ON Thursday night the British Ambassador Julian King was guest of honour at a black tie dinner hosted by Paul Smithwick for 130 guests at Kilkenny Castle. The dinner was held to mark the success of the All Ireland hurling team in regaining the McCarthy Cup for Kilkenny.
There was another reason for the gathering, to entice global financial services company, Merill Lynch to the city. The event was also attended by the county’s only Earl, Lord Magan from Castletown House, Piltown and a number of titles personages from the Ormonde family and a Count.
Ambassador Julian King paid a fulsome tribute to the GAA, stating that since their foundation, they had given outstanding leadership and example, through gaelic sports, to the community in the island of Ireland. He particularly praised their support in relation to the recent atrocity in the murder of a member of the PSNI in Northern Ireland.
The ambassador recounted that on landing in Dublin airport to take up his new position in Ireland, he was informed that he was to dine that very evening with one Paul Smithwick, who was then entirely unknown to him. Fortunately his predecessors had compiled and left for the ambassador a full dossier on Smithwick, to the effect that Smithwick would put optimum pressure upon him to visit Kilkenny regularly, and more importantly to bring value to the Marble city and county.
His host had brought him to the last two all-Ireland hurling finals. He was particularly pleased that the McCarthy Cup was displayed on the table before him, and equally pleased to meet with Mr. Brian Cody, who, he said, deservedly commands the respect of the entire nation.
Paul Smithwick, in his welcoming speech said nothing gave him greater pleasure than to welcome people from all walks of life to his native city. He also welcomed Brian Cody and his friend from childhood days, Noel Skehan, the legendary all-Ireland goalkeeper to the dinner.
Paul Smithwick said that there was always a commercial clandestine purpose for any event that he had arranged over the years in Kilkenny, and such was the case on Thursday evening. He said that there were present a number of board members of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch both from Ireland and the UK. Amongst those from Merrill Lynch were Sir David Jervis CEO UK, and Peter Keegan CEO Ireland. The Irish arm of the company employs s 700 people.
Among those present were the Mayor of Kilkenny, David Fitzgerald; Chairman of Kilkenny County Council Paul Cuddihy; City and County Manager Joe Crockett ; General Sean McCann, Chief of the Defence Forces; Commandant Mick Treacy, ADC to An Taoiseach, Chief Superintendent Mick McGarry; President of the High Court, Mr. Justice Nicholas Kearns; Judge Peter Smithwick; former presidents of the Incorporated Law Society Anthony Collins,; Judge Mary Collins, and Michael Houlihan, Ennis, Co. Clare.
From the Ormonde family, Lady Caroline Hamilton, and the Reverend Lady Stella Durand attended. They are great, great grand daughters of the first Marquis of Ormonde.
Also in attendance was Count John McCormack, a grandson of the illustrious Irish tenor. Lord Maagan, a former Chairman of the Conservative party and Chairman of the Morgan Magan Bank of London, said the grace before the meal.
A champagne reception was held in the Long Gallery of the castle, preceding the dinner in the Confederate Tower. The catering was looked after by Mr Jim Brennan of the Club House Hotel.