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A Magical Evening Awash in Green 2023 University of St. Thomas-Houston Irish Gala Celebrates its Emerald Anniversary

The William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas-Houston celebrated the Center's Emerald Anniversary on Friday, Nov. 17, at the Houstonian Hotel. The gala honored Michele Malloy, a longtime University of St. Thomas and Center for Irish Studies supporter. Nearly 300 friends of the Center raised more than $330,000 for its 20th anniversary celebration, with monies benefiting the Center's programming, study abroad opportunities and student scholarships.

A special guest at the gala was The Honorary Robert HullConsul General of Ireland.

Co-chairing the special evening washed in all things emerald green were Event Chairs Judith Raines '70 and Dave Kem

Msgr. William Young, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, blessed the evening's dinner, festivities, and the Center's good works. Mistress of Ceremonies Lisa Malosky, a longtime sports broadcaster, kept the highly spirited event moving as she introduced special guests, Irish dancing and music for entertainment, the beloved honoree and more.

Kicking off the entertainment was an exceptional performance of traditional Irish dancing by the Clann Kelly Dancers from the Clann Kelly School of Irish Dance in Houston.

Honoree: Roasted & Toasted

The gala shined a spotlight on former UST Board Chair Michele Malloy, who was honored for her 20 years of advocacy of Irish Studies and her lifelong love of the Emerald Isle. Malloy was "Roasted and Toasted" to peals of good-humored laughter by David Harvey and Gloria Portela and by Malloy's daughters Leigh Contreras and Kate Hayes, and her son Taylor Sherman.

The delicious three-course meal featured a baby spinach salad with feta cheese, poached pears, and smoked almonds, followed by a filet mignon with baby carrots and asparagus, truffle potatoes and wild mushroom sauce. It closed with a dark chocolate sea salt tart, milk chocolate, whipped cream and fudge sauce.

As part of the fun, the event featured an  Irish coffee tradition and the elite wine/whiskey pull.

Auctioneer Rusty Mertink got the crowd excited to outbid each other for the fun, creative and fabulous Live Auction items. 

  • A lucky couple bid on an intimate Atlas Ocean Voyages yachting vacation for two promising historic locales, unfathomable beauty, and culinary delights to satisfy any palate titled "From Dublin to London: Luxury Cruise for Two in Ireland."
  • The lucky bidder and six of their friends will try out their Irish luck when they wear their best poker faces and ante up for a lively evening at the poker table with Basilian Father Jim Murphy at the Basilian Father's Keon House. This auction item, Shamrocks and Aces: Fr. Murphy's Basilian Poker Night, includes sandwiches, beer, cocktails and camaraderie.
  • This bidder's friends will be green with envy at the sight of her brand-new diamond-surrounded emerald earrings picked out by the honoree on a recent trip to Colombia. The Irish Legacy in Emeralds: Elegant Diamond-Haloed Earrings celebrates the night with these brilliant-cut emerald stud earrings with a diamond surround.
  • The Irish Serenade: VIP Seats for Four at Celtic Woman + Gourmet Dinner auction item was a winner for the bidder and three friends to enjoy the Irish music sensation Celtic Woman along with a $500 gift certificate to nearby BB Italia to enjoy the culinary splendors of Houston-area restaurant darling Berg Hospitality Group.

About the William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies

Under the direction of Lori Gallagher, J.D., the Center has awarded scholarships to students totaling over $950,000 since 2006. The Center also sponsors cultural events open to the public. These lectures, concerts and storytelling events highlight all aspects of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Irish America.

UST's William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies is listed among the top 10 Irish Studies programs in the country.

The University of St. Thomas named the Center in honor of William J. Flynn, former chairman of Mutual of America Life Insurance Company in New York, for his outstanding contributions to the Northern Ireland Peace Process.

The primary goals of the William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies are to preserve Irish heritage and culture, promote peace and reconciliation, and deepen the appreciation of the contributions of the Irish and Irish Americans worldwide.