Curtain rises for new Brisbane Irish theatre group

An Irish-led Queensland theatre company is launching with a production of Mike Bartlett’s provocative play Cock this month.

Bosco Productions has been established by Derek Draper from Dublin and Paddy Farrelly from Meath and will aim to bring Irish plays to the Queensland stage.

Paddy Farrelly has years of experience onstage in Brisbane and in 2016 produced Sean O’Casey’s The Shadow of a Gunman, which formed part of the global centenary commemortaion of the 1916 Rising.

“We decided we would set up Bosco, do this play to start off with and then we’re going to focus on a few Irish plays,” Farrelly said.

“We nail this, play as we will, [and] that opens up a whole new audience for everything else we want to do. If we started with an Irish play it’s not going to have much of a draw outside of the Irish-Australian community. You’re a one-trick pony. Doing it this way, you got chops.”

Cock’s main character John has always identified as a gay man. However, when John and his boyfriend take a break, he starts a relationship with a female that surprises even himself. The play by young English playwright Bartlett builds to a showdown where both lovers and genders fight for John. It is described as a sharply observed and witty play exploring complex issues like bisexuality and identity. Rising star Julian Curtis will play the lead role.

Bosco co-founders Paddy Farelly from Meath and Derek Draper from Dublin.

Bosco co-founders Paddy Farelly from Meath and Derek Draper from Dublin.

Bosco’s co-founder Derek Draper has starred in an acclaimed run of David Mamet’s American Buffalo and been nominated for the Billie Brown Award for Best Emerging Artist for his work in Martin McDonagh’s The Lonesome West.

Draper explains it is a play that Australia has yet to see in the way it should be done.

“It’s a comedy about the indecisions in life. It’s about trying to fit in. It’s about being in a relationship too long or not having the courage to leave it. It’s about leaving and not having the courage to go back. It’s about choice, people will really have fun with this play. It’s very unique.

“It hasn’t been done the way it needs to be done in Australia. What I wanted to do was take this play and give it the platform it hasn’t got in Australia yet,” he said.

Cock will be directed by Helen Howard who has won four Matilda Awards for her work as both an actress and a director.

“A ship is nothing without its captain. Helen is an absolute legend of the theatre and screeen here in Brisbane,” Draper said.

“Helen Howard doing this with us would be like Brendan Gleeson or Liam Cunningham landing down at a local drama group in Ireland saying, ‘Lads I’ll give you a dig out’.


“It’s on that level,” Farrelly added. We nail this play with the level of difficulty that it has, with the level of interest that people will have to see how we deliver it, we nail this and we absolutely have a platform to bring all the really good Irish stuff in here.”

“Getting people together to celebrate anything Irish. I think is such a wonderful thing,” Draper added. “Nobody’s doing it and I don’t know why. If there isn’t an appetite for the great writers and the fantastic black humour that we have then I think it’s kind of up to us to introduce it.

“What we really need to do is get people excited about culture again and that’s going to be a mammoth task that is going to be well beyond mine and Paddy’s capabilities. But maybe we can inspire two other people who are thinking about it and maybe in Western Australia or Sydney. If anyone’s reading this article, get in touch.

“If you’re a director or a producer or you’re a showrunner or you’ve got an idea or you’re just passionate about Irish culture, let’s connect. Trust me, we’re the same. I don’t know you either and I’d love to.”

The company is already looking at productions in Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns and elsewhere.

Why is the company named after the children’s TV character? “Bosco is the underpinning thing from our childhood,” Draper says.

“It’s a homage to childhood and that is where we’re going to get all of our creativity.”

Cock will be staged at the Metro Arts Centre in Brisbane from August 21 to 31.

Celebrating the Joyce of life on Bloomsday

The work of Irish writer James Joyce is celebrated around the world on Bloomsday.

The work of Irish writer James Joyce is celebrated around the world on Bloomsday.

The work of James Joyce will be celebrated at a number of events in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to mark Bloomsday.

Joyce’s seminal novel Ulysses is set on June 16 which has become known as Bloomsday after the central character of the novel, Leopold Bloom.

Each year, fans of the book and Joyce’s other work gather to hear passages from his prose read aloud or celebrated through music.

This year’s Bloomsday festivities begin in Sydney on Thursday June 13 at the Stanton Library in North Sydney.

Rebel Wilson pulls out of McDonagh play in Sydney

Among those reading passages from Ulysses will be former NSW premier Bob Carr and the State Librarian for New South Wales Dr John Vallance. Musical entertainment will be provided by Martin Horan.

This event is free but bookings are essential.

On Saturday, June 15, a group of Irish and Australian actors and musicians will celebrate Bloomsday at the State Library of New South Wales.

Performers for the evening include journalist and broadcaster Daniel Browning, Áine De Paor, Awaye, harpist Clíona Molins, Brendan O’Reilly and members of the Aisteoirí Theatre Company.

The event begins at 6pm and tickets are $10. Bookings can be made via the State Libary’s website.

The Gaelic Club in Surry Hills will host its own Bloomsday celebration on the day itself, Sunday June 16.

The event, which begins at 3pm features a program of readings, music and song. Admission is free.

In Brisbane, the Queen St Mall will play host to a free, family-friendly celebration of Joyce’s work.

Readings will be interspersed with music and other entertainment featuring the Queensland Irish Association pipe band and Irish dancers.

The event runs from 11am to 2pm.

Irish academic Dr Ronán McDonald will discuss the ‘consecration’ of James Joyce’s Ulysses at a celebration of Bloomday in Melbourne.

Irish academic Dr Ronán McDonald will discuss the ‘consecration’ of James Joyce’s Ulysses at a celebration of Bloomday in Melbourne.

In Melbourne, Bloomsday will be celebrated with a seminar and lunch at the Swiss Club in Flinders Lane.

The seminar will be chaired by Australian polymath, writer, teacher, lawyer, social activist, quiz champion and former politician Barry Jones and feature eminent speakers Dr Ronán McDonald, Gerry Higgins, Chair of Irish Studies at the University of Melbourne, and Dr Steve Carey.

Dr McDonald, a Dubliner, will present a paper entitled The Consecration of Ulysses: National or Universal? in which he will examine how Joyce’s ground breaking novel gained its status as one of the great works of the 20th century. Dr Carey will speak about Joyce’s time in Zurich in 1917 during the First World War when he was writing Ulysses.

This key time in Joyce’s life, during which he produced a stage production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance Of Being Earnest, part-inspired Tom Stoppard’s play, Travesties in which the writer is a central character.

Bloomsday organisers in Melbourne are staging a production of Travesties as part of their Joycean celebration.

The play, directed by Globe-trained Jennifer Sarah Dean, will be performed at fortyfivedownstairs theatre in Flinders Lane from June 12 to 23.

Brisbane St Patrick's parade celebrates 30 years

Paddyfest at Eagle Farm Racecourse is one of a range of St Patrick’s Day events planned for Brisbane.

Paddyfest at Eagle Farm Racecourse is one of a range of St Patrick’s Day events planned for Brisbane.

The Irish will march through Brisbane city for the 30th time this year in a parade that begins and ends outside the city’s Botanic Gardens.

The event attracted more than 30,000 onlookers last year as the city’s GAA teams, Irish groups and dancing academies presented their colourful floats or took part in walking groups.

The parade starts at 10.30am on Saturday March 16 but there will be stalls and entertainment both before the parade as people congregate and afterwards when everyone returns after the parade.

Saturday March 16 is also the date for Paddyfest at Eagle Farm Racecourse where the full day of entertainment will include indie rock four piece Kingswood; Brisbane-based Tullamore Tree; Tartan Shamrock who go between traditional Irish and classic Aussie rock; singer-songwriter Shanon Watkins; City of Brisbane Pipe Band; Walker’s Irish Dancers and Leprechaun DJ.

The programme will also include entertainment for kids of all ages, including a petting zoo, and at 7pm, the festival will wow with a big Irish-themed laser, lights and live DJ spectacular. This epic show will be a huge hit with the kids so be sure to stick around for the show!

The build up to Brisbane’s St Patrick’s Day festivities begins well before the big weekend with the Brisbane Irish Festival Ball taking place at the Hilton Hotel in the city on March 9. Hosted by the Irish Australian Support Association of Queensland, this is a fundraising event for the association as well as a celebration. Some lucky person will win $15,000 worth of gold bullion in the Luck of the Irish Art Union.

The Queensland Gaelic Football and Hurling Association hold its Family Fun Day on March 10 at Gaelic Park, Willawong. Admission is free for children and among the entertainment on offer will be novelty races, live Irish music, Queensland Irish Association Pipe Band, Irish dancing, Gaelic sports exhibitions, tug-o-war as well as a licensed bar and food available all day.

The Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce will hold its St Patrick’s corporate lunch at the Sky Room on March 15 from 12pm.

Hosted by well-known Brisbane journalist and Walkley Award winner, Patrick Condren, Dublin comedian Ian Coppinger will provide the laughs.

Anyone who wants to see some elite Irish dancing accompanied by ballads can seek out the touring Heart of Ireland show which plays Nambour on March 15, The Star on the Gold Coast on St, Patricks’ eve, March 16 and Chermside in Brisbane on St. Patrick’s Day itself. Choreographed by a two time world champion dancer, every member of the Heart of Ireland troupe is a world championship finalist.

The city’s Irish pubs are also planning major celebartions.

Finn McCool’s Irish bar in Fortitude Valley takes over Brunswick Street Mall on St Patrick’s Day with an extended licensed area and live entertainment that includes Barley Shakes, The Gathering, The Munster Bucks, Queensland Irish Pipe Band, Limerick and Scoil Ard Rince Irish dancers.

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.”

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.




Brisbane-based Dubliner releases debut album

Mick McHugh has just released his debit album,  A Million Stars.

Mick McHugh has just released his debit album, A Million Stars.

Having shared the stage with artists as illustrious as Amy Shark and Damien Dempsey, Australian-based Dublin singer-songwriter is making a statement of his own with his debut album, A Million Stars.

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Mick wrote the album with help from none other than Shane Howard of 70's/80's folk/rock group Goanna. Singles Not in Kansas Anymore and Good Good Day have been well received, even receiving industry award nominations.

Mick started recording in early 2016 and explains it may have been a long road but he wanted to make sure he was on the right track.

"I wanted to make sure I did it right," Mick told The Irish Echo.

"It gave me a great opportunity to step it up, to take myself to that next level as an independent artist and compete with the big guns. That was why I took my time to do it. I took the long road to make sure I did every step right."

One of these steps was securing the services of Howard, renowned songwriter of iconic tracks like Solid Rock.

"He is first and foremost a songwriter and he is all about the song, that is what he cares about. He cares about the song. That's why he was brilliant to work with. He was really all about the song.

"He said to me, 'Mick, if you want me to work with you, you have to give me something to chew on'. It had to be something deep. He was writing songs that mean something, songs that have a bit of weight to them and have social commentary.

"I was telling a story of how I turned up to a gig one time and I realise my stuff wasn't going to work here, ya know, because you have your stuff and you know where it works. I turned up and was like, 'Oh man, not in Kansas anymore'.

"I was telling him this story and he clicks his finger, points at me and says, 'that's the song we're going to write'. We went into his man shed with the two guitars and we came out a few hours later with this song and it's done very well for us, finished as a finalist in the Great American Song Contest and it was a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Contest. It was quite an easy process to work together."

Mick McHugh is a Dubliner but now calls Byron Bay home.

Mick McHugh is a Dubliner but now calls Byron Bay home.

Is it satisfying to get accolades such as these award nominations?

"It is absolutely because it's a long journey and as an independent artist in this point of my career, it's not financial gain so when it gets shortlisted, you know the song is doing its job, that it strikes a chord. It's definitely very satisfying to get the feedback. It's a pat on the back saying, 'Good on ya, man. Keep going'. That's what i means, you're getting it right and it means something to people."

Mick has been honoured to support big Irish acts like The Coronas, Gavin James, Brian Kennedy, Nathan Carter, Bell X1 and Paddy Casey when they have come to Australia.

"When you get to do those gigs, you get to see someone at the peak of their performance so being around those situations is brilliant because you get to see these bands, not just the show but the entire process and that is really beneficial to me going out there then as an independent artist on my own doing the same thing. Then of course you get the exposure to their audience, and you've nothing to lose, you've everything to win. You show people what you do and you're gonna pick up fans, you always do."

The time of Mick's album release coincided with the time he became an Australian citizen after 12 years here. This is a source of pride as it is a country that has been good to him: "I'm an Aussie, mate. Absolutely, very grateful to Australia for the journey it's given me and continues to give me. I've become a full time singer-songwriter.

"I saw the opportunity: 'Because you're emigrating, you have a clean slate. Here's your chance to just pick up the guitar and go for that'.

"Very grateful to Australia that it responded and gave me a chance to grow. I work hard at it, that's the other thing. I was coming out of Dublin going, 'I'm working in restaurants, I'm working in engineering, I'm working in teaching. I'm giving a lot of people a lot of my time. I wonder what would happen if I gave that time to myself?' That was my other inspiration to give this a go, very grateful to Australia the way it's given it back to me. With Australia, if you put the work in, it will come back to you."

Having already launched A Million Stars in his home town of Byron Bay and in the Gold Coast, Mick launches the album in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney this month.

He is also planning on visiting Tasmania, Perth and Adelaide.

"I used to go down to these places regularly but I have stepped off the last three years to focus on making the music so delighted to be stepping out again. Then we have some festivals on the cards. It's just great to be back on the road."

Mick McHugh's A Million Stars is Out Now. Mick McHugh launches the album at The Milk Factory, Brisbane on May 12, Long Play in Melbourne on 18 and 19 May and Moshpit, Sydney on May 26. For more information, visit his website

Brisbane-based Hogan faces toughest test yet

Kildare boxer Dennis Hogan is one win away from a shot at the world title. Picture: Katherine O'Malley

Kildare boxer Dennis Hogan is one win away from a shot at the world title. Picture: Katherine O'Malley

Brisbane-based Kildare boxer Dennis Hogan hopes to take one more and hopefully the final step towards a WBO Middleweight world title fight this weekend.

Hogan steps into the ring with Manchester boxer Jimmy Kelly on April 7 fighting for Kelly's WBO Intercontinental belt while defending his own WBO Oriental title at Brisbane's Convention Centre.

Hogan has been moving closer to his title shot and has been boosted with his elevation to number two in the WBO rankings, a ranking that will strengthen his chances of a world title challenge coming next if he overcomes Kelly.

Kelly has also been lifted to number three meaning the winner of the Brisbane fight should be next in line to fight the winner of champion Sadam Ali and Liam Smith's title fight in New York on 12 May. 

Hogan's training partner, world champion Jeff Horn, will be ringside after his bout with Terence Crawford was pushed back due to Crawford injuring his hand.

Hogan is hoping to eventually fight for a world title in the Australian city he has called home for nearly seven years.  

"We do want to get it here, it's not the be all and end all if we don't but we are aiming for that and we're willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen," Dennis told The Irish Echo recently.

"I'm focused on being world champion and when I'm world champion, my main goal is to get the title and to go and defend it in Dublin the 3 Arena. That's always been my goal. I have my song picked out (Puff Daddy's I'm Coming Home) and I have since I went pro. I have all that set in my head, I visualise it and I see it and I feel it and it's only a matter of time until it all happens."

Having long had the support of the Irish and wider community in Queensland, Dennis has recently started to get coverage in Ireland. One who sent a supportive message was Conor McGregor's trainer John Kavanagh, whom Hogan met in Australia.

It's seven years in January since Dennis came to Australia. With Ireland in a bleak recession, he was like many young Irish who made the move down under in search of opportunities and it is a country that has been good to him.

 "I really did only plan on being here a year and moving on. It's a beautiful place to live: great people, beautiful weather. Everything just clicked and I can't stay away from it now. I've been in New York for fights, Miami for training camps but it's always great to get back to Brisbane. It's my home now. My heart lies in Ireland but this is where I live, I love it."