You can’t keep the Irish down, that much was clear at the annual Irish Canadian Luncheon hosted Friday, March 13 by the Heart & Crown in the ByWard Market.
Sure, the current coronavirus scare resulted in some no-show ticket-holders, but the turnout was larger than expected, with at least 100 or so attendees. The festive event featured an open bar, as well as live music from Neil Emberg and fabulous performances from the SFH Irish Dance Studio.
The popular luncheon is held each year in the days leading up to St. Patrick's Day. It raises through sponsorship and tickets about $20,000, to be shared between two causes: the Bruyère Foundation in Ottawa and another charity, back on the Emerald Isle. This year, it was the Boys and Girls Club in Larry Bradley’s hometown of Omagh in Northern Ireland.
Bradley started his Irish pubs in Ottawa with fellow Irishman Pat Kelly, with whom he also owns Bradley-Kelly Construction. Bradley’s grown children, Michael, Kristen and Shauna, are very involved with running the Heart & Crown.
Staff took extra precautions to provide a safe and healthy environment. “We have some amazing food, some amazing drinks and some amazing hand sanitizer for you all,” joshed Heart & Crown employee and emcee Rodger Ryan as he welcomed guests to the shindig.
Seriously, the hand sanitizer was the first thing you saw as you walked through the entrance, followed by co-owner Shauna Bradley greeting new arrivals. The food was dished out this year, instead of the usual self-serve style, to further reduce the chance of spreading illness.
Attendees included Bruyère Foundation president Peggy Taillon, as well as its dedicated board chair, commercial real estate lawyer Danny Fernandes, and fellow foundation board member, Mark White, vice president of leasing for Colonnade BridgePort.
World Rugby Hall of Famer Al Charron was there. So were McMillan LLP partner Patrick Murray, a director with the Ireland Fund of Canada; fun-loving Ottawa Riverkeeper Elizabeth Logue, Emond Harnden co-founding partner Jacques Emond, and Scott Whitteker and Matt Whitteker. The brothers are co-founders of the Fight for the Cure charity boxing night, whose title sponsor is the Heart & Crown.
Also seen were John Bethune, vice-president of the Ottawa branch of BFL Canada commercial insurance brokerage and consulting services firm; Sysco Canada executive vice president Kammal Tannis; and Bobby Kerr, who used to chair the luncheon.
Shauna asked everyone to raise their glass in a toast to the late Julie Donnelly, who worked at the Heart & Crown for 20 years before passing away from ovarian cancer in 2017.
Donnelly spent her final days at Bruyère, in a room that her Heart & Crown family has since dedicated in her memory. Shauna told everyone how she values Bruyère more than ever, now that she’s seen its work, first hand.
“They took such great care of her,” said Shauna. “We miss her very much, and we really appreciate what Bruyère has done for us over the years.”
Along with palliative and end-of-life care, Bruyère Continuing Care provides complex continuing care, rehabilitation, care of the elderly, long-term care and family medicine care. As well, it has a research arm that focuses on improving the care of aging Canadians. Bruyère is one of the largest health care centres of its kind in Canada.
Taillon reminded the room about the historical link between the Irish community and her organization’s founder. Élisabeth Bruyère, with her fellow Catholic nuns, cared for the sick Irish immigrants during the typhus outbreak in 1847.