Perth Irish tenor short-listed for major singing prize

Louis Hurley will perform in the prestigious IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition Semi Finals.

Louis Hurley will perform in the prestigious IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition Semi Finals.

A Perth tenor whose family hails from Kilkenny will perform in the semi finals of one of Australia’s most prestigious singing competitions.

Louis Hurley and 11 fellow candidates will take to the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition stage this weekend, competing for opportunities to develop their careers the world over.

Mr Hurley’s talent was evident from a young age, but he said no one knew where he inherited his skill.

“I fell into this as an accident,” he said.

“My family is the least musical family you could probably meet…my dad’s into grunge music.”

Mr Hurley began his foray into classical voice training at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts at the age of 17 after singing throughout his childhood.

Louis Hurley and his mother Maree Hurley (née McCarthy) recently visited the McCarthy family shop in Brickana.

Louis Hurley and his mother Maree Hurley (née McCarthy) recently visited the McCarthy family shop in Brickana.

He credited prolific American opera singer Joyce DiDonato’s masterclasses with inspiring his ongoing education, and was able to learn from the guru first-hand when performing alongside her in a UK production.

“The first time I actually met her I froze and ran away, but I eventually did talk to her!”

Mr Hurley is currently rehearsing both for the Competition Semi Finals and for a Melbourne Conservatorium of Music production, and believes winning would help him leap into the next phase of his professional journey.

“Opera has this weird disconnect between finishing your studies and starting your career…the operatic voice generally takes longer to develop, so there are a few years of limbo”.

“The prizes help to no end,” he said.

The awards on offer include the $30,000 Marianne Mathy scholarship to assist with musical study, a chance to audition for the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s artist development program, and an opportunity to perform with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

The IFAC Handa Semi Finals will take place at North Sydney’s Independent Theatre on August 11, which will see five competitors move one step closer to joining the long list of winners from over three decades of celebration of opera excellence.

Cork family 'eternally heartbroken' over violent death

Charles ‘Charlie’ McCarthy died in December 2017 in Fremantle.

Charles ‘Charlie’ McCarthy died in December 2017 in Fremantle.

The family of a Corkman man who died after a fight in Western Australia just before Christmas 2017 said their “lives have changed forever” and they will be “eternally heartbroken”.

Last week, fisherman Andrew Doan (35) was found not guilty of the murder of Charlie McCarthy (32) at the Supreme Court of Western Australia. A manslaughter charge was also dismissed.

Mr McCarthy’s brother, Daniel, and twin sisters Sinead and Siobhan travelled to Perth for the trial. The family did not comment immediately after the verdict but issued a statement through a solicitor in Cork.

“The McCarthy family’s lives have been torn apart since the horrific death of Charlie on December 23rd 2017,” the statement said.

“Charlie was one of seven children to Margaret and Charles McCarthy . . . Charlie was a very hardworking, gentle, fun loving, even tempered and a real family man. He lived for his family both in Ireland and Australia,” the statement said.

“He was very close with his entire family and would ring his mother on a daily basis, despite the time difference. He was a very keen GAA follower especially of his beloved Aghada GAA Club. He had a special interest in his twin sister’s football matches and would contact regularly for updates.

“On the unfortunate night of the 23rd of December 2017 Charlie was on a very rare night out with his wife, Nicole, which resulted in him being the victim of a fatal stabbing. Charlie has left behind two beautiful children, a wonderful wife, mother, father and six siblings.”

Fisherman cleared of Perth Irishman's murder

Charles McCarthy died in December 2017 after an altercation with a fisherman in Fremantle.

Charles McCarthy died in December 2017 after an altercation with a fisherman in Fremantle.

A fisherman has been found not guilty of murdering an Irish father-of-two in Perth.

Andrew Doan, 35, was accused of fatally stabbing Corkman Charles John McCarthy, 32, in the head with a screwdriver during a fight next to Perth's Swan River in 2017.

After brief deliberation, jurors found Doan not guilty of both murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter on Friday following a trial in the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

There were gasps and tears when the verdict was handed down.

Walking free outside court, the father-of-one described the past 13-and-a-half months in custody as a "crazy rollercoaster".

"I don't wish it upon anyone," he said.

He wept as he said it was good to be back with family and friends.

Mr McCarthy's brother Dan and twin sisters Siobhan and Sinead, who had travelled from their home in Cork, made no comment outside court. Mr McCarthy, 32, from Upper Aghada, Co Cork, worked as a cable layer in Perth and had two children.

The trial heard how Doan had been fishing with his friend Tien Vu Huynh in East Fremantle in the early hours of December 23, 2017 when Mr McCarthy, his wife Nicole and friend Jason Mikel Curran walked by.

Doan said that when the men saw him and Mr Huynh emerging from the water, they asked: "Have you caught much?"

He mumbled "not much" in reply and they shot back "bit of s*** luck", according to Doan.

Their next comment - along the lines of "Fisheries are going to come and get you" - upset him and Mr Huynh, who are both Asian, interpreted it as racist.

Prosecutor James Mactaggart told the jury it was a "smart-arse, throwaway" comment, Mr Doan said the remark was racist because there was a stereotype "that all Asians catch undersize fish".

The trio walked off but Doan pursued them and a profane, verbal argument erupted.

Doan said his anger soon gave way to feeling vulnerable and outnumbered when Mr McCarthy began "puffing up" and walked back towards him "really staunch" with his fists clenched.

"It looked like he was coming into a demonic rage," Doan said.

He said he panicked, reached into his hoodie pocket, pulled out a screwdriver he had been carrying for crabbing and held it above his head, saying: "Get back or I'll stab you."

Doan said that as he retreated to his car, he had a scuffle with Mr Curran and Mr McCarthy kicked a wheelie bin at him, which just missed.

He said Mr McCarthy then charged and moved to punch him - ignoring his wife's frantic pleas to stop - and impaled himself on the screwdriver, which Doan was still holding.

Doan insisted he had closed his eyes, thrown his arms up to protect his face and forgot the tool was in his hand.

When he opened his eyes, Mr McCarthy was on the ground, Doan said.

He remained at the scene until emergency services arrived, telling police "it was me", and claiming self-defence.

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

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.