Melbourne Luncheon 14 June 2015 at Zinc at Federation Square.
Melbourne produced a beautiful winter’s day for the annual Melbourne Luncheon on Sunday 14 June. Just under 200 guests enjoyed the sun on the balcony of Zinc at Federation Square overlooking the Yarra River as they enjoyed the Guinness, Magners and Champagne reception.
Catherine Murphy our MC for the lunch introduced Teresa Keating, Executive Director of The Australian Ireland Fund who welcomed guests to the luncheon including Sarah Mangan, Deputy Head of Mission, representing the Irish Ambassador, local Board Members Paul O’Brien and Ted Johnson, former Member Kevin Luscombe AM, Fergus Ryan and the Young Leader Committee. Teresa provided an update on the Funds commitment to Ireland and Australia, having donated in excess of $9 million dollars to projects. She explained the Funds goals of becoming the largest network of friends of Ireland in Australia as well as the Charity of choice for all Irish organisations and individuals.
Director Paul O’Brien outlined the events that had taken place over the previous 12 months, including hosting former President of Ireland Mary McAleese to support Modern Irish Studies at UNSW, a visit from the Provost of Trinity College and many amazing Young Leader events in both Sydney and Melbourne. Paul also took the opportunity to share how the $585,000 of grant funds had been allocated over the past 12 months spread between integrated education in Northern Ireland, projects in the Republic of Ireland and indigenous scholarships in Australia. He officially announced on behalf of the Board of The Australian Ireland Fund the decision to support SOAR, an Irish charity inspired directly by Jim Stynes and the Reach Foundation of Australia. Soar is an outreach movement built on an early intervention model, with a purpose of inspiring young people aged 12-19 to have the self-belief to fulfil their highest potential, take ownership of their lives and dare to dream.
The other projects to benefit from the work of the Australian Ireland Fund are; Solas (which means light) who provide an after school club in Basin Lane flats Dublin 8, having grown from serving 7 girls in 2007 to running 7 programmes helping over 500 young people in the community today. The support of the AIF will allow them to scale up with the hope of reaching 1000 young people by the end of 2017. Suas Educational Development who will provide direct literacy support to 1,475 children aged 8-14 from disadvantaged communities in Westmeath and Irish Studies at The University of New South Wales.
Sarah Mangan was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to guests and thanked all present for the very important work the Australian Ireland Fund is doing, through its supporters. Sarah acknowledged that the financial support received from Australia is vitally important but so too is the friendship, care and concern.
Entertainment for the lunch was one of the best performances we have been lucky enough to have with INXS singer and Grammy nominated songwriter Ciaran Gribbin and fiddle player Mark Oats bringing the house down. Both men flew down from Sydney to be with us on the day. Catherine was wonderful not to let Ciaran leave before updating guests on his most recent work, involving writing a song for a new Al Pacino film, coming to Australia later this year. Ciaran shared his belief in the Fund, the work it does for communities such as his, coming from Northern Ireland and his personal story.
Catherine then spoke on behalf of the Young Leaders providing insight into the exciting work they are doing and aim to achieve.
The day was topped off by roaming desserts and Irish coffees whilst being entertained by The Simpson three, the singing siblings Dean, Clancy and Bec, who provided the perfect back drop for mingling and networking for guests as the event came to a close.