(printed in Dec 09 Celtic Connection newspaper) Dear Friends, I welcome the opportunity to extend my warmest greetings to members of the Irish Community and to all people of Irish Heritage as we approach the holy season of Christmas. It is a great privilege for me to represent Ireland here in the Western United States, an area with such a uniquely warm and rich relationship with Ireland, and also, an area with such a welcoming Irish Community 2009 has been a difficult year for many of you, and as it draws to a close we can hopefully look forward with optimism to a brighter 2010, with the much hoped for economic upturn, and the possibility of new employment for those who have joined the unemployment lines in the past year. Within our community here, 2009 will also be remembered for the remarkable steadfastness and spirit which the Irish community demonstrated in the support for the less fortunate, the older and more marginalized members of our Irish Family. The generosity of the Irish people towards those in need can only be described as quite remarkable. Our Community also continues to support and advocate on the behalf of the undocumented Irish, and hopefully 2010 will bring about some much needed movement in addressing their plight. As the holiday season approaches our thoughts also turn to family and friends at home in Ireland and elsewhere in the World. We will, of course, also remember our loved ones who are no longer with us, when we come together at family gatherings to celebrate Christmas. On behalf of Vice Consul, Barry O”Brien and all my colleagues at the Irish Consulate, I wish you, one and all, a happy and peaceful Christmas. Beannachta” na Nollag agus na hAthbhliana Best wishes for the Festive Season Gerry Staunton

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