The Ireland Funds Australia returned to Fairwater for our 28th Garden party there. The weather was absolutely stunning as the new young owners welcomed us back on Sunday 20 October.
Our MC Richard Wilkins AM started off proceedings by inviting Tae Brown an Australian Indigenous Education Foundation Alumni from Nowra who attended Kincoppal Rose Bay School to stage and Blak Douglas to perform on the didgeridoo, a Brolga song from North East Arnhem Land, as part of our Acknowledgement of Country.
Owners Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes welcomed guests to their home, recognising the long connection between The Ireland Funds and Fairwater, guests replied with a rousing round of “for they are jolly good fellows”…
Former INXS singer and Grammy-nominated songwriter, Ciaran Gribbin sang a haunting couple of songs including Raglan Road, accompanied by Susie on fiddle and Garry on accordion.
Just before main course Chairman Yvonne Le Bas thanked everyone gathered including Board Members, past Chairman John O’Neill AO, Ambassador Breandán Ó Caollaí and Carmel, Consul General Owen Feeney, The Lansdowne Club; major sponsors Etihad; Diageo, David Smith; Australian Radio Network and HT&E, Ciaran Davis; Frank Curran, Ryan’s Hotels, The Star and Coolmore.
Yvonne was thrilled to provide an update to guests including our recent Worldwide Conference which took place in June in Belfast, given the recent unrest in Northern Ireland our visit there was very timely. One of our sessions included a discussion on the way forward in Northern Ireland where all panellists agreed, including former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, integrated education is the way forward to bring the communities together and nurture the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. The Ireland Funds have been supporters of integrated education since the very first Integrated School Lagan College in the 1980s.
Very sadly a rising young journalist who was an advocate for peace and reconciliation was killed in Derry whilst she was reporting on the unrest up there. Lyra McKee was given the post-humous The Ireland Funds Vincent Literary Award presented to her partner in June.
Our grant round to June this year also included continuing support for AIEF, together we are supporting 80 scholarship places by 2020; helping Soar to reach 62,000 teenagers by 2020, Men’s Sheds in Ireland, Community Action Network supporting disadvantaged communities in Dublin.
Yvonne explained that she is very proud of the work of our Young Leaders, some of the most active globally, hosting for example a hugely successful Global 5K in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane this year, and an annual corporate breakfast at Facebook, video linking in the CEO of Soar in Dublin to the Sydney breakfast crowd. The Young Leaders are the future of The Ireland Funds, cultivating an emerging generation of philanthropists, connecting the global Irish community and inspiring positive change.
Yvonne finished by telling guests we are on a journey to becoming carbon neutral and to that end we have planted a tree for every guest in Australia through Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund. We are helping to reforest an area in Co. Clare with non-invasive Native Irish trees such as Willow and Ash.
Yvonne presented flowers to Executive Director Teresa Keating, thanking her and all guests saying that our work changes lives, many of them young lives. To provide opportunity where previously there was only hopelessness is a powerful gift to give.
After Lunch H.E. Breandán Ó Caollaí the Irish Ambassador to Australia thanked guests for their generous support of the work of the Fund and the people of Ireland. The Ambassador reiterated given the uncertain times we live in the work of the Fund is just as important now as ever. He thanked guests for coming to the party and staying for the mission.
Guests were then entertained by Paul Martell, one of Australia’s leading and most successful corporate comedy entertainers.
Our thanks to everyone who participated in the live auction ably conducted by the charismatic Chris McKearney of EBM. The auction included Etihad Business Class tickets to Ireland thanks to Etihad, fabulous packages from Coolmore Australia to their Stud at the Hunter Valley and to Villiers Cup Day thanks to Tom and Sophie Magnier. We also had a wonderful Radio Advertising Package thanks to Australian Radio Network and Ciaran Davis.
With formalities over, MC Richard Wilkins MC invited guests to join DJ Brett Martin down by the water to cap off the day and enjoy the stunning view of Sydney Harbour.
Having all that fun allowed us to raise good profits on the day and we are extremely grateful to every single person that came out to support us at Fairwater again this year.
Photographer – Matt Teague