In Ireland last week, fifty members of the Irish Bridge Union (IBU) met with the Irish President, Mary McAleese. The visit was in recognition of Pat McDevitt's World Senior title in Philadelphia last year as well as recognizing IBU Medalists and those that work for bridge, without whom our game could not survive. It was a wonderful recognition of our game.
It was a symbolic visit as the IBU was formed in the 1950’s in Belfast on a Good Friday after a process of reconciliation and friendship to allow players from both sides of the border to represent the island as a whole in European and World Championships. Unknown to those participants it was the portent of another Good Friday agreement (part of the Peace Process) many years later. The founding of the IBU was an example of extraordinary cross-border cooperation, because the impetus to bring it about was driven by two men who held diametrically opposed ideological and political convictions.
It was also symbolic that President McAleese, who has played a major role in building bridges with communities North and South, should receive members of the IBU which was formed in 1955 to build such a bridge to allow players to represent Ireland as a whole.
President McAleese was presented with a Belleek China Basket as a memento of the visit. Belleek Baskets have been presented to American Presidents, Royalty and Heads of States over many years. The commissioned basket has in its center the Belleek Bridge, symbolizing the linking of North and South and how the game of bridge ‘bridges every divide’.
|IBU President Mary Kelly-Rogers presents the Belleek Basket to President Mary McAleese.|
|World Senior Champion Pat McDevitt with wife Phyllis and Irish President Mary McAleese|
We in the Irish Bridge Union were particularly pleased to give recognition to Pat McDevitt on winning his World Senior title with Richard DeMartino, the President of the ACBL, for which he was applauded by the highest office in the land. Although he now lives in Boston, Pat is from Donegal, Ireland. He proudly represented Ireland last year in the European Championships in Ostende and before that in the WBF Olympiad in Beijing. Well done Pat.
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