The Ireland Funds Worldwide Conference
June 16 – 18, 2022
Killarney, Co Kerry
Friends from around the world attended The Ireland Funds Worldwide Conference based at the Europe Hotel in Killarney, Ireland. The three-day conference welcomed over 200 supporters from the US, Ireland, Great Britain, Singapore, China, Germany, Monaco, and Australia. It was the first post-pandemic Conference held and was a much-anticipated reunion of friends of The Ireland Funds.
The gathering was a chance for donors to see first-hand the impact of their philanthropy as they met with a number of the projects benefitting directly from The Ireland Funds’ investment. Special panels on The Ireland Funds’ investments in the areas of Education and Peace & Reconciliation in Northern Ireland were held for donors to gain insight into these pillars of The Ireland Funds’ vital work.
A key event of the Worldwide Conference was its opening night celebrating The Ireland Funds’ support of culture and the arts. Joseph O’Connor was presented with The Ireland Funds AWB Vincent Literary Award in recognition of his contributions to the literary landscape which have included his bestselling novels ‘Star of the Sea’ and ‘Shadowplay’. Previous winners of the award have included Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, Edna O’Brien, and Eavan Boland, among others. Joseph O’Connor said: “Forty years ago, at the age of 17, inspired by many of the great writers who have received this award, I began to write fiction and to dream I might one day have a novel published. To be now invited into a group that includes the lighthouses of my early teens, is a humbling honour and a blessing. I am profoundly grateful to The Ireland Funds for this extraordinarily generous act of support and for all it has done, and continues to do, for the arts, culture, and education in Ireland.”
Rounding out the evening’s strong cultural theme, the tenth anniversary of Music Generation, Ireland’s national music education program, was also recognized. Music Generation was co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds and the Department of Education and the celebration was attended by special guest, U2’s Adam Clayton, with musical performances from Sharon Shannon and young Music Generation musicians from Waterford and Laois. Addressing those gathered, Adam Clayton said, “We are also very grateful to you, The Ireland Funds, for the partnership in sharing in our vision and helping us to bring this big idea to life. When we partnered with The Ireland Funds, Ireland had no infrastructure developed for a national music program. Together, a committed partnership between philanthropy, government, and local communities has been nurtured to make this happen. Together with The Ireland Funds, we invested in a vision with long-term sustainability. Today, we see and hear the results of that investment ringing out across every city and country and county in the Republic of Ireland.”
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin was presented with The Ireland Funds International Leadership Award at the second night’s Gala. The Taoiseach, Micheál Martin said: “I would like to thank The Ireland Funds and its donors for the support they have given to a great many programs, which enrich the lives of communities the length and breadth of the island of Ireland. I was delighted to attend The Ireland Funds Worldwide Conference in person, and it was quite an honor to accept the International Leadership Award in the presence of so many people who have shown great leadership, whether in business, the arts, civil society or other fields.”
In response to the recent events in Ukraine, The Ireland Funds also announced at the Worldwide Conference that it is committed to providing a minimum of €180,000 in critical support to seven charitable organisations across Ireland who are helping to respond to the evolving crisis. The Ireland Funds Ukrainian Relief Fund was announced by the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and will disperse support to: DePaul; the Children’s Rights Alliance; the Irish Refugee Council; the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC); MyMind; the Early Learning Initiative and Making Connections. The Ireland Funds Ukrainian Relief Fund was established by donors from the United States, Australia, Great Britain, including an initial gift from renowned entertainer Michael Flatley.
The Ireland Funds Worldwide Conference was an opportunity to showcase the beauty of Ireland and to thank donors and friends from around the world for their ongoing commitment to the philanthropic mission of The Ireland Funds. Over the past three years, The Ireland Funds had distributed over $50 million to a wide range of hundreds of not-for-profit organizations across the island of Ireland.
Photography: Aengus McMahon, Don MacMonagle, Sally MacMonagle