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Irish Ambassador fetes Washington Ireland Program

WIP’s founder Carol Wheeler, center, received an award from Northern Ireland Bureau director Norman Houston and Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson. (Photo by Patricia Lake.) WIP’s founder Carol Wheeler, center, received an award from Northern Ireland Bureau director Norman Houston and Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson. (Photo by Patricia Lake.)

On Tuesday night, Queen Elizabeth II and Irish President Michael Higgins were breaking bread at an historic dinner at Windsor Castle. But Irish eyes also were smiling at a far less formal affair an ocean away in Washington, where Ireland’s ambassador to the United States, Anne Anderson, and others VIPs were feting the 20th anniversary of the Washington Ireland Program.

“It’s truly extraordinary,” Anderson said of the meal between the English and Irish leaders. “And I’m glad we are celebrating in our own way tonight.”

Back to the business at hand — toasting the program that brings young people from Northern Ireland and Ireland to the United States for  leadership training and internships, something Anderson credited with creating leaders committed to peace.

The event featured local chefs serving up Celtic-influenced dishes, including a pate on crispy gingerbread from the team at Le Diplomate, and — of course, sips of Irish whiskey. As the crowd angled for bites of the chef’s offerings, we couldn’t help but notice that many of the VIP “sous chefs” assigned to assist were doing more gabbing and eating than actual cheffing. We caught Rep. Jerry Moran (D-Va.) jawing with fellow blue-aproned sous. former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart and PBS commentator Mark Shields. Also in attendance were WIP founder Carol Wheeler, novelist Alice McDermott, former ambassador Elizabeth Bagley and humorist Mark Russell.

Moran’s excuse for loafing on the job? “They don’t trust us to cook,” he explained.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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