Teresa Keating

Fairwater coup for Irish Australian charity

Past Ireland Funds Australia Chairman Alan Joyce and current Chairman John O’Neill (right) joined TV personality Richard Wilkins at 2017’s Garden Party.

Past Ireland Funds Australia Chairman Alan Joyce and current Chairman John O’Neill (right) joined TV personality Richard Wilkins at 2017’s Garden Party.

Australia’s most expensive house will once again host the Ireland Funds’ flagship fundraiser following its purchase by a tech billionaire.

The Garden Party fundraiser has been held at Sydney’s Fairwater estate 27 times in the last 30 years, the Ireland Funds’ Executive Director Teresa Keating saying the late Lady Mary Fairfax’s personal connection with the charity had inspired her “amazing generosity” in allowing use of the harbourside property.

“Tony O’Reilly founded the Ireland Funds…he had a publishing background and he met Lady Fairfax at a publishing conference in New York,” Ms Keating said.

“They got on very well, and she offered for the Ireland Funds to use her property in Australia.”

Tech billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar founded Atlassian in 2002.

Tech billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar founded Atlassian in 2002.

After Lady Fairfax’s death in 2017, the property was purchased by enterprise software company Atlassian’s co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes as a family home.

The 1.121 hectare estate on Sydney Harbour, owned by the Fairfax family since Federation, is understood to have been purchased for close to $100 million, making it Australia’s most expensive house.

Atlassian’s co-founder Scott Farquhar bought the neighbouring Elaine estate.

The future of the Garden Party at the iconic location was thrown into doubt after the sale, Ms Keating explaining, “we had no history with the new owners.”

The Cannon-Brookes family, however, chose to invite the Ireland Funds to use the venue again.

The Fairwater estate was owned by the Fairfax family for over 100 years.

The Fairwater estate was owned by the Fairfax family for over 100 years.

“It’s a real coup for us and the supporters that the new owners have invited us back,” Ms Keating said.

The 2018 Garden Party raised over $200,000 for key causes including integrated education, community development, and peace and reconciliation in Ireland, and Ms Keating is confident this year’s gathering will be just as successful.

“It’s a chance for supporters who have…spread their wings to give back through the Ireland Funds in Australia.”