The Ireland Funds Australia celebrated in style for our annual Melbourne fundraiser with our network of friends, supporters and sponsors. For the first time it was an evening affair at the beautiful Glasshouse at Olympic Park where we welcomed more than 170 guests for great food and beverage and celebrating the work that we do.
MC Mary Gearin good-naturedly joined in all the fun of the night as she kept activities moving along and Clare O’Neil MP joined as a special guest, giving some moving words about facing challenges.
We were delighted to have our Chairman Yvonne Le Bas, CFO of Wealth at Westpac, fly down from Sydney for the Dinner. Yvonne welcomed guests including H.E. Breandán Ó Caollaí Irish Ambassador to Australia, fellow Board Members Ted Johnson and Paul O’Brien, Executive Director Teresa Keating, the Melbourne Young Leader Committee and major sponsors Australian Radio Network, NAB and the Melbourne Rebels. We were delighted to have many representatives of the wider Irish community attend including the Celtic Club, Trinity College Alumni, the University of Melbourne and Science Gallery Melbourne.
AIEF Scholarship graduate Gabrielle Ebsworth gave a wonderful acknowledgement of country and speech to open the occasion, and the Ambassador thanked guests for supporting the work of the Fund and particularly in these times of uncertainty with Brexit and the recent violence in Derry.
The Chairman gave an overview of activities of the Fund over the past 12 months including the below support and partnerships we are very proud of:
- Celebrating the third year of partnering with Science Gallery Melbourne, including being launch partner for their Blood Exhibition, sponsoring an indigenous cadetship and a regional schools outreach programme
- The fact that we have supported Soar from 2015 – 2018, with direct results from funding including providing 70 facilitators and 45 youth crew, as well as their “Stripped” program which reaches 1320 young women in 22 schools across Ireland.
- The Ireland Funds Australia and Trinity Business School Partnership which will see 4 MBA scholarships per year for Australian residents and the first intake in September 2019
Executive Director Teresa Keating spoke of our ongoing work supporting the people of Northern Ireland for the last 30 years, through projects of Community Development, Peace and Reconciliation and Integrated Education. Given that there has not been a functioning government in Northern Ireland for the last 2 years, Brexit and the recent unrest, guests present rose to the challenge, donating $40,000 to projects across Northern Ireland.
Our auctioneer Chris McKearney from EBM Insurance expertly and energetically conducted our live auction. A huge thank you to major sponsors, Melbourne Rebels, Coolmore Stud, Sydney Yachts, Mrs Jones at the Orient, NAB, Victoria Racing Club and Australian Radio Network.
We were entertained by Zeon, who gave us a fusion of traditional and modern Irish tunes, distilled in the streets of Ireland and matured in the laneways and bars of Melbourne. Our guests also enjoyed some interactive Riverdance fun, with the Christine Ayers Irish School of Dance, who gave a sensational performance and then invited guests to the dance floor to learn some steps of Irish dancing themselves.
Zeon finished off the night for guests as they relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company as well as Irish Coffees and Baileys!
Photographer: Matto Lucas Photography