Happy Birthday to us! The Ireland Funds Australia 35th Anniversary Gala Dinner on St Patrick’s Day was a celebration to remember – for the first time in over two years we came together to enjoy each other’s company, to reflect on the past 35 years and look forward to the years ahead.
Our Executive Director Teresa Keating welcomed all our guests and introduced our MC for the evening – the fabulous Bobby Fox who first welcomed to stage Blak Douglas and the Dwyer Whelan Irish Dancers to perform a specially curated piece showcasing Australian Indigenous cultural interweaved with our traditional Irish dancing – it set the tone for a very special evening ahead.
We were next officially welcomed by our chair Yvonne Le Bas with special mentioned to Minister Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State, Department of Education, Ambassador Tim Mawe and Consul General Rosie Keane. Our Board Members including Frank Curran, Dr Tom Moore, Patrick Tuttle, and David Woodward. The Star Entertainment Group, Chairman John O’Neill AO, ( Also former Chairman of the Ireland Funds Australia ) MD and CEO Matt Bekier and George Hughes Chief Marketing Officer, Coolmore Stud, Charles Curran AC, Alloggio, Glen Dimplex and all our Table Captains that took Platinum, Gold, and Silver tables.
Yvonne shared highlights from the past 35 years of The Ireland Funds Australia, the projects we have supported including $7 mil focusing on Education in particular integrated education and scholarships, and $3mil on Community Development in Ireland and Australia. $3 mil of donor advised gifts to The Trinity St James Cancer Institute, the first integrated cancer care centre in Ireland. It was announced that all funds raised from the evenings live auction would be 100% directed towards humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
Minister Naughton next spoke about her week in Australia promoting Trade and Investment in Ireland and the many community activities noting how active the Irish community is in Australia. The Minister thanked guests for all they do to support the work of the Ireland Funds in Ireland and Australia. Ireland is supportive of the Ukraine and again the Minister thanked everyone for their support.
We then had the privilege of a performance from platinum selling artist and previous Triple J Unearthed Artist of the Year Meg Mac. Meg has Irish heritage and a voice that filled the room, we enjoyed every moment (and have had Meg’s newly released song Is it worth being sad about it in our mind ever since).
Our live auction created much bidding and excitement with all items selling! We thank our very generous sponsors Capital Investments, Coolmore Australia, Alloggio, Glen Dimplex and The Star – we managed to raise $63,000 to donate towards humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
The Baker Boys were next on stage and the dancefloor was full. And so were our hearts, it was incredible to be back in a room full of friends of The Ireland Funds Australia celebrating, enjoying, and coming together to make a difference and to help those that need us now more than ever before.
With special thanks to The Star Entertainment Group for incredible food and beautiful wines.
Thank you to all our supporters who attended the evening, helping us to launch our 35th year.
If you would like to help us to continue the vital work of The Ireland Funds, (see Trustee Report and Projects Supported) you can make a tax deductible donation.
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Photos: Matt Teague