8th November, 2015

Sydney Garden Party 2015

The Australian Ireland Fund’s annual flagship event of the year, The Sydney Garden Party took place on Sunday 8 November 2015.

The scene for a wonderful afternoon was set with guests greeted from the stage by a fabulous ensemble from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

MC Richard Wilkins AM did a wonderful job of welcoming our record crowd of 520 guests, outlining the day’s activities including our Live Auction; offering an Audi Car thanks to Australian Radio Network, Autosports Group and Audi Sutherland, and Business Class tickets flying Emirates Airways to Ireland, thanks to Tim Harrowell.

Guests had enjoyed beautiful cuisine prepared by Gastronomy, when Chairman John O’Neill AO took to the stage discussing the Rugby World Cup, congratulating New Zealand on a wonderful victory and complimenting Board Member Dr. Tom Moore the father of Wallaby Captain, Stephen Moore on the way Stephen and the team conducted themselves throughout the tournament.  The Wallabies came oh so close.

Chairman John O’Neill AO and family

The Chairman asked guests to take the time to read his letter in the event programme where he explained how we want to reposition ourselves, what we are doing and what we hope to achieve.  He also impressed upon guests that we wanted to receive as much feedback as we could because it’s important for us to remain relevant to our supporters. The Chairman went on to stress the importance of continuing to adapt and grow, encouraging our young leaders and younger people generally to become more involved to ensure the longevity of the Fund whilst having fun.
The Chairman made a presentation to Lady Mary Fairfax’s daughter Anna Cleary to thank Lady Fairfax and her family for all they do for The Australian Ireland Fund.

Kieran McLoughlin CEO of the Worldwide Ireland Funds then spoke telling guests of the impact projects supported by the Fund are having, like Music Generation, as well as providing an opportunity for every child in Ireland to get involved in music, it has also created 300 jobs.  He commented on the wonderful work of Soar, inspired by Jim Stynes Reach Foundation in Melbourne, Solas helping to address the imbalances that contribute to certain children growing up at a socio economic or educational disadvantage and Suas helping to increase the literacy levels of 8 – 14 year old children.  Kieran explained that whilst there is so much goodwill for the work of the Fund worldwide, we can still only assist two out of every 10 applications for support that we receive.

Guests were treated to a unique and one off performance by an ensemble from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and INXS singer and Grammy nominated songwriter Ciaran Gribbin and fiddler Mark Oats, they were captivating and left guests wanting, much, much more.

After a fabulous lunch, His Excellency Noel White, Ambassador of Ireland to Australia addressed guests, endorsing and commending the Fund on its broader mandate including the wider community, a very important step indeed. The Ambassador said he continued to be delighted with the work the Fund is doing, expressing his support of John and the board and encouraged all to participate broadly in the new vision and message.

We were so pleased to welcome back Edward Riley as our Auctioneer for the day, delivering a fun and energetic Auction. The items for our live auction sparked a lot of interest on including; the Emirates Australian Open Golf Package; a U2 Hand signed guitar, the week in Tuscany for 10 people, an Audi Car provided by Australian Radio Network, Autosports Group and Audi Sutherland, purchased by Miccal Cummins, and of course the stunning Trip for two to Ireland flying Business Class with Emirates, accommodation at The Merrion in Dublin, Sheen Falls in Kenmare, a night in a Manor House Hotel and the weeks Avis car hire.  Thanks to Geoff and Vanessa Talbot for generously purchasing the package.

Not only were the Live Auction items snapped up after a bidding frenzy but we had a wonderful array of Silent Auction items on display for the guests to browse throughout the afternoon. A thank you to all of the sponsors of the Silent Auction items and the Helping Hand Group for their assistance on the day. Our Programme can be viewed recognising all sponsors and Table Captains.

The party moved down to the water where the Guinness bar and the DJ were in full swing as the sun set down over Seven Shillings beach.

The 2015 Sydney Garden Party was successful, both socially and financially, with over 520 guests attending and $174,000 raised on the day for our flagship projects. This could not have been achieved without the generous support of all involved including our Table Captains and in particular our major sponsors.