Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Waxing About Green Energy with Dan Rooney - Day Four in Ireland

Dan Rooney, chairman emeritus of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is a true yinzer legend - he also happens to be the U.S. ambassador to Ireland who holds a playbook chalked with progressive renewable energy ideas. Rooney took time out of his intensively packed schedule to address our class in the rotunda of the U.S. Embassy.

Rooney recently participated in an international Marine Energy and Smart Grid Technology Workshop, coordinated by the United States, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“In Ireland, renewable energy is a special thing. We have wind and now we’re working on wave technology,” said Rooney.

Rooney said locals that use traditional cheap energy sources can be resistant to change, but he hopes to educate all 26 Irish counties about the economic benefits that can result from the conversion to renewable sources. He illustrated this by telling the story of an Irish cousin that uses peat moss for heating his home.

Rooney stands poised to deliver an economic touchdown by helping the Irish talk with domestic and foreign investors that would develop green energy technology on the Western coast near Galloway.

“He believes that renewable energy is the way forward,” said John Murphy, communications assistant to the ambassador.

Murphy stayed and talked with the group after Rooney had to leave to press on with his busy day. We were able to get some great group pictures with him before he left.

Murphy was interesting because he is essentially a one man staff for Rooney. He writes press releases, takes pictures and addresses the media. What really blew my mind was the fact that he is only 23 years-old. I have to admit being a bit jealous.

We attended another lecture at Dublin City University after the embassy visit. Earlier in the day we had breakfast with Irish Times writer Rosita Boland. We also had dinner at drinks at our home-base pub (O’Shea’s Merchant by the River Liffey). OK – enough nonlinear diary-style blogging – we are headed to Temple Bar to watch the Penguins game.

Hopefully my playoff beard will continue to grow like an angry Chia Pet until mid-June when we add a final banner to the Igloo.

For a more detailed account of the U.S. Embassy visit with Mr. Rooney – please check out an article written by your truly and fellow grad student, Aaron Kendeall. Special thanks to Prof. Fallon and Prof. Getz for editing the piece for us. I’ll post the link when it gets published.

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