Banquet 2006

Another success, says everyone, and it is hard to disagree. Certainly, everything went pretty smoothly on the night and we were greatly honoured by the presence of Uachtarán Nioclás Ó Broonáin, Comhairle Uladh Ofigeach Caipreamh Poiblí Mairtín Mac Aibhne, Bishop Tony Farquhar, representatives of Tennent’s Ireland, Belleek Pottery and our other sponsors plus representatives of the various Ulster counties.

Sponsors, of course, can play many roles in relation to such a function and in that light I must pick out one person – Brian Houston. Throughout the 19 years to date, our banquet would not have been the success it annually is without Brian’s input. Apart from being the representative of Tennent’s (alias InBev) he is one of the hardest workers for months before the occasion and on the day, as well as, for our Monthly Awards. Thanks Brian.

Thanks, too, to other sponsors - Bank of Ireland, Pro*Sport, Galway Crystal, Garrett Mallon Jeweller (Omeath), Acheson & Glover and the others who donated prizes for our charity ballet.

It takes many helpers to have a successful banquet and while they were scarcer than usual this time there were certainly some people who played their part. I thank members like Matt Fitzpatrick, Sean McMahon, Paddy Hunter, John Campbell, Jane Tohill, Thomas Kane, Mark Sidebottom, JP Graham, Michael Cullen, Oliver McVeigh who all weighed in at some time and anybody else who contributed.

As usual, Adrian Logan handled the banquet brilliantly and kept things moving throughout the function without appearing to rush matters and got the evening off at the appointed time.

Without the help of the hosts no function could be a success and in that light lots of thanks is due to Great Northern Hotel Manager Philip McGlynn and Deputy Manager Diarmuid Drumm and, above all, to Karen McEniff who handled all the reservations (changed daily, sometimes hourly) and billing. Without Karen’s help the function would have been much harder to organise.

Also all the girls on reception and in the office – Cindy, Sarah, Gillian, Edel, Sonya and Deirdre - worked hard on our behalf and that goes for the rest of the staff, both men and women, in the hotel. Thanks to everyone.

Ticket Collection:

The idea not to send out tickets to invitees and ask them to collect them on arrival worked very well. Oliver (McVeigh) and I handled the giving out of the tickets and that caused no problem. As far as we can establish, no tickets were passed to uninvited guests this year. Ticket collection on entering the banquet hall was tightened up also.

Meal

It seems that everyone enjoyed the meal which was, as usual, quickly served and was plentiful. No complaints, that I know of, were reported although ‘somebody said that somebody said’ their meal was cold. Strange just one meal was cold!

Gifts

The Tennent’s and Belleek girls did a good job, once more, in distributing the men’s and women’s gifts that seemed to be appreciated by all. One man wanted to know why he was being given a pair of tights!! The calculator box did resemble that.

Ballot Prizes

We had more prizes than ever before this year and that was due to a couple of our members obtaining prizes. We had a dozen in all and it’s thanks to all our patrons who supplied prizes. Because of the smaller attendance the charity money raised was not as big as in former years but we did collect €3,800 plus £275. This money will be divided between SHARE and Foyle Hospice.

Again we asked winners to collect their prize immediately in the room at the back of the hall and most people obeyed the instructions although a few didn’t. Paddy Hunter took charge of the distribution and signature for collection of the prize.

Trophies

The major trophies won by Ulster teams during the year, apart from the Anglo Celt Cup (SFC), were on display after being carried in by team captains and representatives.

Bringing up the rear were GAA President Nickey Brennan and UGAAWA chairman Sean McMahon.

Finally, it’s thanks to all who helped to make the occasion a big success once again – roll on our 20th next year when we hope to celebrate the milestone in some special way.

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