Irish Community News

Australian solidarity with Irish nurses campaign

Expat nurses send a powerful message to the irish government from the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

Expat nurses send a powerful message to the irish government from the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

More than 250 Irish nurses gathered at the Sydney Opera House on January 20 with a simple message for the Irish Government: ‘Give us a reason to come home’.

The nurses gathered to show solidarity with their colleagues, nurses and midwives, at home who are campaigning for better working conditions in Ireland.

The protest was replicated in Melbourne and Perth as well as London, Saudi Arabia and Doha .

Laura Phillips, a Dublin nurse who organised the Sydney protest, said she had been overwhelmed by her colleagues’ support.

“It’s a support message. We can’t be there at home; we’re across the world for the reasons that they’re striking. We can’t be there to show our support so we thought we would send that message and also send a message to the government. There are nurses here who want the option to come home but won’t. They refuse to work for the pay scale that’s being offered,” she said.

Laura explains that nursing in Ireland left her burnt-out and completely frustrated while she was earning only €30,000 a year.

Since relocating to Australia, not only does she earn nearly double, earning $90,000 (€57,000), but conditions are better with a strict ratio of four patients to one nurse.

“I was trained to a really high standard but I wasn’t able to bring the highest standard to the bedside because the time wasn’t there. It’s impossible when you’ve got a patient load of six to eight patients along with other terrible working conditions.

“It’s very frustrating. Then your pay packet at the end of the month doesn’t reflect any of this, the extra hours I used to spend. Every shift would mean at least an extra hour on the ward and getting no thanks for it whatsoever. It was just impossible to do.”

Irish nurses Helen McEnery, Niamh Burns, Laura Phillips and Sorcha Sharkey in Sydney to show their support for their colleagues in Ireland who have taken industrial action for better working conditions.

Irish nurses Helen McEnery, Niamh Burns, Laura Phillips and Sorcha Sharkey in Sydney to show their support for their colleagues in Ireland who have taken industrial action for better working conditions.

Ireland will continue to lose good nurses to Australia and other countries if the issues at the heart of the strikes are not addressed, she claimed.

“It’s sad to see because we are trained to a really high level in Ireland on the taxpayers’ money and then the other health systems reap the rewards. That’s the reality of it. That’s why there’s been such a response to this support message.

“I know nurses who want to go home. Some have gone home and actually came back out because they couldn’t do it, they couldn’t work in the conditions and be paid that. It’s not a reflection on our skills, our high qualifications.

“Every other public sector job is paid better than us. The general public have been fantastic in terms of support. These are people who receive the care, see the constraints of the health system. These are families, parents, relatives. The question that has been asked time and again is, ‘how does extra money in a nurse’s pocket help the health service?’ It’s just where it starts. They have a massive recruitment issue and retainage (sic) issue. Nurses won’t work for what they’re being offered.

“There’s the age old idea that nursing is a vocation. It is not. It is a career. We’re highly skilled professionals. Nobody’s going to stand for that in this day and age. No nurse went into nursing because they wanted to make money. I would have gone into a different line of work for that; that was never my intention. My intention was to look after patients. Patient safety is completely at risk.”

Irish nurses at Federation Square in Melbourne.

Irish nurses at Federation Square in Melbourne.

More than 30,000 Irish nurses and midwives have been taking industrial action in a bid to bring the government to the negotiating table. Urgent surgery and critical care were not affected but about 13,000 outpatient appointments and 2,000 planned procedures were cancelled. Emergency departments operated but with fewer nurses. It was INMO’s first strike in 20 years.

A planned three-day strike earlier this week was called off after the Labour Court intervened with a proposal to improve nurses wages and conditions.

The Irish Echo spoke to another Irish nurse who did not want to be named but was also at the Sydney protest. The nurse from Galway told The Irish Echo: “I think we all got a little bit emotional. It’s quite sad to think that 10 of our year of 50 (student nurses) are left at home and we’re all leaving for the same reason.

“They try to do these incentives to bring us home but not one person I talked to wants to go back to the Irish health system with the way we were treated.

“I think we’re a third world country at home compared to the way we work out here.

“The care at home is second to none but that’s because the nurses are brilliant but we’re just not treated the way that we’re treated out here.

“It’s tough because we all have family at home and all our families would love to see us at home but I know well my mam would kick me up the bum if I went home to go back to the HSE. She would send me back on a plane to Australia.”

Irish Australian women honoured on St Brigid's Day

Winners of the 2019 Brigid Awards pictured with Senator Deborah O Neill (patron, Irish Friends of Labor) and Kaila Murnain (general secretary of NSW Labor). From left to right: Deborah O Neill; Kaila Murnain; Pam O’Mahony; Mary Yaager; Genevieve Kelly; Patricia Amphlett (“Little Pattie”); Anne Murnain; Geraldine Murray; Catriona Barry and Fiona Nix.

Winners of the 2019 Brigid Awards pictured with Senator Deborah O Neill (patron, Irish Friends of Labor) and Kaila Murnain (general secretary of NSW Labor). From left to right: Deborah O Neill; Kaila Murnain; Pam O’Mahony; Mary Yaager; Genevieve Kelly; Patricia Amphlett (“Little Pattie”); Anne Murnain; Geraldine Murray; Catriona Barry and Fiona Nix.

The fourth annual Brigid Awards took place in Sydney on February 1, with singer Little Pattie among the award-recipients.

The awards, named in honour of the eponymous Irish saint, recognise the contribution of women of Irish heritage to Australian society and span the business, community, political and social justice spheres.

Singer Little Pattie (aka Patricia Amphlett) received the Bridget Whelan Award for a career that saw her shoot to fame in the 1960s and perform across Australia and the US, including on Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show.

She has been an advocate for social change and sang the iconic It’s Time TV commercial during the 1972 Australian federal election when Labor reformer Gough Whitlam became prime minister. 

Senator Deborah O’Neill, patron of the Irish Friends of Labor and federal senator for NSW, said she hoped the awards would “continue to grow in the future, and in particular to reach out to the many young Irish who have made New South Wales their home in recent years”.

“Politically, the world faces many challenges in the coming decade, and it is incumbent on Labor to step up and meet the challenge of delivering a fairer and more equal Australia.”

Pam O’Mahony received a Community Hero Award for her work on behalf of the Irish community in Sydney and NSW through the GAA, the St Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and through the long-running Ireland Calling Radio show.

Genevieve Kelly received a Community Hero Award for her work on social justice through the trade union movement; as a founding member and first NSW President of the Australian Social Welfare Union; through education, as a lecturer and president of the NSW Lecturers’ Association; and in the political sphere, as mayor. With roots in Cork and Kilkenny, she was the first mayor to make a formal apology for the Aboriginal genocide a commemoration of Captain James Cook’s first landing in Australia at Kurnell. 

 Fiona Nix received an award for her contribution to the business community as founder of Australia’s leading independent film and entertainment agency NixCo, which has been involved in movies such as Moonlight and Hacksaw Ridge.

Other award recipients include: Anne Murnain, who has campaigned to raise awareness on poverty in rural Australia, particularly among Aboriginals; Catriona Barry, board member and chairperson of 3 Bridges, a community organisation that helps disadvantaged people; Mary Louise Yaager who has been involved with the St Vincent de Paul, the Sydney Archdiocese and the Right to Home Campaign; and Geraldine Murray, nominated for contribution to the Megalong Valley Pony Club as the club’s treasurer and fundraiser.

Popular Dubliner found success in Australia

Dubliner Clare Foley, who died on January 6, was a popular member of Sydney’s Irish community.

Dubliner Clare Foley, who died on January 6, was a popular member of Sydney’s Irish community.

OBITUARY: The Irish Australian community is mourning the death of Sydney-based Dubliner Clare Foley who passed away on January 6 at the age of 44.

Born in 1975 Clare attended St Pius School, Terenure (1979-1987) and Our Lady’s, Terenure (1987-1993).

She graduated from University College Dublin in 1997 with an Arts degree in English Literature and French followed by a Masters in International Marketing from Dublin Institute of Technology in 1998.

In September 1998, Clare was selected from more than 1,000 applicants for the Enterprise Ireland International Graduate Programme based in London. She worked with Irish companies helping them to win business and increase their exports with UK retailers. It was a role that called for strong networking, communication and event management skills. She was a natural. Clare moved to Sydney in 2004 with her partner Alex and took up residence in the Eastern Suburbs.

A proud Irish woman she was steeped in the Australian Irish community from the word go. She was a feature in Ireland House, first working for the Consulate of Ireland and then once again for Enterprise Ireland. In 2009, Clare became a member of the inaugural Australian Ireland Fund Young Leaders committee and remained a major supporter of Ireland Fund events.

From 2010 to 2013 Clare was the head of hospitality at Ticketek before moving to the Australian Rugby Union as the head of hospitality and events. Clare thrived in the role and the John Eales Medal Awards night became her annual triumph. The green jersey was always under the gold and she always delighted in an Irish win.

In July 2018 Clare married Alex Henderson, her long term love, at Tankardstown House, Slane, Co. Meath. It was a day the best of her life, she always said.

Well-known for her caring, warmth and sense of fun, Clare was passionate about friendship and has a wealth of friends who adored her.

Clare passed away on January 6, 2019 of advanced breast cancer. She was 44. She is survived by her husband Alex; her parents Tim and Margaret and her sisters Emma, Hilary and Louise.

Her husband and family extend their gratitude to all who supported Clare in the last two years, especially the ARU and the teams at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre and the Sacred Heart Hospice.

A celebration of Clare’s life will take place at 12 noon, February 15 at Thomas Prior Hall, Ballsbridge. If you would like to make a donation in honour of Clare please visit

Charges upgraded to murder after man's death

Christopher McLaughlin (L) and Nathan Kelly have been charged with murder.

Christopher McLaughlin (L) and Nathan Kelly have been charged with murder.

Two Irishmen have been charged with murder following the death of a 66-year-old man in Sydney.

The two men, both from Donegal, were originally charged with “affray” and “reckless grievous bodily harm in company” following the December 29 incident. But the charges were upgraded to murder following the death of victim Paul Tavelardis on Monday.

Christopher McLaughlin, 24, and Nathan Kelly, 21, appeared in court today via video-link from separate prisons. The defendants will remain in custody after the judge refused them bail.

They are due to appear in court again on March 6.

Kelly fronted Burwood Local Court on Wednesday via video link from Silverwater prison.

McLaughlin, who is understood to be a tunnel worker for WestConnex, also appeared via video link from Long Bay jail.

Meanwhile the family of Mr Tavelardis have paid tribute to the grandfather-of-nine who was battling leukemia.

“He loved to travel, that was his indigenous side, he loved to go, as we say, ‘walkabout’,” his son Bradley Tavelardis told The Daily Telegraph.

“Every two or three years he would save enough money, buy a sedan and go out into the desert and sleep in the back of his car.”

Bradley Tavelardis said his father was a peaceful man, did not smoke or drink, and “lived every moment” due to his illness.

Mr Tavelardis jnr said he held no ill-feeling towards the families of the two men who had made contact with them from Ireland.

“The families of the two boys, they would be going through a lot of hardship as well,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

Donegal men charged over Sydney assault

Christopher McLaughlin (L) and Nathan Kelly remain in custody.

Christopher McLaughlin (L) and Nathan Kelly remain in custody.

Two men from Donegal have been charged following an alleged assault in Sydney.

Christopher McLaughlin, 24, and Nathan Kelly, 21, both with addresses in Donegal, were arrested near the scene of the incident in the inner west suburb of Summer Hill.

They were taken to Burwood Police Station where they were charged with "reckless grievous bodily harm in company and affray".

Police said a 66-year-old man was found on the side of the road at the intersection of Grosvenor Crescent and Liverpool Road, just after midnight local time on Saturday.

He was treated at the scene before being taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where he is said to be in a critical condition.

Mr McLaughlin from Malin and and Mr Kelly from Glengad appeared before Parramatta Bail Court yesterday.

They were both refused bail and are due to appear before Burwood Local Court on January 9.

Police said neither Mr McLaughlin or Mr Kelly were known to the injured man.

Tina Cahill sentenced to eight years in jail

Tina Cahill and the man she killed, former fiance David Walsh

Tina Cahill and the man she killed, former fiance David Walsh

Tina Cahill has been jailed for stabbing her new fiance to death.

The Wexford woman stabbed David Walsh, 29, once in the neck in the early hours of February 18 last year, at the Sydney home they shared with two other Irish nationals.

The 27-year-old was originally charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter based on substantial impairment due to an abnormality of the mind.

The couple were said to be in a volatile relationship involving aggression on both sides.

At the New South Wales Supreme Court on Wednesday, Cahill, known as Tina, was sentenced to eight years in jail, with a non-parole period of five years.

Her earliest release date will be in February 2022 when she is expected to be deported to Ireland.

Justice Peter Johnson told the court: "I am satisfied the psychiatric evidence supports the existence of significant depression on the part of the offender at the time of the killing which arose from the unusual and abusive relationship with Mr Walsh."

The fatal incident occurred when an intoxicated Mr Walsh launched an unprovoked attack on a man who had been invited into the home in Padstow, a suburb of Sydney, by Cahill and the two other female housemates after they met him at the pub.

Cahill, who also had been drinking, tried to stop the attack, before she took out a "large, very sharp" knife from the cutlery drawer and stabbed him.

At the time, she was on a good behaviour bond and the subject of an apprehended violence order issued to protect Mr Walsh, after she was convicted of recklessly wounding him with a glass candle holder in 2015.

Cahill gave evidence about his repeated violence, including punching strangers and biting her all over her body, and said he accused her of sleeping with other men and deleted texts from her phone.

The judge accepted her account of Mr Walsh's controlling and demeaning conduct, observing their marriage was "doomed to fail".

The Rocks to host St Patrick's Day festivities

The Rocks area of Sydney.

The Rocks area of Sydney.

SYDNEY’S historic precinct The Rocks looks set to host the official community celebration of St Patrick’s Day in 2019.

The news was revealed at the recent sold-out Christmas Ball fundraiser at the Shangri-La Hotel.

The Irish Echo understands that the 2019 celebration will transform The Rocks into an Irish village with live music, stalls and family-friendly activities.

There are also plans for a children-focused parade from Circular Quay to Dawes Point Reserve and a citizenship event at which eligible Irish nationals can become Australian citizens.

The family friendly event will take place on St Patrick’s Day itself. which falls on a Sunday next March. The proposed move to The Rocks, which has yet to be finalised, marks a positive new direction for the volunteer-run event.

The Rocks is an area which is rich in Irish Australian history and includes one of the country’s best-known Irish pubs, The Mercantile.

Sydney has not staged a St Patrick’s Day Parade since 2014 when a rainstorm resulted in the event losing tens of thousands of dollars and facing possible financial ruin.

As a consequence, there was no official community celebration in 2015 but a determined fundraising effort resulted in the event returning in 2016.

The construction of the light rail and street closures in the city ruled out the possibility of a city parade and access to Hyde Park, which had hosted previous celebrations, had been lost.

So organisers moved the celebrations to Prince Alfred Park in Surry Hills. However, rain again forced the cancellation of the so-called Green Gathering. Then, last year, organisers moved the celebration to The Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park.

Sydney St Patrick’s Day Organisation president Karen Murphy said the committee was excited to share the news about The Rocks event.

“We have listened to the community and heard the desire to bring the celebrations back to the city,” Ms Murphy said. “And so, St. Patrick’s Day 2019 will see the return of a parade to the CBD.

“The Rocks has many historical links to the Irish community in Sydney, being one of the first places Irish people settled when they arrived in Australia.

“We want to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the area and its many associations with the Irish community.”

Sydney will one of the first cities in the world to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the committee president said the new location will offer the opportunity to showcase the best of the harbour city.

“With the iconic backdrop of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, we hope it will be a magical day for all those who attend the celebrations,” Ms Murphy added.

My fiance bullied and threatened me, killer tells court

Cathrina Cahill, who killed her fiance David Walsh in February, 2017.

Cathrina Cahill, who killed her fiance David Walsh in February, 2017.

An Irish woman who killed her fiance in Sydney has told a judge of his repeated violence, including punching strangers and biting her all over her body, and how he accused her of sleeping with other men.

Cathrina Cahill said she could not look at other men when she was out with David Walsh, nor could she look in the mirror when driving as there might be a male driver behind. If she did, she said Mr Walsh would say: "I hope you got a good look, slut".

The 27-year-old was giving evidence in the New South Wales Supreme Court on Friday at her sentencing hearing for the manslaughter of Mr Walsh, 29, who was stabbed once in the neck in the early hours of February 18, 2017 at their home.

The couple shared the property in Padstow, south west of Sydney, with two other Irish nationals. Cahill, from Wexford, was originally charged with murder but the Crown accepted her plea to the less serious charge on the basis of substantial impairment due to an abnormality of the mind at the time.

When asked about the death by her barrister James Trevallion, she said: "There is not a day that goes by when I don't think about David's family. I loved him so much. He told me no matter what I did I would never get away from him and if I ever got with anybody else he would make my life hell."

She testified that Mr Walsh blocked people from her Facebook account, deleted texts and numbers from her phone and was convinced she was having an affair with her boss. He would come to her work to wait for her and make a gesture - which she demonstrated in court - of running a finger across his throat, she said.

David Walsh was violent and possessive according to his former fiancee Cathrina Cahill.

David Walsh was violent and possessive according to his former fiancee Cathrina Cahill.

Cahill told the judge of a string of incidents when Mr Walsh punched men - including his friend, Paul Mulligan, who had just arrived to stay at their house.

"I was in my bedroom and David came and out of nowhere started accusing me of being with Paul Mulligan which was totally untrue," she told the court. "David came out and just hit Paul", who then moved out.

The court was told of an incident when Cahill was with a female friend at a hotel when a man started talking to the other woman.

"David came in and hit the guy so hard he landed on the floor," she said. "He said 'he won't look at my missus again'."

Mr Walsh punched numerous holes in the house walls, threw a glass bottle through a new TV and "would constantly break things in the house", the court heard.

He would grab her face "and constantly bite me, that was his thing", she said.

A former housemate testified that she saw Cahill stab Mr Walsh in the back of his head on October 3, 2015. But Cahill said they had argued in their bedroom and she went to the door, but he blocked it and had a knife in his hand. She went to grab it, he ran out and she cut the back of his head with the knife, the court heard.

Prosecutor Nanette Williams suggested Cahill was lying because she knew the housemate's evidence was very "damning" about her purposefully going downstairs to get the knife and attack her partner in the head.

"That isn't true," Cahill replied.

The hearing will continue on November 9 before Justice Peter Johnson, who said he expected to sentence Cahill before December 14.

Court hears evidence of Irish woman's violent past

Cathrina Cahill has admitted to killing her former fiance David Walsh.

Cathrina Cahill has admitted to killing her former fiance David Walsh.

A newly-engaged Irish woman who has admitted killing her fiance in Sydney stabbed him in the back of the head more than 18 months before his death, a judge has been told.

Former housemate Isobel Jennings testified that the couple were arguing before she saw Cathrina Cahill come up the stairs with her hand behind her back and then suddenly stab David Walsh in the head three or four times.

Ms Jennings was giving evidence on Thursday at the New South Wales Supreme Court sentencing hearing of Cahill, from Wexford.

Cahill, 27, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to the manslaughter of Mr Walsh, 29, on the basis of substantial impairment.

She had originally been charged with murder but the charge was downgraded.

Cahill, who is known as Tina, admitted unlawfully killing Mr Walsh - who was also from Wexford - between February 17 and 18 last year in the suburb of Padstow.

She gave psychiatrists a history of being in a traumatic relationship with Mr Walsh, hallmarked by physical, emotional and verbal abuse over a period of time.

Under cross-examination from Cahill's barrister, James Trevallion, Ms Jennings denied lying about the incident in which she said Cahill had stabbed Mr Walsh in October 2015.

The court was told Cahill was charged with one count of reckless wounding of Mr Walsh in relation to him being injured after she threw a large candle at him in November 2015.

She was convicted of the offence in her absence and placed on a two-year bond in April 2016 at Waverley Local Court.

According to the agreed statement of facts, the couple argued on the night of February 17 2017 when they were drinking with others.

They parted, before Cahill, two female friends and Matthew Hyde, a man they had socialised with at one of the pubs, arrived back at the Padstow address where Mr Walsh was either asleep or partially asleep on a couch.

Soon after, Mr Walsh repeatedly attacked Mr Hyde wanting to know who he was and, during the ensuing chaos, Cahill screamed: "Stop it Davey, get off, get off ... he's with Grace."

She tried to get a grip of her fiance's arms when he swung his arm back and she fell to the ground, the facts said.

She moved towards him and punched him in the face with a closed fist, before Mr Walsh pushed her again and tried to punch her in the face.

Eventually, "the offender opened and closed the cutlery drawer quickly taking out a large, very sharp, bladed knife".

One witness said over and over again "put it back" but Cahill replied: "No, he needs to be taught a lesson. It's not fair. Look at poor Matthew."

The hearing is continuing before Justice Peter Johnson.

Murder charges against Irish woman downgraded

Cathrina Cahill and her fiance David Walsh who she has admitted to killing while under substantial impairment in February 2017.

Cathrina Cahill and her fiance David Walsh who she has admitted to killing while under substantial impairment in February 2017.

A Wexford woman has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her fiance in Sydney, after the charge was downgraded from murder.

Cathrina Cahill, 27, pleaded guilty in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday, on the basis of substantial impairment “by abnormality of the mind”, to the stabbing manslaughter of David ‘Daithi’ Walsh between February 17 and February 18 in 2017 at Padstow.

Her barrister James Trevallion referred to the need for the judge to be aware of the “extent of the provocation and controlling behaviour” by Mr Walsh, before her sentencing hearing was set down for November 1.

Cahill remains behind bars where she has spent the past 20 months. Members of her family were in the court to support her.

ABC Australia has reported that doctors’ reports tendered to the court indicate that she may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of the incident. 

Cahill admitted to unlawfully killing David Walsh – who was also from Wexford – between 17 and 18 February 2017 in Padstow. 

David Walsh, who was a father of three young girls in Ireland, was stabbed to death at his home.

He was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency services were called to the house on Watson Road.

According to AAP, Cahill’s barrister James Trevallion said the abnormality of the mind was caused by Walsh’s conduct towards her, stating that the judge needed to be aware of the “extent of the provocation and controlling behaviour” by him. 

The crown prosecutor told the court, ABC Australia reports, that she would need time to allow Walsh’s brothers and three children, who are in Ireland, to provide victim impact statements to the court. 

Speaking outside the court, Trevallion said Cahill was “doing ok”.

Melbourne to host global Irish famine event

Dr Val Noone next to the Famine Rock at Williamstown.

Dr Val Noone next to the Famine Rock at Williamstown.

The famine monument at Williamstown in suburban Melbourne will host this year’s International Commemoration of the Great Famine, the Irish Government has announced.

It is the first time Melbourne has hosted the event which takes place in a different country each year.

The ceremony will take place on Sunday, October 28 and Melbourne Irish Famine Commemoration Committee’s chairman Dr Val Noone said he and his team were “honoured” to be chosen.

The Williamstown Famine Rock was erected 20 years ago to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of 191 Irish orphan girls into Hobson’s Bay aboard the Lady Kennaway.

The impoverished girls from Irish workhouses were brought out to Australia between 1848 and 1850 to become servants and wives under the Earl Grey Emigration Scheme.

Dr Noone said descendants of the orphan girls’ will attend this month’s commemoration which will also include Irish music and song, flower-laying and speeches.

“We pass the microphone around and give them a chance to tell us who they are descended from, what age they were when they came, and what ship they came on,” he said.

“When you think of what it was like for those girls, many of them only 14 or 15 years of age, to step ashore in Melbourne, 20,000 kilometres from home facing a terrific challenge.”

Irish Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said some 1700 of the 4000-plus young Irish women who came to Australia under the Earl Grey scheme first landed in Melbourne.

“This year’s commemoration represents an opportunity to not only honour the work of the Irish community in Melbourne in preserving its history but also to pay special tribute to the memory of those young women and their contribution to their adopted homeland,” she said.

Sadly when the girls first arrived, some of the local press whipped up anti-Irish feeling. 

The Melbourne Argus newspaper was particularly harsh, describing them as “ignorant creatures, whose knowledge of household duty barely reaches to distinguishing the inside from the outside of a potato”.

Dr Noone said they would have needed “courage and determination” to deal with the discrimination, prejudice and racism they encountered.

“It is moving to think that those girls, scorned and libelled by the local press when they arrived, are being remembered and honoured,” he said.

Irish studies Professor Elizabeth Malcolm is a great-great granddaughter of Margaret Cooke from Co Kildare who came to Australia on the Earl Grey scheme when she was just 16.

“I have often taught the Famine to students, so I am very familiar with its horrors,” Prof Malcolm said. “When I discovered I had an orphan ancestor, it was exciting at first, but, on reflection, I found it very sad. Margaret must have had a pretty terrible early life.”

Dr Noone said they’d been having annual community commemorations at Williamstown since the memorial was first erected 20 years ago.

Global Irish fun run gets into stride again

Tadhg Kennelly and former Sydney Swans team-mate Michael O'Loughlin at the 2017 Sydney 5k run.

Tadhg Kennelly and former Sydney Swans team-mate Michael O'Loughlin at the 2017 Sydney 5k run.

Seventeen cities, eight countries, one global nation.

The Ireland Fund’s Global 5k run will get into stride again on September 22. 

Events will take place in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne to raise money for causes in Australia and Ireland. 

The global patron for the run is Irish Olympian Sonia O’Sullivan, who will take to the field in Melbourne this year. The Sydney run will be led by former Sydney Swans star Tadhg Kennelly. 

“It’s hard to believe we’re in the fifth year of this event,” said John Gallagher, chairman of the Ireland Fund Australia Sydney Young Leaders.

“It’s grown every year but we are really hopeful that this is the year that the run becomes a really established, fun event for runners, walkers, families, pets, anyone who likes, on the Irish Australian community calendar in all three cities. 

“We’re thrilled to have the support again of both Sonia O’Sullivan and Tadhg Kennelly, helping us to raise much-needed funds for worthy causes in Ireland and Australia.”

Starting in Brisbane at 7am, with the baton handed to Sydney and then over to Melbourne, the young leaders will run 5kms in their respective cities before passing the virtual baton. 

The Global 5k will conclude when the last young leader crosses the finish line in San Francisco. 

“It’s a really excellent event,”
Kennelly said. “I brought the family along last year; tried out my knees again for the first time in a few years. 

“And it’s a very Irish take on a fitness event – we all get the exercise in first, and the sausages and goodies afterwards! I enjoyed the chat and the craic and meeting everyone last year.” 

People can support the event by signing up to run, by volunteering on the day, by sponsoring a runner or making a donation. 

All runners get an event T-shirt, plus a delicious breakfast BBQ after the race. Sponsorship packages are also available. 

Global 5k runs take place in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, New York, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Toronto, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Belfast, Dublin and London.