Over 200 people attended Glucksman Ireland House NYU’s annual gala Feb. 25 to honor acclaimed writer Pete Hamill and award-winning restaurateur Michael “Buzzy” O’Keeffe at the Kimmel Center for University Life. Author Peter Quinn was a lively and witty Master of Ceremonies between tributes to the two high-profile Irish New Yorkers.

Photo: Pete Hamill
Writer Pete Hamill

Tony Award-winning actor Brian Dennehy presented Hamill with the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award for Arts & Letters, following a standing ovation in memory of the late poet. Pulitzer Prize winner Jimmy Breslin also paid tribute to Hamill, reflecting on their careers in journalism.

Acclaimed chef and restaurateur David Burke presented O’Keeffe with the inaugural Lewis L. Glucksman Award for Leadership with light-hearted reflections on O’Keeffe’s mentorship.

High-profile attendees included Woody Allen and Soon Yi Previn; Governor of Connecticut Daniel P. Malloy; the Irish Ambassador to the US H.E. Anne Anderson; the Irish Ambassador to the UN H.E. David Donoghue; Consul General of Ireland in New York Noel Kilkenny; musician Rubén Blades; journalists Dan Barry, Denis Hamill, and Jim Dwyer; and original Riverdance principal dancer and choreographer Jean Butler, who is now a faculty member at Glucksman Ireland House NYU.

Pete Hamill was born and raised in Brooklyn, the first of seven children of Belfast immigrants. He is a renowned journalist, novelist, essayist, editor, and educator. Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University and a longstanding member of Glucksman Ireland House NYU’s Advisory Board, Mr. Hamill has authored over twenty books such as A Drinking Life: A Memoir, Forever, and Tabloid City. At the gala, Mr. Hamill paid tribute to his immigrant parents, touchingly describing their meeting in 1930s Brooklyn in how his mother took his father “by the hand and led him into the rest of his life.”

Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx by Irish immigrants, Buzzy O’Keeffe has been a celebrated restaurateur for more than 45 years. He has overseen establishments that embody the spirit of the city and hosted luminaries from the worlds of sports, politics, entertainment, and media. Mr. O’Keeffe’s River Café and Water Club, both reopened after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, have served as icons for classic American cuisine, and have given rise to a long line of acclaimed chefs. At the gala, Mr. O’Keeffe referred to his consistent desire to expand the boundaries of what is possible in fine dining excellence.

The Seamus Heaney Award for Arts & Letters is awarded in memory of the late Nobel Laureate who was an honored guest at last year’s Glucksman Ireland House Gala and who was a great champion of its dynamic program of activities. The Lewis L. Glucksman Award for Leadership is awarded in memory of the co-founder of Glucksman Ireland House NYU, whose career in finance, philanthropy, and vision is relived constantly through the teaching, learning and research fostered at Glucksman Ireland House NYU.

About Glucksman Ireland House
Glucksman Ireland House is NYU’s Center for Irish and Irish-American Studies and one of the top-ranked academic Irish Studies programs in the United States. Through innovative undergraduate and graduate academic curricula and extensive public programming, it provides access to the best in Irish and Irish-American culture.

For further information, Miriam Nyhan, Glucksman Ireland House NYU, 212.998.3953, miriam.nyhan@nyu.edu.

Photo: Michael "Buzzy" O'Keeffe

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