President Obama said, “I am honored and grateful that such a dedicated and accomplished individual has agreed to serve as the representative of the United States to the Irish people. Dan Rooney is an unwavering supporter of Irish peace, culture, and education, and I have every confidence that he and Secretary Clinton will ensure America’s continued close and unique partnership with Ireland in the years ahead.”
Dan Rooney is the recent recipient of the American Ireland Fund’s Lifetime Achievement Award and honorary Commander of the British Empire for contributions to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, has played an integral role in the Irish peace process since the early 1970s. In 1976, Rooney co-founded the American Ireland Fund, an organization which to date has raised over $300 million for peace and education programs in Ireland. Rooney founded the annual prize for Irish Literature in 1987 and co-founded the Ireland Institution of Pittsburgh in 1989.
In 1993, the “Rooney Fellowship” was created to honor his generosity and charitable works. Chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the winners of Super Bowl XLIII, Rooney was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He has been the recipient of various awards in relation to his work within the community and for his involvement with the National Football League over the last 26 years, including: the Sporting News NFL Executive of the Year in 1972 and 2001, the Maxwell Football Club Reds Bagwell Award in 1999, and, in 2008, the YWCA Racial Justice Award and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor presented by the National Ethnic Coalition. Rooney also led the sports world’s efforts to include diversity beyond the field and into the front office through the “Rooney Rule.”
If Mr. Rooney is confirmed, he would be the 30th US ambassador to Ireland (where all but one were political appointees). He might also be pleased to know that Deerfield House, his new residence in Phoenix Park had just been restored by his predecessor, Ambassador Thomas C. Foley.
John Burns of the Sunday Times just wrote this weekend that Thomas Foley, the departing American envoy to Ireland, has spent $500,000 (€390,000) of his own money restoring the US ambassador’s residence in Phoenix Park. “The Georgian mansion, which the Americans have used since 1952, has been redecorated several times, but Foley decided that a complete makeover was in order. “I took it on because it was so needy,” he told The New York Times. “This would be expected of a political appointee.” Foley bought works by American artists including Mark Rothko, Edward Hopper, Helen Frankenthaler and Sol LeWitt. The ambassador had several rooms repainted in Georgian colours. Chandeliers were restored, large mirrors placed over the fireplaces, security camera towers moved out of sight, rhododendrons blocking views of the house removed, and White House-style up-lighting installed. Finally, Foley asked the Irish government to apply a €47,000 lick of paint to the outside walls. The landlords agreed.”
You know, I just realized that the American Embassy in Dublin was completed in 1964. That’s a 45 year old building — may be showing its age, too.