Key business and community leaders in the mid-west region came out in support of the ninth annual University of Limerick (UL) President’s Gala Dinner, which was held in the Strand Hotel in Limerick City on Friday, May 11th. Organised by the University of Limerick Foundation, the theme of the event this year was a celebration of UL’s close ties to the city of Limerick and funds raised will go towards expansion of the President's Volunteer Award programme which is run by the University.
Over 250 guests were treated to the first ever Riverdance performance in Limerick City. Guest of honour at the event was renowned composer and producer, Dr Bill Whelan. Dr Whelan who is a native of Limerick and a director of the University of Limerick Foundation composed the music for the internationally famed Riverdance show.
Speaking from the event, UL President, Professor Don Barry said: “At UL we have been building our engagement with the City very considerably in recent years through active participation in Regeneration initiatives, our Downtown Centre and a wide range of collaborative projects. We take seriously our responsibility to promote economic, educational, social and cultural development in Limerick. And we recognise the mutual benefit that flows from engagement between Limerick City and the University. We believe that Limerick is our city and we are Limerick’s university. We see ourselves as being in the city and of the city. So I am happy to say to you tonight that UL most definitely will play a key role in building the ‘New Limerick’.
“I recognise that the Opera Centre site presents an opportunity to intensify the involvement of UL in the City. There are formidable financial challenges facing us at this time and securing the considerable funding that will be required to allow UL provide a world-class educational experience in the heart of Limerick City is quite a daunting prospect. However, the history of this institution is steeped in overcoming obstacles. Despite the austerity measures thrust upon us over the last number of years the University of Limerick is still punching above its weight, still making ground breaking discoveries, still accomplishing what many consider to be impossible.”
David Cronin, Chief Executive of the UL Foundation added: “This spectacular performance of Riverdance in the City of Limerick is testament to the extraordinary generosity of Dr Bill Whelan in his work as a Director of the UL Foundation”.
The President’s Volunteer Awards were launched in 2010 to harness, acknowledge and support the contribution that students at UL make to volunteering activities outside of their academic studies. The programme also acts as a one-stop shop where community organisations are able to promote their volunteering opportunities and recruit student volunteers. Since then, over 270 students have volunteered help the work of over 40 community organisations locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Funds raised at the Gala Dinner will be utilised towards the development and expansion of this programme.
Sponsoring this year’s event were NOONAN and Ulster Bank. John O’Donoghue, CEO of NOONAN said: “NOONAN has been associated with the University for over 20 years and we look forward to continuing this relationship with UL as a valued customer”.
Ulster Bank has close links with the University of Limerick following the opening of a branch on campus in September 2005. “We are delighted to continue supporting the University of Limerick and the Foundation through our sponsorships and in particular through the establishment of the Ulster Bank Enablement Fund, which was established following our arrival to UL in 2005. This fund supports the University’s clubs and societies, student development, its Alumni activities and other worthy on-campus projects” said Tom Leahy, Regional Director South Ulster Bank Business Banking.