Edna O’Brien, Ireland’s most celebrated living writer, was among those honoured when The Ireland Funds Great Britain (IFGB) held its annual Gala Dinner in the Plaisterers’ Hall in London on 6 November 2019. Over 240 business leaders and others from the Irish community gathered to support the work of the Funds.
Jarlath Regan, presenter of hit podcast An Irishman Abroad, hosted the event. The evening opened with the London Irish Centre being presented with the Annual Community Award which is presented each year in recognition of the recipient organisation’s exceptional work and the impact it achieves within the community.
IFGB honoured three exceptional Irish people who have excelled in their fields at the Gala Dinner:
- Edna O’Brien, DBE – ‘Lifetime Achievement Award – Culture’.
- Sir John Parker, GBE FREng – ‘Lifetime Achievement Award – Business’.
- Rory Best, OBE – ‘Lifetime Achievement Award – Sport’.
Edna O’Brien’s speech held guests enthralled and she concluded with a reading from the Playboy of the Western World which was greeting by sustained and rapturous applause. Sir John Parker, who has had an illustrious career in business and is the current Chairman of Laing O’Rourke, shared some of his insights into business, leadership and life.
The evening was rounded off with a ‘fireside chat’ between Jarlath and rugby legend, Rory Best, as they discussed the empathy of the Irish rugby fans and Rory’s adjustment to post-rugby life.
Emily Bohill, Trustee of The Ireland Funds Great Britain, launched The Ireland Funds Great Britain ‘100 Club’ dedicated to raising funds specifically for the organisation’s Annual Grant Round which supports not-for-profit organisations operating within the Irish community in Great Britain and across the island of Ireland.