The Australian Ireland Fund’s flagship event of the year, our annual Garden Party “Nautical Ireland”, took place on Sunday 9 November 2014. The grounds of Lady Fairfax’s home ‘Fairwater’ sparkled under a brilliant blue sky overlooking Sydney Harbour. Guests took in the beautiful vista as they enjoyed cocktails and canapés.
Executive Director Teresa Keating started off the formalities thanking close to 500 guests for their support by attending the day and for the many donations of live and silent auction items that were provided. Teresa also acknowledged the fifty Young Leaders present headed up by Brendan Sheehan, the Young Leaders National Chair. She also congratulated Fergus and Delia Doyle as they were part owners of the winner of the Melbourne Cup that week.
Jonesy & Amanda, the number one Radio Breakfast Hosts with WSFM (they were also awarded the best on air FM team at the 26th commercial Radio Awards), kept the crowd entertained as MCs for the day with their patter and humour as they outlined activities including live and silent auction items and the first-ever raffle for a car: a Citroen provided by Ciaran Davis of Australian Radio Network and Chris Knaap of Citroen & Porsche Parramatta.
After guests had enjoyed beautiful cuisine prepared by Gastronomy, Chairman John O’Neill AO took to the stage with His Excellency Noel White, Ambassador of Ireland to Australia. John addressed the large crowd with gratitude telling supporters how important they are in providing much-needed help to our flagship projects. John also paid tribute to Gough Whitlam who recently passed away and also remembered Margaret Whitlam who wasone of the original members of the Board of The Australian Ireland Fund. The Chairman went on to officially thank Lady Mary Fairfax AC, OBE for her hospitality and all her continuing generosity in allowing us to host our flagship event at Fairwater.
The Ambassador thanked guests for their ongoing support, on behalf of the people and government of Ireland, and encouraged them to remain committed to the work ofThe Australian Ireland Fund.
Guests were then treated to a performance by Boys in the Band singing songs in keeping with the nautical theme. The Boys had guests dancing in the aisles.
Kieran McLoughlin, President and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds was next to speak to the near 500 guests. Kieran explained that Ireland is going through unprecedented economic difficulties but was pleased to say that Ireland had turned a corner and the future was looking brighter. Kieran said that Australia plays a very important role in the family of The Worldwide Ireland Funds and thanked everybody gathered for all that they do.
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 the day with a beautiful black Tahitian pearl necklace donated by Nic and Carmella Cerrone; Celebrity Chef Sean Connolly donated a weekend package to Adelaide. Maura Dempsey donated a Posh & Chic and Cavalli package, including a Posh clothing voucher and a black leather Cavalli handbag – the only one of its kind in Australia; a trip on ‘Sydney’ for 12 with a dinner at Black by Ezard at the Star was eagerly bid upon.
A week in a Byron Bay Penthouse was also on offer and of course the Qantas Business Class tickets to London, Aer Lingus to Dublin, with luxurious accommodation at The Merrion Dublin, Sheen Falls and Ashford Castle. Both Sheen Falls and Ashford Castle have just been named the No. 1 and 2 resorts to visit in Europe by readers of Conde|Nast Traveler Magazine. We thank Patrick Gallagher for generously purchasing this fabulous 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 was also mentioned on the day.
There was more excitement in the magnificent marquee when a Magners and Bacardi hamper and Wholefoods House Gift Baskets, were presented to our best dressed: Phil Crenigan and his mate; Maura Dempsey and Sheilagh Nolan. Not to forget the excitement that our promotional staff had built up on the day for the “Regatta” draw. Guests entered this draw to win, for the first time ever, a Citroen DS 3 Cabrio – a very smart Citroen convertible. The lucky winner was Andrea McElhinney.
The party moved down to the lawn where the Guinness bar and the DJ were in full swing as the sun set down over Seven Shillings beach.
The 2014 Sydney Garden Party was successful, both socially and financially, with close to 500 guests attending and funds raised on the day for our flagship projects – Barnardos Loughlinstown, Suas Educational Development, Junior Achievement Ireland, Drumragh Integrated College Omagh and scholarships for indigenous Australians together with the AIEF.
This could not have been achieved without the generous support of all involved including our Table Captains but in particular our major sponsors: