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Brian O'Dwyer awarded the ‘Contribution to Diaspora Wellbeing/Engagement Award’ at Mayo County Council Cathaoirleach’s Awards


All at Ireland West Airport extend our congratulations to Brian O’Dwyer on the achievement of being awarded the ‘Contribution to Diaspora Wellbeing/Engagement Award’ at the Council Cathaoirleach’s Awards, which took place on Thursday, March 7th, in Breaffy House Resort.

Mayo County Council’s civic awards, which are now in their third year, recognise the dedication and efforts of the many community volunteer groups at work in County Mayo and beyond, as they work quietly behind the scenes to make our communities stronger, more vibrant, and caring places to live. After a public nomination process last autumn and a shortlisting process, over 100 groups and individual nominees were invited to the presentation evening, which was attended by 400 guests, which celebrated their achievements and provided a fitting platform to showcase their incredible work to a wide audience.  

Throughout his career, Brian has concentrated on promoting Irish and Irish-American interests and has served as a member of the Board of Ireland West Airport since 2014 driving the Airport’s mission to continue to be a key regional economic driver for the West and North West regions. In 2015, Brian with Cardinal Dolan led a pilgrimage to Knock Shrine, marking the first official chartered pilgrimage from anywhere in the world to Ireland's International Eucharistic and Marian Shrine – and the first diocesan pilgrimage to Knock Shrine from the archdiocese of New York, flying directly into Ireland West Airport with Aer Lingus. 

A graduate of the High School of Music and Art (now LaGuardia High School) he went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts from The George Washington University in Spanish American Literature, a Masters in Spanish from Middlebury College, a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University and a LLM from The George Washington University Law School. He has been awarded the degrees of D. Phil from Dublin City University and DHL from Middlebury College.

He was the founder and first Chair of the Emerald Isle Immigration Centre, and served as advisor to the Clinton administration during the Northern Ireland peace process. He was appointed by President Clinton to the Presidential Commission on White House Fellows, and Secretary Clinton to the U.S. Committee for UNESCO. He and formed part of the delegation that accompanied President Clinton to Ireland on each of his three trips, serving as advisor to the White House on Irish issues including the Peace Process. He has spent the majority of his professional career advising labour organizations and immigrant rights groups on workers protections and benefits issues. He currently serves as the Chair of the New York State Gaming Commission and a member of the Commission on Presidential Scholars.

He has actively worked to advance Ireland’s cause in the US and has served as Chair of the Irish Chamber of Commerce USA, working to facilitate American investment in Ireland. He has accompanied US public officials on visits to Ireland during which extensive meetings with the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste took place regarding the US immigration bill as well as the promotion of trade and commerce between the two countries. 

He has received many accolades and recognitions for his work including a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre (Grand Cross) papal knighthood, NY City Council Spirit of New York Award, Seán MacBride Humanitarian Award, an honorary doctorate of philosophy from Dublin City University in 2013 and was the Grand Marshal of the 2019 New York St. Patrick's Day Parade. 

A deeply family orientated man, Brian’s Irish heritage remains at his core – his family originated from County Mayo and continue to play an active role in the O’Dwyer Foundation, a charity set up in the early '70s by Brian’s father, the late Hon. Paul O’Dwyer, long-time activist and human rights campaigner in the US. 

The Foundation was set up to create employment in his native Lismirrane and Bohola, so people would not have to emigrate as he had. With the support and assistance of the local and wider Bohola and Mayo Community, the fulfilment of that dream came about with the opening in 1976 of the O’Dwyer Cheshire Home respite care centre built on the grounds of his family home in Bohola. The Foundation continues to this day to invest and expand its facilities to provide respite services for those in need.