Ottawa Irish-Canadians celebrate St. Patrick’s Week with Bruyère fundraiser

If anybody should have been dancing a happy jig at the Irish Canadian Saint Patrick’s Week Luncheon it should have been Vito Di Muccio, who was able to bust a few moves at the Heart & Crown Irish Pub in the ByWard Market.

The 83-year-old Di Muccio suffered a stroke in October and is eternally grateful to the staff at Bruyère Continuing Care for helping him to walk and talk again through its rehabilitation program. “Bruyère was a lifesaver,” he said at the annual business-networking luncheon organized by the local Irish-Canadian business community in support of the Bruyère Foundation.

Di Muccio said he’s also thrilled to be getting his opera voice back. He even belted out some of Schubert’s Ave Maria for to hear.

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At the event were prominent Irish-born businessmen Larry Bradley and Pat Kelly, owners of the Heart & Crown Irish Pubs and Bradley Kelly Construction. Attendees also included hockey legend Brian Kilrea, businessman and former mayor Larry O’Brien, and former Ottawa Rough Rider-turned-investment executive Whit Tucker.

It was surprising to run into lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, who joked that the “green” in Greenspon makes him half-Irish. He was hanging out with organizers of the Fight for the Cure charity boxing event for cancer, sponsored by the Heart & Crown.

From left, lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, Matt Whitteker, Marwan Abdalla, Wayne Shimoon and Scott Whitteker attended the Irish Canadian Saint Patrick's Week Luncheon held on Friday, March 10, 2017 at the Heart & Crown Irish Pub, which is a major sponsor of their Fight for the Cure boxing benefit slated for this fall. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

Bobby Kerr, associate project manager for Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions, was back to chair the festive luncheon, which featured live music, Irish dancing, food and open bar. It was expected to raise between $25,000 and $30,000 for Bruyère and another charity back in Ireland.

“Every penny we collect goes to the charities,” said Kerr, while noting that all the costs of hosting the $125-a-ticket luncheon are covered by the business sponsors.

Organizers pushed back the start time this year until early afternoon, which was a smart move judging by the nearly 200 people who packed the pub.

On hand were Peggy Taillon, president of the Bruyère Foundation, and its board chair, retired high-tech executive Fiona Gilfillan.

Bruyère Continuing Care is a complex continuing care, rehabilitation and palliative health care centre and one of the largest of its kind in Canada. Its named after Mother Élisabeth Bruyère, who had a deep connection to the Irish immigrants: she cared for them when they were hit by a typhus epidemic in 1847.

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