Update from AOIFA Chairman

Dear Members

Summer has come and gone and with it our AOIFA National Flower Festival “In Praise & Thanksgiving” which was our fundraiser in support of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.   Many thanks to all our wonderful AOIFA Members for making it the resounding success that it was.

After a most disappointing summer weather wise, one of the mildest and most beautiful autumns arrived.  This added greatly to the enjoyment of our AOIFA National Competitions and Social Week-end on the 16th – 18th October at the Bloomfield House Hotel, idyllically set on the shores of Lough Ennell in Mullingar.  The venue was excellent, among its many attributes there was ample space for our competitors, social events and trade stands.  The staff were extremely welcoming, friendly and helpful and the service and food was outstanding.   On the Social & Recreational side, it was wonderful to have the time to catch up with so many friends, old & new, enjoy their company and share a laugh.   Everyone seemed very happy with the social events organised.   On the Saturday morning, the workshop on ‘Leaf Manipulation’ with Eileen O’Brien was appreciated immensely by the large crowd in attendance. Eileen added so much to the enjoyment of the weekend that we had lots of requests to have similar workshops at such events in the future.   On Saturday afternoon, there was a delightful visit to Mary Waldron’s beautiful garden overlooking Lough Owel; followed by a visit to O’Meara’s Garden Centre for a little bit of retail therapy.    Saturday evening, we had a great attendance at the Gala Dinner and afterwards we had plenty of fun as we danced the evening away to the music of the Bentley Boys.  This was followed by a wonderful sing-song conducted primarily by the talented Kinsale Ladies.   For Champagne Breakfast on Sunday morning, our surprise visitor, Irish biologist, environmental consultant, radio and television presenter Eanna Ní Lamhna gave a wonderful talk on “Gardening for Wildlife & Biodiversity”.  Eanna was most entertaining, ever so witty and interesting, her visit and talk was a very fitting finale to a most enjoyable week-end.

Many thanks to all those who joined us for the weekend, participated in all the events and made the weekend memorable and special.  Sincere thanks also to everyone who helped in any way throughout the week-end to make it the success that it was.

On the Competition Side:-

Our competitors did wonderful work and our Judges Margaret Rumans from NIGFAS and our very own Mary O’Brien from Cobh were well impressed and had a difficult task deciding on the winners.  Our thanks to both Judges and special thanks to Mary who met all the competitors on Saturday morning to critique their exhibits and offer helpful advice.   It was hugely appreciated by everyone.   Congratulations and well done to all our competitors and a special congratulations to all our winners who were as follows:

National Competitions October 2015 - Results

Council Meeting

On Thursday, November 5th, we had a great attendance at the Council Meeting in the Castletroy Park Hotel.  The meeting commenced at the earlier time of 10:30am to accommodate a very busy agenda.

Candy Holten (Ardee) was introduced as the new Vice-Chairman of AOIFA following the resignation of Orla McGrane.  Orla worked as Website Administrator & AOIFA photographer for the last five years and as AOIFA Vice-Chairman for eighteen months. During that time, her great work and contributions to AOIFA was acknowledged and hugely appreciated.  Since her resignation, the Executive have formally thanked Orla and with all our AOIFA members, we join in wishing Orla well in all her future endeavours.

Mary O’Brien (Cobh) was also introduced as the incoming Vice-Chairman for 2016-2018. Candy & Mary have been great ambassadors of AOIFA for many years, having served as AOIFA teachers, demonstrators & judges and worked on all the various sub-committees.  They received a wonderful warm reception from all in attendance and everyone wished them well for the future.

During the meeting, 55 Advanced Course candidates were presented with their certificates, Congratulations and well done to all.   

All other matters regarding the meeting will be in the Christmas Newsletter.  

Date for the AGM is March 23rd 2016 to be held in the Castletroy Park Hotel, in Limerick.

After lunch, we were treated to a fabulous Gala Christmas Demonstration “Celebrate the Season” by AOIFA’s Artistic Trio, namely, Anne Slattery (Clare); Sandra Jackson (Cork) & Margaret Quinn (Dublin).  They were the perfect combination as they entertained us with funny stories; reminisced and brought back childhood memories, shared some new floral art ideas, all combined with a flavour of delightful Christmas music.   The final result was a most beautiful, harmonious staging of well-planned and stunningly executed exhibits.   Sincere thanks and huge appreciation to Anne, Sandra & Margaret.

Christmas Wishes

The Executive would like to thank all AOIFA demonstrators who are at the moment travelling throughout the country and working very hard demonstrating for Christmas.  Safe travelling and huge appreciation to all.  Sincere thanks also to all the Clubs who have organised their Christmas Demonstrations in support of the IMNDA.

The Executive would also like to thank all AOIFA members for their wonderful support, help and commitment during the last twelve months.  We would also like to wish all AOIFA members, their families and friends a very happy Christmas and every blessing, health and happiness throughout the coming year.


Brid Coonan – AOIFA Chairman