Melbourne

Irish-born Sinead Diver wins Melbourne marathon

 Sinead Diver

Sinead Diver

Mayo-mum Sinéad Diver has won the Melbourne Marathon in record time.

Diver, who moved to Melbourne in 2002 and now calls Australia home, set a new course record with a time of 2:25:19 making her the fastest ever Australian female athlete to complete the 42.195km distance in Australia.

It’s also the second fastest marathon ever run by an Irish woman after Catherina McKiernan’s record of 2:22:23.

“Today was the best marathon experience I’ve ever had. It’s really special to get a PB in my hometown. Finishing in the ‘G’, with all my family and friends cheering me on was so emotional,” said the Irish Australian.

Diver is a three-time World Championship representative, and has a spate of wins to date including the Launceston 10, where she broke a course record and ran the fastest 10km road race by an Australian since 2006. 

Diver’s best performance came at the Sunshine Coast Half Marathon where she ran 1:09:20, the fastest time by an Australian in eight years and second fastest ever recorded in Australia. 

She now sets her sights on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

 Sinead Diver crosses the finish line at the MCG.

Sinead Diver crosses the finish line at the MCG.

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.

Australia to get another quick round of Coronas

 The Coronas are heading back to Australia for a whistle-stop tour.

The Coronas are heading back to Australia for a whistle-stop tour.

Just a year after releasing their Irish number one album Trust the Wire and their last Aussie tour, Dublin rockers The Coronas return to Australia for three shows in November. 

Since establishing themselves in 2003, The Coronas have built up a loyal fanbase in Ireland and cemented themselves as one of our best live acts. 

Fresh from playing to 14,000 fans at Dublin’s 3Arena, lead singer Danny O’Reilly told The Irish Echo how excited the band are to be heading back down under. 

“The reaction we have been getting there is just amazing so we’re really excited about going back,” O’Reilly, the son of singing legend Mary Black, said. 

“We had a cool gig in Sydney in March, just to launch the gigs, and we love going there. We’re really excited and hopefully by the end of November, it will be nice and sunny as well so we’ll get a bit of sun on our skin.

“Often times we don’t get to enjoy the cities too much but hopefully we’ll get a few days either side just to enjoy the place. It was cool to be back in Sydney for a few days. We have a couple of friends living there now. 

“Hopefully when we go back in November, we might have a few days to enjoy it and chill out and catch up with people again.”

It was just last year that the band released their fifth studio album but in June they followed it with new material in the form of the EP, The Reprise, a collection of loose-end songs that did not fit on previous albums.

“We’ve been playing a few songs off it. It’s been going well. It’s always nice to have something new out there.

“I think the EP’s a little bit different for us, it’s a little bit of a departure from what we’ve done in the past. I mean it’s still Coronas, it’s still three and a half minute songs of my whiny voice on top of some pop songs but I think musically it’s slightly different for us. 

“It’s been getting an amazing reaction, much better than we even thought. We thought we were gonna release it under the radar just to have a release for our really eager fans who want to hear some new music but I think it’s helped us garner some new attention and some new fans so it’s really encouraging.

“We had more freedom because we produced it ourselves. It’s the first piece of work that we self- produced. It was very free and easy and like, ‘Okay, there’s no pressure on it to be a big successful album, we don’t need a load of hits, this is just something for us’. And I think taking that pressure off made it more enjoyable.

“Sometimes when you get too caught up in trying to write singles you can get off track a little bit. With this, we didn’t worry at all about getting radio play; this was more of a self-indulgent … undertaking. It was nice to be able to do that and scratch that itch and let ourselves just go with it.”

The lead single on The Reprise is The Note, striking for both the singalong and triumphant tune and the heartbroken lyrics it is married to. 

O’Reilly has often spoken about how he writes about his own life in his music. This song could very well be from the period after his high-profile break-up with television presenter, Laura Whitmore. 

“It’s about the struggle after a break-up and sometimes that maybe things aren’t great and they might not get better and having those depressing feelings so it’s definitely darker lyrically,” he said. “People are loving it and that’s really great to see. It’ s nice we found a home for it because it’s a song we’re really proud of.”

The band have started putting together material for their next album and O’Reilly reveals this comes as a relief after the last album’s difficult preparation.

“I’m really excited about the new stuff, more so than years gone by. With the last album Trust the Wire we’re really proud of it. I definitely think it’s one of our strongest albums but I think it was the closest I’ve ever been to having writer’s block. 

“I was definitely struggling creatively for a while so I just thought: ‘We’re getting older, trying to continuously improve creatively, it’s going to be difficult and it’s going to just get harder as you get older’. 

“That’s sort of what I had resigned myself to but then we went down to Dingle and had these two weeks where there were just songs falling out of us and I was like, ‘Oh my God. These are great’.”

O’Reilly will not be the only family member in Australia in November as his mother Mary Black will perform at the Sydney Irish Festival.  

Asked if there could be some overlap of their time here, O’Reilly replied: “It will be great. To be completely honest, I had no idea we were going to be in Australia at the same time, so thank you for that. It would be so cool. 

“If I can do it, I would definitely consider going over a week early maybe to Australia, seeing her show and just chilling out for a week. I hope that might work out, make a family holiday out of it.” 

The Coronas play Prince Bandroom, Melbourne on 22 November, Metro Theatre, Sydney on 23 November and Capitol, Perth on 24 November. For more information, go to www.troubadour-music.com

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.

 

 

 

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. 

Excluded voters keen to be heard

  Supporting a ‘yes’ vote: Christine Howell, Shauna Stanley, Gary Hansell, organiser Lizzie O'Shea, Pam Lowe, Jimmy Yan and Grace Carroll at Melbourne’s Drunken Poet.

Supporting a ‘yes’ vote: Christine Howell, Shauna Stanley, Gary Hansell, organiser Lizzie O'Shea, Pam Lowe, Jimmy Yan and Grace Carroll at Melbourne’s Drunken Poet.

Almost all Irish citizens living in Australia are not allowed to vote in the referendum on abortion. Irish diplomatic staff can but that's about it.

The vote, on May 25, will ask people to consider repealling the 8th amendment, which prohibits abortion in almost all circumstances.

But a series of events have been held in Sydney and Melbourne advocating for a ‘yes’ vote. 

Diaspora Downunder Dollars for Choice (#ddd4c) is a campaign aiming for 30 events around Australia to fundraise for Together for Yes.

Convenor of the Irish Pro Choice group Shauna Stanley said it was frustrating that expats “cannot get our voices heard at the ballot box” but “we can contribute some of our hard-earned Australian dollars to give the Together for Yes campaign every chance for success”.

DDD4C has received pledges from all around Australia, including themed parties, events and a pub quiz at Melbourne’s Drunken Poet pub.

“We have had an amazing response, with lots of creative ideas from supporters all over the country. It’s been hugely inspiring to see this kind of grassroots organising. 

“Irish people always love good craic, but have shown themselves to be extra keen to get on board for this cause,” Stanley said.  

 Louise Nealon, Ann Marie Crotty and Loretta Cosgrove at the Sydney fundraiser for the Yes campaign at 34Bia in Redfern, Sydney.

Louise Nealon, Ann Marie Crotty and Loretta Cosgrove at the Sydney fundraiser for the Yes campaign at 34Bia in Redfern, Sydney.

“This has a movement led by women organising to demand their rights, against a well-funded anti-choice lobby. We may be 20,000 kilometres away, but we can feel the international reach of the sisterhood,” said Stanley.

Fellow campaigner Elaine Arnold said “We wanted to [find] a way of collectively contributing towards positive progression in Ireland.”

Supporters of a ‘yes’ vote also gathered at the Irish-owned 34 Bia restaurant last weekend for a fundraiser. Organised by Louise Nealon and Ann Marie Crotty, tickets included a full Irish breakfast and a donation to the Together for Yes campaign in Ireland.  Ticket sales and raffle raised more than $2000.

Blissful Riot brings Irish party to Sydney Festival

 Ireland's much-loved drag queen Panti Bliss.

Ireland's much-loved drag queen Panti Bliss.

Ireland's best known drag queen and gay rights activist Panti Bliss is coming to Australia with a show that combines drag, dance, circus and comedy.
RIOT is a spectacle that boasts an all-star Irish cast and sold every ticket available at 2016 Dublin Fringe, won Best Production and broke box-office records. Panti and RIOT coming to Sydney Festival and Arts Centre Melbourne is particularly apt following the recent same sex marriage vote here.
The self-described accidental activist played a major role in the successful referendum campaign for Marriage Equality in Ireland.
"I was following it very closely," Panti told The Irish Echo of the recent postal plebiscite. "It was a slightly odd experience to be watching it from Ireland because, having gone through the exact same excruciating debate in the run up to our referendum on marriage equality, we knew exactly what you were going through and how emotionally draining it could be.
"And it was also a bit like going back in time watching it all unfold, because the exact same arguments were being made - sometimes word for word! - that we had heard ad nauseam in 2015.

 Panti Bliss says she was emotional over Australia's decision to legalise same sex marriage.

Panti Bliss says she was emotional over Australia's decision to legalise same sex marriage.


"Like many interested members of the LGBTI community here, I watched the results live on the internet and it was quite emotional! Reliving the joy and relief we felt in Ireland as we heard the results of our own vote."
 Rooted in the Irish traditions of poetry, oratory, Irish dance and song, then deconstructed using musical, electro, striptease, drag and pop culture, RIOT is a theatrical gut-punch. It is a love letter of hope to the future and a clarion call on the state of the world today.
Panti is well known to Australian audiences. Her 2016 one-woman-show High Heels in Low Places racked up stellar reviews and packed houses in Australia as well as Ireland, UK, Europe and USA.
Is she looking forward to getting back down under? "Am I?! Does Pauline Hanson make poor fashion choices??
I'm lucky enough to get to go to Australia most years and, even better, usually during our looooong Irish winter! It's so nice to get away to Aussie sun just as I'm getting totally fed up of the cold and damp, and by the time I get back, the winter is nearly over! But this year, after the Yes vote, I'm looking forward to it even more than usual."
 Joining Panti on stage are Street Performance World Champions and unlikely heroes of Britain’s Got Talent, The Lords of Strut. These spandex adorned lads are on a mission to change the world with a dose of dance, acrobatics and a big old measure of slapstick. Multi-award winning dance duo Philip Connaughton and Deirdre Griffin roll out some thumping jigs whilst Megan Riordan, the star of the Tony Award winning Once The Musical (Dublin) and Ronan Brady, the Gaelic football player who ran away to join the circus, add to the sensational line up.  
Rounding out the cast is Kate Brennan, RIOT’S street corner poet delivering the emotive words and rhymes of Emmet Kirwan including those from Heartbreak, which became an award-winning short film, along with the show’s ‘Sirens’ vocalists Alma Kelliher, Adam Matthews and Nicola Kavanagh.  In addition, a surprise local guest artist will join the cast each night of the season.  
 It is not like Panti has not been to Australia before but this show is completely different: "But usually it's just me with my one-woman shows so this time will be very different (and I suspect even more fun) going with a big cast of brilliant, fun performers - many of whom have never been to Oz before.
"I think Australian audiences are going to LOVE this show. It was actually conceived as a show about Ireland but the themes are universal. It's got real heart, but is also a high octane spectacle. It's a noisy, glittery, raucous show that incorporates theatre, cabaret, circus, and music, and it will have you howling laughing one moment and the very next moment will break your heart. It's a wild fun party that sends you home with lots to think about. And I'm in it, so.... bound to be amazing, right? RIGHT??!! Right.
"Melbourne is one of my favourite cities in the world and the beautiful Arts Centre Melbourne is one of my favourite venues to perform in, so I'd be excited to return there under any circumstances. But returning there with this wildly talented cast, in this spectacularly entertaining show that we're all so proud of, is almost too much excitement for this old show pony! And then on top of that we get to welcome a different special guest into the cast every night! I may have to lie down till the palpitations pass."
 

RIOT plays as part of Sydney Festival 5- 28 January (www.sydneyfestival.org.au), then at Arts Centre Melbourne 31 January – 9 February 2018. Book at artscentremelbourne.com.au