Billy Lawless, Co-Chair of the Galway Committee of CSCI, has been appointed as a Senator to Ireland’s Seanad Éireann (the upper house of the Irish legislature, the Oireachtas) by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the Prime Minister of Ireland. Mr. Lawless is one of the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees and the first Irish emigrant to be appointed to the legislative body.
Since moving to Chicago in 1998, Mr. Lawless has been a successful business owner and restaurateur and is a prominent immigrant rights advocate. He has led the Galway Committee of CSCI with Co-Chair William Gainer since 2000, first as Vice-Chair and now as Co-Chair. He is a board member and co-founder of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition (IBIC) and Chair of Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform. Last year, former Galway Mayor Cllr. Donal Lyons and Galway City Council presented Mr. Lawless with the Freeman of the City of Galway.
Mr. Lawless and his wife Anne earned U.S. citizenship in 2014. They have four children, John Paul, Amy, Clodagh and Billy, Jr.
Mr. Lawless is a native of Rahoon, County Galway, where his family was involved in dairy farming, supplying milk to households in the city. He was a prominent oarsman with rowing clubs in the city including with Coláiste Iognáid and Tribesman Rowing Club. He opened The Gallows Pub in Prospect Hill in the 1970s and subsequently ran the Twelve Pins in Barna before moving to Chicago in 1998 and helped open Wrigleyville’s first Irish bar, The Irish Oak, followed by a more modern Irish bar/restaurant, The Grafton, in Lincoln Square in 2002. After guiding both to their current status as local haunts and tourist favorites, the Lawless family has opened The Gage, Henri, Acanto, The Dawson and, this summer, The Dearborn.