SEAN AUGUSTINE FARRELL, IRISH CONSUL GENERAL IN CHICAGO 2006-2007
By Thomas J. O'Gorman
Thomas J.O’Gorman is a Chicago artist and writer, a columnist for Inside Publications , and the Historian in Residence of the Irish Fellowship Club.
Sean Augustine Farrell was a life long Irish diplomat. And he has gone to God, now, at the age of 74. Missed and mourned. Sean relished the opportunities that came to him in the dialogue of harmonies among nations. Conversations he knew well were built on the back of common friendships and the ordinary achievements of parlor negotiations. And drawing room palavers. That’s why the ambassador was such a good consul general.As much at home in the grand salons of European diplomacy, as he was beside the warmth of a fire of turf. And a glass to toast a friend.
With an impish Irish wit he understood the leverage the Irish possessed in their effective diplomacy fueled by social skills and a sense of humor that remain the envy of many nations. Not least with the company of a cold gin and tonic. Or vintage champagne. Or a sip of refined vintage cote du rhone.
He treasured the Irish success at international affairs that frequently was the product of personal hilarity and a vintage ironic bemusement. He cared little for the strangle hold machinations of British ‘stiff upper lip’ control. Or the humorless gestures of artificial entreaties. For he was too successful in the bonhomme of natural engagement. The truth telling that a good Irish brew unleashed. He was a well regarded ambassador for his nation in posts of important friendships. A European Union voice speaking English that was trusted and treasured by all. The Irish famously well liked. Enjoyed. Listened to. And acted upon.
After becoming the first residential Irish ambassador in Tallinn, Estonia in 2001-2004, Sean took one more posting in Chicago, as Irish Consul General. He became a beloved friend to the Irish community there. Sean’s personality reached far beyond the usual antics of ordinary European diplomacy. His easy ways and likable persona opened all doors for him. From the notable Irish American politicos who made politics a local Chicago sport to the hundreds of thousands of Irish American families who treasure their blood ties to the homeland. Sean was a valued partner in the cultural and artistic process of discovery.
At home in the world of Ireland’s great contribution to the literature of the contemporary era, Sean Farrell was a writer of fiction, with novels, short stories, cultural analysis, and political reporting. Since leaving the Department of Foreign Affairs, his weekly column in the Irish American News has focused on issues of Irish diplomacy, Irish politics, and everyday life has appear weekly in Chicago’s Irish American News. His remains a valued voice of Irish reason and intelligence.
There was great deal of physicality to the diplomacy of Sean Farrell. Coming wrapped as it was in the ancient tradition of fabled talk and enlightened in the truth of modern artistry. I’m glad that Sean Farrell had the joy and healthy acclaim of the Chicago Irish as part of his career achievement. I know that it sustained him in a large measure for a deeper commitment to the international ideal of dialogue and justice around the globe. His career carried him far in the language of European peace and conflict resolution. His sensitivities to the issues of human rights set him aside as a gifted negotiator for sane reason. Particularly having faced the ravages of tyrants and the tragedies of their savagery in places like the siege of Sarajevo and Srebrenica massacre. His stories of that pitiful era of Ratko Mladic and subsequent Bosnian and Serbian slaughter reenforces the critical importance of more humane avenues of international conduct.
The Chicago Irish embraced Sean Farrell and took him to themselves in the comfort of their homes, dining rooms, drawing rooms, bar-b-ques, wakes and weddings, .
He was a noble guest and a valued friend. He will be mourned as he was enjoyed, as a treasured companion on the journey to discover the new Ireland. The modern European Ireland. A land of deep poetic reflection and lyrical harmonies, hungered for more now than ever in a world still in conflict and ripe with inhuman aggression. The soft hands and heart of Ambassador Farrell lifts the strategies for survival with aplomb to scatter discourse.
Farrell Sean, Portmarnock, 26th May 2021. Peacefully, at home after a short illness surrounded by his loving family. Beloved husband of Betty and loving father to Jennifer, Emmet and Sean, cherished grandfather to Oisín, Eoin and Maeve and father-in-law to Perry and Sineád. Sadly missed by his brother Liam, nieces, nephews, extended family, friends, neighbours and his former colleagues at the Department of Foreign Affairs.
May He Rest in Peace.
A live stream of Sean’s Funeral Mass can be viewed on Friday, 28th May, at 11am on the following link: http://portmarnockparish.ie/