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Governance and policies

Wexford Festival Opera (WFO), a registered business name of The Wexford Festival Trust, is committed to fully implementing the Governance Code. The company complies with recommended guidelines for financial reporting (SORP) and adheres to the Principles of Good Fundraising. The company operates in accordance with its Memorandum and Articles of Association and is governed by a Board of Directors.

Company Information

The Wexford Festival Trust
The National Opera House
High Street
Wexford Y35 FEP3

Registered in Ireland Number: 73941
VAT Registration Number: IE4571810K
Registered Charity Number: 20010393
Charitable Tax Number: CHY6132


President Higgins

His Excellency Michael D. Higgins

President of Ireland


Sir David Davies

Sir David Davies was appointed as President of Wexford Festival Trust in October 2014. Following in the tradition of the eminent previous presidents including Sir Compton Mackenzie, Sir Alfred Beit and most recently Sir Anthony O’Reilly, Sir David brings to the role a remarkable knowledge of the opera world from his extensive involvement over a long number of years in many of the leading international opera companies and festivals. His family moved from Wales to Ireland after the war, and he has always maintained a home in Ireland.

First introduced to Wexford twenty three years ago, his enduring interest and involvement in Wexford Festival Opera stems from his passion for opera, and the discovery of new and rare works. His appointment comes at a time of an ambitious international philanthropic focus for the world-renowned festival.

The role of President of Wexford Festival Trust dates right back to the foundation of the organisation in 1951. The President acts as the key figure-head for Wexford Festival Opera, fulfilling the lead ambassadorial role for it on the national, and increasingly on the international, stage. As such, a key function of the office is to advocate for the Festival’s artistic and development plans and strategies amongst all of its key stake-holders.

A banker by profession and international businessman of repute, Sir David started his business career in 1963 with Chase Manhattan Bank in New York, and then with Hill Samuel, one of the leading English merchant bank in New York and then London. In 1973 he became Finance Director of MEPC, at that time the second largest property company in the UK. He moved to Hong Kong in 1983, becoming a director of Jardine Matheson and managing director of Hong Kong Land and returned to London in the late 1980s, where as chief executive of Hill Samuel he restored the fortunes of the bank. In the 1990s he served both as Chairman and Chief Executive of Johnson Matthey, one of the leading precious metals business in the world. Subsequently, he was appointed as Chairman of EFG Private Bank Ltd in London from 1999 to 2006 with which he continues to maintain a close association.

He was awarded the Knights Bachelor in the 1999 New Year’s Honours List for his work as chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment.

He has been a director or trustee of a number of leading opera and cultural organisations, including Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Royal Opera House Trust, Grange Park Opera (Founding Chairman), the Wales Millennium Centre, the Irish Heritage Trust (Founding Chairman). He is also the President of the Irish Georgian Society.

Sir David’s Irish home is Killoughter House in County Wicklow. The Estate was acquired by his family in 1947 and has recently been extensively restored after he sold the Abbeyleix estate in County Laois.

Board of Directors

Paul Cleary

Paul Cleary is a native of Wexford and graduated from UCD with a Degree in Science. Paul has held various national and international roles in the wastewater industry, with extensive experience in Sales, Marketing, Business Development and Logistics. Since 2021 Paul has worked in supply chain consulting with particular interest in circular economy and sustainable supply chain. An avid opera fan, Paul has been a volunteer with the Wexford Festival for almost forty years serving in several voluntary roles, in both the artistic and administrative areas. Paul joined the Board of The Wexford Festival Trust in September 2014.

Karina Daily

Karina currently works as Director of Organisation Support and Development with Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB) where she manages the Finance, Corporate Services and Human Resources functions. She has previously worked at University College Dublin, as a project manager within the Office of the Vice-President for Research and subsequently as the Director of Assessment for UCD.

Karina holds a Masters and a PhD in Modern Cultural History from University College Dublin. Based on her PhD research, in 2004 she published a history of Wexford Festival Opera – Tom Walsh’s Opera – A History of the Wexford Festival 1951-2004 (Four Courts Press, 2004). In 2021, she published an updated history of the Festival, to mark the 70th anniversary – The History of Wexford Festival Opera – 1951-2021(Four Courts Press, 2021).

She is also a contributor to the Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of Irish Biography. Karina was appointed to the board of Wexford Festival Trust in 2018 and is the current chairperson of the Community and Local Stakeholder sub-committee of the Board.

Cate Hartigan

Cate is a passionate advocate of Wexford Festival Opera, as a Backstage volunteer in the late 70s and from 1999, a member of the Bar team. Cate has appeared in WFO productions, Maria Padilla, (Donizetti) in 2009, as Queen Blanche of France, and the Community Opera, Gianni Schicchi (Puccini).

Following 45 years working in public healthcare and with a Doctorate in Governance, Cate works as an independent consultant, specialising in governance, strategy and planning, change management and executive coaching. Cate have been a non-Executive Director of several government and voluntary organisations and has provided governance expertise to many not-for-profit agencies.

Michael Holley

Michael is a Chartered Director with a portfolio of non-executive director and consultancy roles in Ireland, UK and Germany. He specialises in corporate and financial governance and the internationalisation of businesses. His earlier career was in insurance and included periods as an entrepreneur as well as divisional director at large insurance companies.

Jennifer Howard

Jennifer is a long-term Friend, fan and supporter of the Festival and joined the board of Wexford Festival Trust in 2022 and has also recently joined the National Development Committee. She is a human resource and business transformation leader focussing on operational effectiveness and driving culture change. Jennifer co-founded Oracle Corporation in Ireland and has held senior roles within Oracle EMEA in Dublin, Geneva and London and with British Telecom where she was Head of Learning and Development. Jennifer has been a Trustee of Irish Modern Dance Theatre (IMDT) since 2017.

Yvonne Mays

Yvonne has a longstanding connection with Wexford and Wexford Festival Opera, with family connections in Rowe Street and Enniscorthy where she grew up.  She has been a Friend and supporter of WFO for many years and is currently a member of the National Development Council of Wexford Festival Opera.  She is a solicitor by profession training originally in Enniscorthy and practising for over 30 years in Dublin.  She has a deep love of music, plays piano and cello and is a member of the Goethe Choir. She is a member of the board of the Dublin International Piano Competition.  Yvonne has provided a great deal of help and support to WFO particularly to the development team.

Dr Terry Neill

Terry Neill’s 30 years with Andersen Worldwide/Accenture were spent in Dublin, Chicago and London. He was chair of the worldwide board of Andersen/Accenture and global managing partner of Accenture’s change management practice. Since returning to Ireland in 2004, he has been a Director of CRH plc, Bank of Ireland Group, UBM plc and Camerata Ireland. He has also been a member of the Trinity Provost’s Cabinet, Provost’s Council and the board of the Trinity Arts & Humanities Research Institute. He was chair of Co-operation Ireland in Britain and continues involvement in various aspects of peace and reconciliation on the island.

He was a contributing author to Harvard’s book: “Breaking the Code of Change”. Since 2020 he has been an advisor to CASE - The Council for the Advancement & Support of Education – which some 4,000 of the world’s leading universities see as their professional body for Advancement/Development.

He is a graduate (maths & physics) of Trinity, where his work with the Arts & Humanities led to the award of an honorary doctorate (D.Litt). He has an MBA from London Business School, where he was also a Governor for 13 years.

David Sinnott

David Sinnott is from Wexford. He has been a volunteer with the festival for more than 30 years. He has a deep love of the festival and of Wexford. He is a former president of Wexford Chamber of Commerce.

David is currently CEO at the Port of Waterford having previously worked for many years with Carl Zeiss Vision International most recently as Head of Product. He is experienced in strategy, communications and in driving culture change.

Thomas Stone

Thomas is Vice President for Partnerships in Technological University Dublin, having been previously President of the Institute of Technology Tallaght. He is a professionally qualified accountant with over 35 years’ experience with responsibility for Finance, HR, Governance, Internal Audit and Company Secretarial matters at senior management level, as well as an academic specialising in Taxation.

He has also served on numerous professional and voluntary committees, particularly with a public sector and community service focus. They include as Chairperson of the Audit Committees of South Dublin County Council and Dublin Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board.

National Development Council

John Healy

Michael Holley

Jennifer Howard

David Lane

Declan Lynch

Yvonne Mays

Dr Oran McGrath

Patrick Meade

Rory Musgrave

Dr Terry Neill

James O'Connor