The annual London City Lunch took place on Thursday 29 June 2023, and once again saw the best of the Irish in Britain gather at Mansion House in the City of London to support the work of The Ireland Funds Great Britain. 250 guests were hosted by Alderman Vincent Keavney, who was representing Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons, in the resplendent surrounds of the Egyptian Hall.
Guests of honour were HE Martin Fraser, Ambassador of Ireland, and Ray O’Rourke, CEO and Chairman of Laing O’Rourke.
As guests arrived and made their way to the Long Room for a champagne and Guiness reception, they were serenaded by harpist Tara Viscardi who played a selection of classical and Irish pieces, including her own compositions. Once upstairs, the sound of friends old and new greeting each other filled the room. We were delighted to be joined by HE Martin Fraser, Ambassador of Ireland, Hugo MacNeill, former Chair of The Ireland Funds Great Britain, Caitriona Fottrell, CEO of the Worldwide Ireland Funds, Lord Patten of Barnes, Paul Dreschler CBE, Sir John Parker GBE and members of the O’Rourke family.
Lunch was called by Toastmaster, Roy Theobold, and guests made their way into the impressive Egyptian Hall where they were welcomed by Representative Lord Mayor Vincent Keavney who spoke about the important relationship between the City of London and Ireland. Welcomed to the stage next was Ambassador Fraser, who addressed how important it is to protect the close links between Britain and Ireland in business, culture and friendship. He spoke of those who are left behind in society and thanked The Ireland Funds for their meaningful and important contribution to supporting people and communities in need.
Guest of honour, Ray O’Rourke, took part in a fireside chat with outgoing Chairman of The Ireland Funds GB, Rory Godson. Their lighthearted discussion ranged from Ray’s reflections on his life journey to the importance of education, staying connected with your workforce and looking after them to avoid dispute. Ray talked about his mission to elevate regard for the engineering industry and how engineers will be at the core of solving the climate crisis. He spoke of his passion and pride for Ireland, and in particular Irish rugby. Ray was presented with an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Irish diaspora and a first edition copy of Seamus Heaney’s District & Circle, in honour of his fu`ll circle journey from pony boy on the construction of the Victoria line to CEO, sixty years later, of a global construction and engineering company that built four of the stations on the Elizabeth line.
Guests enjoyed a three-course lunch with wine, and chocolates sponsored by Butlers Chocolates. After the event, guests were invited to retire to The Ned to continue their conversations and networking.
The event was sponsored by McCann Fitzgerald LLP and by Teneo and Allica Bank, and their support meant that all funds raised on the day went directly to The Ireland Funds and the charities it supports.
Photographer: Noel Mullen