IN-Seattle Featured in Irish America Magazine

By Noreen McCormack, Contributor
August / September 2014

2014 is proving to be an eventful year for Seattle Irish. Mayor Ed Murray, who lived in Ireland for a time, and whose four grandparents are from the old sod, was sworn into office in January. The Seattle Seahawks, led by Irish American coach Pete Carroll, won the Super Bowl. Seattle musicians Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, both proud Irish Americans, won several Grammys, including Best New Artist. And last month, our first female Chief of Police, Kathleen (Horton) O’Toole was sworn into office.

Chief O’Toole, who was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, became the first female police commissioner of Boston when she was appointed in 2004.

In May 2006, O’Toole moved to Ireland to assume the role of Chief Inspector of the Garda (Irish National Police). She had previously served on the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland under Chris Patten. The commission developed strategies that helped to shape the new police department of Northern Ireland. On May 19, 2014, she was nominated to serve as Chief of the Seattle Police Department.

O’Toole, who was honored as one of Irish America’s Top 100 in 2006, has roots in Co. Galway – her grandmother was from Athlone. Her husband has family in Roscommon and Mayo, and her daughter Meghan did her Master’s in screenwriting at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

When Mayor Murray addressed the attendees at the swearing-in ceremony, he quipped, “I didn’t select Chief O’Toole because she is a woman.  I picked her because she is Irish.”

Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson was in Seattle for the occasion.

Seattle has a significant Irish-born population, as well as Irish American. and there are over 800,000 citizens in Washington state who claim Irish ancestry. Recently, the Irish government has demonstrated a keen interest in Seattle, not just due to Microsoft, but Amazon, Boeing and Expedia, to name a few Seattle companies operating in Ireland. Taoiseach Enda Kenny visited Seattle in March 2013.

Noreen McCormack is the President of Irish Network Seattle. To learn more about Irish Network Seattle, visit,

To view the link, click here.

IN-Seattle and The Seattle Chamber of Commerce Team Up to Host Women’s Leadership Breakfast with Ambassador Anne Anderson

Coinciding with H.E Anne Anderson, Ireland’s first female Ambassador to the U.S, visit to Seattle, the Chamber had a special WIBLI breakfast event. Presented by the Irish Network, the event drew in 146 women (and a few brave men!) 

Anderson’s anecdotes, advice and words of encouragement to women in business captivated Tuesday’s crowd. In regards to keeping women leaders in the workplace throughout their careers, Anderson said, “The pipeline is great, but somewhere along the way, we spring a leak and start losing women.” 

Speaking to the challenges that women face while maintaining a work-life balance, Anderson also shared personal stories of her own life. Thinking back to her own daughter, she recounted “On the tough days, make a decision and stick to it. Don’t beat yourself up about it afterwards.” She finished with words of encouragement to all mothers in the business community, “Remember that someday your daughter will thank you. Sooner than you think.”

Anderson concluded her talk by encouraging women to remember, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You owe something to your society, your country, and your time.” 

For more WIBLI resources, click here

Celebrate the Irish: Tacoma Glass Exhibit and Irish Festivities Celebrate Irish Heritage

Submitted by Taryn Kama

Tacoma’s Museum of Glass will host a Céili Mór (a large Irish Dance Party) in its grand hall to celebrate Irish culture and also its on-going exhibition of contemporary Irish glass on Sat. March 22 from 7 to 10 p.m.

The event will include traditional Irish music with performers: Liam Ó Maonlaí of Hothouse Flowers fame, and the Carrigaline Celtic Band. Full details can be found at here.

Céili dancing is a popular form of Irish folk dancing and this is a family event where children and adults learn and practice dancing to live music. Everyone will have an opportunity to get on the floor and dance without any pressure. A full bar and food service will be available. The event is open to all ages.

The Céili Mór event is part of the Irish Heritage Club of Seattle’s full slate of Irish Week festivities. However, the Irish glass exhibit, called “CAUTION! Fragile. Irish Glass: Tradition in Transition,” is in Tacoma until September 2014.

Club member and glass artist Paula Stokes was involved in this exhibition. She said it is significant because it is the first museum exhibition of contemporary Irish glass in the America.

“It marries the tradition of the past with the contemporary. It celebrates the essence of Ireland in a proud, poetic and authentic way,” Stokes said.

Irish glass artist Róisín de Buitléar helped develop the exhibition, which takes a deep look at the Irish glass industry and the impact of recent factory closures on artists, tradition and personal identity.

The collaboration with three of the best masters: Fred Curtis, Eamonn Hartley and Greg Sullivan, has resulted in an exhibition of work celebrating their skills in glass cutting and engraving. Many of the pieces in the exhibition were made at Museum of Glass and shipped to Ireland to be cut and engraved.

For centuries, the Irish have been regarded as supreme artists in crystal glass, particularly in the techniques of cutting and engraving. Apprentices, under the guidance of Master Craftsmen, began working as teenagers to learn the intricacies of the art of working with crystal and these skills have been handed down over generations.

Now, however, crystal glass manufacturing in Ireland is hanging by a thread. The famous Waterford factory, which served for decades as a symbol of Irish artistic heritage, closed in 2009 and other famous glass factories in Cavan, Galway, and Tyrone have closed, selling off equipment and putting hundreds of glassmakers out of work. Once known worldwide as the best and finest, Irish crystal glass manufacturing has faced impossible challenges partly due to economic shifts, which were beyond the control of the thousands of families intertwined in the decline of the industry.

Stokes studied in Ireland with Róisín. “Róisín was my first glassmaking teacher in Ireland. I studied art at the National College of Art in Dublin. Since I moved to Seattle in 1993 to pursue my career, we have worked together on many projects over the years to create a dialog and relationship between the glass scene in Ireland and in the Pacific Northwest.”

“Róisín’s plan to work collaboratively with Master Cutters with sensitivity, and vision resonated profoundly with me,” Stokes said.

Stokes helped her in the hotshop and, on occasion, she schlepped glass back to Ireland in her suitcase. Stokes then got together with some amazing Irish women in Seattle to help fundraise for the exhibition.

Stokes said people should see the exhibit because: “It is simply wonderful on so many levels. It celebrates contemporary Irish culture through music, art, history and storytelling. The work is poetic and resonates with authenticity and is uniquely Irish.”

A full listing of Irish Week events can be found at