The History of the Partnership
The Irish American Partnership was founded in Ireland to organize Irish American support on behalf of job creation, education, and economic development in Ireland. Encouraged by an Irish Parliament grant of 50,000 Irish pounds in 1986, a group of Irish educators, government officials, business executives, and politicians from both the North and South came together to form an Irish organization whose purpose it was to create a supportive partnership between Irish Americans and Ireland. Paddy Harte TD, a member of the Irish Parliament from Donegal, was instrumental in the creation of the Partnership and achieving seed funding from the Irish Government. Padraic White was elected the first Chairman. Mr. White was also the Director of Ireland’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) at the time.
An American Corporation was formed and awarded its federal government 501(c)(3) tax designation in 1987 and began its activities in Philadelphia and Boston. Robert Howe of Philadelphia became the Partnership’s first Chairman in the United States and John Davey of Boston joined the Board of Directors as Treasurer. A staffed American office was established in Boston in April of 1988. Joseph F. Leary, Jr., a former Gillette Co. executive, was hired to be President and CEO and remains involved as President Emeritus. In its early days, the Partnership was seed funded by American philanthropist Charles Feeney.
General P.X. Kelley USMC (Ret.) became Chairman of the Board and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill its spokesman and public advocate. Under American leadership, in partnership with the Irish Directors, the American organization began to develop and grow. General Kelley retired in 2001 and was replaced as Chairman by John P. Murray, retired Prudential executive from New Jersey. Today, both General Kelley and Mr. Murray serve as Board Chairmen Emeriti.
In the past 25 years Irish American supporters of the Partnership, throughout the United States, have provided over $25 million dollars in assistance to Ireland both in the North and South. Over 400 primary schools, higher educational institutions and hundreds of community organizations, North and South, have received assistance.
The Partnership has etched a place of honor for itself in the hearts and minds of its Irish constituency.
Both the Irish and British governments have endorsed the Partnership in Ireland. Education, business, and political leaders throughout Ireland have applauded the Partnership for the non-partisan support it has provided to both the North and South of Ireland.