Community News

Update :: Missing Meathman makes contact with family

Kevin Fitzpatrick’s family are concerned for his welfare.

Kevin Fitzpatrick’s family are concerned for his welfare.

The Irish Australian Support Association of Queensland (IASAQ) says that Kevin Fitzpatrick from Co Meath, who had been declared missing by his family in Ireland, is OK.

Mr Fitzpatrick’s family had not seen or heard from him since October and raised the alarm with the IASAQ.

A widely-shared social media post on February 22 said: “Kevin stands 6’2”tall (188 cms) is well built, blonde hair, normally cut very short, and is 35 years of age. Last contact with Kevin was October 2018.

“He has worked in Mt Isa, the Ranger Mine outside Darwin in NT and spent a lot of time in and around Brisbane when on break. His family are desperate for news of him.”

But the IASAQ posted a later message saying: “Kevin has made contact with his family and is ok, so thank you, each and everyone of you for the part you played. The strength of community and people working together, and looking out for each other is still powerful enough to achieve a happy ending.”

Historic hurling clash to headline new festival

The hurlers of Kilkenny and Galway will go head to head at Sydney's Olympic Park.

The hurlers of Kilkenny and Galway will go head to head at Sydney's Olympic Park.

SYDNEY’S Olympic Park has hosted many memorable sporting battles but this November it will stage a truly unique event – a hurling game between National League champions Kilkenny and All-Ireland winners Galway.

The game is part of the huge 2018 Magners Sydney Irish Festival and the hurlers will be joined by some stellar musicians including Mary Black, Lúnasa and Damien Dempsey who are performing at a sunset concert.

Events boss Paul Sergeant said the festival wiill be an action-packed two-day celebration of all things Irish at the Sydney Showground.

 “There was so much to build a festival around,” said Mr Sergeant who is organising the event with the GAA.

“There’ve been lots of great things that have taken place around St Patrick’s Day and other Irish festivals. What is unique about this is it is bringing the sporting component at a top level,” he said.

The festival opens on Saturday, November 10 with children’s activities, hurling clinics, Irish dance and music performances, food and drink and carnival rides.

One of the quirkier events is a Guinness World Record attempt for the biggest Irish stew. They’re aiming to make a whopping 20,000 portions.

“The key part of that is when the stew is cooked it would be donated to the homeless,” Mr Sergeant said.

Damien Dempsey is among the confirmed performers for the Sydney Irish Festival.

Damien Dempsey is among the confirmed performers for the Sydney Irish Festival.

At sunset, there’ll be the huge concert with hugely popular homegrown stars Mary Black, Damien Dempsey, Lunasa and Saint Sister.

The second day of the festival will kick off with a Big Irish Brunch before the big hurling game, which has been two years in the planning.

It all came about when Mr Sergeant, who had just set up his own events company, bumped into his friend,  GAA commercial director Peter McKenna, at a conference.

The GAA had just successfully staged a shortened ‘Super-11’ style hurling game between Dublin and Galway in Boston and Mr McKenna suggested it could work in Australia.

During the search for suitable venues they realised that Spotless Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park would allow for a full-size, competitive game rather than just an exhibition match. Mr Sergeant reckons even Aussie spectators will become hurling fans after seeing Galway and Kilkenny compete for the first Wild Swans trophy.

“I think they’ll really take to it,” he said.“Certainly the combative and physical nature of the sport really fits into the Australian psyche.”

The GAA will be picking up the tab for the players’ flights to Australia and the game will be broadcast live on RTÉ. Former Sydney Swan player and current development coach Tadhg Kennelly is one of the festival ambassadors and is, of course, excited about the hurling.

“To have the game I grew up with showcased in Australia at an elite and competitive level is really exciting,” the 2005 Premiership winner said.

He’s planning on bringing his three kids – Maggie, 4, James, 2 and five-month-old Hugh – to the festival to enjoy a taste of Irish culture.

“I’ve already got my four-year-old doing Irish dancing. She loves it,” he told the Irish Echo.

Organisers hope to attract about 40,000 people over the course of the weekend.

For more information, click here.

Senator's daughter is Sydney's Rose of Tralee

2018 Sydney Rose of Tralee Caitlin Macinante

2018 Sydney Rose of Tralee Caitlin Macinante

If newly-selected Sydney Rose Of Tralee Caitlin Macinante needs any tips on what the role involves, she need look no further than her own mum.

Ms Macinante was chosen from 16 hopefuls at last night's Sydney Rose Of Tralee selection ball in front of a full house at the Hyatt Regency Darling Harbour.

The 26-year-old business development manager, who lives in Newcastle, is a daughter of federal Labor Senator for NSW Deborah O'Neill, who represented Sydney at the Rose Of Tralee back in 1980.

The family's Irish heritage comes via Caitlin's maternal grandmother, who hails from Co Kilkenny and her maternal grandfather, who comes from Cork.

Ms Macinante is currently studying for a Bachelor of Education degree via correspondence and is passionate about inclusive schooling and equity among learners. Caitlin also sings and plays both guitar and piano.  

Senator Deborah O'Neill with Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese.

Senator Deborah O'Neill with Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese.

Injured Belfast-man's 'remarkable' recovery

Michael Hyndman in Sydney before his injury. 

Michael Hyndman in Sydney before his injury. 

THE family of Belfast man Michael Hyndman, who was left in an induced coma after he suffered a "devastating blow" to the head in Sydney on New Year's Eve have told of his "remarkable" recovery.

"Michael remains in hospital in Sydney, where his rehabilitation is progressing well," his brother Barry said this week. "He is fully conscious and fully mobile." 

Surgery to repair his skull has however had to be delayed due to an infection.

"The team of doctors caring for Michael, informed him that the piece of his skull that was in storage and due to be reinserted had unfortunately become infected," Barry Hyndman said. "Michael was indeed very lucky that this was picked up on before the scheduled operation, or the outcome could have been so much worse. We are very thankful for that.

While awaiting surgery and after passing rehabilitation tests, Michael has been allowed to leave hospital on a 48 hour release. Barry Hyndman paid tribute to the team of medics who have cared for his brother since the start of the year.

"They have made it their priority to ensure Michael remains with us today and that he continues to make adequate progress. We daren’t think where Michael would be without their dedication, commitment and expertise and will never be able to repay them for all they have done for him," he said on a GoFundMe page set up to help defray medical costs.

Mr Hyndman, who is a quantity surveyor, moved to Australia in September with his fiancée Clar.

However on New Year’s Eve his family at home were told he was in hospital after sustaining a head injury in an altercation in Sydney.

Fearing for his life, relatives flew out to be by his bedside.

The 23-year-old, who had been due to start training with Craobh Phadraigh GAA club, was placed in an induced coma.

He later underwent surgery to remove part of his skull to reduce pressure on his brain.

Mr Hyndman was later moved out of intensive care and on to a ward specialising in neurological rehabilitation.


Famine monument pioneer Tom Power dead at 87

Tom Power with President Mary McAleese at the Hyde Park Barracks in 2003.

Tom Power with President Mary McAleese at the Hyde Park Barracks in 2003.

WITHOUT Tom Power, there would be no monument to the Great Irish Famine in Sydney. Perhaps more importantly, we would be less likely to know about the more than 4,000 Irish orphan girls who came to Australia during and after the Great Hunger.

These girls and young women became the mothers and grandmothers of Australia and as many as seven million Aussies may be able to trace their ancestry to them. It was back in 1995, during her state visit to Australia, that President Mary Robinson suggested that some memorial be erected in remembrance of the Great Famine, which had driven so many people to Australia in the 19th century. A committee was formed to do just that, with Tom Power as chairman.

“It all started in 1995 and we got to work from there,” Tom told the Irish Echo back in 2012. “We had a meeting of all the county associations and decided to build this memorial. It was four hard years of fundraising and it was a lot of work with dinners, dances and raffles. Hopefully it’s something that will be there forever. It’s a marvellous thing.”

Tom, who died on December 28, aged 87, was the man who envisioned the monument; who worked tirelessly and selflessly alongside his committee colleagues to raise the funds necessary to complete its design and construction.

The Irish Famine Memorial at Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney

The Irish Famine Memorial at Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney

The result, located in the grounds of the Hyde Park Barracks – one of Australia’s oldest and most significant buildings – is a breathtaking structure. Each year, descendants of the orphan girls, whose names are inscribed on the glass walls of the monument, gather there to honour their Irish ancestors. It’s a profoundly moving event and a wonderful legacy to Tom’s dedication, passion and vision. But most of all, his hard work has gifted this part of the Diaspora a sacred site in a prestigious location which will forever remind us of the depth and complexity of Australia’s Irish heritage. 

When Tom Power left his home village of Powerstown in Co Tipperary to set sail for Australia back in 1956, he could hardly have known the lasting impact he would have on the cultural heritage of his new home. 

He was farewelled by many family and friends at St Kieran’s Catholic Church, Manly Vale on January 5 and is survived by wife Trish and sons Robert and John.