Those looking to get a frothy head start to St. Patrick’s Day made a beeline to the Heart & Crown Irish Pub in the ByWard Market, where the local Irish Canadian community and its business supporters were raising money for such charities as the Bruyère Foundation.
So popular is the annual event – the $125 tickets sold faster than pints of Guinness on St. Paddy’s Day – that organizers opened up more space in order to squeeze in a larger crowd of 200.
It was a full afternoon Friday of Irish fiddle music and dancing from the SFH Irish Dance Studio. Spotted in the crowd were members of the green-blooded Murray family, including Patrick Murray, a partner in the business law group at McMillan LLP, and his brother, Sakto Corp. director Brian Murray. He's still recovering from a broken foot that he injured while – and this is no joke – showing off his Irish dance moves to his young daughter.
Their cousin, Sean Murray, chief executive of Sakto, was also spotted in the packed room.
Mariette MacIsaac, manager of the Trinity Development Foundation, attended. So did Kelly Santini law partner Lisa Langevin, who plays the Irish sport of Gaelic football with the Ottawa Gaels.
The popular pub is owned by Irish-born Ottawa businessmen Larry Bradley and Pat Kelly, who also own Bradley-Kelly Construction. Bradley's adult children – Michael, Kristen and Shauna – work in promotions and special events for Heart & Crown, which has been around since 1992.
From Bruyère Continuing Care were its president and CEO Guy Chartrand, along with Heidi Sveistrup, CEO and scientific director of the Bruyère Research Institute.
Bruyère Foundation president and CEO Peggy Taillon was present with the chair of the board, lawyer Daniel Fernandes, and Bruyère's ambassador, 2016 Grey Cup-winning Redblacks quarterback Henry Burris.
As one of the largest health care centres of its kind in Canada, Bruyère addresses the needs of the aging population in the region, offering complex continuing care, geriatric rehabilitation, stroke rehabilitation, palliative care, long-term care and affordable housing for seniors.
At age 26, Caroline McGregor is young and healthy looking. Yet, the former Bruyère patient suffered from a stroke, due to a blood clot, almost one year to the day of this year’s Irish Canadian Luncheon.
“It can happen to anyone,” said McGregor, who works for the Canada Lands Company.
She was treated at the Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital before spending the next 10 weeks as a stroke rehab outpatient at Bruyère, with friends and family helping to transport her to and from the hospital. She had difficulty walking and keeping her balance and had also suffered vision problems and numbness as a result of her stroke. At Bruyère, she worked with a physiatrist, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
The quality of care was excellent, she said.
“They didn’t treat me like a number but like a real human being. They really wanted to help me get back on my feet.”
She’s been sharing her story to raise funds and awareness for the health care centre.
“I want to make sure future patients get the same level of care that I did,” she said.
Bobby Kerr was back to chair the event, which was expected to raise $20,000, with half of the proceeds going to Bruyère and the other half to a centre in Omagh, Northern Ireland that focuses on healing, peace and holistic well-being.
With March 17 falling on a Saturday this year, Friday's luncheon was just a taste for what's going to be the busiest day of the year for the Heart & Crown Irish Pubs. It owns 11 pubs in five locations throughout Ottawa.