Gold Medal Dinner and Award Ceremony

Saturday, 29 April 2017, 6pm

Hyatt Regency Boston

The Gold Medal is given to a person or persons who exemplify the best of Irish culture and ideals. The award is presented at the annual Gold Medal Dinner, which takes place in spring in Boston.

Colm Tóibín, 2017 Gold Medalist

The Eire Society of Boston is pleased to announce the 2017 Gold Medal Award recipient, novelist, short story writer, playwright, journalist and literary critic, Colm Tóibín.

The Gold Medal Dinner and Award Ceremony will take place on Saturday, 29 April 2017 at 6pm at the Hyatt Regency Boston, Avenue de Lafayette, and will feature a presentation by Tóibín.

“We are particularly pleased to present the 2017 Gold Medal to Professor Tóibín,” says Thomas W. Carty, President of the Eire Society of Boston. “His accomplishments have vaulted him to the forefront of the Irish literary scene. His direct and thoughtful positions on matters of social importance make him a visionary spokesperson for the citizenry of Ireland and its world-wide diaspora. We look forward to the Gold Medal gala celebration this spring in his honor.”

Tóibín’s work explores several main themes: the depiction of Irish society, living abroad, the process of creativity, and the preservation of a personal identity, focusing especially on identity when confronted with loss.

In 2015, Tóibín’s work gained popular, world-wide recognition when his 2009 novel, Brooklyn was made into a feature film, portraying the fortunes of a young Irish woman who leaves her home in rural Ireland for a new life in 1950’s New York. The novel, a haunting tale of love, loss and familial duty, won the 2009 United Kingdom Costa Award and was shortlisted for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

For more information on the Gold Medal Dinner and Award Ceremony, contact Event Chair, Cathleen McGrail at or call 617.739.6484. Tickets are $150.00 per person. To purchase tickets, make checks payable to the Eire Society of Boston, c/o Cathleen McGrail, 105 Beech Street, #1, Belmont, MA 02478.

To purchase Gold Medal Dinner tickets using PayPal, click the button below.

Biography of Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. Out of his experience in Barcelona be produced two books, the novel ‘The South’ (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times/ Aer Lingus First Fiction Award) and ‘Homage to Barcelona’, both published in 1990. When he returned to Ireland in 1978 he worked as a journalist for ‘In Dublin’, ‘Hibernia’ and ‘The Sunday Tribune’, becoming features editor of ‘In Dublin’ in 1981 and editor of Magill, Ireland’s current affairs magazine, in 1982. He left Magill in 1985 and travelled in Africa and South America. His journalism from the 1980s was collected in ‘The Trial of the Generals’ (1990). His other work as a journalist and travel writer includes ‘Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border’ (1987) and ‘The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe’ (1994). His other novels are: ‘The Heather Blazing (1992, winner of the Encore Award); ‘The Story of the Night’ (1996, winner of the Ferro-Grumley Prize); ‘The Blackwater Lightship’ (1999, shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Prize and the Booker Prize and made into a film starring Angela Lansbury); ‘The Master’ (2004, winner of the Dublin IMPAC Prize; the Prix du Meilleur Livre; the LA Times Novel of the Year; and shortlisted for the Booker Prize); ‘Brooklyn’ (2009, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year). His short story collections are ‘Mothers and Sons’ (2006, winner of the Edge Hill Prize) and ‘The Empty Family (2010). His play ‘Beauty in a Broken Place’ was performed at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin in 2004. His other books include: ‘The Modern Library: the 200 Best Novels Since 1950’ (with Carmen Callil); ‘Lady Gregory’s Toothbrush’ (2002); ‘Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar’ (2002) and ‘All a Novelist Needs: Essays on Henry James’ (2010). He has edited ‘The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction’. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. Three books on his work have been published: ‘Reading Colm Tòibìn’, edited by Paul Delaney (2008); ‘Mother/Country: Politics of the Personal in the Fiction of Colm Tòibìn’ by Kathleen Costello-Sullivan (2012); and Eibhear Walshe’s ‘A Different Story: The Writings of Colm Tòibìn’ (2013). He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ulster, University College Dublin and the University of East Anglia. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and a contributing editor at the London Review of Books.

Tóibín has twice been the Stein Visiting Writer at Stanford University and a visiting writer at the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He taught at Princeton between 2009 and 2011, and was Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Manchester in 2011. He is currently Mellon Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He has lectured at several other universities, including Middlebury College, Boston College, New York University, Loyola University Maryland, and The College of the Holy Cross. His second collection of stories ‘The Empty Family’, published in 2010, was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Prize. His collection of essays on Henry James, ‘All a Novelist Needs’, appeared also in 2010. In 2011 his play ‘Testament’, directed by Garry Hynes, was performed in the Dublin Theatre Festival with Marie Mullen in the lead role. Also in 2011, his memoir ‘A Guest at the Feast’ was published by Penguin UK as a Kindle original.

In 2012 his new collection of essays ‘New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers & Their Families’ appeared, as did his edition for Penguin Classics of ‘De Profundis and Other Writings’ by Oscar Wilde. Also in 2012, his novel ‘The Testament of Mary’ was published and was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2013. In April 2013 ‘The Testament of Mary’ opened on Broadway with Fiona Shaw, directed by Deborah Warner and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best New Play. The production transferred to the Barbican in London in May 2014. In July 2014 it opened in Barcelona in a Spanish production, with the actress Blanca Portillo. In 2013 it was released as an audio book with Meryl Streep.

Colm Tóibín’s eighth novel ‘Nora Webster’ was published published in October 2014 and his ‘On Elizabeth Bishop’ was released from Princeton University Press in April 2015. He is President of Listowel Writers Week and chair of Pen World Voices in New York. His personal notes and workbooks reside at the National Library of Ireland.

Tóibín has said his writing comes out of silence. He does not favor story and does not view himself as storyteller. He has said, “Ending a novel is almost like putting a child to sleep – it can’t be done abruptly.”

Tóibín works in the most extreme, severe, austere conditions. He sits on a hard, uncomfortable chair which causes him pain. When working on a first draft he covers the right-hand side only of the page; later he carries out some rewriting on the left-hand side of the page. He keeps a word processor in another room on which to transfer writing at a later time.
Tóibín’s grandfather, Patrick Tobin, was a member of the IRA, as was his grand-uncle Michael Tobin. Patrick Tobin took part in the 1916 Rebellion in Enniscorthy and was subsequently interned in Frongoch in Wales. Tóibín’s father was a teacher who was involved in the Fianna Fáil party in Enniscorthy; he died when Colm was 12 years old.


Mary P. McAleese, 2016 Gold Medalist

The 2016 Gold Medal was presented to President of Ireland, Mary P. McAleese on 2 April 2016 at the Omni Parker House in Boston.

Mary P. McAleese served as the eighth President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011. She was the second female president and the first from Northern Ireland. She earned a Law degree from Queen’s University Belfast in 1973 and today remains a member of the Irish Bar. McAleese described her presidency as “building bridges,” regularly visiting Northern Ireland during her two terms. Throughout her career, she received numerous awards and honorary doctorates, and is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers who seek to mobilize the highest-level women leaders for collective action on global issues of critical importance to women.

To read the full text of President McAleese’s remarks at the 2016 Gold Medal Dinner, download the PDF here. To view a video of President McAleese’s entrance to the Gold Medal Dinner at the Parker House, see this video:


WEBCatherine_Shannon_Bachrach_portraitCatherine B. Shannon Ph.D., 2015 Gold Medalist

The 2015 Gold Medal was presented to Dr. Catherine B. Shannon on 25 April 2015 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston.

Catherine B. Shannon Ph.D., Professor Emerita of History at Westfield State University, has taught Irish, British and European History. She is the author of Arthur J. Balfour and Ireland, 1874 -1922 (1988), and The Churchills in Ireland: Connections and Controversies (2012). She has published writings on the role of women in the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process, and was actively involved in the 1980’s- 1990’s in the search for a peaceful solution. Dr. Shannon was the first woman president of the Charitable Irish Society of Boston and served as president of the Eire Society of Boston. She was a member of the Executive Committee of the American Conference of Irish Studies for over a decade. In 1999 she was among 15 Irish-Americans from Massachusetts to receive a “Dreamer of Dreams” award from the Irish Voice newspaper. Dr. Shannon received the Solas Award from the Irish International Immigration Center and the Irish Heritage Award from the Irish American Partnership, both based in Boston. She is currently researching Ireland’s Great Famine and Boston’s 1847 humanitarian response to the crisis.

Gold Medal Honorees

2016 Mary P. McAleese

2015 Dr. Catherine B. Shannon

2014 Brian O’Donovan

2013 Sr. Lena Deevy, LSA

2012 Seamus Mulligan and Ronan Tynan

2011 Mary Robinson

2010 Edward W. Forry

2009 John Cullinane and Michael Donlan

2008 Professor Padraig O’Malley

2007 Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith

2006 Peter Meade

2005 Joseph F. Leary

2004 Peter & Carmel O’Reilly

2003 Dr. Robert O’Neill

2002 Hon. William M. Bulger

2001 Hon. Desmond Guinness

2000 Rev. Bartley MacPhaidin, CSC

1999 Professor Thomas O’Connor

1998 Frank Patterson & Eily O’Grady

1997 Hon. George J. Mitchell

1996 Brian P. Burns

1995 Phil Coulter

1994 Hon. Brian J. Donnelly

1993 Dr. Margaret MacCurtain, OP

1992 Eoin McKiernan

1991 The Chieftans

1990 Herbert Kenny

1989 Maureen O’Hara

1988 John F. Collins


Maeve O’Reilly Finley
Thomas Flanagan
Dr. Sean McBride
Tommy Makem
Dr. Michael McElroy

1986 Mary O’Hara

1985 Hon. Charles J. Haughey

1984 Anna Manahan

1983 Barnard Hughes

1982 Seamus Heaney

1981 George Edward Ryan

1980 John Hume

1979 Hon. Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr.

1978 Leon Uris

1977 Edward Benno Hanify

1976 John D. J. Moore

1975 William V. Shannon

1974 Mary Lavin

1973 Bob Considine

1972 Hon. John W. McCormack

1971 Siobhan McKenna

1970 Hon. Eugene McCarthy

1969 Patrick and Aimee Butler

1968 John Huston

1967 Most Rev. Jeremiah F. Minihan, D.D.

1966 Cornelius Ryan

1965 Rev. Martin P. Harney, S.J.

1964 Helen Landreth

1963 Dr. Brian O’Doherty

1962 Joseph Gannon

1961 Padraic Colum

1960 Rev. Terrence L. Connolly, S.J.

1959 James Augustine Healy

1958 Hon. Daniel T. O’Connell

1957 Hon. John Fitzgerald Kennedy

1956 Very Rev. Robert I. Gannon, S.J.

1955 John Ford (Sean O’Feeney)

1954 Rt. Rev. Michael J. Houlihan

1953 Hon. Henry Lee Shattuck

1952 Joseph Edward Carrigan

1951 Hugh O’Neill Hencken

1950 Richard Cardinal Cushing

1949 Hon. James McGurrin

1948 James Brendan Connolly

1947 Joseph Dunn

1946 Fred Norris Robinson

1945 Charles Donagh Maginnis


Gold Medal Dinner 2016 Photo Gallery

Photos © Jenna P. McGrail


© The Eire Society of Boston. All rights reserved. Website by Luhrs.