Irish Community News

Famine monument remembrance event marks 20 years

The glass panels of Sydney’s Famine Memorial feature the names of Irish orphan women settled in Australia between 1848 and 1850.

The glass panels of Sydney’s Famine Memorial feature the names of Irish orphan women settled in Australia between 1848 and 1850.

The 20th annual commemoration at the Australian Monument to the Great Irish Famine takes place later this month.

Due to a major refurbishment and upgrade of the exhibition spaces at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum and installation of a lift, the Museum is closed until late in 2019.

This means that the annual event will be different this year, starting with a symposium entitled Looking Forwards And Remembering commencing at 10am at the nearby Mint Building in Macquarie Street.

Afterwards, attendees will congregate in front of the Hyde Park Barracks’ Famine Memorial for the annual commemoration.

Historian and genealogist Dr Perry McIntyre said the Irish community were the driving force behind building the monument in 1995.

“It reminds them of their roots and historical connections to Ireland,” she said.

The monument is dedicated to over 4,000 Irish orphan girls and women who were resettled under a transportation plan during the Great Famine.

The National Monument to the Great Irish Famine was completed in 1995.

The National Monument to the Great Irish Famine was completed in 1995.

Unmarried women and girls, left alone and destitute by the catastrophe, arrived in Australia between 1848 to 1850 under former British Prime Minister Earl Grey’s Orphans scheme.

The girls and women came from all 32 counties to meet Australia’s need for both female labourers and mothers in the male-dominated colony.

Dr McIntrye said these women remained influential in the cultural heritage of the Australian community today.

“We are in contact with at least several thousand descendants and my estimation is that there would be at least 500,000 people descended from these 4,114 girls, even if they don't know about this aspect of their genealogy.”

The Annual Commemoration usually commences at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum on Macquarie Street, the site where orphans who were sent to Sydney were housed.

For this year’s Commemoration on August 25, descendants of the orphan immigrants are invited to wear a lapel label indicating their ancestor’s name, home county, and the ship they journeyed on.

Symposium attendees will hear from both the Vice Consul-General of Ireland Rory Conaty and Dr McIntyre, giving insight into how the story of the young women rescued from the Famine continues to influence Australia’s cultural landscape today.

Celtic Club chief hits back at online 'smears'

The President of Melbourne’s Celtic Club has hit back at claims by an anonymous rebel group that has set up a website to air its grievances.

The so-called Continuity Celtic Club alleged online that the Celtic Club was in dire straits, with a declining membership, and was treating its members with contempt.

The Celtic Club’s president says the claims are unfounded smears and says the club is in the best financial position ever.

Celtic Club President Brian Shanahan.

Celtic Club President Brian Shanahan.

“They’re full of lies and madness,” Brian Shanahan told The Irish Echo.

“The reality is it’s not dire straits. As I put in the letter (to members), you could hardly describe a situation where you’ve got $18 million in assets and no debts as dire straits. It’s a better situation than any Irish club in Australia and probably most clubs.”

The club’s old headquarters at Queen Street was sold to Malaysian developers Beulah for $25.6 million in 2016 but the club held on to the option to return to Queen Street when the site is refurbished in two to three years’ time. In the meantime, the Celtic Club’s temporary home is at the Metropolitan Hotel, Courtney St, North Melbourne with an administration centre in West Melbourne.

The move to the temporary home has been beset with problems which, Mr Shanahan acknowledges, has led to financial losses for the historic club.

“Any move where you sell a property and then negotiate to go back, the change of venue costs you money and we expected to lose money the year or so after the sale. We didn’t expect to lose as much. That’s the issue.

“We have stopped the bleeding. We’re not losing money now and we’re still in a situation where we have $18 million, no debts. The options before us are to go back into prize real estate and we’ve got a temporary place to operate in. We’re renegotiating the lease there in a beneficial way to us.”

On the claim that memberships are declining, Mr Shanahan said, “renewals have to be in by August 31. ... There’s no evidence membership is declining. I think most members will rejoin. We have a steady stream of new members as well.

“Are we trending differently to last year in actual membership? The answer to that is no. We’re going through a transitional period for a year or two. Facilities aren’t what we want at the moment but they will be.

“A lot of our members will stay members because of their commitment to the traditions of the club which we try to hold fast to, promotion of Irish heritage and culture and Australian-Irish history and culture.”

The exterior of the original Celtic Club before the site was sold to developers in 2016.

The exterior of the original Celtic Club before the site was sold to developers in 2016.

Asked if members were being treated with contempt and not consulted, Mr Shanahan said: “No. Every member’s treated properly. Ten members make decisions. Members have one decision, they can vote who they want in. Tell me any club, any government, any serious organisation that, before they make an administrative decision, calls a meeting of members to do it? It doesn’t happen. There’s a reason why it doesn’t happen.

“I don’t agree but people like Dire Straits (Continuity Celtic Club) that tell lies should be treated with some contempt. I do have contempt for people that lie and they lie.”

Committee elections are coming up on September 20 and Mr Shanahan will stand again for president. The new committee will take over after the AGM in November.

Mr Shanahan conceded that activities at the new site have been cut back to rein in costs.

“We found costs were out of control. We tried to transfer all our activities to the Metropolitan. It didn’t work,” he said. “We ended four full-time positions. Not an easy thing to do. We’re in negotiations with the state governement on conditions of operation at the Metropolitan. If those negotiations come off and I’m confident they will, we’ll be able to open seven days a week.

“[But] it’s not as if there’s nothing happening. We have a website, we’ve got podcasts going. We’re trying to reach out to younger members.”

The Irish Echo contacted the Continuity Celtic Club for comment but received no response.

Kilkenny dad dies in Pacific Highway accident

A Kilkenny father-of-one man has died following a road collision in New South Wales.

Seamus Walsh, 38, originally from Kilcready, Ballyhale, Co Kilkenny, died when his truck collided with another large vehicle on a highway in northern New South Wales at about midnight on Thursday night.

Mr Walsh moved to Australia in 2007 and ran his own haulage business.

Local police revealed that two trucks collided on the Pacific Highway, south of Nabiac, near Forster in northern New South Wales. The driver of the other truck has been admitted to hospital.

Fianna Fáil TD Bobby Aylward, who knows the family, said: “It’s very sad news for a local family and everyone is very shocked on hearing (what has happened).

The scene of the fatal crash on Pacific Highway south of Nabiac NSW. Picture: Taffic and Highway Patrol Command.

The scene of the fatal crash on Pacific Highway south of Nabiac NSW. Picture: Taffic and Highway Patrol Command.

“I just spoke to Rena this morning and she is devastated. (Our thoughts) are with his family parents, Pat, Rena, Liam and Claire.”

Local police revealed that two trucks collided on the Pacific Highway, south of Nabiac, near Forster. The driver of the other truck was admitted to hospital..

NSW Police said that emergency services were called to the scene following reports that two B-doubles travelling northbound had collided.

It is understood that Mr Walsh died at the scene.

Officers from Manning-Great Lakes Police District established a crime scene and with the assistance of the Crash Investigation Unit, are investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.

A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.

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.

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.

Doyenne of Australian Irish dancing community honoured

Jan Currie-Henderson has received an OAM for her 60 years of service to Irish dancing.

Jan Currie-Henderson has received an OAM for her 60 years of service to Irish dancing.

Celebrated Irish dance teacher and adjudicator Janice Currie-Henderson’s Order of Australia Medal (OAM) will be in good company alongside her multitude of prizes.

Ms Currie-Henderson, ‘Miss Jan’ to her devoted students, received a Queen’s Birthday Honour last week for services to Irish dancing, just two years after receiving a lifetime achievement Brigid Award for her contributions to the Irish-Australian community.  She was also honoured last year by An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (The Irish Dancing Commission), the sport’s peak body.

“I got such a shock when I got that letter,” she said.

“I don’t know who nominated me...I’ve asked, but the good fairy’s not speaking up to tell me!”

Ms Currie-Henderson, whose family hails from Offaly, Derry and Dublin, has lost count of how many young competition hopefuls she has guided through jigs and reels in her 60 years of teaching but knows the number must be in the thousands.  

Her own involvement with the tradition began at the age of five when her father saw an Irish dancing performance in the Brunswick Heads hotel owned by her grandparents.

“We came down to Sydney to live and there was Irish dancing in the school, Daddy enrolled us of course,” Ms Currie-Henderson said.

Jan Currie-Henderson at her recent Diamond Jubilee celebration with (from left) sons Craig, Andrew and Michael Henderson and husband Bob.

Jan Currie-Henderson at her recent Diamond Jubilee celebration with (from left) sons Craig, Andrew and Michael Henderson and husband Bob.

The eager prodigy would go on to become a national champion and knew by 17 that she wanted to share her skills with new generations.

In 1959, she set up the Currie-Henderson Academy of Irish Dancing. Ten years later, she became a founding member of the Australian Irish Dancing Association (AIDA).

She is a past president of the NSW division of the AIDA and continues to serve as its vice-president.

Her dedication has reaped rewards, with troupes of students from her academy winning over 100 national titles.

Fast-paced moves are the norm in Irish dancing, and Ms Currie-Henderson has watched the centuries-old tradition evolve into something quite different, especially since the emergence of Riverdance in

Today, costumes embroidered with Celtic motifs are enhanced with a healthy dose of glitter and crystals, but the sport has undergone more than a surface-level makeover.

“The basics of it are all the same but it’s more expressive now...we still have the rules in competitions but in the shows you can express yourself differently.

“It’s not always people of Irish descent, there’s dancers of many, many nationalities, they just love Irish dancing.” 

Ms Currie-Henderson will receive her OAM at Government House in September while her students prepare to take October’s Australian Championship by storm.

 

Sydney Rose Rebecca summons Anzac spirit for Tralee

Sydney Rose of Tralee for 2019 Rebecca Mazza with parents Catherine and Anthony.

Sydney Rose of Tralee for 2019 Rebecca Mazza with parents Catherine and Anthony.

Newly-crowned Sydney Rose of Tralee Rebecca Mazza was inspired by her heroic Irish great-grandfather to enter the contest.

James Daly emigrated from Kanturk, Co Cork to Fremantle at the age of 19 in 1909 where he pioneered clearing land and farming in Western Australia while raising four children with his wife.

He enlisted with the Australia Imperial Force (AIF) in 1915 and fought bravely at Gallipoli and later at Pozieres where he was wounded and unable to take any further part in the war.

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Although he died before Rebecca was born, the 24-year-old said the Irishman’s courage and strength continue to influence her family to this day.

“Without him coming to Australia and without him surviving Gallipoli and the Western Front, we wouldn’t be here. There’s this idea of where we came from and all the things that happened to make us as individuals. I often think, imagine if James got killed at Gallipoli, I wouldn’t be here,” she says wistfully.

Rebecca Mazza’s Cork-born great grandfather James Daly.

Rebecca Mazza’s Cork-born great grandfather James Daly.

“Knowing that inspires me to do as much as I can with my life because it’s so meaningful. You don’t know the impact you are going to have on future lives and that really resonates with me.”

James is something of a talisman for Rebecca and the Mazza family.

“Anytime something difficult is going on my Dad says ‘You’ve got the blood of Anzac flowing through you, so you can do anything’,” Rebecca said.

It’s a strength the family called on after Rebecca’s younger brother Tom, 21, was diagnosed with a devastating brain tumour two years ago.

Rebecca, who was raised in Perth but moved to Sydney last year, says her selection as Sydney Rose came as a welcome boost for her parents Catherine and Anthony Mazza and siblings Madeline and Thomas.

“My family are absolutely thrilled. I don’t think I’ve seen my parents on such a high for such a long time.

“They’ve been through the mill after my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He had to have emergency surgery and came out of that not being able to speak and it was just horrific.”

Tom underwent further operations and thankfully with help from speech and rehab teams, he is now fully recovered and studying nursing.

Rebecca currently works as a mobile speech pathologist helping families to develop strategies to communicate with their son or daughter who has difficulty speaking due to conditions like autism or cerebral palsy.

She was studying speech therapy at university when Tom got sick and said it spurned her on to complete her degree so she could help her brother and others like him who face speech issues due to medical conditions.The 24-year-old spent several months working in a school in Waterford in 2013 and can’t wait to get back to Ireland this summer.

“I need someone to make me laugh; I just love the Irish banter.

“Irish people are so good at communicating with each-other and telling stories. I remember coming back from Ireland and the banter wasn’t there. Australian guys lack the same level of wit as the Irish and I do miss that.

“I have a very Irish sense of humour. I just absolutely love Irish people. I can’t wait to meet all the Roses from around the world. It will be fascinating.”

But Mazza is keeping her cards close to her chest about what she will perform on stage for RTÉ’s television cameras.

“I play guitar and piano so I have a few options up my sleeve,” she joked.

Sydney Parade president has 2020 foresight

Thousands of revellers attended the Sydney St Patrick’s Day festivities in The Rocks this year.

Thousands of revellers attended the Sydney St Patrick’s Day festivities in The Rocks this year.

Planning for the 2020 Sydney St Patrick’s Day celebrations will begin in earnest this month when the new organising commitee is elected.

The annual general meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 18 at the Gaelic Club at which the current committee will stand down and new office bearers will be voted in.

Incumbent president Karen Murphy will again put herself forward to lead the organising committee.

“Yes I will be putting my hand up again for president,” Ms Murphy told the Irish Echo.

Moving the community celebration to The Rocks area had been a great succcess, Ms Murphy said, and it was important to continue working with all stakeholders to make it even better.

“The Rocks is the ideal location for the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade celebration,” she said.

“This year we elevated the profile of the event through different stakeholders in the Irish community along with Property NSW and Tourism Ireland. This will continue for 2020.”

Fundraising, she said, would be a key focus if she is re-elected

“We want to create a first-class event for the Irish community marking our nation’s heritage and culture.”

Karen Murphy wants to remain as president of the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade. The AGM takes place on June 18.

Karen Murphy wants to remain as president of the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade. The AGM takes place on June 18.

This year’s celebration attracted thousands of revellers to The Rocks but relentless rain during the day forced the early closure of the community concert at Dawes Point Park.

Ms Murphy said that the full impact of the early closure will be revealed at the AGM.

“We had a reserve fund for a rainy day but our performance this year was a little affected by the weather.”

Both she and the treasurer would report to the AGM, she said, but fundraising would remain a key priority.

“Fundraising is always needed as with any community group relying on the big hearts of volunteers,” she said.

“The committee will continue to organise regular fundraising events throughout the year, the highlight being our annual Christmas Ball which will be held late November or early December.

“The Mercantile Hotel is also organising a raffle whereby a $2,000 flight voucher is up for grabs with 100 tickets being sold for $50 each.”

Ms Murphy says if she is re-elected, she will also continue to devote her energy to “the parade, children and family culture activities, citizenship ceremony, great live music and possible international acts.”

PJ O'Brien's Southbank tops Black List for April

PJ O’Brien’s in Southbank, Melbourne topped the Guinness Blacklist for April.

PJ O’Brien’s in Southbank, Melbourne topped the Guinness Blacklist for April.

PJ O’Brien’s in Southbank, Melbourne was the number one Guinness outlet in Australia for the month of April.

The pub, located on the banks of the Yarra in central Melbourne, topped the Irish Echo’s Black List in the most recent survey, the official national ranking for Guinness volume sales.

Its sister pub in Sydney, which topped the Black List for March, came in second place and Durty Nelly’s in West Perth came in third.

The national top ten was completed by The Mercantile Hotel in The Rocks, The Drunken Poet in West Melbourne, The Quiet Man in Flemington, Maloney’s Hotel in Sydney, irish Murphy’s in Brisbane, The Fifth Province in St Kilda and The Woodvale Tavern in Perth.

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The NSW top five was PJ O’Brien’s, The Mercantile, Maloney’s, The Porterhouse and The Doss House in The Rocks.

The Victorian top five was completed by Jimmy O’Neill’s in St Kilda.

The Queensland top five also included Finn McCools in Fortitude Valley, Finn McCool’s in Surfers Paradise, the Dublin Docks Tavern in Biggera Waters and McGinty’s Bar in Cairns.

Western Australia’s top five also included JB O’Reilly’s in Leederville, Murphy’s irish Pub in Mandurah and Paddy Malone’s in Joondalup.

Fiddlers Green in Darwin was the top Guinness out in the Northern Territory and Irish Murphy’s Hobart was No 1 in Tasmania.

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

The Blacklist :: National Top Ten :: April 2019

  1. PJ OBrien’s, Southbank, Melbourne

  2. PJ O’Brien’s, Sydney

  3. Durty Nelly’s, West Perth

  4. The Mercantile Hotel, Sydney

  5. The Drunken Poet, West Melbourne

  6. The Quiet Man, Flemington

  7. Maloney’s Hotel., Sydney

  8. Irish Murphy’s, Brisbane

  9. The Fifth Province, St Kilda

  10. The Woodvale Tavern, Woodvale, WA

Minister considers plight of Victorian Irish family

Damian Drum is the Nationals MP for Nicholls. He is supporting an Irish family’s bid to stay in Australia.

Damian Drum is the Nationals MP for Nicholls. He is supporting an Irish family’s bid to stay in Australia.

A local federal government backbencher and the Victorian Premier have voiced their support for an Irish family facing deportation.

Federal member for the seat of Nicholls Damian Drum is backing the Hyde family’s bid to remain in Australia and says Immigration Minister David Coleman is reviewing their case.

“I am waiting for the Minister to get an opportunity to look through the file. It will be done probably within the week,” he told the Irish Echo.

“I’ll be in constant contact with the Minister on this one and we are hopeful that we can get a good decision but we are not in a position to make a call on it yet,” he said.

Christine and Anthony Hyde’s application for permanent residency was refused because their son Darragh, 3, has cystic fibrosis.

Unless the Minister intervenes, the family who have lived in the north Victorian town of Seymour for 10 years, must leave the country by June 18.

“I spoke to David (Coleman) on this case,” Mr Drum said. “The Minister is in a very difficult position here. This situation where you have people out here on work visas who have children with severe disabilities, there is a real potential that this could cost the country millions of dollars and everyone understands that.

“If the Minister intervenes in this case, it will set a precedent so we have to be very careful,” he explained.

Darragh Hyde has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Darragh Hyde has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Despite this, the Nationals MP said he feels “relatively confident” after his conversations with the Minister.

He added: “There’s still a lot of work to be done in relation to all the data that goes into the appeal, all the data that the Hydes need to present. All that data has to find its way from the Department to the Minister.”

Mr Drum said he became involved in the case at the request of the local community.

“Many people from within the community have been stopping me and saying: ‘Can you help this family?’”

He said the Hydes have proven that “they are making a substantial contribution to our nation.”

Christine works as assistant principal at a local primary school and Anthony works as a bus driver.

An online petition calling for the Hydes to be allowed to remain in Australia has received over 100,000 signatures.

Mr Drum said: “The family has got the backing of the local community –I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

“As local MPs we get lots of requests in this regard and my first answer is always to refuse a letter of recommendation for people that I haven’t met.

“I went against my strict rule in relation to letters of support in this case.  I’ve only done that on the back of a strong letter of recommendation from the school where Christine Hyde works.”

Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews says the Hydes should be allowed to stay in Australia.

Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews says the Hydes should be allowed to stay in Australia.

The Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews has also thrown his support behind the Hydes saying “They’re effectively Aussies.”

The Labor MP said: “This is a great family.  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.”

Christine and Anthony Hyde applied for permanent residency in 2015 before Darragh was born.

Shortly after his birth, the toddler was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and their application was rejected on the basis that his illness would be a burden on the state.

The family argued that Darragh’s condition is mild and have doctors reports to back that up.

They also argued that Darragh is Australian born and therefore should not be forced to leave..

“Darragh is Australian –he was born in Australia and has never set foot out of Australia.  He’s never been to Ireland.  It’s really unfair,” explained Christine.

Christine Hyde told The Irish Echo the message she would like to get to the minister.

"Just read the case. Just read our story. Just take it in, read the facts and make a decision: Yes or no. I believe any person that reads our case, like the many others who have, that have a heart and have a bit of compassion will see the unique circumstances around our situation and will say ‘yes’. But I don't even know if they're going to read our case,” she said.

Federal Minister for Immigration David Coleman has the power to allow the Hydes to remain in Australia.

Federal Minister for Immigration David Coleman has the power to allow the Hydes to remain in Australia.

"I have no idea what we're doing. i honestly don't know where to begin. There's parts of me that says, 'It will be fine, don't worry about it'. Then there's parts of you thinking, 'What if we're not? Do we need to start packing?' Where do we begin with this? This is our home of ten years, how do you begin to pack that up in 28 days? We still have to work. We can't just stop life either so I don't know where we are with it at all.

"You don't want to get to a point where you've got ten days and it's a no. Who can pack up in ten days? Get out of the lease and sell a few cars, it's not realistic.

"If they just gave us an answer at least we would have some time to sort things out. There's no point giving us an answer on 17th June when we're supposed to be out of the country on the 18th.

"You have to have that in the back of your head and worry about it as well. We don't want to be seen as the people who overstayed a visa or anything like that. It's not us, we want to follow the request. if the request is to leave by the 18th of June, so be it. We'll do that. Don't tell us on 17th June that the answer is a ‘no’, that you're not going to intervene.

"Now there's a timeline on it, now we have an end date to this, it's like, 'Come on'. I don't know what to do."

“We don’t want to be seen as the people who overstayed a visa or anything like that. It’s not us, we want to follow the request. if the request is to leave by June 18, so be it. We’ll do that. Don’t tell us on 17th June that the answer is a no, that you’re not going to intervene,” she said.

With additional reporting by David Hennessy

Gaelic Club board to step down as EGM called

The Gaelic Club occupies the top level of 64 Devonshire St in Surry Hills.

The Gaelic Club occupies the top level of 64 Devonshire St in Surry Hills.

The current board of Sydney’s Gaelic Club is to step down en masse after an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) was called by a group of its members.

The Gaelic Club, which is affiliated to the Irish National Association (INA), is based at 64 Devonshire St, Surry Hills and runs a range of cultural activities there including Irish music and language lessons.

It appears that the INA, which owns the site, has lost confidence in the Gaelic Club’s leadership team and wants to see change.

Sixteen members of the Gaelic Club signed a petition to request the EGM. Seven of the signatories are understood to be current INA committee members.

The petition said the purpose of the request was to “elect a new Board which will develop a business and management plan for the operation of the Gaelic Club and a Memorandum Of Understanding with the INA on the Gaelic Club’s use of premises.”

In a letter to members dated May 25, 2019, a clearly unhappy Gaelic Club president Alana Sheil said the Gaelic Club Board had received a letter from the INA President Karl Kinsella in December 2018 requesting that the Club enter a formal lease arrangement.

This request was rejected by the Board because, Ms Sheil said, “this would make Directors personally liable for any shortfall in income to pay agreed rent”.

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The Gaelic Club is a not-for-profit entity and its directors are volunteers. According to its 2018 Annual Report, the club’s total income was $203,130 with a small operating loss of $345.

According to Ms Sheil’s letter, which was co-signed by the Club secretary Maria Hayes, “the [Gaelic Club] Board and the INA Committee did have two face-to-face meetings… to resolve these issues”.

“The current Board has tried everything in its power to negotiate a reasonable outcome,” Ms Sheil wrote.

A subsequent letter from the INA president, dated May 15, 2019, advised that the Gaelic Club will be “required to enter a commercial lease on 1 June 2019 for $20,000 per annum”.

Furthermore, according to Ms Sheil, the INA has declined “the long standing practice to split the electricity bill 50/50” and “rescinded their support to cover the cost of the annual insurance premium of $4,769.45”.

“These recent financial imposts will render our management of the Club unviable,” Ms Sheil wrote. “The Board … will be stepping down at this EGM. We cannot continue in good faith, to act in the interests of the members under these conditions.”

The Gaelic Club and the INA have endured a turbulent history at the Devonshire St premises.

The property was once owned outright by the Irish National Association.

However, twenty years ago, an audacious bid to redevelop and regenerate the club failed.

The financing of the redevelopment was provided by private individuals and the NSW GAA. The subsequent build was struck by delays and financial pitfalls. 

When the revamped Gaelic Club finally opened, two years behind schedule in March 2002, it was not as profitable as had been hoped. The ground floor bar and auditorium remained in Irish community ownership for just two more years before being sold off for $3.45 million to repay debts.

The INA, which is a registered charity, retains ownership of the upper floor which, according its most recent annual report, is valued at approximately $3,000,000. The INA reported a financial deficit of $62,000 in 2017/18.

The premises is now also home to the Irish Support Agency (ISA). During her recent visit to Sydney, Irish Minister Heather Humphreys officially opened the new ISA office at the Gaelic Club.

The Gaelic Club EGM will be held at 64 Devonshire St, Surry Hills on Monday June 17, 2019 at 7pm.

Mates make sure grieving fiancee gets 'Frankie's car'

Broc Nicholson pictured recently with her Irish fiancee Francis Shanley who died earlier this month.

Broc Nicholson pictured recently with her Irish fiancee Francis Shanley who died earlier this month.

Friends of an Irish tradie killed in the M4 crash worked round the clock to finish a car he was working on as a surprise for his heartbroken fiancee.

Francis Shanley’s colleagues from Vaughan Civil in Sydney worked in secret to renovate a Subaru WRX so they could present it to Broc Nicholson at a celebration of their mate’s life on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old’s fiancee was “over the moon” when she was surprised with the car which has custom Frankie plates in honour of her partner.

Francis Shanley, from Bornacoola, Co Leitrim died when his car was hit by a beer truck in a pile-up involving eleven cars on the M4 motorway in Sydney on May 9.

A-53-year-old man has been charged with dangerous driving causing death after police allege he changed lanes and then stopped causing the fatal crash that killed Frankie.

‘Frankie’s Car’ - The Suburu WRX which was presented to Broc Nicholson by mates of her late fiancee.

‘Frankie’s Car’ - The Suburu WRX which was presented to Broc Nicholson by mates of her late fiancee.

Jamie Morrissey said his mates at Vaughan Civil “worked round the clock for the past nine days” to get the car ready for today’s ceremony at Macquarie Park Cemetery where it was presented to Broc.

“All his close friends came together to work on it –people who knew nothing about cars came to work on it because they wanted to do it for Frankie.

“It was good for us as well –it kept our mind off things.”

Frankie loved to buy cars and fix them up and he was working on the Subaru WRX when he was killed.

The car was “fully stripped” in his work yard with hundreds of parts everywhere so it was no easy feat for his mates to fully restore it in nine days.

“Frankie was an outstanding person. He was a gentleman and that’s why we did it. If it was any one of us, he would be the first person to step in and help so we thought it would be a fitting tribute to Frankie.

“He would do anything for you. Today is a very sad day for Broc but we hope we can bring a smile to her face when we surprise her with the car,” Jamie explained.

Francis Shanley’s workmates from Vaughan Civil who restored the car.

Francis Shanley’s workmates from Vaughan Civil who restored the car.

Broc Nicholson said Frankie would be “so proud” that his friends had finished the car for her.

She said: “He would be so proud and so am I. I know he’s going to be so jealous when I’m driving it instead of him.”

Family and friends of Francis Shanley who gathered for a special celebration of his life at the Camellia Chapel were told that he lived life with “love, honour, integrity and a sense of humour.

Celebrant Brett O’Brien said: “He was alert and alive. He made people laugh. He had a fearless enthusiasm for life and our world is poorer without him.”

His Australian fiancee Broc paid a beautiful tribute to Frankie.

“You’ve touched our hearts beautiful…You always knew how to make me laugh, listen to my problems, make me feel better when I was sick,” she said.

She poignantly read the vows she had written for their upcoming wedding. The couple were due to get married in August.

“You are my world. You are my rock. You are the reason I am the person I am today.

“I will hold you, honour you, respect you, cherish you and most importantly love you.

“To the most charming, funny, handsome person – I will always love you.”

The Suburu before its transformation.

The Suburu before its transformation.

Frankie’s younger sister Ruth Shanley said his family in Leitrim were heartbroken to lose him but had “beautiful memories” of their time together.

She said: “Frankie always used to look after me – he always had my back.

“He always put a smile on my face with his silly sense of humour and his cheeky smile.”

His close friend Gary Hart was friends with Frankie for over 20 years after meeting in school in Leitrim.

“There was never a dull moment when Frankie was around. Frankie was horrid craic. He’ll be sadly missed in this country and in Ireland,” he said.

Frankie is survived by his fiancee Broc Nicholson, his parents Christine and Basil Shanley and his siblings Mark, Ruth and Catriona Shanley.

He is also mourned by hundreds of people from across the globe who loved him particularly in the communities of Co Leitrim, Western Australia, Darwin, Carmila and Sydney.

Fiancee's tribute to 'lucky charm Irish boy'

Francis Shanley was on his way to work when his ute was struck by a truck.

Francis Shanley was on his way to work when his ute was struck by a truck.

The fiancee of a 36-year-old Leitrim man who died in yesterday’s major road accident in Sydney has paid tribute to her “lucky charm Irish boy”.

Francis Shanley from Currycramp, Bornacoola, Co Leitrim, who lived in the Sydney suburb of Wenworthville, died following an 11-car pile up on the M4 in Sydney’s west.

His fiancee, Broc Nicholson, paid tribute to her partner on Facebook.

“Most of you have heard the devastating news of our beautiful, strong head, lucky charm Irish boy Francis Shanley has sadly passed way today,” she wrote.

“He will be forever in our hearts and sadly missed. Going to be a long road ahead getting back on our feet.

“Fly high my beautiful angel, I love you forever and always.”

The tradie, who the Irish Echo understands had lived in Australia for ten years, died at the scene of the accident after his citybound utility was struck by a light-rigid truck carrying beer kegs, about 5.50am on Thursday morning.

Mr Shanley’s family is receiving consular assistance.

The Church Street exit where the crash occurred is the final opportunity for motorists to leave the motorway before distance-based tolls apply.

Police are investigating whether a last-minute bid to exit before the toll could have been behind the crash, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It is a part of the roadway which can cause problems with people leaving the motorway to then go into the Church Street off ramp," Police Chief Inspector Adam Phillips told the paper.

Irish tradie killed in Sydney car crash

Image taken from the Nine News helicopter of the fatal M4 accident.

Image taken from the Nine News helicopter of the fatal M4 accident.

A 36-year-old Irish national has died following a major accident on Sydney’s M4 motorway this morning.

The man, a 36-year-old from Wentworthville, died after his citybound utility was struck by a light-rigid truck carrying beer kegs, about 5.50am (Thursday 9 May 2019), at the Church Street off-ramp at Mays Hill, NSW Police have said.

It’s believed 11 vehicles were involved in the crash, with five people taken to hospital for treatment to various injuries; however, only 10 vehicles stopped.

The man has not being named but his family is receiving Irish consular assistance.

Investigators believe a vehicle involved in the crash may have left the scene before speaking with police.

“While investigators are not suggesting the driver of the unknown vehicle caused the crash, they do believe they may have information which may clarify the circumstances surrounding the incident,” a NSW Police statement said.

Crash Investigation Unit Commander, Inspector Katie Orr, said police wanted to speak with the driver of the 11th vehicle to find out what they may have seen at the time of the crash.

“We want to speak with this driver to find what they know about the events leading up to the crash,” Inspector Orr said.

“We also want to speak with any drivers who may have witnessed the crash and left the area or have relevant dash-cam footage.”

All citybound lanes have now re-opened after being disrupted for more than five hours.

Sydney Irishman avoids jail over air-rage incident

Leroy Hyland took four times the recommended dose of sleeping pills on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney.

Leroy Hyland took four times the recommended dose of sleeping pills on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney.

A 26-year-old Irishman has avoided a jail sentence after pleading guilty to a range of charges associated with an air-rage incident in October.

Leroy Hyland took four times the recommended dose of sleeping pills before he covered his head in a blanket, pushed a flight attendant and tried to storm the cockpit on an Los Angeles to Sydney Delta Airlines flight. He had been in the US to attend the Conor McGregor fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov in Las Vegas.

Hyland, who lives in Randwick in Sydney's eastern suburbs and is on a temporary working visa, was carrying an 'unidentifiable black object' when he told the flight attendants he had been robbed of his wallet, passport and phone. The flight attendants offered to accompany Hyland back to his seat to find his supposedly missing possessions, Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court heard on Tuesday.

“At this time, using both of his hands, the defendant gave [one flight attendant] a hard shove to his shoulder causing the flight attendant to fall backwards onto [the second cabin crew],' a statement of facts said. “The defendant ran towards the cockpit door and began beating on the door with his fists.”

The banging was loud enough for the captain to hear and internal security procedures were activated.

United States air marshals were forced to restrain Hyland for the remainder of the flight.

“In an attempt to get away from the air marshal, the defendant turned and jumped over seat 6B into the adjacent aisle, stepping on the passenger seated in seat 6C,” the statement of facts said.

Eventually the air marshals were able to restrain Hyland and he spent the rest of the trip handcuffed next to them until the plan touched down in Sydney.

Hyland was deeply ashamed of his conduct, defence lawyer David Newham told the court.

“There's definitely been a lot of soul-searching for My Hyland after this very, very regrettable event that occurred last year,' Mr Newham said.

The court heard Hyland had taken two tablets of the over-the-counter sleeping pill Unisom, then when he felt no effect swallowed two more.

Magistrate Julie Huber said if Hyland had not taken the tablets it was unlikely the disturbance would have occurred.

“Of course, you took four times the recommended dosage,” Ms Huber said, according to the Daily Mail.

“You took it upon yourself to take four times the amount simply because you wanted to sleep. In many respects it is no different from having that extra glass of scotch or alcohol.”

Ms Huber noted Hyland's contrition and that the had co-operated with the air marshals once he was handcuffed.

“It would appear that this is an unusual event and that as far as personal deterrence is concerned the requirement is relatively low,” she said.

Hyland was facing a potential penalty of a $10,000 fine and two years in prison.

Ms Huber fined Hyland $4,000 for behaving in an offensive and disorderly manner and imposed two community corrections orders of two years and three years with a total of 550 hours of community service.