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07/09/18 2018 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award recipients Homes of Donegal

Homes of Donegal

Members of the Homes of Donegal Committee with Declan Houton (centre) and Oran McGonagle (far right) who will be awarded the 2018 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award at a special ceremony in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel on Friday night.


With the gala ceremony for the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Awards just days away, it’s an opportune time to find out a little bit more about this year’s award recipients. 


First up its Homes for Donegal Fundraising Committee, who after the Inishowen Floods, set about fundraising to help the people in Inishowen affected by the floods.


When two Boston based Donegal men witnessed the devastation that severe floods caused in their native Inishowen in August 2017 they immediately had an overwhelming need to do something to help those affected.


Declan Houton from Malin and Oran Mc Gonagle from Moville along with a dedicated committee raised an amazing $120,000 for those affected back home. 


Speaking from his home in Boston Declan Houton explains “in the days following the floods, I bumped into Oran at an Irish Network Event in Boston and we got talking about what had happened at home and Oran had the idea of organizing a benefit out here, and the whole thing came together very quickly.


“We posted about a meeting the following week, open to anyone who wanted to help and I believe we had 16 people at the first meeting - people from home, but also friends from Derry, Dublin and here in Boston.


“From the first meeting to the actual event, I have to say I have never been involved with a better bunch of people who worked really hard to raise as much money as possible, with no one ever seeking thanks.


“The first order, was to come up with an event T-shirt with sponsors names on the back, this venture raised over $40,000 in one week.  From then on, people donated paintings, sports tickets and so on and the event itself brought in close to $80,000 bringing the total raised to just short of $120,000 and on the day of the event we had over 30 volunteers.”


Declan also pays tribute to the great work done by the Irish Red Cross in Buncrana, who helped distribute the funds making sure that all the money raised in Boston went to flood victims only.


Both Declan and Oran feel that it is a huge honour to be receiving the Tip O’Neill Award but are keen to point out that “this was a group effort by a lot of hard working individuals, most of whom are unable to make the trip home for any occasion, but yet wanted to do everything possible to raise as much as possible for those back home”.


Oran McGonagle says “the whole committee is extremely proud to receive the award and it very much belongs to each and every one of them and indeed the Irish community in Boston as a whole.  Living in Boston especially and receiving this award is extra special as this is where Tip O’Neill’s family had emigrated to like ourselves. He was a massive political icon both here and in Ireland so we are delighted and looking forward to getting back to Inishowen to receive the award and enjoying the weekend”.

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