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American Centre of Excellence Fundraising venture a huge success 2015-06-03 22:53:00

American Centre of Excellence Fundraising venture a huge success The American fundraising efforts to benefit the Kerry GAA Centre of Excellence and the training facility at Currans grossed $1,150,000. The final net figure (less expenses) from the golf outings and special events in New York, Chicago and Boston hasn't been computed yet, but it brings the Kerry County Board close to the 6 million euro figure needed to get the new Centre off the ground.

The New York Gala, designed to benefit the Centre of Excellence, grossed $850,000 on one night alone. It was a sell-out event at the prestigious Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue, with 420 people paying $1,000 for their seat at the event.

Jimmy Deenihan, Kerry TD and Minister for Diaspora Affairs, addressed the audience of Kerry supporters and New York businessmen. An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, addressed the audience via pre-recorded video. The Consul General of Ireland in New York, Barbara Jones, was in attendance.

Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, GAA legend, was the honorary commentator for the evening, and he received a formal Proclamation from the City of New York honouring him for his contribution to the Gaelic Games. It was presented to him by New York City Council member, Elizabeth Crowley.

A portrait of  Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh painted by West Kerry artist Liam O’Neill was the highlight of the auction, and it was purchased by a Kerry native living in New York for $24,000. The five paintings by Liam O’Neill auctioned on the night together grossed $96,000.

Other Kerry creatives who donated work to the auction to benefit the Centre of Excellence included fashion designer Don O’Neill from Ballyheigue, Dingle painter Carol Cronin, goldsmith Brian de Staic, Killarney painter Paul Downey, West Kerry potter Louis Mulcahy, and painters Peter Knuttel and John Hurley. Casks of whiskey from Dingle Distillery were also popular.

Big sports figures also supported the fundraising efforts by contributing items for auction, including top golfer Rory McIlroy, top American jockey Johnny Velazquez, famed hurler Henry Shefflin, record-breaking runner Usain Bolt, and South African rugby player Jean de Villiers.

The Kerry County Board hopes to have full planning for the Currans training facility in place by fall, with groundbreaking soon afterwards and completion by early next summer


The auctioneer at the New York Gala for the Kerry GAA Centre of Excellence takes bids on the oil portrait of Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, GAA commentator (left) painted by West Kerry artist Liam O’Neill (right). The highlight of last week’s event held at the prestigious Plaza Hotel, the painting of this GAA legend sold for $24,000 to a Kerry native living in New York. The American fundraising trip grossed $1.15 million, with proceeds to support the new Kerry GAA training facility at Currans and Centre of Excellence.











West Kerry artist Liam O’Neill applauds as his oil portrait of GAA commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, standing at the podium, sells to a Kerry native living in New York for $24,000. The painting of this GAA legend was the highlight of the auction at the Kerry GAA Gala fundraiser held in New York’s Plaza Hotel last week. The American fundraising trip grossed $1.15 million, with proceeds to support the new Kerry GAA Centre of Excellence. 

Photos: Francisco Jose Bravo/Dimitrios Manousakis.