An Irish Star in Boston The Irish American Partnership

Mary Sugrue
COO of the Irish American Partnership

There are many fine Irish organizations in our local area, and the Irish American Partnership (IAP) is one of the finest.
Now in its 31st year of being headquartered in Boston, the Partnership has been applauded by authorities in both the North and South of Ireland for its focus on education and community support. It has received particular praise for its appropriateness for the future of Ireland.
The Partnership is led by the efficient and hardworking Mary Sugrue from Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry. She has been its CEO for more than over two years and was its main fundraiser for 20 years before that. Supporters throughout the country respect Mary for her truthfulness and non-exaggeration of the Partnership’s accomplishments.
Standing behind Mary is a board of directors comprising professionals from Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dublin, and Belfast. The chairman is Michael Clune, the head of Clune Construction in Chicago, and he works with lawyers, business people, and community leaders who know the non-profit world very well.
One look at the Partnership’s annual financial reports, including its IRS filings, will show how well managed this non-profit is. One of the key measuring sticks for the efficiency of non-profits is how they use the funds collected from their donors throughout the United States and what is he cost of raise the money. The Partnership has attracted 1,000 American donors over the years.
In 2017, according to its annual report and IRS filings, the Partnership raised $2.1 million with but 7 percent total in fundraising (2 percent) and administrative (5 percent) expenses. A truly amazing accomplishment. These are the key measurements used by major donors to put a value on their gifts.
One of the most appealing parts of the Partnership’s program is a donor’s ability to select where in Ireland the gift will be sent and used. The gift must conform to the Partnership’s stated preferences for education, but within those parameters it can go to a favorite Irish university, an educational jobs program, or a school in the village, town, or county where the donor’s family came from.
All of this is managed by a small staff of two full-time workers, one of whom is Mary Sugrue, and two part-time employees. Rather incredible when you think of it.
Exactly where are the funds sent in Ireland? After approval by the board, 64 percent of the funds were sent to specific schools and educational programs, 9 percent to community development, and 20 percent to Heritage Promotion in 2017. Approximately a third of the funds were sent to Northern Ireland, with the balance sent on to the Republic.
A total of 103 Irish educators received science and other professional training, 53 schools and universities received funds, and 7,500 young Irish students attended Partnership science fairs in Belfast, Dublin, and Limerick. These were held in coordination with Ireland’s Philanthropic Society (RDS) in Dublin. The partnership provided the required funds. And 20 underprivileged teenagers were able to attend college with Partnership “access” scholarships.
Several members of the board, including Chairman Clune and CEO Sugrue, traveled to Ireland in September to visit recipients and distribute more than $170,000 to the projects. Called the Partnership’s Leadership Mission, they were welcomed by many in official Ireland, including the Department of Education and the Department of Foreign affairs.
December is a month that non-profit organizations like the Partnership rely upon heavily for funding for their activities. For a more detailed list of the names and location of the schools and programs the Partnership has helped, and for information on how you might donate to the mission, please go to, the Partnership’s excellent website.
On Jan. 10, an Irish Women’s Christmas event at the Boston Harbor Hotel will celebrate the contributions that Irish women make to all of our lives during the year. Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese and former Ambassador Anne Anderson will join in a fireside chat on the topic. In Irish, the event is called Nullaig Na mBan – Women’s Christmas.
Two days before, in Washington on Jan. 8, the Partnership will hold a similar event honoring Baroness May Blood for all the work she has done to promote peace and women’s influence in Northern Ireland.
The above is a much-condensed version of all that could be said of the work of the Irish American Partnership here in Boston. It is truly something we can be proud of.