If there were a "green carpet," one could say that Wheeling community leaders rolled out a virtual version for Irish diplomat Peter Ryan who visited the Friendly City Thursday evening.
Ryan, deputy consul general for economics and public affairs from Ireland's consulate in New York City, was the guest of honor at the Dec. 6 reception hosted by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. (See Page D5 for photos and an additional article about his visit.)
The Rev. Larry Wrenn, a retired Catholic priest from Tipperary, Ireland, now living in Wheeling, greeted his countryman with a recitation in Gaelic, with Ryan responding in Gaelic.
The Irish priest and the Irish diplomat shared memories of Tipperary and other communities in Ireland. When Wrenn revealed that he's leaving today, Dec. 9, to return to Tipperary for the wedding of his nephew, Lar Corbett, and Elaine Gleeson on Saturday, Dec. 15, Ryan related that he has Ryans and Gleesons on both sides of his family. He also quipped that the Ryans and Gleesons own all the pubs and hotels in one particular town.
Before Ryan arrived, Wrenn proudly showed other guests a copy of his nephew's newly-released autobiography, "Lar Corbett - All in My Head." Corbett, who is the son of Wrenn's sister, Breda, is an Irish star in the sport of hurling. As a hurler, Corbett played as a left corner-forward for the Tipperary senior team. He joined the team during the 2001 championship and became a regular player until his retirement at the end of the 2011 championship.
Irish members of the clergy were honored guests at the reception for Ryan.
In addition to Wrenn, the Rev. Jeremiah McSweeney, a priest from Ireland and pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church in Wheeling, was present to greet his fellow Irishman.
Ryan also enjoyed meeting three members from the Congregation of St. Joseph in Wheeling: Sister Peggy Sinnott and Sister Mairead Scanlon, both of whom are from Ireland, and Sister Christine Riley, who is Irish-American.
Since Ryan is interested in expanding cultural links between Ireland and West Virginia, the Irish consulate invited representatives from Irish cultural festivals in the state to attend the reception in Wheeling.
Craig O'Leary and others involved in the Wheeling Celtic Festival were on hand to greet Ryan at the Knights of Columbus headquarters on Edgington Lane.
Also present were Bill and Eleanor MacLean of Bridgeport, W.Va., as representives of the Scottish Festival and Celtic Gathering held in their city every May. The MacLeans also were eager to meet the Irish diplomat because they plan to visit Ireland for the first time in April.
Chatting with the MacLeans prior to Ryan's arrival, I noted that my friend and colleague, Betsy Bethel McFarland, is the pipe major of the Macdonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh, which plays at the annual festival in Bridgeport. In another "small world" connection, I learned that Eleanor MacLean and Wheeling native Beth Honecker, the well-known landscape architect, belong to the same garden club in Bridgeport
Meanwhile, the Scots-Irish MacLeans had a non-Celtic mission awaiting them before they returned home to central West Virginia Thursday evening. A Bridgeport friend, who hails from Wheeling, had requested that they bring back some DiCarlo's pizza!
Speaking to the Wheeling audience, Ryan remarked,"We hope this isn't the last of the visits to West Virginia. I just want to stay here."
Relating that his wife and their three daughters, ages 14, 9, and 2, are in New York, Ryan added, "I hope to bring the family down here for some R&R."
Linda Comins can be reached via email at: Comins@news-register.net