THE Annual Causeway Awards night this year—expertly organised by Aoife O Sullivan—was the first black tie event held in the prestigious Assembly Rooms venue since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. Its purpose is to create a social environment for the exchange of ideas, stories—and business cards—among people from organisations that have interests in Ireland and Scotland, be they professional, commercial, social, cultural, academic or sporting.
Amongst the highlights of the awards night were the presentations from Jane McCulloch from the Irish Consulate in Edinburgh who complemented the efforts of the Irish communities and businesses in Scotland during the Covid-19 pandemic and the warmth of Scotland-Ireland relationships during this difficult time.
Ivan MacKee MSP, Minister for Trade and Industry, praised the vibrant trade relationship between Ireland and Scotland, was impressed with the growth and development of links between companies and trade in various sectors between Scotland and Ireland—both north and south—and offered government support for the Causeway mission.
David Greenlees, Chair of Causeway also gave an inspiring speech about the growth of Causeway as an organisation and a facilitator of contacts and friendships, as well as the good work and productive relationships it had fostered over the years. David will now be handing the Causeway reins over to Brigid Whoriskey, who will lead the organisation from November 2021 onwards.
On the night there was a cross sectional representation of GAA activity in the audience from Glasgow, Coatbridge, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen—the geographic areas where the GAA Clubs in Scotland are located—and within this delegation both men’s and ladies Gaelic football were represented through myself and Suzanne Dillon, Youth Gaelic games through Noreen Hughes, two construction engineers who are assisting with the Pearse Park redevelopment project, MJ O’Shaughnessy and Gerard Carson of Will Rudd Davidson Construction Engineers with GAA sponsors also represented through Michael Jordan and Roddy MacLeod, Directors of the Aberdeen-based construction firm MacLeod & Jordan, and also Creagh Concrete from Antrim, a longstanding supporter of the GAA both in Ireland and Scotland.
Also joining us at the GAA tables were four guests from Rainbow International organisation headed by Noreen Hughes who was last year’s winner of the Causeway Inspirational Leader of the Year Award, which was awarded virtually in 2020. Noreen was accompanied by Sadie McMullen, a colleague at Rainbow International, Laura Strachan North Lanarkshire Council and Lynda Maguire of the Eaton Group. We were also joined by two representatives of the Causeway Young Professionals, Mairead Murray (PhD student at Queen Margaret University) and Maebh Mulcahy (an NHS dentist) from Cork and Limerick respectively. Colleagues from two other sporting organisations, Ben Slater, Head of Commercial at Edinburgh Rugby and John McClarey CEO of Business Fives—a Causeway Award winning organisation combining sport and health—also joined us. These varying interests, established and new friendships and sponsorships are a mark of the growing profile of the GAA in Scottish society and we feel that the GAA has much to offer with our focus on youth development and community involvement.
From a GAA perspective, this event turned out to be an unprecedented success and arguably one of the most satisfying in the history of the GAA in Scotland in that having been shortlisted for one of the Causeway Awards, it was announced that Scotland GAA had been selected as the winners of the award in the category they were entered (above). The significance of this is that the award was in the ‘social impact’ category— acknowledging the contribution that the GAA clubs in Scotland made to looking after people in their local communities.
It is a feature of the GAA ethos to be supportive and to offer help voluntarily and a hospitable family atmosphere not only to those who are club members but also to the communities where their clubs are based. All clubs deserve great credit for the efforts they have made over many years up to and also during the pandemic where the community spirit amongst clubs was really important for mental health within the clubs, but many went beyond this and provided voluntary support for elderly and needy groups within their communities.
Looking to the future, Scotland GAA has ambitious plans to step up as an organisation and build upon the social impact with the ongoing development of our youth and ladies participation by enhancing our recreational, sporting and cultural facilities in Glasgow. In 2022, the GAA in Scotland will celebrate 125 years in Scotland and a highlight of our celebrations will be our plans for redevelopment of our Pearse Park facility in Cambuslang as a community hub. This Causeway Social Impact Award is a statement of intent and a step on this journey and will hopefully inspire all GAA clubs in Scotland and the entire GAA community to be proactive in continuing our development. So the Causeway Social Impact Award belongs to all the Scotland GAA clubs, is fully and richly deserved and augurs well for the future. Congratulations to everyone and let’s build on this!
WINNERS of the fifth Causeway: Ireland Scotland Business Exchange awards were announced at a glittering awards ceremony held at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh in October 2021.
Sponsored by Cooper Software, the annual Causeway Gala Black Tie Celebration of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland Awards Night showcases the strength of business ties between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland and recognises the achievements of outstanding organisations and individuals that successfully trade or operate on both sides of the Irish Sea.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, this year’s Causeway Awards had more entries than ever before, and was the largest Causeway Awards celebration to date, with more than 250 business leaders gathered in attendance, from a variety of sectors, from across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Amongst the guests who attended were Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee, Depute Lord Provost of Edinburgh Joan Griffiths MBE, and Irish Government’s Consul General of Ireland to Scotland, Jane McCulloch who all delivered keynote speeches to guests on the importance and strength of the Irish/Northern Irish-Scottish relationship.
The winners were chosen from a judging panel consisting of representatives from Causeway, Enterprise Ireland, Scottish Development International and the Consulate General of Ireland in Scotland, with the following winners showcased and celebrated on the night:
—Irish Exporter to Scotland of the Year: NEARFORM
—Northern Irish Exporter to Scotland of the Year: FK LOWRY
—Scottish Exporter to Ireland of the Year: INTEGRATED ENVIRONMENT SOLUTIONS
—Innovative Organisation of the Year: MANABU LEARNING
—Sustainable Business of the Year: SIMPLY BLUE GROUP
—Social Impact Award: SCOTLAND GAA
—Rising Star, Young Professional of the Year: Seany McCleary, STREAT SCHOOL
Commenting on the ceremony, Causeway Chairman, David Greenlees said: “The strength of Causeway lies in bringing people closer together and creating new business opportunities. We represent an established and effective group of business leaders in Ireland and Scotland and our annual awards is an opportunity to showcase and recognise the outstanding achievements of the businesses and people in our network.”
Also on the evening, a Special Contribution Award was presented to Shona McCarthy, CEO of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. This award is chosen exclusively by the board members of not-for-profit membership organisation, Causeway: Ireland Scotland Business Exchange, to give recognition to an inspirational leader who has elevated their organisations to new levels of success and who has made a significant contribution to the Causeway mission—advancing connections between the island of Ireland and Scotland.
Originally from County Down, Shona McCarthy joined the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society as chief executive in March 2016 and has championed Edinburgh’s Fringe as the world’s leading open access, performing arts festival, founded on the principle of freedom of expression. Prior to her current esteemed role in Scotland, Ms McCarthy was Chief Executive of Derry’s Culture Company from 2011-2014, leading on Derry-Londonderry’s transformational year as UK City of Culture, and she has also previously held the role of Director of the British Council Northern Ireland.
Commenting on receiving the award, Ms McCarthy said: “It was a surprise and a privilege to receive this special Causeway Award. It is particularly special because I have been so welcomed by Scotland and have loved my first five years at the Edinburgh Fringe, whilst always holding my homeplace close to heart. I am enormously proud to play a small part in growing the deep cultural, human, linguistic, artistic, and legendary connections that weave through every aspect of Scotland and Ireland—north and south. Thank you Causeway, loving your work.”
Read more about the Causeway Awards and about the growing not-for-profit membership network at: www.causewayexchange.net
Peter Mossey is the Chairperson of the Scottish Gaelic Athletic Association. Aoife O’Sullivan is the Events and Communications Manager for Causeway: Ireland Scotland Business Exchange