Get Your Irish Up . . . or on the rocks!
By Amanda Stowe, Intern, National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter

AVON, Conn. As March nears, Americans nationwide prepare in earnest to get their Irish up. However, no one does it better than Michael O’Toole, who invites you to get your Irish up . . . or on the rocks. And all for a worthy cause!

A West Hartford resident, O’Toole will host the first Get Your Irish Up for MS!, an Irish-themed spirit tasting event, Saturday, March 8, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Avon Old Farms Inn. The event includes Irish whiskey flights accompanied by a certified Jameson pilot. Fine Irish whiskey differs from Scotch whiskey because of a triple distillation in traditional stills and the selection of barley, whether raw or malted.

Get Your Irish Up For MS! will also feature a Pour Your Own Guinness station, an Irish-inspired buffet, a silent auction and drawing. Irish musical entertainment will be provided by Calley McGrane & the Exiles in addition to an Irish step-dancing performance by the Shamrock School of Dance. The event will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter and its efforts to help end the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis (MS).

"Throughout the years I watched my mother battle the effects of multiple sclerosis," said O’Toole, who established the event in memory of his mother. "At first the effects of the disease were minimal; she’d stumble when her legs would suddenly go numb and she’d be unable to write a letter because her hands would be shaking. However, over time the effects became increasingly severe. By the time I was in college, my mother was in a wheelchair and unable to live on her own. This disease took away her independence, and eventually, it took her life."

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. The cause is unknown and, as a result, there currently is no cure. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness and tingling in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness and, in some severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted. More than 6,000 Connecticut residents live with multiple sclerosis. Funds raised through events, such as Get Up Your Irish For MS!, ensure ongoing scientific research to find a cure and provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter to those in Connecticut battling MS.

"Multiple sclerosis robs people of mobility and independence," said O’Toole. "Multiple sclerosis literally knocks them down. We can’t let MS continue to get the upper hand. It’s time to fight. It’s time to get our Irish up for MS!"

Get Your Irish Up For MS! will take place Saturday, March 8, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Avon Old Farms Inn, 1 Nod Road, in Avon. Tickets are $60 per person. Get Your Irish Up For MS! reservations are currently being accepted and can be made by mail. To reserve seats, please make checks payable to "Get Your Irish Up For MS" and mail to:

Michael O’Toole
42 Hyde Road
West Hartford, CT 06117

Guests are encouraged to wear green. For more information on Get Your Irish Up For MS!, please call Michael O’Toole at 860-331-9084 or visit For more information on multiple sclerosis or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter, please call 1-800 FIGHT MS or visit


Amanda Stowe, a resident of Avon, is currently enrolled at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Stowe will graduate in August with a Bachelor of Science degree in communications.


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