On Friday May 15th 300 guests filled the ballroom at the InterContinental Dublin for the 2nd Annual Ireland Funds Spring Gala.
This year we were delighted to welcome and honour Andy Lee, WBO Middleweight Boxing Champion and several members of the Irish Women’s Rugby team, with the Spirit of Ireland Award.
The night began with a champagne reception before guests were asked to take their seats. Caitlin Duffy, Director of The Ireland Funds Young Leaders, welcomed all the guests and kicked off the evening by introducing Alan Foy, Chair of the Young Leaders and Ireland Fund Board of Director. Alan thanked everyone for being here and their continued support of the work of The Ireland Fund, especially our corporate supporters IG Capital and Eversheds. A brief video was played that spoke about how individuals can get involved with The Ireland Funds and highlighted the work of our seven Flagship Grantees.
Guests were invited to enjoy their meal before Caitlin took the stage to kick off the main portion of our evening, presenting the Spirit of Ireland Award presentations. Caitlin, welcomed Siobhan Gallagher, solicitor with Mason Hayes & Curran and this year’s event Chair, to the stage and thanked her for her hard work and energy that she gave to making the evening such a success.
Siobhan praised Andy for all his outstanding achievements both inside and out of the ring and for being a role model for Irish everywhere, a deserving recipient of the Spirit of Ireland Award.
It took nearly a minute for Andy to gain control of the room as he was welcomed with an enthusiastic standing ovation from all in the room! Andy thanked everyone for this award and highlighted the fact that it is significant, as he too, benefited from the work of The Ireland Funds growing up. Andy attended Kronk Boxing Club, which is associated with the 174 Trust one of The Ireland Funds’ Grantees. Before he left the stage Andy asked the room to continue their generosity in supporting such outstanding organizations.
As the room quietened down, Caitlin introduced a surprise video for the honourees which was a congratulations from previous Spirit of Ireland Awardees, Brian O’Driscoll and Mark Pollock. It was great to hear previous recipients acknowledge this year’s awardees and the hard work they have put in over the years. It was an honour to have Mark Pollock in attendance on the night and to see so many outstanding role models in Ireland come together.
Next Caitlin invited Hugo MacNeill and Trevor Ringland to the stage to present the award to the Niamh Briggs on behalf of the Irish Women’s Rugby team. Both Hugo and Trevor are Ireland Fund Board members and former Irish Rugby Internationals and so it only seemed fitting that they make the presentation. Niamh Briggs agreed as she took the stage and thanked everyone in attendance, recognizing how great it was to have two rugby legends make the award presentation.
Both honourees stressed the importance of sports to the youth of the country, with Niamh highlighting how great it is to see Irish Women’s rugby making an impact, on not only the sport, but on the young girls of today. The Irish Women’s rugby have had some incredible years with two 6 Nations championship wins, and of course, beating the All Blacks. Hugo made sure Niamh was reminded that she can never say that enough, they are the only Irish team to beat the All Blacks!
As Niamh left the stage the guests were on their feet again for a well-deserved standing ovation to Niamh and her teammates, both in attendance and not.
Caitlin congratulated the Honourees again and announced some last minute excitement to the night. Blueface made a spectacular last minute addition to the raffle; one lucky guest was able to walk away with one of the first Apple Watch in Ireland.
Finally, the moment many of our guests were waiting for, the locked box containing a €3,000 voucher to Cullen & Co. Jewellers was now open to test their keys. 75 keys were for sold throughout the evening with only one key opening the box that contained this spectacular prize. Guests hurried to ensure those interested didn’t miss out on their chance for a key, and the chance to win such an amazing gift. After over 60 keys were tested, Patricia Nolan walked away a very happy lady! She can’t wait to head over to meet our friends at Cullen & Co to pick out her prize. Thanks again to Cullen & Co for their donation.
After dinner, musical entertainment was provided by Top of the Popz, who kept the dance floor full all evening.
A special thank you to our event sponsors Eversheds and IG Capital whose support helped make this night such a success and to the committee who helped drive all aspect of the event.
We thank all of our guests and donors for their continued support, it is greatly appreciated.