very entertaining, with our unique Irish sense of humor to the fore. Unfortunately, AIB’s Group chief executive, Tom Mulcahy, could not attend due to a recently broken leg, but he’ll be glad to know that, while missed, we also enjoyed a laugh, even if it was somewhat at his expense. It was joked that the accident occurred not from galloping up the stairs to the next meeting but rather on the golf course (surprise, surprise) as the Group chief executive took off in chivalrous style across the green to retrieve his wife’s golf ball. Sounds like a fine gentleman to me, and deserving of a speedy recovery. Mr. Mulcahy’s representative speakers included Brian Leeney, executive vice president and general manager of AIB, New York; Warren Guinane, senior vice-president AIB, Los Angeles; Frank Bramble, chief executive, AIB USA Division and First Maryland Bancorp, and Jerry Casey, chairman of the board, First Maryland Bancorp.

The minister for justice, equality and law reform, John O’Donaghue, flew over from Ireland for the occasion and of course made a speech with his wonderful native Kerry lilt. And being half Kerry myself, it was pure music to my ears. Afterward, I revealed my ancestry to Mr. O’Donaghue, telling him about my father’s twin brother, Killarney hotelier Marcus Treacy. And on that note, the minister and I bonded.

Indeed a further bonding could have taken place with the California Club chef and I, if only we had met. However, I paid the talented cook the ultimate compliment of "almost" finishing every course, savoring the smoked salmon, deliciously tender beef and a sinful melt-in-your-mouth chocolate dessert. So much for the "gourmet Irish lunch" of a spud and a six-pack. Between you and me, the only reason I left some token morsels behind was because I could hear my dear mother’s voice resonating in my head, telling me to always leave a little something on the plate so that I don’t look like some poor, underfed cailín who has never had a decent meal. This, by the way, is the advice of a woman who firmly extolls the virtues of the adage "waste not, want not." And despite the contradiction, she is of course always right!

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Well, she’d have been proud of my polite gesture at the California Club, where I had the added delight of bumping into some of my Irish friends, including the ever-delightful Jimmy and Anne Murphy, with Anne suitably attired in all green, even down to her emerald fingernails. Also there was Jim McKay of CIE Tours International; the Irish Tourist Board’s Tom Heneghan; Jim Whelan, director of IDA Western Region, USA; the American Ireland Fund’s Pat Heirs with a great new hairstyle; the Irish Fair’s Terry Anderson; the recently crowned Southern California Rose of Tralee, Kerry Lynn O’Connell, and actress Fionnula Flanagan looking wonderful in chocolate brown. Also there was Sister Ada Geraghty of Women in Recovery Inc., who is as busy as ever, this time planning her Gala Dinner fund-raiser, set for Saturday, May 8, at the Marina Beach Marriott Hotel. The honorary chairman is no less than the wonderful Sir Anthony Hopkins himself. Tickets at $85 may be reserved by calling (310) 821-6401.

And finally, I had the pleasure of meeting Michael and Gretchen Wayne, who very kindly invited me to their upcoming Odyssey Ball at the very swank Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, April 10, a benefit for the John Wayne Cancer Institute. For reservations, call (310) 315-6111. They say that work begets work, which, in my case, means parties begetting parties.

So, as you might imagine, I left the AIB lunch a very happy lady, making my way to Santa Monica’s St. Stephen’s Green for a Gabriel Byrne gathering followed by a sell-out gig at the House of Blues with the sensational Young Dubliners. All details at a later stage. For now, I just hope your St. Patrick’s Day was as wonderful as my 15-hour marathon.

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