28th October, 2012

Sydney Garden Party 2012

The Australian Ireland Fund’s “Untamed Ireland” Garden Party took place on Sunday 28 October 2012.  Many guests had fun and dressed up for the theme.   Lady Mary Fairfax’s home, ‘Fairwater’, in Double Bay provided a spectacular setting for the event.
On arrival, guests were welcomed by our Jungle Janes and enjoyed decadent hors-d’oeuvres and our pre-luncheon “Snake Venom” cocktails, specially designed for the Garden Party.

Executive Director Teresa Keating welcomed and thanked close to 500 guests, particularly the many people she has personally asked for support.  Teresa mentioned that Ireland is going through unprecedented economic difficulty but that the Irish people are doing everything in their power to help themselves and the country, including reaching out the 70 million diaspora around the globe and asking for their help. Teresa told guests another way they could help Ireland was if they had a company or knew of a company was considering expansion into Europe to please let her know, as the IDA Ireland representative in Australia, she would love the opportunity to present Ireland’s case to any company.
We were delighted to have Andrew O’Keefe as our MC, he did a great job keeping the day flowing and was also very entertaining
Chairman John O’Neill AO welcomed guests and then read a note from CEO of the Ireland Funds, Kieran McLoughlin who could not be with us at the Garden Party on Sunday as he had to attend the funeral of long time supporter and Board member of the Fund Mr. Billy Vincent.  Guests were sad to learn of Billy’s passing but he was remembered fondly and a tribute was paid to him for his life long generosity!

John O’Neill went on to tell guests that he was delighted to be back with the Fund lending his support at a time when Ireland really needs it again.  He explained that in the Celtic Tiger years he felt it was hard to justify, but unquestionably and unfortunately there is a real need in Ireland again, and people there need our help.   The Chairman indicated that with 38% of Australians claim Irish ancestry and living in such a wonderful land of opportunity and prosperity here in Australia, it is our duty to give back to Ireland at this time of need.
The Chairman went on to officially thank Lady Mary Fairfax AC, OBE for her hospitality and all her continuing generosity.
Guests were entertained by the beautiful voice of Ms Emma Birdsall of The Voice and comedian Paul Martell had guests laughing in the aisles.

The crowd enjoyed the wonderful three course lunch prepared by Gastronomy and Miccal Cummins.  The Live Auction was a great success with Edward Riley our Auctioneer for the day, delivering a lively and entertaining Auction.  Miss World Australia Jessica Kahawaty, modelled  a beautiful dress from Posh Boutique and Bvlgari Isabella Rossellini handbag up and down the aisle .   We thank all our Live Auction Sponsors who very generously donated wonderful items for the day. Maura Dempsey-Englman of Posh Boutique; Sean Connolly for agreeing to cook for 10 people in their own home and to Gastronomy for providing the food;  Charles Curran AC for donating his 60ft Yacht, “Sydney” The Star for the dinner for 12 at Black by Ezard “, Artist Roisin Fitzpatrick; Kristen Bashir for the amazing Six Senses Holiday in the Maldvies; David Woodward and Glen Dimplex for the Belling range cooker; Alan Joyce for providing the Qantas Business class tickets to London and to Chris Knaap of Mercedes, 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.

The Star donated the Chandon champagne and beautiful wines, 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 entered the “call of the Wild Draw” 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 2012 Sydney Garden Party was successful both socially and financially with more than 480 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.