Gordon D’Arcy honoured for charity work at Ireland Fund dinner

Former Irish rugby international has been to India with Goal and is involved with Barretstown

For the first time in 16 seasons Gordon D'Arcy will not be involved in the Six Nations rugby championship this weekend.

Instead, he was honoured yesterday afternoon at the annual Worldwide Ireland Funds dinner in Dublin not only for his feats on the pitch but his charity work off it.

Some players find the transition to retirement difficult but not D’Arcy. He says it is time to move on after winning 82 caps and scoring 35 tries for Ireland.

“I can make that transition away from the pitch very easily. I have no desire to go back.”


He has been to Calcutta with Goal, which he found a profound experience."Seeing how the majority of the population of the world live changed my perspective on life."

He is also involved with Barretstown in Co Kildare, which offers free camps and programmes for children and their families living with serious illness.

He arrived at the Worldwide Ireland Funds event in the Shelbourne Hotel with his wife Aoife and described it as a huge honour and a privilege to be given the award. It has been won in the past by Ronan O'Gara and Syd Miller among others.

Annual fixture Among those attending the annual fixture, which coincides with the first home game of the RBS Six Nations, was Michael Flatley, businessman Denis O'Brien, US ambassador Kevin O'Malley, British ambassador Dominick Chilcott and former Ireland international rugby players Trevor Ringland and Phil Danaher.

D'Arcy had just seen the Ireland team sheet for the match against Wales tomorrow. The loss of Rob Kearney and Seán O'Brien were blows, he conceded, but ones that Ireland could certainly overcome.

“I’ve played with most of these guys before. People have written them off and that can be a good thing when people are looking for a reaction. They have always won games by playing as a collective,” he said.

Hugo MacNeill, the chairman of the Worldwide Ireland Funds, said D’Arcy had been part of the most successful Irish rugby era, but it was his charitable work that was particularly noteworthy. Calcutta slums MacNeill said: “I remember meeting Gordon the day after we almost beat the All Blacks and walking into the Shelbourne. I met Gordon coming out, and he said, ‘Yes, I am disappointed, but the sun is going to rise tomorrow’.

“It immediately dawned on me that somebody who worked in the slums of Calcutta with Goal could actually put things in perspective.” Worldwide Ireland Funds president Kieran McLoughlin announced that the Promising Ireland fund had raised $226 million (€203 million), twice its original goal for charity. Funding shortfall Promising Ireland was set up during the recent recession to try to plug the shortfall of funding for charities left struggling in the collapsing Irish economy in 2009.

McLoughlin said it was “staggering” they had been able to raise the equivalent of $500,000 a day since it was set up and they had more than doubled their original target of raising $100 million.

“Did we think we were going to be where we are today? Certainly not. It is a sign of the vitality and commitment of Ireland’s diaspora,” he said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times