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2014 Chairman's Award winner McCullough speaks at American Ireland Fund Gala

John Altdorfer - Pulitzer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough stands with Dan Rooney, former U.S. ambassador to Ireland and founder of the American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh chapter, in front of a replica of the David McCullough Bridge at the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala. March 19, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Pulitzer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough stands with Dan Rooney,  former U.S. ambassador to Ireland and founder of the  American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh chapter, in front of a replica of the David McCullough Bridge at the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala. March 19, 2014.
John Altdorfer - Gateway Financial president and CEO David Malone and his daugher Callie catch up on their reading at the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitzer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough. March 19, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Gateway Financial president and CEO David Malone and his daugher Callie catch up on their reading at the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitzer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough. March 19, 2014.
John Altdorfer - Michele Kloes, Meg Colafella and Jenece Upton check out a book in the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitzer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh nativie David McCullough. March 19, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Michele Kloes, Meg Colafella and Jenece Upton check out a book in the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitzer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh nativie David McCullough.  March 19, 2014.
John Altdorfer - Jackie Dixon relaxes with Marlon Ferguson in the the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitizer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough. March 19, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Jackie Dixon relaxes with Marlon Ferguson in the the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitizer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough. March 19, 2014.
John Altdorfer - Casey Monteverdi (left) chats with Greta Rooney (right) as Steelers president Art Rooney II (center) looks on at the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitzer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough. March 19, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Casey Monteverdi (left) chats with Greta Rooney (right) as Steelers president Art Rooney II (center) looks on at the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitzer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough. March 19, 2014.
John Altdorfer - Country music singer Sarah Marince checks out the stacks in the 'McCullough Bookshop' in th Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitizer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough. March 19, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Country music singer Sarah Marince checks out the stacks in the 'McCullough Bookshop' in th Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitizer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough. March 19, 2014.
John Altdorfer - Irish step dancers entertain in the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitzer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough. March 19, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Irish step dancers entertain in the Heinz Field East Lounge during the 37th annual American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala, which honored Pulitzer Prize winning author and Pittsburgh native David McCullough. March 19, 2014.

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The waters were parting within the East Club Lounge of Heinz Field on March 19, indicative of the legend who was making his way inside.

“He got me into history,” said Marlon Ferguson. “He's wonderful. I want to get a photo with him even more so than the governor.”

The “he” was none other than Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David McCullough. Recipient of the American Ireland Fund Gala's 2014 Chairman's Award, he was also at the helm of a VIP mix-and-mingle with gala co-chairs David Malone and Sy Holzer, dinner chairs James Rohr, Art Rooney II (with Greta) and AmbassadorDan Rooney (with Pat), Gov.Tom Corbett and first lady Susan, American Ireland Fund chairman John Fitzpatrick, World-Wide Ireland Funds prez Kieran McLoughlin, and Tony Quatrini. Afterward, it was elbow-room-only for 500-plus guests who were finding themselves in the midst of a party that seemed to start an hour before it officially began.

“We embrace what's great about Ireland and turn it up a notch,” said event planner Theresa Kaufman.

With no shortage of Guinness in sight, guests soaked up the scenery — which this year, included two distinct nods to the guest of honor; an impressively large replica of the David McCullough Bridge (nee 16th Street Bridge), and a library theme with hundreds of books.

Once seated and appetites satisfied, the Rev. Paul Taylor offered a better-late-than-never prayer, “Tonight, the blessing is retroactive,” he laughed, before handing things over to McCullough, who was not short on praise for his beloved hometown.

“My books are about accomplishments — worthy accomplishments by people who faced roadblocks but never did give up. The American spirit is vibrant in this magnificent city. The way you were raised really matters — to have certain values and to approach problems a certain way. Let's hope we never lose that.”

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media and can be reached at kbenz@tribweb.com, 412-380-8515 or via Twitter @KateBenzTRIB.

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