Irish Community News

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.

Two Aussie Roses miss the cut for TV final

 Perth Rose Laura Cannon, South Australia's Emilie Helbig, Sydney's Caitlin MacInante, Melbourne Rose Suzie Jackson and Queensland Rose Sarah Griffin-Breen on the surfboard at the K Club in Co Kildare last week. Picture: Domnick Walsh

Perth Rose Laura Cannon, South Australia's Emilie Helbig, Sydney's Caitlin MacInante, Melbourne Rose Suzie Jackson and Queensland Rose Sarah Griffin-Breen on the surfboard at the K Club in Co Kildare last week. Picture: Domnick Walsh

Five Australian Roses made the long trip to Tralee but only three will feature in the live TV 'final'.

Sydney's Caitlin MacInante, Melbourne's Suzie Jackson and Perth's Laura Cannon will be part of the televised Rose Of Tralee final which will be broadcast over two nights from early Tuesday morning Australian time on RTE.

But Queenland's Sarah Griffin-Breen and South Australia's Emilie Helbig have missed out.

Unlike in previous years, only 32 of the 57 participating Roses get to take part in the televised portion of the pageant.

Queensland's Rose Of Tralee organisers posted the following message on their Facebook page.

"We are so incredibly proud of our beautiful Queensland Rose, Sarah. Her journey so far in Tralee has been amazing and we are excited to celebrate the rest of the Festival with her. All 57 Roses have done their Families and Centres proud and we wish the 32 through to the Dome the best of luck."

Others who posted on the official Rose of Tralee page were less magnanimous.

"Not fair on the other Roses," Fiona Real posted when the final list of 32 was revealed. "Won't be tuning in to watch the live shows. I think they should all go through after all the effort these girls went through to get there."

The final list of Roses for the first of two broadcasts is: Abu Dhabi, Arizona, Carlow, Dublin, Florida, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Monaghan, New York, New Zealand, Newfoundland & Labrador, Toronto, Waterford, Westmeath and Yorkshire

All three remaining Aussie Roses will take part in the second broadcast alongside: Boston & New England, Chicago, Cork, Down, Dubai, Galway, Germany, London, Mayo, Philadephia and San Francisco.

The Rose of Tralee will be available to watch for free, live and on-demand on RTÉ Player.

 

 

 

Irish-born former WA senator dies, aged 73

 Cavan-born Jim McKiernan has died at the age of 73. 

Cavan-born Jim McKiernan has died at the age of 73. 

Former Labor Senator for Western Australia and proud Cavan-man Jim McKiernan died at his home in Perth on Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 73.

WA Labor paid tribute to the Irish-born parliamentarian, who represented his state in the Australian Senate from 1985 to 2002.

"Sad news for the WA Labor family today, with the passing of the great Jim McKiernan," they posted.

"A unionist, a great parliamentarian, and one of the great senses of humour in politics.

"From Cavan, Ireland to the Dillingham shipyards in Fremantle, to the Senate in Canberra, his story is one of a working class kid made good, and a life well lived. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones. Vale Jim."

The third of eight children of James and Mary (Maisie) McKiernan, Jim left school at age fourteen to help support the family.

He worked as a petrol pump attendant and an abattoir worker before emigrating to England. In 1969, having gained a trade qualification as a first-class machinist, he migrated to Perth,  taking advantage of an assisted passage scheme.

He took on a position as a machinist/fitter and turner at Dillingham Shipyards in Fremantle, where he remained for the next four years.

He joined the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) which later became the Amalgamated Metal Workers' Union (AMWU). In 1976 he was appointed as the AMWU's first full-time education officer in Western Australia,.

He joined the Australian Labor Party and became increasingly immersed in politics.

He put his name forward for preselection to run for a Western Australian Senate seat and in the 1984 half-Senate election, McKiernan was elected to Canberra.

After his first marriage to Jean ended in divorce, McKiernan married Jacqueline (Jackie) Watkins, a sitting member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly who held the seat of Joondalup (1983–89) and, later, the seat of Wanneroo (1989–93).

McKiernan was re-elected to the Senate in 1987, 1990 and 1996, the latter two from the top of the ALP ticket.

During his time in Canberra, he agitated to remove references to the Queen from the oath or affirmation of allegiance to be made by new Australian citizens.

The passage of the Australian Citizenship Amendment Bill 1993 brought this campaign to a successful conclusion and many Irish permanent residents became Australian citizens as a consequence. According to those closest to him, it was his proudest political achievement.

One of his roles was as returning officer for the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party (1990–96) a role which famously saw him preside over and announce the results of both leadership ballots held between Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, in June and December 1991.

During these contests McKiernan was a vocal Hawke supporter and a critic of Keating, effectively precluding him from a ministerial post under a Keating-led Government. In his final days, Hawke gave him a call to wish him well.

McKiernan became an early victim of Section 44 of the Constitution when he was forced to give up his Irish citizenship before the 1990 election.

He said in 1999: “Regrettably in the late ‘80s I had to, on advice, relinquish my Irish citizenship. It was something I didn't particularly enjoy doing at the time, but it was something I had to do in order to hang on to my job.”

McKiernan remained in the Senate until his retirement in 2002.

He used his valedictory speech to reflect on his personal experience of migration. He stated that his generation of Irish were 'born for the road' and that, in his case, fortune had smiled upon him, in both England and Australia.

According to his parliamentary biography, "His fellow senators lauded his contribution to and expertise in the field of migration and noted the assistance his staff had provided when negotiating difficult migration processes. They also noted that he had brought a great sense of humour to the chamber and had been one of its outstanding characters, with his unorthodox taste in ties drawing considerable comment."

He is survived by his wife Jackie, his and her children Steven, Donna, Jimmy, Lisa, Kim, Kate and Ben, their partners as well as 14 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be held at Pinnaroo Memorial Park on Monday, August 20 from 3pm. His coffin will be draped in an Irish tricolour and the Eureka flag.

 

 

 

Missing Irish teenager located 'safe and well' in Victoria

 The police-issued CCTV image of the missing girl, who has been found

The police-issued CCTV image of the missing girl, who has been found

The young Irish woman who went missing from Randwick on July 13 has been found "safe and well".

Following an investigation by police from Eastern Beaches Police Area Command, the woman was found in Victoria. No further details have been released.

The Irish teenager was previously named by NSW Police as Katie Cash.

At the time she was last seen, she was 38-weeks pregnant and officers attached to Eastern Beaches Police Area Command had grave concerns for her welfare.

Katie was described as being of Caucasian appearance, of thin build, with short dark hair, green/hazel eyes and a scar on the right side of her forehead. She was last seen wearing a grey top, grey and white floral pants and no shoes.

NSW Police have thanked the community and the media for their assistance. 

Pregnant Irish teenager vanishes in Sydney

 Katie Cash was last seen on Friday, July 13 in Sydney.

Katie Cash was last seen on Friday, July 13 in Sydney.

Concern is growing for missing Sydney Irish teenager Katie Cash.

NSW Police are appealing for public assistance to help locate Ms Cash who was last seen leaving a hospital on Barker St, Randwick, just before 3pm on Friday July 13.

At the time she was last seen, Katie was 38-weeks pregnant and officers attached to Eastern Beaches Police Area Command hold grave concerns for her welfare.

Ms Cash may also go by another name.

Katie is described as being of Caucasian appearance, of thin build, with short dark hair, green/hazel eyes and a scar on the right side of her forehead. She was last seen wearing a grey top, grey and white floral pants and no shoes.

Anyone with information or knows Kate’s whereabouts is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000.

Singing Oisín's papal performance with esteemed choir

 Members of the St Mary's Cathedral Choir. Oisín O'Sullivan is second from right. Picture: Catholic Weekly

Members of the St Mary's Cathedral Choir. Oisín O'Sullivan is second from right. Picture: Catholic Weekly

IF there’s a sure-fire way to impress your Irish granny, it’s to sing for the Pope.

Oisín O’Sullivan’s Killarney grandma has been bursting with pride since he sang for Pope Francis with his fellow choristers from Australia’s oldest choir on Pentecost Sunday.

The 12-year-old has been a member of Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral Choir for four years and said the performance in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome was “the biggest thing we’ve ever done”.

“It was really exciting,” he said.

“I was trying to focus on the music, but in the background I was thinking about how cool it was.”

Oisín said the Pontiff, who was standing only 10m away, was humble.

“I thought he’d be sort of like royalty but he seemed really down to earth.”

The Papal Mass was the highlight of three-weeks of performances in France, Brussels and Italy to celebrate 200 years since the choir was founded by Dubliner Catherine Fitzpatrick.

In total, 32 young scholarship students from St Mary’s Cathedral College and 11 adult singers performed.

 Oisín and his dad, Pádraig O'Sullivan on the tour.

Oisín and his dad, Pádraig O'Sullivan on the tour.

The performance was broadcast to millions around the world.

Oisín’s father Pádraig O’Sullivan is from Killarney and has been in Sydney for 23 years.

He said both the Australian and Irish sides of the family were thrilled by the youngster’s accomplishments – especially his grandmother Breda O’Sullivan in Muckross.

Mr O’Sullivan said all the choirboys had worked extremely hard to earn the amazing trip. 

In an average week, the singers  rehearse and perform for 10-plus hours, before and after school and on Sundays.

Extra rehearsals will also take place in preparation for a special anniversary Mass in August that will be attended by descendents of the choir’s Irish founder. 

Mrs Fitzpatrick was a school teacher who voluntarily came to Australia after her husband Bernard was sentenced to transportation for embezzlement.

She trained a small group of singers, including her own sons, to sing for the first Catholic services in the colony.

As Sydney grew, they became the choir of the first St Mary’s church and eventually the St Mary’s Cathedral Choir. Mrs Fitzpatrick was the choir director for many years.

Melbourne resident Neill Fitzpatrick discovered he was the great-great-great grandson of Catherine Fitzpatrick when he was researching his family tree last year and was impressed by his talented ancestor.

“She was a woman well in advance of her time because she was highly educated and a school teacher,” he said.

“She was either very naïve or very courageous to come out in 1811 as a free settler with two young sons, the youngest of which was less than one year old.

”From what I’ve read of her sons’ letters they were very, very proud of her. She was the anchor that kept the family together.”

Mr Fitzpatrick joked that singing is one family talent hasn’t been passed down the generations.

“I can’t sing at all,” he said with a laugh.