10th October, 2008

Monaco Gala Weekend 2008

With its spectacular setting and weather that could have been commissioned by the Côte d’Azur Chamber of Commerce, the Ireland Fund of Monaco welcomed guests from Australia, Ireland, England, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, France and the Principality of Monaco to its biennial 2008 Gala Weekend. More people than ever made the trip with the American Ireland Fund, and without exception, they’ve made a point to say just how great the weekend was.

Friday, 10 October

The weekend got off to a magnificent start, thanks to the wonderful generosity of Bill Walsh. Bill and his family welcomed the Gala Weekend attendees to a fantastic luncheon on board the Cuor di Leone. As guests boarded the yacht and left their shoes behind on the quai, they experienced the first of many relaxing and fun moments that marked the weekend. IFM President, Mike Fitzgerald, thanked Bill for his overwhelming and generous hospitality and promised that the good times started on board would continue for the whole weekend! He delivered on that promise!!

Friday evening, Billy Vincent, the founder and president emeritus of the Ireland Fund of Monaco, hosted a delicious dinner at the Yacht Club of Monaco. He and all of the guests were delighted by a surprise visit at the cocktail reception from His Serene Highness, Prince Albert II, who is the haut patron of the Ireland Fund of Monaco.

Saturday, 11 October

The group traveled to Cap d’Ail, the French town that borders Monaco immediately to its west. La Pinède was the site of a luncheon at which Mike Fitzgerald offered more formal thanks to all who encourage and support IFM in its two strategic initiatives: to provide funding for research into the causes and treatment of chronic depression that leads to suicidal behavior, and to provide funding to the poorest of the world’s communities that are struck by catastrophic natural disaster, such as the tsunami that hit Sri Lanka and the cyclone that devastated Myanmar. Guests were able to learn more about these initiatives during the luncheon.

That evening, the black tie Gala was held at the Salle Empire of the Hotel de Paris. Its Belle Epoque décor provided the perfect background for an evening of dinner and dancing. Traditional Irish musicians (who were French!!) started the evening festivities during the cocktail hour. As the evening progressed, the third Princess Grace Humanitarian Award, the only one of its kind named for the late Princess of Monaco who was so proud of her Irish heritage, was presented to Paul Kelly, the founder of CONSOLE. As he made the presentation, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II called Mr Kelly, “a remarkable man, devoting his life to a cause that is far more severe and widespread than we choose to believe,” and said, “I am privileged to bestow this distinguished Award to such an honourable man.”

His Highness also gave a personal gift from him and his family to the Ireland Fund of Monaco to help with its projects, and he challenged others to join with him in donating to the support of such important work.

Sunday, 12 October

The group travelled further down the coast west of Monaco to Antibes with its beautiful port and historic village that has often been described as “the last truly French town on the Riviera.” After another outstanding luncheon, this one at L’Auberge Provençale, the Gala Weekend drew to a close with everyone looking forward to 2010.