James Flannery, left, views a certificate of Irish heritage, with Jimmy Deenihan, minister of arts, heritage and gaeltacht.

James Flannery, director of the W. B. Yeats Foundation at Emory University, and Ed Moran, an Irish community leader in Atlanta for more than 30 years, received certificates of Irish heritage during the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations March 15-17.

Similar certificates were given to President Obama and other distinguished guests at the White House in Washington the following week. The certificates recognize the contribution individuals of Irish descent have made in generating goodwill towards Ireland in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Dr. Flannery received his certificate from Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland’s minister of arts, heritage and gaeltacht, during a dinner at the residence of Paul Gleeson, the Irish consul general in Atlanta.

“Since growing up as the child of parents born in Ireland, learning of my Irish roots has been one of the defining impulses in my life. My bedtime stories were mostly about the great monastic community of Clonmacnoise, the home of my father, but there were also fairy stories that my mother had heard growing up in an Irish-speaking family in West Clare,” Dr. Flannery said concerning the honor.

“Certain seeds were planted in my psyche then, and they have been growing ever since, especially through my exposure to Yeats, the songs of Thomas Moore and simply living and working in Ireland. My work as a teacher, scholar, theater director and singer has been motivated primarily by a wish to share with others the incredible richness and beauty of Irish culture, as I have experienced it.”

Mr. Gleeson presented Mr. Moran with his certificate at the Hiberian Black Tie Ball. “…it is a grand reminder of who and where my roots are,” Mr. Moran said.

“It reminds me of my heritage and the success and incredible courage of those Irish ancestors who came to the British colony of Maryland long before it was a part of this great nation. It reminds me of their struggle for independence from their oppressors and reminds me to whom I should be grateful for the many blessings which have accrued to me and my family as a result of their bravery and determination.”

To learn more about the certificate program, go to www.heritagecertificate.ie