27th November, 2011

O’Christmas Festive Garden Party

The Australian Ireland Fund’s Sydney O’ Christmas Festive Garden Party took place on Sunday, 27 November 2011. With many of the 500 guests getting into the theme and dressing up with their finest Baubles and tinsels, Lady Mary Fairfax’s home, ‘Fairwater’, in Double Bay provided a spectacular setting for the event.

This year the weather was on our side, with a bright blue sky and temperatures reaching a maximum of 32 degrees.

On arrival, guests were welcomed by ‘Santa’s helpers’ and enjoyed decadent hors-d’oeuvres and pre-luncheon cocktails in the magical Christmas themed marquee complete with a magnificent traditional Georgian Door ornamented with a stunning Christmas Wreath.Kieran McLoughlin, President and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds, was our Master of the Ceremony, He gave guests an entertaining and informative update on the Ireland Fund, while every so often cracking a few jokes.

Perhaps the most heart touching part of the day was Nadiah Noter’s story. Nadiah, a young Aboriginal girl, talked about her integration into St. Vincent’s Boarding School and how her life has significantly changed for the better thanks to the scholarship granted by the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. The Australian Ireland Fund and the AIEF together are providing 8 scholarships a year – four in Sydney and four in Brisbane.

Much appreciated finalist of the ‘X Factor’, Andrew Wishart made a special appearance and sang And so this is Christmas and on request for the occasion ‘With or Without You’ from U2.

Chairman Alan Joyce went on to officially thank Lady Mary Fairfax AC, OBE for her hospitality and all her continuing generosity, and welcomed our supporters and important guests. A special presentation was made to the Chairman of Waterford Crystal Governor glasses for his wonderful support and in recognition of becoming a Governor of the Australian Ireland Fund. A presentation was also made to Director Jane Cosgrove for all her support and to Executive Director Teresa Keating for all her hard work putting the event together.

Guests were entertained by the good looking trio from ‘The Boys in the Band’, whose performance lifted guests from their seats to dance on the impromptu dance floor.

The crowd enjoyed a succulent lunch prepared by Gastronomy Catering. The Live Auction was a great success with Edward Riley our Auctioneer for the day, delivering a lively and entertaining Auction. We thank all our Live Auction Sponsors who very generously donated wonderful items for the day. Maura Dempsey Englman for providing the Posh Voucher; Maureen McCarthy for donating the John Lennon Manuscript; Sean Connolly for agreeing to cook for 10 people in a provide home and to Gastronomy for providing the food; to Charles Curran AC for donating his 60ft Yacht “Sydney” to Kristen Bashir for the amazing Six Senses Holiday in Oman; to Alan Joyce for providing the Qantas Business class tickets to London and to Mercedes Chris Knapp, Richard Herring of APN Outdoor and Ciaran Davis of Australian Radio Network for providing the C Class Mercedes Coupe.

A bidding frenzy also ensued in the adjacent marquee which was filled with many donated one of a kind silent auction items. We also thank all who supported the Silent Auction; details of all can be found in our Programme printed especially for the day and available on this site.

Guinness/Diageo provided us with all our Guinness & Kilkenny for guests on the day and Baileys and Irish Whiskey for our Irish Coffees – we thank Guinness very much. Thanks also to Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre John Kelly for providing the café bar and cappuccinos on the day, Last but not least to our Governor and Director Peter Ryan for the donation of Moet champagne for all our corporate tables.

Throughout the day guests partook in a “Sweepstakes” game with the opportunity to win luxurious one week’s accommodation in a 4 bedroom lush villa in the fabulous Sheraton Mirage Resort in the town of Port Douglas, North Queensland, courtesy of Fund Life Governor and Director Ron Porter.

The 2011 Sydney Garden Party was successful both socially and financially with more than 460 guests attending and funds being raised on the day for projects of peace and reconciliation and integrated education in Northern Ireland and Indigenous education here in Australia.

This could not have been achieved without the generous support of all involved but in particular our major sponsors:

  • Qantas Airways, Alan Joyce
  • APN Outdoor, Richard Herring
  • Mercedes Benz, Chris Knaap
  • Australian Radio Network, Ciaran Davis

We truly are very grateful to all our table captains, supporters and sponsors, individuals and companies alike, without whom our work would not be possible! Thank you to all for making this year’s Australian Ireland Fund Sydney Garden Party such a great success.