On Friday, 20th September 2013, the second Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award was awarded to the former Governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer.
Upon receiving the award from Minister of State Dinny McGinley TD, Governor Schweitzer stated, “This award means the world to me; it is a wonderful honour to come back to Donegal and be presented with this prestigious award.”
He also spoke with tremendous pride of his grandmother, Hannah Friel, born in Rathmullan in 1899 and emigrated at the age of 22 to seek a better life and who became a successful businesswoman and built up a property portfolio in Montana where thousands of Irish people resided close to the copper mines.
Governor Schweitzer described the life of the Irish in Montana today compared to the late 1800’s and about the wealth of the Irish culture and identity which is very strong and referred to various museums where ancestry can be traced back to the early 19th Century.
Donegal County Manager, Seamus Neely read a message from President Michael D. Higgins to hundreds of guests, in which the president remarked that, “The Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award is yet another reminder of how our Diaspora has contributed to their new communities around the world and how the culture and heritage of our forefathers continues to play an important role in the lives of those who are Irish”.
On Saturday, 21st September 2013, Professor Paul Arthur delivered the Irish Tip O’Neill Lecture. The lecture was entitled ‘Poetry and Power and the Diaspora’. Paul Arthur is a Professor Emeritus and Honorary Professor in Peace Studies at the University of Ulster and he is an authority on Irish, British and American politics.
Loyola Hearn, the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, presented bursaries and individual awards to Inishowen Primary Schools as part of the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Schools Competition.
The weekend concluded with the unveiling of the Tip O’Neill Interpretive Panels adjacent to the Tip O’Neill momument on the shorefront in Buncrana by Tip’s son Tommy and his wife Shelly in the presence of Donegal County Mayor, Cllr. Ian McGarvey and Buncrana Town Mayor, Cllr. Peter McLaughlin.