Seattle Gets its Green On

Front row, left to right: Aoife Blake, Irish Network Seattle Communications Officer; Kathleen O’Toole, Seattle’s new Chief of Police; Mayor Ed Murray; Anne Anderson, Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S.; and Noreen McCormack, President of Irish Network Seattle.

By Noreen McCormack, Contributor
August / September 2014

2014 is proving to be an eventful year for Seattle Irish. Mayor Ed Murray, who lived in Ireland for a time, and whose four grandparents are from the old sod, was sworn into office in January. The Seattle Seahawks, led by Irish American coach Pete Carroll, won the Super Bowl. Seattle musicians Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, both proud Irish Americans, won several Grammys, including Best New Artist. And last month, our first female Chief of Police, Kathleen (Horton) O’Toole was sworn into office.

Chief O’Toole, who was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, became the first female police commissioner of Boston when she was appointed in 2004.

In May 2006, O’Toole moved to Ireland to assume the role of Chief Inspector of the Garda (Irish National Police). She had previously served on the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland under Chris Patten. The commission developed strategies that helped to shape the new police department of Northern Ireland. On May 19, 2014, she was nominated to serve as Chief of the Seattle Police Department.

O’Toole, who was honored as one of Irish America’s Top 100 in 2006, has roots in Co. Galway – her grandmother was from Athlone. Her husband has family in Roscommon and Mayo, and her daughter Meghan did her Master’s in screenwriting at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

When Mayor Murray addressed the attendees at the swearing-in ceremony, he quipped, “I didn’t select Chief O’Toole because she is a woman.  I picked her because she is Irish.”

Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson was in Seattle for the occasion.

Seattle has a significant Irish-born population, as well as Irish American. and there are over 800,000 citizens in Washington state who claim Irish ancestry. Recently, the Irish government has demonstrated a keen interest in Seattle, not just due to Microsoft, but Amazon, Boeing and Expedia, to name a few Seattle companies operating in Ireland. Taoiseach Enda Kenny visited Seattle in March 2013.

Noreen McCormack is the President of Irish Network Seattle. To learn more about Irish Network Seattle, visit, Irishnetworkseattle.org

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