Emerald Society B’fast and The Success of Immigration




Was the Spanish-speaking guy dolling out trays of scrambled eggs-and-bacon at the Emerald Society of Fort Lauderdale breakfast on Sunday listening to the speeches mentioning immigration?

Did the Haitian gentleman cleaning tables tune in?

If they had, they might have cried: “What about us?”

Because the Emerald Society speakers waxed poetically about the immigration of the Irish to America.

Most of the Irish came to this country penniless, running from starvation with few prospects or skills.

They were greeted with antipathy.

They were greeted with signs posted on restaurants, apartments and job sites that warned, “No Irish.”

They were greeted by the Know Nothing political party, formed specifically to limit Irish influence in public life.

The Irish fought back with hard work and smarts.

Now generations later, we have the well-healed Emerald Society of Fort Lauderdale at the Bahia Mar Resort on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. The 400 guests were celebrating its 64th annual St. Patrick’s Day Gala.

The Emerald Society breakfast is the very pinnacle of power in Broward County.   Millionaire lawyers. Powerbrokers. Judges. Politicians. Business owners. Cops and fire fighters.

The Establishment with a capital “E”.

Wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day. Green shirts. Green blouses. Pockets full of green. A crowd that epitomized the American success story

Every one was the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those impoverished immigrants who came here crammed into wooden boats.

Like others who come today.  Crammed in wooden boats or sneaking across the Texas desert, just praying for a better tomorrow.

Haitians. Hispanics.

Their children might be the next judges, politicians and millionaires. Their children might invent the next Google or a cure for cancer.

If given the chance that comes in America.

It was the Society’s Irishman of the Year who reminded the group that the immigrants of today are like their Irish ancestors of yesterday.

“We need to support immigration because it is who I am,” Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan said. “It is who all of us are.”

And amid all the backslapping joviality, no more important words were spoken to the families of immigrants.

Was anybody listening?




Mike Ryan, wearing a kilt at the Emerald Society breakfast (Picture from Facebook)


6 Responses to “Emerald Society B’fast and The Success of Immigration”

  1. MIchael G. Ahearn, Esq says:


    Thank you and the other almost 400 people who attended our Emerald Society Breakfast yesterday.

    Our award winners, Mayor Ryan, Tim Schiavone, Susan Israel, Debbie Ryan and Officer Sandi Keesling were all great speakers as were those that introduced them.

    I have one regret from yesterday, based on the almost dozen complaints I received regarding a current candidate for office (I will not give any further description) and their surrogates were far to overzealous (to be kind) in interacting with our guests.

    Prior to yesterday, we have never had an issue with any candidate who have handed literature to our guests.

    On that note, I thank Commissioner Jim Norton, State Rep Candidate Dr. Peerman and Judicial Candidate Jonathan Kasen for conducting themselves in a respectful way towards our guests while handing out their literature.

    To anyone else who may have been inconvenienced yesterday, I am truly sorry.


    Michael G. Ahearn, Esq
    President, Emerald Society of FTL

  2. Las Olas Lawyer says:

    Mayor Ryan gave the best speech of the morning.

  3. Ciar to have my vote says:

    Who was misbehaving

  4. ziggy says:

    dear buddy,, most of us are all for immigration,,, but , one slight difference, legal v illegal. those qualifiers are the total difference. if you wish total freedom of movement say so, but be prepared for the consequences.

  5. Alice McGill says:

    My Irish grandparents and my husband’s relatives entered the USA legally. Today many people who enter legally have to wait for years for clearance behind the illegals. Our country will be stronger with legal immigration. It is true that the Obama administration is deporting people at a record level. Why?? Because they have committed crimes and are here illegally.

  6. An Irish Lawyer says:

    Mike Ryan is a thoughtful and intelligent observer of our community with solid ideas for improvements as indicated here in his articles for Browardbeat. He was a natural to be picked for Irishman of The Year.
    I learned at the breakfast that Ryan is an accomplished attorney with millions of dollars in verdicts to his credit. Most politicians need a job, yet he doesn’t. It is too bad there are not more in public office like of the caliber of Mike Ryan.