The Australian Ireland Fund’s annual Garden took place this year on Sunday the 28th of October 2013, on the beautiful grounds of Lady Fairfax’s home in Double Bay. Amongst the beautiful setting the “Country and Western Ireland” theme sparked excitement on fun on the day with cowboys, cowgirls, Indians and saloon girls enjoying the grounds of the estate.
The day kicked off with cocktails of “Whiskey Sour” and “Vodka Shooters”.
Executive Director Teresa Keating welcomed and thanked close to 500 guests, particularly the many people she has personally asked for support. Teresa indicated that as an Irish person who has lived more than half her life in Australia, she was very proud and pleased to be supporting projects of education in Ireland. And also projects of education in Australia, particularly indigenous scholarships together with Andrew Penfold and the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation.
Andrew O’Keefe kept the crowd entertained as our MC for the day with his witty humour and introduced the great entertainer Bernadette Robinson who awed the crowd with her beautiful voice, in keeping with the western theme by doing a few Patsy Cline numbers. A tribute the late Fr. Emmett Costello was mentioned and kind words spoken
After the crowd had enjoyed beautiful cuisine prepared by Gastronomy our Chairman John O’Neill AO took to the stage and addressed the large crowd with gratitude. John told supporters how important they are to us in providing much needed help to our flagship projects; – Barnardos, Loughlinstown and Darndale Belcamp Integrated Child Services. The Chairman went on to officially thank Lady Mary Fairfax AC, OBE for her hospitality and all her continuing generosity. Kieran McLouhglin, the 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 would be exiting the IMF bailout programme at the end of the year. Kieran said that Australia plays a very important role in the family of the worldwide Ireland Funds and thanked everybody for all that they do. Ambassador Noel White echoed Kieran’s sentiment and thanked those present on behalf of the government and people of Ireland for all that they do.
We were so pleased to welcome back Edward Reilly 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 hand signed U2 and 3D box framed Fender electric guitar; an amazing dining experience prepared by Sean Connolly, who attended the party on the day with food for the dinner to be provided by Gastronomy; the beautiful Stephanie Hunt modelled a fantastic outfit from POSH Boutique courtesy of Maura Dempsey and a Bvlgari Isabella Rossellini handbag for the guests; a day out on Sydney Yacht donated by Charles Curran AC of Capital Investments, including a dining and accommodation package with thanks to The Star; a Tuscan Holiday for 10 guests, a trip of a life time thanks to Alan Joyce and Qantas, Aer Lingus, The Merrion Hotel, The K Club, Manor House Hotels and AVIS; and finally a Citroen DS4 Dsport thanks to Chris Knaap and the sponsorship of Ciaran Davis of the Australian Radio Network. A huge thank you to all of the sponsors who helped make this wonderful auction selection come together, all of which were successfully picked up on the day.
Not only were the Live Auction items snapped up after a bidding frenzy but we had a wonderful array of 44 Silent Auction items on display for the guests to browse throughout the afternoon. A thank you to the sponsors of the Silent Auction items and the Helping Hand Group was also mentioned on the day.
Some more excitement in the magnificent marquee when bottles of Moet et Chandon, donated by Peter Ryan were distributed to the best dressed man – Rick Stein, the best dressed woman – Marg Macintosh and the business card draw. Not to forget the excitement that our promotional staff had built up on the day for the “Golden Nugget” draw. The guests entered this draw to win the holiday of a lifetime! A 7 night stay in a luxurious and meticulously restored Italian Manor. Recognition to Teresa Keating, Sabine Hochbaum and Jane Cosgrove was given who were behind the organisation of the event.
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 Shilling beach.
The 2013 Sydney Garden Party was successful both socially and financially with close to 500 guests attending and $170,000 being raised on the day for our flagship projects – Barnardos, Loughlinstown and Darndale Belcamp Integrated Child services as well as projects of peace and reconciliation and integrated education in Northern Ireland and Indigenous education here in Australia.
This could not have been achieved without the generous support of all involved but in particular our major sponsors:
Citroen, Chris Knaap
Australian Radio Network, Ciaran Davis
We truly are very grateful to all our table captains, supporters and sponsors, individuals and companies alike, without whom our work would not be possible! Thank you to all for making this year’s Australian Ireland Fund Sydney Garden Party such a great success.