Fare war delivers amazing flight deals to Ireland

Airlines are offering amazing flight deals to Ireland with return fares as low as $1039 on offer.

A fare war has broken out between carriers flying one-stop into Dublin from Australia’s major cities resulting in record low fares.

While an economy trip to Ireland at peak periods like Christmas can often cost close to $3,000, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Cathay Pacific are all promoting return fares under $1500 if people are prepared to fly between September and November or between January and May.

Flights to Dublin airport from Australia have never been cheaper.

Flights to Dublin airport from Australia have never been cheaper.

Until July 22, booking return flights from Perth to Dublin will set travellers back as little as $1,029* when flying with two or more people on Qatar Airways.

The Doha-based carrier is offering similar deals from Sydney ($1059), Melbourne ($1039), Adelaide ($1029) and Canberra ($1079).

To take advantage of the See the World Together offer, travellers need to book on select dates between September 21, 2019 and March 31, 2020, excluding the busy November to December Christmas period.

ALSO READ: Echo lists the Top 100 Irish Australians of all time

Cathay Pacific, the most recent carrier to offer a one-stop option into Dublin, also has a Global Sale on until the end of July.

Travellers can fly to Dublin return for as little as $1210** from Perth. The Hong Kong-based carrier is also offering great return economy fares from Sydney ($1326), Melbourne ($1310) and Brisbane ($1332). Some exclusion dates apply and travel must be completed by the end of May, 2020.

Etihad, meanwhile, is offering great return deals into Dublin from Melbourne ($1294***), Sydney ($1322) and Brisbane ($1477). Bookings must be made by July 26 and travel must be completed by May 31, 2020. Once again, exclusion dates and some terms and conditions apply.

*Qatar Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 22 July 2019, unless sold out prior. Fares (AUD) quoted above are the lowest adult return prices per person including taxes, fees, and airport charges departing from the mentioned cities to Dublin when booked with one or more companions. Other sale dates may be available. ‘Companion’ refers to a minimum of two (2) and maximum of nine (9) people travelling together on the same booking for the entire journey. Economy Class companion fares shown above are for departures from 21 September - 22 November 2019, 23 December - 31 December 2019, and 12 January - 31 March 2020. Business Class companion fares shown above are for departures from 1 October - 30 November 2019, 23 December - 31 December 2019, and 1 February - 31 March 2020. Inbound blackout dates apply: in Economy Class between 25 September - 15 October 2019, 12 December - 22 December 2019, and 1 January - 26 January 2020; in Business Class between 15 September - 31 October 2019 and 10 December 2019 - 31 January 2020. All travel must be completed by 31 March 2020. Fares may vary due to currency fluctuations. Seasonal surcharges, weekend surcharges, and blackout periods may apply. For all other terms and conditions please review at time of booking.

** Cathay Pacific Terms and Conditions: Offer ends: 31 JUL 2019 23:59 (AEST) Departures: UK & Europe: 11 JUL 2019 – 26 JUN 2019; 8 JUL 2019 – 12 Dec 2019; 28 Dec 2019 – 31 MAY 2020. Prices displayed are based on the lowest fare available for travel in low season. Prices are inclusive of all taxes and surcharges, current as at 12 Jul 19. Seats are limited and availability may vary based on flight number, departure date and airport.

***Etihad Terms and Conditions: Discounts only valid for bookings until 26 Jul 2019, for travel until 31 May 2020. Fares are inclusive of applicable taxes, the break down will be shown during the online booking process. Weekend surcharges apply. Flight/day restriction and blackout periods may apply. The airport taxes are subject to change without prior notice and will be confirmed at the time of booking. For full list of destinations and detailed terms & conditions, visit etihad.com .

Would-be Irish citizens cannot leave the country, court rules

Legal experts have described as ‘absurd’ a High Court ruling which says that a person applying for Irish citizenship must not leave the country for an entire year before lodging their application.

The ruling came during a case in which an Australian man, Roderick Jones, challenged the Justice Minister’s refusal to grant his application to become a naturalised Irish citizen.

During the one year period before the date of the application, Mr Jones, who works in the university sector in Dublin, was out of Ireland for 100 days, 97 of them for holidays, RTE reported.

In order to apply for Irish citizenship, a judge has ruled that applicants must not leave the country for twelve months beforehand.

In order to apply for Irish citizenship, a judge has ruled that applicants must not leave the country for twelve months beforehand.

In previous cases, the Minister for Justice had allowed applicants to spend time out of the country for holidays and other reasons but Mr Justice Max Barrett ruled that this discretionary practice was not permitted by law.

The judge said that "might seem unfair" in a world where many people travel abroad for work and take foreign breaks more than once a year, but he said, that is what the relevant law requires.

He said the cure "for any such unfairness" lay in the gift of the legislature.

Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, those wishing to ‘naturalise’ as Irish citizens have to be legally resident in the State for at least five years out of the last nine (or three out of the last five if married to an Irish citizen).

This includes one year of “continuous residence” in the 12 months up to the date of application.

The judge said the word "continuous" bore its ordinary meaning and was defined as "unbroken, uninterrupted, connected throughout in space or time".

Justice Max Barrett has conceded that his judgement ‘may seem unfair’.

Justice Max Barrett has conceded that his judgement ‘may seem unfair’.

The judge said the law did not allow the Minister any discretion in relation to this requirement. 

He said the minister had manifested "very real humanity" in trying to nuance the very clear wording of the legislation by applying a discretionary absence period to allow for the realities of modern life, but he had gone beyond what was legally permissible.

The judge said there was no evidence before him as to why the Oireachtas had imposed this condition in the 1956 Act.

He said it may have been to ensure potential citizens enjoyed a concrete connection with the State or were attuned to the way of life in Ireland or some other reason. 

The cure for any resulting unfairness was not to be found in the courts he said, but lay in the gift of the legislature.

Over 8,000 people were granted Irish citizenship in 2017 alone, according to European Union data.

According to The Journal.ie, Ireland’s Department of Justice said they were examining the ruling and “will take any necessary action in consultation with the Attorney General”.

The plantiff Roderick Jones has been contacted for comment.

Walking On Cars lock in first Australian tour

Kerry band Walking On Cars, described by Hot Press as ”one of the top Irish bands to catch live” will tour Australia for the first time later this year.

The five-piece from Dingle shot to fame in 2012 with debut single Catch Me If You Can, and have been shaking up the scene ever since with their chart topping hits.

Just last month the indie-pop heroes played a sold-out 12,000 capacity show in Ireland.

ALSO READ: Sydney production of Once an on-stage hit

November and December will see the band perform their first ever headline shows in Australia and New Zealand. The dates follow a summer of European festival shows, a completely sold out UK tour and a clutch of huge arena and outdoor shows in their homeland, in support of the band’s new album, Colours.

The band have been clocking up millions of views on Youtube, including the first single from Colours, Monster.

After shows in Wellington and Auckland, Walking On Cars play the Factory Theatre in Sydney on Friday, November 29, Max Watt’s in Melbourne on Sunday, November 30 and Badlands in Perth on Monday, December 2.

Recorded between the band’s own home studio in Kerry, London’s legendary RAK studios, and Angelic Studios near Banbury , Colours is a second album described as “kaleidoscopically rich with sounds, emotions, synth-rock imagination and the brilliant song writing synonymous with the bands previous releases”.

Fronted by the charismatic Patrick Sheehy (singer/lyricist), Walking On Cars also features Sorcha Durham (pianist), Paul Flannery (bass guitarist) and Evan Hadnett (drummer).

Over 18 months’ touring the band has sold 135,000 gig tickets, reaching arena level at home and sold out tours across Europe, as well as playing the mains stages of some of the biggest festivals out there, including Isle of Wight, Rock Werchter, Rock Am Ring and Electric Picnic in 2017.

Their total global video views stand at an impressive 60 million, their cumulative global streams an eye-watering, ear-trembling 200 million.

Irish Swan's career takes flight with new contract

Sydney Swans Irish defender Colin O’Riordan has been given a major vote of confidence by his club after accepting a two-year contract extension.

The new deal will see him remain in red and white until at least the end of 2021.

Colin O’Riordan has signed a new contract with the Sydney Swans. Picture: Sydney Swans

Colin O’Riordan has signed a new contract with the Sydney Swans. Picture: Sydney Swans

Originally from Tipperary, O’Riordan joined the Swans as an international rookie in 2015, following in the footsteps of Kerrymen Tadhg Kennelly and Tommy Walsh.

A star Gaelic footballer and hurler as a teenager, O’Riordan captained Tipperary to the Munster U21 football title in 2015 before deciding to try his luck at Aussie Rules.

He made a seamless transition to the Australian game, earning NEAFL Team of the Year honours in his first season on Sydney’s list in 2016.

In Round 17, 2018, O’Riordan’s hard work and thriving NEAFL form were rewarded when he was called up for his AFL debut in a six-point win against North Melbourne.

He also captained the Swans NEAFL side in the grand final loss to Southport last year.

After breaking back into the senior team in Round 8 this year, the 23-year-old has not looked back, playing nine games in a row and providing a wealth of drive from the backline. He also scored his first AFL goal against Conor McKenna’s Essendon.

Colin O’Riordan pictured in 2015 when he captained Tipperary to the Munster U21 Gaelic football title. Picture: Sportsfile

Colin O’Riordan pictured in 2015 when he captained Tipperary to the Munster U21 Gaelic football title. Picture: Sportsfile

Swans Head of Football Charlie Gardiner says O’Riordan’s new contract is a great reward for tireless effort.
“From the moment Colin walked into the club he had a real determination and desire to become a consistent AFL footballer,” Gardiner told the Sydney Swans website.

“Colin’s such a driven and competitive person who works incredibly hard to improve each year. He’s gone to another level again this year and has emerged to become an important member of the team.

“We’re excited he’s joined a number of our emerging youngsters in re-signing, and we look forward to seeing what Colin can produce for the remainder of the season and in years to come.”

Watch O’Riordan’s press conference here.

O’Riordan joins Callum Sinclair, Jordan Dawson, Nick Blakey, James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney and Harry Reynolds, as well as coach John Longmire, in recommitting to Sydney in 2019.

CurrencyFair offers €30,000 prize for returning emigrant

Thinking of moving home to Ireland?

Money transfer platform CurrencyFair is offering one lucky emigrant a relocation package valued at €30,000.

The prize includes a year of rental accommodation, flights and car insurance.

To enter, Irish emigrants are invited to visitwww.currencyfair.com/comehome to tell CurrencyFair what home means to them and why the time is right to return to Ireland by sharing stories, photos and videos.

Entries for the contest close on August 31, 2019, and one deserving winner will be chosen by a panel of three independent judges.

“There are about three-and-a-half million Irish citizens currently living outside of Ireland. When you think about why they might like to come back, it boils down to a single common reason: Ireland is home,” said Jarlath Regan, creator and host of An Irishman Abroad podcast and CurrencyFair brand ambassador.

CurrencyFair’s Come Home prize will allow one returning emigrant to make a fresh start in Ireland.

CurrencyFair’s Come Home prize will allow one returning emigrant to make a fresh start in Ireland.

“The chance to win a contest like this could be life changing for someone simply wanting to come back to Ireland.”

“We know that moving to a new country — including returning to your home country — can be complicated, which is why we work so hard to ensure that moving money with us is simple, fast and safe,” said CurrencyFair CEO, Paul Byrne.

“Ireland is thriving again and it’s an exciting place to live right now, but it’s not without its challenges for returning emigrants. Our contest will help someone hit the ground running and make a fresh start at home.”

CurrencyFair has always prioritized making money transfers simple and fair, by combining the latest foreign exchange technology with 5-star, ‘excellent’ Trustpilot-rated customer service and processes that are easy to understand and use.

For each contest entry, CurrencyFair will make a €10 donation to Focus Ireland, the country’s leading not-for-profit working to prevent people becoming, remaining or returning to homelessness.

Over the past decade, CurrencyFair has helped Irish nationals move abroad by providing low-cost money transfers without compromise through its money transfer platform.

The company is focused on providing the best available exchange rates and experience for customers who need to send money and make payments overseas.

CurrencyFair’s 150,000-strong user-community have traded more than €8 billion and saved more than $366 million using the service.

Its unique peer-to-peer model and secure, state-of-the-art technology, raises the industry standard in foreign currency services for web, IOS and Android use.

The company has offices in Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, and announced plans to expand further across Asia in 2019.

US visa appeal after Cork dad is detained

Relatives of an Irishman facing deportation from the US have launched an online appeal to fund a legal battle to secure his residency.

Keith Byrne, who has been married to a US citizen for 10 years, was detained last week as he made his way to work near his home on the outskirts of Philadelphia.

The incident comes amid President Donald Trump's latest crackdown on illegal immigrants in the US.

Mr Byrne, 37, from Fermoy in Co Cork, moved to the US in 2007. He married his wife Keren in 2009 and the couple have two children - Leona, 6, and Gabriel, 4. He is also stepfather to Mrs Byrne's 13-year-old son Ezra, his family said.

Keith Byrne with his wife Keren and children, Ezra, 13, Leona, 6 and Gabriel, 4.

Keith Byrne with his wife Keren and children, Ezra, 13, Leona, 6 and Gabriel, 4.

Mr Byrne originally travelled to the US on the Visa Waiver Programme but did not leave when his permitted time in the country expired. He has been attempting to secure citizenship for around 10 years.

It is understood those efforts have been complicated by two convictions related to cannabis possession when he was a younger man in Ireland, and he had been concerned about the prospect of deportation.

Mr Byrne, who has his own painting company, was on his way to work when he was arrested by officers from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday morning.

He is now facing deportation back to Ireland, potentially later this month.

A gofundme page set up by a cousin of the family, Jeff Snader, raised around US$19,000 of a US$50,000-target within 48 hours.

Mr Snader said: "In this great country we get a lot of things right. But there is nothing right with the deportation of Keith Byrne.

Keith Byrne is in custody awaiting deportation from the United States.

Keith Byrne is in custody awaiting deportation from the United States.

"He is a dedicated member of society, a tax paying entrepreneur, a loving father and stepfather of three children, a man of the household who cares deeply for his wife and a patriot of the United States of America."

A spokesman for the ICE said: "In 2007, Keith Byrne, 37, a citizen of Ireland, entered the United States as a non-immigrant under the Visa Waiver Programme and failed to depart the United States under the terms of his admission.

"ICE arrested him July 10 for immigration violations and issued him a visa waiver removal order. He is currently in ICE custody pending removal."

 

Review: Once you see it, you'll like it

Guy meets Girl, and that’s where the introductions end.

The principal characters in this Sydney premiere production of Once remain nameless, but never voiceless throughout the minimalist musical nimbly staged in a Darlinghurst church-turned-playhouse. 

The Irish vacuum repairman and Czech immigrant, connected by a hoover that will not suck, set about on a week-long mission to craft an album with a ragtag bunch of skilled musicians in Dublin.

The stars need no more than a few days to become well-versed in wistful love under each other’s tutelage. 

Toby Francis’ Guy and Stefanie Caccamo’s Girl feed off each other’s wit and talent, each spurring the other to work to their full potential as they give their all to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s melodies.

Francis’ breathlessness is warranted at the end of the brutally pining When Your Mind’s Made Up, but Caccamo is undoubtedly the main attraction.

The actress, best known for her work in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, is affecting at the helm of the piano, commanding and impressive everywhere else.

Girl’s deadpan approach to comedy and love comes naturally, “I’m always serious. I’m Czech”, and keeps the audience locked out of her thoughts until the right moment.

Stefanie Caccamo and Toby Francis star as Girl and Guy. Photo: Robert Catto.

Stefanie Caccamo and Toby Francis star as Girl and Guy. Photo: Robert Catto.

The ensemble cast, including seasoned theatre and radio personality Cameron Daddo, commits to the accents and sensibilities of at-times caricatured roles, and to the rich history of Irish folk music.

Bringing the orchestra out of the pit and into the light helps preserve the trance of Once, with mere scene transitions becoming moments of intrigue as the kindred virtuosos weave hazily across the set.

It is during earnest scenes of stillness that the play feels most rushed, like the performers can’t wait to pick up their instruments again, but the audience - who have awaited the musical’s Sydney opening since it’s Australian premiere in Melbourne five years ago - hardly minds.

The Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s production is more musical than any iteration that has come before, a point of pride for director Richard Carroll.

Name an instrument, and musical director Victoria Falconer, who joins the cast as barmaid Reza, can probably play it.

Once is an amalgamation of the best of musicals, plays, intimate concerts and spontaneous pub sessions, the entangled union a recipe for success.

FOUR STARS: ****

After selling out its initial run, new shows have been added from July 30 to August 4.

NZ visa changes to impact Irish passport holders

New Zealand is implementing new visa requirements from October 1, with Irish passport holders among those who will be impacted.

Visitors from Ireland must now request an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before travelling to New Zealand, which tourists from visa-waiver countries previously did not need.

Irish citizens will need an ETA, which is similar to a visitor visa, to stay in New Zealand for up to three months, while Australian citizens will be exempt from both traditional visa and ETA requirements.

The authorisation does not permit visitors to work in the country.

Irish citizens travelling to New Zealand will need to apply for an ETA.

Irish citizens travelling to New Zealand will need to apply for an ETA.

To apply for an ETA, which is electronically linked to passengers’ passports and remains valid for two years, visitors must provide information such as criminal conviction history and travel intentions, and pay a NZ $12 fee.

Almost four million travellers visited the island country in 2018, which has experienced a surge in tourism in the last five years as people flock to its ski slopes and waterfront cities.

According to Immigration New Zealand, the changes are intended to enhance security, address immigration and smuggling risks, and improve the traveller experience.

Tourists may also need to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL), but Immigration New Zealand has yet to announce which travellers are required to make this payment.


Emigrants should be primary focus of new diaspora policy

The Irish government is working on a new policy for the diaspora as the country seeks to expand and improve its global footprint and influence by 2025.

The Varadkar government is looking for ideas from the global Irish family to inform this new policy.

However, as a recent visit to Australia by the relevant minister Ciaran Cannon revealed, the government has yet to settle on a definition for the Irish diaspora.

If you’re a fifth generation Aussie of Irish heritage, you have a very different existential relationship with Ireland than the 28-year-old nurse from Mayo who arrived into Sydney airport this morning.

For the purposes of this exercise, it is crucial that the nurse, lets call her Aoife, is foremost in our thoughts and informs what we can observe about the recent experience of emigrants.

Why? Firstly, because she is an Irish citizen living and working abroad, hopefully by choice. In her head and her heart she will always be Irish, no matter where she lives.

Irish emigrants have a very different relationship with Ireland than those of more distant Irish heritage.

Irish emigrants have a very different relationship with Ireland than those of more distant Irish heritage.

For the fifth generation Aussie, lets call him Kevin (Rudd?), Ireland holds an abstract place in his cultural memory. But it will never be home.

The good news for Aoife is that all the evidence points to the fact that she will do very well here.

She will get a job almost immediately. When she goes to work, she will meet others just like her. Irish nurses, many of whom, sadly, believe that Ireland does not sufficiently value their skills to pay them, or offer them the working conditions, that they deserve.

That issue aside, Aoife will most likely get sponsored and begin a pathway to permanent residency in Australia, still something that is highly desired among young Irish immigrants.

She may join one of the Gaelic football or camogie clubs or try her hand at Aussie Rules which seems to be such a great fit for young Irish women. Either way, there will be no major cultural or ethnic obstacle to her integration into Australian life.

Coming to Australia from Ireland is such a well-trodden path now that people like Aoife slip almost immediately into the mainstream.

Aoife will become part of a migrant community which, the census tells us, is one of the most successful in Australia.

When individual earnings are compared by place of birth, the Irish appear right at the top of the list. We earn more than any other European migrants.

So Aoife has nothing to worry about then? Well, not exactly.

Returning emigrants, particularly those returning from beyond the European Union, often recount negative experiences when trying to reintegrate into Irish life.

Returning emigrants, particularly those returning from beyond the European Union, often recount negative experiences when trying to reintegrate into Irish life.

What if Aoife, like many of those who came before her, becomes inconsolably homesick? What if her elderly grandmother becomes seriously ill? Does she jump on a plane? Its such a long way. What if she herself has an accident? A car crash? An unplanned pregnancy? What if she overstays her visa?

The Irish in Australia confront similar challenges to other Irish emigrants, whether they be in Boston, Birmingham or Berlin. But the tyranny of distance, in my view, compounds the negative implications and makes our situation almost unique. Our remoteness also makes it more difficult for us to agitate for recognition, support and funding from Dublin.

I think there is an excellent case to be made for additional Irish government resources to be deployed here. For example, we have seen the clear benefits of having a consulate in Sydney and an honorary consulate in Perth. Both entities have enriched the experience of Irish emigrants in those cities, not to mention the broader benefit of promoting Irish interests – a key goal of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's Global Ireland 2025 strategy.

Melbourne and Brisbane, cities with very significant emigrant populations, not to mention their own cultural and historical links with Ireland as well as economic and commercial opportunities for Ireland, are still waiting for their consulates.

If people think this is asking too much, just look at Canada, a comparable nation, which has five honorary consuls to Australia’s one.

Similarly, Australia, despite being the number one destination for young Irish over the past 15 years, receives only a tiny proportion of the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) budget, less than four per cent. More than 92 per cent of ESP funding in 2017 went to Britain, the US and Ireland itself. In per capita terms, emigrants in Australia receive less than one fifth of what their US equivalents get.

Ireland needs a policy that deals exclusively with emigration, emigrants and Irish-born citizens abroad.

Ireland needs a policy that deals exclusively with emigration, emigrants and Irish-born citizens abroad.

In terms of recognition, of the 100 Presidential Distinguished Service Medals which have been handed out to members of the diaspora by successive Irish presidents, only three have come to Australia.

Those issues aside, let me say that Irish emigrants to Australia do not, in my view, face unique obstacles beyond those which are confronted by any other immigrant to this country. The constantly shifting goalposts of the Australian immigration department may be infuriatingly complex, bureaucratic and expensive but that is not something which can be influenced from Dublin. Ireland can’t solve all of our problems.

But I think we would all welcome more open-ended government to government conversations about extending reciprocal privileges for Irish people here and Australian people there. Older migrants, for instance, may want to spend their later years in Ireland or expat families may want to bring their elderly relatives to live here. These choices need to be supported.

Similarly, it is now very difficult for the partners of Irish citizens to secure post-nuptial citizenship in Ireland. The rules surrounding this were changed only in the last 20 years and should, in my view, be revisited.

It has to be said that many of the most negative experiences that citizens abroad have confronted in recent years have come when they have returned to Ireland.

The negative response in elements of the Ireland-based media to the forthcoming referendum on voting rights for the Irish abroad in presidential elections mirrors the experience of many returning emigrants when they confront the dreaded Habitual Residency Condition when trying to reconnect to Irish life.

It seems to be particularly difficult for returning citizens who have been outside of the EU to complete simple tasks like enrolling their kids into school, applying for a homeloan, getting a drivers licence or securing car insurance. Similarly, the fact that young Irish citizens seeking to study at Irish universities are deemed to be foreign students is a problem that demands an imaginative response.

Just this week I received an email from a young Irish couple who in 2016, after five years in Australia, decided to make the big move back home.

Three months ago, they moved back to Australia.

The young mum said: “It really didn’t work out for us. They go on about how they want us back but they make things hard.”

It really didn’t work out for us. They go on about how they want us back but they make things hard.
— Returned Irish emigrant who has decided to emigrate again

So, in summary, Ireland does not need one new policy for the diaspora. It needs two.

One, a policy that deals exclusively with emigration, emigrants and Irish-born citizens abroad. It is written with someone like Aoife in mind. The experience of emigration (or even living and working abroad) sets people like Aoife apart from the broader diaspora. The goal of the policy should be ensure that Aoife has consular support nearby; that there is a well-funded safety net she can fall into and that should she decide to return home, she can do that seamlessly and with minimum fuss. She should be able to vote in all Irish elections for up to five years and her future husband, wife or life-partner should also be able to get Irish citizenship, just like her children will. Extending the voting franchise will also allow other emigrant issues to be given the political currency they deserve.

The second policy should be all about the children of Irish emigrants and their descendants. The goal should be to ensure that their cultural affinity is enhanced and their Hibernian heritage is celebrated but in a practical way that does not seek to patronise or shake

This can be achieved through increased investment in cultural programmes which support the globalisation of Irish culture. The French, through Alliance Française, and the British, through the British Council, have created successful models for just such activity. Irish music, dance, language and literature should provide more than enough content for real engagement for an Irish equivalent.

Ireland’s universities should be compelled (and funded) to participate. Done right, the policy will reinforce Ireland privileged position as a renowned centre of cultural creativitity and deliver flow-on benefits for business, tourism and the economy. If you build it, they will come.

First king of Irish comedy Brendan Grace, dead at 68

The president of Ireland and the Taoiseach have paid tribute to Father Ted star Brendan Grace, who has died at the age of 68 after a short illness.

The veteran entertainer, who was also a stand-up comedian, played Father Fintan Stack in the popular comedy series about three priests.

He died on Thursday, surrounded by his family, after being diagnosed with lung cancer 10 days ago, his manager confirmed.

He is survived by his wife, Eileen, and their four children, Bradley, Melanie, Brendan and Amanda.

Brendan Grace in character as Bottler, one of his most famous characters.

Brendan Grace in character as Bottler, one of his most famous characters.

The actor, who also starred in 2013 TV film Brendan Grace's Bottler, had lived in the US for many years, but returned to his native Dublin in early June, where he was first diagnosed with pneumonia, before his terminal cancer diagnosis.

Irish President Michael D Higgins said he learned of Grace's death with great sadness.

"As a comedian, Brendan's spontaneous wit and his sense of timing, his obvious delighting in interaction with his audiences, meant that Brendan's sense of humour was drawing from, and itself a profound contribution to, the deep wellspring of Irish wit," he said.

"It was a privilege to know him, and a pleasure to meet Brendan as recently as the 5th of June last, when he accompanied The Forget-Me-Nots choir to a garden party at Áras an Uachtaráin.

"As President of Ireland, I express my deepest condolences to his wife and children, and to his wider family and his friends, and all who valued his acuity and sharp sense of humour."

Tom Kelly, Grace's manager for 27 years, speaking on Virgin Media One's Ireland:AM programme on Thursday morning, said the entertainer's death is a great loss to Ireland.

"Although he was aware of the outcome himself in the last few days when the cancer was diagnosed, it's a great shock to everybody," he said.

"He was very weak, he didn't wish to have chemo or anything like that, and the inevitable happened.

"He was one of the greats in modern entertaining, it's a huge loss."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar paid tribute on Twitter, writing: "RIP Brendan Grace, an Irish comedy legend. You made us laugh so many times, from Bottler to Father Ted and so many others. One of the greats. Our thoughts are with Brendan's friends and family."

Grace was a regular visitor to Australia, most recently in 2015.

In an interview with the Irish Echo ahead of that tour, he was asked to explain the secret of his success.

“Hard neck,” he said. “The reason things went well was I always kept my humour simple, and I sang a few songs as well. My attitude was ‘give the people what they want’. And I always managed to keep the act clean, so older people and younger people were still able to come along without being offended.”

And comedian Brendan O'Carroll, writer and star of Mrs Brown's Boys, said: "So sad at the passing of a great comedy legend, husband and father Brendan Grace.

"He opened doors for so many of us and leaves a legacy of love and laughter that will echo through this land and we will all mourn his passing. Rest peacefully Bottler, you've earned it."

Brendan Grace with another Irish comedy legend Hal Roach, in 2002.

Brendan Grace with another Irish comedy legend Hal Roach, in 2002.

Thousands of messages have been posted by fans across social media recalling fond memories of watching Grace with their families, calling him a "legend of Irish comedy".

Dee Forbes, director-general of Ireland's state broadcaster RTE, said: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Brendan Grace. Brendan was one of Ireland's original funnymen, and one of Irish comedy's true pioneers.

"While there are now many Irish comedians who are household names, Brendan emerged as a talent during an era when there were very few established Irish comedians.

"Through his live shows, his live recordings, The Brendan Grace Show and many memorable guest appearances on RTE's The Late Late Show, Brendan established himself in the hearts of generations of fans, not just in Ireland but all over the world.

"Importantly, he also paved the way for many of the wonderful comedians this country has produced over the last 20 years or so and leaves behind a legacy he and his family can be proud of.

"He will be deeply missed. My thoughts and those of his many friends and fans across RTE are with his family and friends at this sad time."

Funny Man, a documentary directed by Brian Reddin which looked back over the career of Grace, will be repeated at 10.15pm on Friday on RTE One.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Paul McAuliffe, opened a Book of Condolence for the people of the city to pay their respects.

Death of much-loved Sydney Armagh man

Jim Burke was well-known to Sydney’s Irish business community.

Jim Burke was well-known to Sydney’s Irish business community.

Sydney’s Irish community is mourning the death of popular businessman Jim Burke, who passed away on July 3, aged 59 after a four-year battle with cancer.

Jim Burke died surrounded by his loving family; wife Gill, children Clare, Liam and Niamh; and his stepdaughter, Katie. He is also mourned by his siblings in Ireland: Gene, Luke and sister Breege.

Burkie, as he was known, is remembered by his many friends as a larger-than-life, wonderful person who made an impression on anyone who ever met him.

Born in Keady, Co Armagh on September 18, 1959, Peter James Burke went to secondary school at St Patrick’s College, Armagh, from 1971 to 1978, where he was an active member of the school’s Gaelic football and basketball teams. He also played football and hurling for Keady.

After completing his A-Levels, he went to Queens University, Belfast where he graduated with a BSc in computing science in 1982. He then did a postgraduate course in Education and took up a career as a secondary school teacher.

In the mid-eighties, he and his then-wife Stephanie, emigrated to Australia.

He was a teacher at Patrician Brothers Granville, then made the shift to a corporate world which was crying out for people with computer science knowledge. He joined Bank of New Zealand and later Westpac, working in the London office.

Jim Burke was much-loved by his family: wife Gill, children Clare, Liam and Niamh and stepdaughter, Katie.

Jim Burke was much-loved by his family: wife Gill, children Clare, Liam and Niamh and stepdaughter, Katie.

On his return to Australia, he worked for AMP and IAG. Returning to Westpac, he became the CIO for Institutional Banking .

There, he managed the introduction of a number of innovative payment systems. In 2013, he was nominated for Finance CIO of the year. He was also an enthusiastic member of the Lansdowne Club.

His boss and friend, Jim Tate of Westpac wrote of him: “He is the most inventive and intuitive people manager I have met. He knew how to recognise strengths, weaknesses, aspiration, resilience, what person to talk to, who to avoid and what roadblock to work around, which no amount of faux online personality tester could ever deduce.”

In his last months, he asked Professor Tom Hugh at Royal North Shore Hospital, what he could do to help cancer research. He set up a foundation aiming to raise $120,000. Through Westpac, Jim helped organise a fundraiser on May 17 last. At least 300 people showed up. It was funny, moving and successful and more than $180,000 was raised on the day. The foundation is now up to $250,000.

His work continues as the Jim Burke foundation for Liver Cancer Research. Donations can be made here.

One of his oldest friends from St Pat’s in Armagh said of him:  “You stuffed in so much over your life that the suitcase of memories and friends burst at the seams…. When I think of you, I smile.”

So should we all.

His funeral service will be held at St Joseph’s College chapel, Hunters Hill on Thursday July 11 at 10.30am.

Durty Nelly's top Guinness seller for May

Durty Nelly’s in Perth is the top Guinness Australian outlet for May.

Durty Nelly’s in Perth is the top Guinness Australian outlet for May.

Durty Nelly’s Pub in Perth was the number one Australian outlet for Guinness sales in May.

The pub, located is Shafto Lane, topped the Irish Echo’s Black List in the most recent survey, the official national ranking for Guinness volume sales.

According to the owner, Durty Nelly’s was “designed and constructed in Ireland by Irish architects using genuine Irish materials”.

PJ O’Brien’s in Sydney was second in the national survey and JB O’Reilly’s in Perth was third.

The national top ten was completed by PJ O’Brien’s in Southbank, The Irish Times in Melbourne, The Porterhouse in Sydney, St Kilda’s Fifth Province, The Mercantile in Sydney, West Melbourne’s Drunken Poet and Maloney’s Hotel in Sydney.

ALSO READ: Echo names Top 100 Irish Australians of all time

The NSW/ACT top five was PJ O’Brien’s, The Porterhouse, The Mercantile, Maloney’s and King O’Malley’s in Canberra.

The Victorian top five was completed by The Quiet Man in Flemington.

The Queensland top five also included Finn McCools in Fortitude Valley, Gilhooley’s in Brisbane, Paddy’s in Port Douglas and the Dublin Docks Tavern in Biggera Waters.

The Black List ranks the top Australian outlets for Guinness sales.

The Black List ranks the top Australian outlets for Guinness sales.

Western Australia’s top five also included The Woodvale Tavern, Murphy’s irish Pub in Mandurah and Fibber McGee’s in Leederville.

Shenanigans in Darwin was the top Guinness out in the Northern Territory and the New Sydney in Hobart was No 1 in Tasmania.

The Black List is published each month by the Irish Echo.

The Blacklist :: National Top Ten :: MAY 2019

  1. Durty Nelly’s, West Perth

  2. PJ O’Brien’s, Sydney

  3. JB O’Reilly’s, Leederville

  4. PJ O’Brien’s, Melbourne

  5. The Irish Times, Melbourne

  6. The Porterhouse, Surry Hills

  7. The Fifth Province, St Kilda

  8. The Mercantile, Sydney

  9. The Drunken Poet, West Melbourne

  10. Maloney’s Hotel., Sydney


Echo lists top 100 Irish Australians of all time

The late Jim Stynes is on of the Top 100 Irish Australians of all time as listed in the current edition of the Irish Echo. Picture: Lachlan Cunningham

The late Jim Stynes is on of the Top 100 Irish Australians of all time as listed in the current edition of the Irish Echo. Picture: Lachlan Cunningham

What do Ned Kelly, Errol Flynn and Alan Joyce have in common? Like at least one in three Australians, they are of strong Irish heritage. But they are also all included in the Irish Echo’s list of the top 100 Irish Australians of all time.

Swashbuckling Hollywood star Errol Flynn was the son of an Irish biologist.

Swashbuckling Hollywood star Errol Flynn was the son of an Irish biologist.

The list is included in the Irish Echo’s 30th Anniversary edition which has just been published in print and digital form.

The Top 100 includes prime ministers and premiers, priests and poets, medics and musicians as well as the occasional bushranger.

Fourteen of the top 100 are living including Qantas chief Alan Joyce, Sydney Swans Premiership player Tadhg Kennelly and former Australian of the year Prof Patrick McGorry, who was born in Dublin.

Also included are former Hawke government minister Susan Ryan, WIFI inventor Dr John O’Sullivan and former Chief Justice of Australia Sir Gerard Brennan.

The inclusion of former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating and former Liberal NSW Premier John Fahey demonstrates that Irish influence was not confined to one side of politics.

One of the more interesting characters to be included is Constance D’Arcy (1879 - 1950) who was a pioneer for women’s health in New South Wales and became Sydney University’s first Deputy Chancellor.

She is one of a number of trailblazing women including self-styled anthropologist Daisy Bates, famed cellist Maureen O’Carroll and Golden Globe winner Lisa Gerrard.

Dublin-born author and journalist Clare Dunne is among our Top 100 Irish Australians of all time.

Dublin-born author and journalist Clare Dunne is among our Top 100 Irish Australians of all time.

The list is broken down into six categories: Game Changers, Nation Builders, Trailblazers, Pioneers, Visionaries and Saints & Scholars.

Aboriginal Australia is also represented with legendary songwriter Kev Carmody and designer John Moriarty included.

The list includes characters from every period of Australian history since European settlement from rebel transportee Michael Dwyer (1772-1825) and convict-turned-surveyor James Meehan (1774-1826) to modern-day icons like world champion surfer Mick Fanning (whose dad is from Donegal) and football superstar Tadhg Kennelly.

The characters who gave their names to everything from the seat of Wentworth, to the Cahill Expressway, to the the SCG’s O’Reilly stand and Tooheys beer are all included.

'Huge weight' lifted as family allowed to stay permanently

Darragh Hyde is a cystic fibrosis sufferer. He and his family have been granted permanent residency in Australia after a long campaign.

Darragh Hyde is a cystic fibrosis sufferer. He and his family have been granted permanent residency in Australia after a long campaign.

An Irish family facing deportation after having their visa application rejected have now been granted permanent residency.

Dubliners Christine and Anthony Hyde, who have lived in Australia for a decade, were told they would have to leave Australia after their three-year-old son Darragh was considered a “burden” to the country because of his cystic fibrosis, and the cost of his medication.

But they have now been granted permanent residency after Australia’s Minister for Immigration David Coleman used his discretionary powers to intervene.

Christine Hyde, who had driven a massive online campaign to highlight their case, said the family were “so excited” after hearing the news.

“Late yesterday evening we received the good news that we were granted residency,” she said.

“We are so excited, a huge weight has been lifted and we can continue our lives. We will are completely grateful to everyone. Thank you to everyone who supported us.”

The Hydes’ local MP Damian Drum had taken up their case with the Minister and the Premier of Victoria had also called for them to be allowed to stay.

Minister for Immigration David Coleman has used his ministerial discretion to allow the Hyde family to say in Australia.

Minister for Immigration David Coleman has used his ministerial discretion to allow the Hyde family to say in Australia.

An online petition calling for the Hydes to be allowed to remain in Australia has received over 120,000 signatures.

Earlier, Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews said that he thought the Hydes should be allowed to stay in Australia.

“This is a great family,” he said. “They’ve been SES volunteers and school teachers in their local schools, they’ve have contributed over the past 10 years.

“The young boy was born here, some compassion and some common sense (is needed).

“There’ll be some costs for the medical treatment he needs, but there will be so many more benefits to Seymour, to that local community and indeed for all of us.”

Tyrone Dad's appeal for suffering son

An Adelaide Irish family is praying for a heart transplant to save their three-year-old who has endured five open heart surgeries to alleviate his rare conditions. 

David Hope Glass was transferred to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital in May, where he is reliant on a pacemaker, mechanical valve and heart failure treatment drug Milrinone to keep his tiny heart beating. 

With just one quarter of David’s heart properly functioning, his parents remain hopeful for a “miracle”, with his Irish father Liam Glass saying the family had placed their trust in God since finding out about David’s condition when his mother Cindy Glass was 20 weeks pregnant.

“We want to show what faith and hope can do, and hopefully one day David can tell people,” he said.

David’s list of medical conditions is long and complex, from Atrioventricular and Ventricular Septal Defects which have left holes in the walls separating the chambers of his heart, to Pulmonary Stenosis, characterised by an obstruction of the flow of blood from the right heart ventricle to the lungs.

The David Glass Appeal is raising money in young David’s name. Photo: Go Fund Me.

The David Glass Appeal is raising money in young David’s name. Photo: Go Fund Me.

An appeal in his name has raised more than $8,000 through Go Fund Me, leaving his parents overwhelmed by the kindness of friends and strangers.

Melbourne’s Irish Australian Support and Research Bureau has also helped the family while they have been in Melbourne.

The money is intended to relieve pressure on the family, with both parents left unable to work as they care for their first-born.  

David was placed on the waiting list for a donor heart this year, his father explaining, “It’s the only option.”

According to Transplant Australia, patients needing a heart transplant commonly wait nine or more months for a suitable organ donation.

Patients can often depend on Milrinone for years, but it is difficult to predict how long it will be effective for each individual, leaving David’s parents and doctors in the dark as to the urgency of a transplant.

While most children with severe heart failure can use a mechanical heart device known as a VAD until a transplant is undertaken, this option would likely be fatal for David due to the increased risks associated with having only one working ventricle. 

Father Liam, David, mother Cindy and Bella at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. Photo: Adrienne Myszka, Heartfelt.

Father Liam, David, mother Cindy and Bella at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. Photo: Adrienne Myszka, Heartfelt.

Despite being in a state his father described as sickly stable, David is otherwise like any other child his age. 

He adores his little sister Bella who keeps him company in the hospital, and is obsessed with the children’s show Mister Maker, with starring actor Phil Gallagher recently showering his young fan with signed gifts. 


“He’s a happy, humble wee boy,” said Mr Glass.

David (so named for the young faithful who defeated the mighty Goliath) has his own battle ahead as he awaits a donor heart, but Mr Glass believes his son is in the best hands after he pulled through a recent surgery against all odds. 

The Glass family had been told to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. 

“The surgeon came out crying and said God got me through that...we’ve been praying for the hands helping David.

“I said, ‘now you’re speaking my language’.” 


If you would like to donate to the appeal, visit Go Fund Me.

The Glass family thank Adrienne Myszka for providing photography free of charge.