AFTER 12 years of sponsoring The Irish Derby, it was fitting that in the week of the 153rd running of the race Kildare Co Council would pay tribute to Colm McLoughlin, CEO of Dubai Duty Free at a ceremony in Áras Chill Dara, Naas on Thursday last 26 June.
Cathaoirleach of Kildare, Cllr Suzanne Doyle, welcomed Mr McLoughlin, his wife Breeda, Sinéad El Sibai, senior vice president of marketing at Dubai Duty Free and her husband Jihad.
Dubai Duty Free has sponsored the Irish Derby since 2008, and this year stumped up €1.5m in prize money for Saturday afternoon’s showpiece.
Cllr Doyle commended Mr McLoughlin’s work and spoke of his success both with his sporting prowess – he is a former Connacht rugby player – and the many ‘Lifetime Achievement’ awards both personally and in business he had received.
Cllr Doyle presented Mr McLouglin with a specially commissioned bronze sculpture, created by local artist Noel Scullion and called Breathe.
Noel explained that the main theme of the sculpture is “Horses Greeting” with a mare and foal blowing into each other’s nostrils. He highlighted that the surface texture of the work has an ‘arabesque’ pattern radiating outwards from the horses nostrils, wrapping around the column, using the beautiful and poetic Arabic word for Breathe.
Mr McLoughlin thanked the speakers and said that he really felt emotional “as it is not often you take time to reflect on 50 years”.
He mentioned how he first came to be involved in the Irish Derby, a chance meeting at Gatwick Airport with the late Michael Osborne that led to a phone call several months later and in 2002 the relationship with Dubai Duty Free started.
When Budweiser’s sponsorship deal ceased in 2008 Dubai Duty Free was very happy to take over sponsorship of the Irish Derby and it has gone from strength to strength.
Chief Executive of Kildare Co Council Peter Carey acknowledged the 650 awards Dubai Duty Free and Colm have received over the past 35 years and particularly commented on Mr McLoughlin’s milestone of 50 years working in the duty free industry.