The Rotary Club, Dublin

Founded 22nd February 1911

The Dubliner

All the news that's fit to print

President: Mariandy Lennon

Hon. Sec.: Tony Keegan

Telephone 087 244 2818 

Volume 26 Issue 39

08 June 2020


Alan Harrison

Frank Bannister

David Booth

Delma Sweeney

Dermot Knight

Today’s speaker is our member Udo Reulbach who will speak to us about working in the HSE during the Covid-19 pandemic.


President Mariandy chaired our last meeting on 25th May.  Roger Owens gave the following invocation, which is included in full not because your editor took it down in full, but because it is short enough :

It is an old Highlands and Islands prayer to avoid the bad things that can so easily happen to us:

Be Thou between me and all things grisly

Be Thou before me in all things mean

Be Thou between me and all things gruesome,

Coming darkly towards me.


Forthcoming Speakers and Events           

15th June         Derek Byrne, our own speaker convenor and who retires from that position at the end of this month, will speak on 'Reflections of a speaker convener'

22nd June        Phil Godfrey, of Solihull Rotary Club, UK who will speak on Antiphospholipid Syndrome.

29th June         Club Assembly


Rotary Rangers Walks

Rotary Rangers hill walks recommence as from June 9th next. These walks will be restricted to 20km from home. Travelling to the starting points will be confined to a maximum of two walkers per car. PP Brian George will be sending an email to all Rangers with details. Contact Brian for further information.



President Mariandy and President-Elect Alan Davidson welcomed our only visitor, the speaker on 25th May, our last meeting, namely Willie Maxwell, who is District Community and Vocational chair.



Hon. Secretary Tony presented apologies from PP Tony Gannon, Brian Taylor, PP Ken Hunt, PP Randal Gray, Houghton Fry and Patrick White.


President’s Announcements

President Mariandy advised us that our long serving Honorary Member Major Stuart Dicker is retiring from the Salvation Army in Dublin and moving back to the UK this month with his wife.  With assistance from Rotarian Dermot Knight, Mariandy played a song or hymn of hope to the assembled Rotarians, something that might not have been possible, with video, at a non-virtual meeting.  Dermot Knight also captured a photograph of those present at the last meeting. 


President Mariandy also said that our two interact clubs have now been chartered.  She invited Rotarian Mary O’Rafferty to speak and Mary explained that the two clubs are located in St. Louis schools Rathmines and Oatlands College Stillorgan.  Sadly, with the schools closed it has not been possible to make a presentation, but the committee hope to find a way.  The clubs had between them collected over €600.00 for the relief of distress following the forest fires in Australia.  Mary’s colleague, Rotarian Rana AlDamin also thanked the efforts of the children.


Members wishing to speak

Rotarian Delma Sweeney drew attention to the article on Zamda, Ireland in the last Dubliner and the fact that they are seeking bikes in Ireland for repair and then to be transported to Zambia.


Rotarian Roger Owens suggested that members would donate €19.00 for each of the lunches that we have not had to pay for since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic to the Rotarian Club of Dublin Trust Fund.  He assessed this to be €266.00.  Then, tax can be claimed back on this donation.  This reclaimed tax could then be donated back to the Trust fund.


Rotarian Stuart Dicker then added that he was aware that a similar support by way of sandwiches provided to the front-line staff at Tallaght Hospital had been regarded by the staff as a lifeline. 


Our speaker on 25th May

P.E. Alan Davidson introduced our speaker on 25th May who was Willie Maxwell who is the District Chair of Community and Vocational.  Alan explained that he had met Willie, after not meeting for many years, in Malahide at the end of the Fingal RC annual function, following Alan’s return to Malahide from our own annual dinner.  Willie also referred to happy memories of occasions with our members PP Paul Martin and Rotarian John Costello.  Willie Maxwell explained that he was delighted to have the opportunity to have a conversation with us.  He related that 170 had met virtually at the District Assembly recently, and he wanted, as chair, to have the subject of Community and Vocational moved up the agenda.  The importance, particularly at the present time, can be instanced by our response to the support of the staff at the Mater Hospital.  In Fingal they realised the nursing homes were the Cinderella of the concerns, and they donated to the nursing homes. The Fingal Club is putting its lunch money in a pot for charity.


Projects that have been considered, allowing for the differences made by Covid-19, and that face to face meetings are no longer going to be possible, but ideas for fundraising should still be provided to club convenors.  There are lots of projects in clubs to reach out to the community, and take the opportunity to raise the profile of Rotary.  One idea is to be involved in local St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.  Kids Out, is another project when we reach out to families, and take the opportunity to raise the profile.


Two other projects that Willie endorsed are firstly the National Children’s Hospital will have a Ronald McDonald house in conjunction with Rotary and secondly work that has already commenced with ex-offenders and the Department of Justice, which is putting efforts into reducing the number of re-offenders.  He drew attention to the article about the efforts of Dublin footballer Vinny McMahon in the Irish Times of the weekend of 23/24 May. 


In the discussion that followed Rotarian John Costello, who works with the Parole Board, which deals with life prisoners, and many of whom who do not want to leave prison for safety and reasons of fear of the outside, suggested working with other agencies to achieve some of our aims.  Willie Maxwell agreed, and others agreed that we should find a way and not be afraid to share our skills with them.  Past President Ted Corcoran reminded us of the work of Toastmasters, which does great work in the US in eliminating recidivism in the prisons where Toastmasters has been assisting with work.  Rotarian Stuart Ticker thoroughly supported previous speakers as they have many in the hostels of the Salvation Army, who are previous offenders, but difficulties arise with local residents who are aware that ex-offenders are living in the community, and they have to be integrated.  But a word of caution on working with children, while this is very worthwhile, it needs very careful preparation including Garda vetting.  Past President, Donald Gordon spoke of experiences working with the Children’s charity Barnardos. Rotarian Roger Owens then suggested that we seek advice from Rotary International at Evanston as to whether a similar project has been undertaken in the past, and secondly whether it would be possible to apply for support through a Global Grant from RI.  Willie Maxwell noted the suggestion and said that he would follow it up.


Rotarian John Costello then thanked Willie Maxwell for speaking to us saying that for once the quotation from Winston Churchill that the person had no virtues that I like and no vices that I admire was quite untrue.  John went on to say that we should support more the work of the Community and Vocational Committee and that all the Dublin clubs should work together in this regard.


Member Profile : Past President Donald Gordon

Many members will think of PP Donald as semi-official club photographer and sailor extraordinaire, but he has had quite a remarkable career, as related to Editor Frank Bannister.


Donald had the misfortune to be orphaned at an early age and, as a result, spent most of his youth in boarding schools which, he says, gave him a steely resilience. He studied Natural Sciences in Trinity and landed his first job working on the Rolls-Royce Olympus engine – the one that powered Concord(e). He witnessed the second ever flight of Concord 002 in April 1969.


Attracted by the bright lights of London, he decided to switch career to the world of finance and, in what was to become something of a habit, joined the international American bank, Bankers Trust. No sooner was he in the door than, at the tender age of 24, he was put in charge of a project to design, develop and implement an on-line, real-time foreign exchange and money market dealing system. This was a first-time-anybody-has-ever-tried-this project so it was sink or swim. Fortunately for the world (and Bankers Trust) he swam. To cap this, in 1972, just as the job was finishing, he married former girlfriend  Deirdre, who he had re-encountered in a pub in Belgravia.


Shortly after, he and Deirdre moved back to Ireland where Donald took up a job in AIB. Over the following years, he was responsible for the development of five major systems including the launch of Ireland first credit card, Visa, in 1979 and in the early 1980s the still-in-use retail on-line branch banking system.  Despite having one of the most interesting IT jobs in Ireland, the financial demands of raising three boys, drew him back to a more lucrative London and back to Bankers Trust where he took charge of development and operations for Europe. Quitting Bankers Trust for the second time, he moved to Midland Bank and, post the big bang, to Midland Montagu, then the biggest merchant banking operation in the UK.


Peripatetic by nature, he moved Brussels in 1989 to take up the role of Corporate Projects Director for S.W.I.F.T. (the organisation that moves money around the world), a project that involved implementing systems in 110 countries. Following a stint in Moscow as EU Technical Advisor to the Russian Central Bank, it was back to (you guessed it) Bankers Trust for the third time, this time in New York where he was appointed Managing Director in charge of technology for their retirement services – a business with four million clients on the books.


In 1996, an opportunity arose to get back to Dublin with Fidelity Investments. He returned to Dublin to head up their Irish operation which by 2000, he had built up to a turnover of €40 million.  When he was not running Fidelity, Donald was giving lectures in TCD, Limerick University and Boston University . He has been a guest speaker at many international banking and technology conferences.  Finally, at the age of 55, with all three offspring graduated, two in engineering and one in medicine, he decided to, as they say, pursue other interests. Donald and Deirdre have seven grandchildren.


Donald’s many interests include rugby, hockey, golf, hill walking, cycling, scuba diving, fishing, sailing and skiing. He is, inter alia, a qualified scuba diving instructor and an ex East of Ireland deep sea fishing champion.  He has sailed across the Atlantic twice and circumnavigated the Mediterranean.

Donald has been heavily involved with the Sables/Zamda project in Zambia for many years and with the support of club members, has raised well over €100,000 for the project. [See The Dubliner issue of 25th May 2020, Ed]. He has visited Zambia twice and is particularly proud that our efforts have enabled our member Pat Fannin to build a facility that nurtures and educates some five hundred of the most vulnerable children in the world.

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