ary’s Gift Irish Language Foundation is an American charity dedicated to ‘supporting Irish language education for the children of northeastern Ireland’. It was founded by Michael K Breen, an Irish-American lawyer, and named after his grandmother Mary Clifford who emigrated from county Roscommon to New York city in 1929. His paternal grandparents were from county Kerry.
Michael Breen was in West Belfast on 17 September 2009 to launch the charity and said that his aim was to support Irish-medium school in ‘Belfast and throughout the North’. During his speech he said, ‘In creating this project, one of my sources of inspiration has been the visionary Irish patriot Padraig Pearse.’
It is notable that Breen referred to Pearse as an ‘inspiration’ because Pearse was a member of the supreme council of the Irish Republic Brotherhood and one of those involved in the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. Here once again we see the influence of Irish republicanism on the Irish language movement. It may be argued that Pearse was also an Irish-language enthusiast but Breen does not refer to Pearse’s passion for the Irish language. Instead he describes him as an Irish patriot.’
Earlier this year Michael Breen was honoured by the Irish Echo at the ‘Forty Under Forty Awards’. The Irish-American newspaper is part of the Belfast Media Group, which is owned by former Sinn Fein councillor Mairtin O Muilleoir.