On Friday 13 May, over 350 glamourous and distinguished guests filled the ballroom in the InterContinental Dublin for the third annual Ireland Funds Spring Gala.
The Gala began with a reception which fizzed with excitement, as friends and guests met and mingled. The honourees Jim Sheridan, six time Oscar nominee, and Gary McGann, past CEO of Smurfit Kappa Group, Aer Lingus and current chair of Paddy Power plc, and board member of Barnardos Ireland and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, then joined the Gala much to the delight of the guests.
Guests entered the spectacular ballroom, and took their seats. Siobhán Gallagher, Director, The Ireland Funds welcomed honourees and guests, and began the evening by showing a video of the superb organisations supported by The Ireland Funds.
Guests enjoyed their meal and good company, before Ronan Foley, Chair of The Ireland Funds, took to the podium to speak about the remarkable achievements of both honourees, and introduced Gerard Ryan, Partner in Eversheds, an event partner, and Mary O’Kennedy the chair of the Spring Gala.
Gerard Ryan spoke about Gary’s many successes as a leader, businessman and philanthropist. He introduced a video of Gary featuring Kieran McLoughlin, CEO and President of The Worldwide Ireland Funds and Fergus Finlay, CEO of Barnardos Ireland. Kieran spoke of Gary’s kindness to The Ireland Funds and his support for over two decades. Fergus Finlay spoke of Gary’s excellent advice, his candour and his integrity.
Gary, who was in attendance with his wife, three daughters and family members, accepted the awards and spoke about his relationship with The Ireland Funds, and the urgent need for philanthropic support in Ireland.
Mary O’Kennedy, Chair of the Spring Gala, introduced Jim Sheridan. She spoke about his leading the way for Irish in film and opening the door to Hollywood for so many Irish actors and fellow directors. A video was shown featuring exerts from Jim’s many films was shown. John Fitzpatrick, Chair of The American Ireland Fund, sent a video message congratulating Jim, and his wife Fran, and recalling evenings spent together in the bar in Fitzpatrick’s Hotel. The video was the third of the night, all of which had been produced by event sponsor Areaman Productions.
Jim Sheridan accepted the award, and treated the room to a wonderfully warm and witty speech. He recalled when he first met Tony O’Reilly, Co-founder of The Ireland Funds, and praised him for all he had achieved so far, and his fondness for The Ireland Funds’ other co-founder Dan Rooney and the Rooney family. Jim spoke about what it meant to be Irish both here and abroad, and what inspired him to do his work.
After dinner, guests took to the stage to test their keys to the locked box containing a diamond voucher for Cullen & Co. 75 keys were for sale with only one key opening the box. After 74 keys were unsuccessful, the crowd feared there would be no winner. The last person to try his key, the 75th key came to the stage, unlocked the box and took home the diamond kindly. Friday 13th was lucky for some!
For the remainder of the evening, Top of the Popz played a host of hits, and kept the dance floor full all evening. After the Gala, the energetic among the Guests continued on to an after-party kindly hosted by Residence Private Members’ Club.
A special thank you to our event partners, Eversheds, Areaman Productions, Cullen & Co, Coca-Cola, and Residence Private Members’ Club, and our guests for making it an enjoyable and memorable night.