04 Jun Ireland – Day 14 (wrap!)
We started the day at the inspiring Dublin Castle where we had the privilege of hearing a presentation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Charlie Flanagan. The minister’s presentation basically put a bow on everything the student’s learned – leadership, entrepreneurship, the diaspora, the symbiotic relationship between all constituents in Ireland, and the importance of a connected and global economy. Kate Tyrrell once again took great care to make us truly feel, very welcome.
I also had the opportunity to meet Tim O’Connor. He was the Consul General in New York, and served as the Secretary General to the President of Ireland. He was a very warm and engaging man, and gave me the feeling he knows how to get people to go along willingly.
I also met Patrick O’Neill who lived 5 miles from my family in Mayo. And he climbed “The Reek” a few weeks before me where he became a bit of a celebrity up on the mountain. Check it out here. Small world doesn’t even begin to describe Ireland!
We then made our way to the U.S. Embassy and received two outstanding briefings from Jen McAndrew, Deputy Director of Public Affairs, and Finola Cunningham, Foreign Commercial Service Director (also from Mayo!). Given all the strife in the world today, it’s great to know that a focus on common interests can make all the difference.
Lastly, we visited NDRC, and Sarah O’Farrell provided a great briefing and had two of their start-up give a pitch to the students (a la Shark Tank)!
We had a great farewell dinner, and Andrew Parish, Conor Toolan, Michael Guerin, and Alison Kerr joined us. I asked the students what they’ll remember most, and they said without hesitation: “The people.” The shared experiences with their peers, and the good and fascinating people they met here in Ireland will be long remembered.
Andrew asked the same question of me. After being here so often I feel like a temporary resident rather than a visitor. I said the energy here is palpable, and is the highest I have seen since the recession. There is hope and optimism here. My hope is that the energy is truly funneled for the greater good with grand and audacious plans. It’s not enough to eke out a simple existence. I hope those with leadership skills feel a duty in their bones to focus the energy in such a way that we make a difference in the lives of others for years to come. The aim for the work, and ultimately, the lives we lead, should have deeper meaning than the business metrics of productivity, efficiency and revenue growth. That’s my hope for Ireland. That’s my hope for the U.S.. That’s my hope for our global community.