Community News

Cork showcase for Indigenous chefs

Indigenous Australian chefs have shown off their culinary skills at Cork’s 2019 food festival.

Hundreds of attendees at A Taste of West Cork food festival relished the opportunity to sample Australian cuisine with a focus on native ingredients, from kangaroo and kingfish to Kakadu plum and wild hibiscus.

The Australian Ambassador to Ireland Richard Andrews selected four chefs from the National Indigenous Culinary Institute, Joshua Moore, David Gray and Sam and Luke Bourke, for the opportunity.

The fine dining school has offered Kunja and Barkindji man Mr Moore a career turnaround.

“Before this I was busking on the street, just surviving.

“Now, I am in the kitchen learning new skills.”

Luke Bourke was one of four Indigenous chefs selected to perform cooking demonstrations for festival-goers.

Luke Bourke was one of four Indigenous chefs selected to perform cooking demonstrations for festival-goers.

The chefs each undertake apprenticeships as part of their culinary study program, gaining experience in exclusive host restaurants including Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar and Grill and Sydney waterfront institution Catalina.

Trainees have had the chance to prepare meals for Australian prime ministers and the inimitable British restauranteur Marco Pierre White, but NICI director Rod Harys said introducing Australia’s flavours to the people of Ireland “was a fantastic highlight”.

“Along with the experiences of seeing a beautiful country, they were able to get outside of their comfort zone, adapt to new surroundings and…educate people on their Indigenous culture.”

A Taste of West Cork chairperson Hellen Collins agreed that the chefs were a “credit” to their mentors, the NICI and their country.

“Everybody in West Cork wanted to meet them…the guys worked so hard but they did manage to get a little time on the sea fishing for the foraging dinner.”

Sam Bourke, Luke Bourke, Joshua Moore and David Gray catered for guests at a dinner held in a Cork church.

Sam Bourke, Luke Bourke, Joshua Moore and David Gray catered for guests at a dinner held in a Cork church.

Ms Collins said festival-goers raved about the chefs’ use of bush tucker spices and ingredients such as finger lime pearls, described by connoisseurs as the caviar of the citrus world.

The annual two-week Cork affair sees more than 250 events including banquets and food markets take place in 50 towns and villages.

The Australian chefs’ inclusion was part of a long-term plan to increase NICI representation on the world stage.





New support network for expat Irish women

Irish women in Australia have found a new network of support through the work of one Dublin-born mother.

After a decade living in Australia, having made the move at 24, Sarah Whelan returned to Ireland for less than two years before deciding to journey back to Sydney, which she realised had become her home.

When the certified transitional life coach touched down she began to share her experiences of leaving and returning online, and expat Irish women flocked to her blog.

“People were really identifying with the things I was feeling,” Ms Whelan said.

“Women identified with the emotional impact…the guilt in leaving family behind.”

Irish Women Abroad founder Sarah Whelan aims to coach women through difficult transitions in their lives.

Irish Women Abroad founder Sarah Whelan aims to coach women through difficult transitions in their lives.

Ms Whelan was inspired to create Irish Women Abroad, an online support network to meet growing demand for answers and advice.

More than 3,000 network members, the majority of whom are Irish-Australian, provide everything from a shoulder to lean on to suggestions regarding every challenging aspect of emigration, from leaving relatives to transporting pets.

It was not long before the community moved off the internet and into the real world.

A recent Sydney meet-up was opened by the Irish Consulate in Sydney’s Vice Consul Rory Conaty, with the Consulate’s funding helping Ms Whelan - whose work with the network is voluntary - to organise events.

The Sydney Irish mission has provided support to Irish Women Abroad since its team members discovered Ms Whelan’s blog.

Sydney meet-up attendees enjoyed a reading from award-winning Irish poet Anne Casey.

Sydney meet-up attendees enjoyed a reading from award-winning Irish poet Anne Casey.

Award-winning Irish poet Anne Casey has recently joined the network after 25 years in Australia, saying she immediately saw the potential for members to bond over shared emigration experiences.

“It’s the empty chairs at birthday parties…it’s the call in the middle of the night when a family member has died.

“You don’t have to explain anything.”

The next meet-up will be held in Melbourne in November, and with an event already planned for returning expats in Ireland, there could be opportunities for further international expansion.

Ms Whelan hopes the “safe spaces” she has created continue to help women find their feet wherever they decide to resettle.

“My vision is for people to feel connected in their experiences…there’s no right or wrong way to feel.”

Statue of Irish-born NSW Premier gets green light

Thousands of passers-by will soon have the chance to refresh their knowledge about the Irish namesake of Sydney’s Martin Place.

A lifesized bronze statue of the immigrant turned three-time NSW Premier Sir James Martin will be erected in the pedestrian mall after the City of Sydney art committee’s decision to decline the proposal was overturned.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Planning Minister Rob Stokes intervened to encourage Lord Mayor Clover Moore and the committee not to throw out the project.

Prolific Australian sculptor Alan Somerville completed both the Parramatta and Martin Place renditions of James Martin as a boy.

Prolific Australian sculptor Alan Somerville completed both the Parramatta and Martin Place renditions of James Martin as a boy.

James Martin was born in 1820 in Midleton, Cork, where there have been have been similar demands for his recognition with local historian Ged Martin (no relation) calling for a plaque to honour the expatriate.

Cork-born James Martin, after whom Martin Place in Sydney is named.

Cork-born James Martin, after whom Martin Place in Sydney is named.

After sailing to Australia in 1821 Martin grew up in a cottage adjacent to Old Government House, where his father was employed as a stable boy, and despite the family’s poverty sacrifices were made to send him to the prestigious Sydney College.

He would go on to become a journalist, editor, author and attorney before his political career took off, initially seeing him become the member for Cook and Westmoreland.

After two stints as attorney-general, Martin became Premier for the first time in 1863.

Despite his ministry losing power in 1864, Martin would have two more chances to hold the position, during which he pioneered the establishment of a branch of the royal mint in Sydney.

Raised by strongly Catholic Irish parents, Martin’s personal faith wavered over the years, yet he fought for a society based on Christian principles throughout his political life.

He retained his parents’ family focus, having 15 children with wife Isabella Long.

The bronze will replace an existing plinth in Martin Place, while there is already a statue in Parrammatta recognising Martin’s formative years spent there.

Both artworks were completed by sculptor Alan Somerville, famed for the soldiers that stand proudly on the ANZAC bridge.

Dublin entrepreneur wins top start-up award

Annie Slattery, CEO of ConX, was awarded the Women in Tech Start-Ups award in early August.

Annie Slattery, CEO of ConX, was awarded the Women in Tech Start-Ups award in early August.

An entrepreneur from Clontarf surpassed more than 100 applicants to win Australia’s top gong for women-led tech start-ups.

Annie Slattery, 34, was awarded the prize for her start-up ConX after a pitch competition following the Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest gathering of women technologists.

“ConX is a platform built for contractors in the construction industry to simplify how they find and win work,” she said.

“We have built a simple and affordable suit of tools to do takeoffs, manager tenders and hire a team.”

2019 marks the first time the Grace Hopper Celebration has come to Australia, transforming into ‘Hopper Down Under’.

2019 marks the first time the Grace Hopper Celebration has come to Australia, transforming into ‘Hopper Down Under’.

The award judges were impressed by Slattery’s new onscreen measuring tools that allow construction workers to measure and mark out pre-build plans without printing blueprints, saving time and increasing accuracy.

Ms Slattery said ConX users were using the technology to put themselves ahead of the pack during the construction industry downturn partly caused by a sharp reduction in residential building approvals.

“We’re seeing the rate of subcontractors measuring plans and submitting quotes is really increasing as guys get hungry for work again.

“This prize represents a fantastic opportunity for ConX to expand into global markets, with the United States top of our list,” Ms Slattery said.

Ms Slattery’s company is forecast to turn over $2.5 million in 2020.

Annie Slattery and Keith Moore, pictured with their daughter Romy, co-founded ConX in 2014.

Annie Slattery and Keith Moore, pictured with their daughter Romy, co-founded ConX in 2014.

The award contenders competed for a share in more than $100,000 worth of business support services from IBM and Alibaba Cloud, opportunities for venture capital investment, and mentoring from Main Sequence Ventures, manager of the CSIRO Innovation Fund.

Other finalists included Barb Hyman, whose start-up uses Artificial Intelligence technology for employee screening and hiring recommendations, and Elizabeth Zealand, who has developed a real-time map of parking restrictions to help drivers in busy CBDs.

Slattery and her husband, carpenter turned business co-founder Keith Moore, moved to Australia 10 years ago and have employed Irish-born staff for their core team since starting ConX in 2014, keeping Irish-Australian innovators in the foreground of the tech scene.

Fairwater coup for Irish Australian charity

Past Ireland Funds Australia Chairman Alan Joyce and current Chairman John O’Neill (right) joined TV personality Richard Wilkins at 2017’s Garden Party.

Past Ireland Funds Australia Chairman Alan Joyce and current Chairman John O’Neill (right) joined TV personality Richard Wilkins at 2017’s Garden Party.

Australia’s most expensive house will once again host the Ireland Funds’ flagship fundraiser following its purchase by a tech billionaire.

The Garden Party fundraiser has been held at Sydney’s Fairwater estate 27 times in the last 30 years, the Ireland Funds’ Executive Director Teresa Keating saying the late Lady Mary Fairfax’s personal connection with the charity had inspired her “amazing generosity” in allowing use of the harbourside property.

“Tony O’Reilly founded the Ireland Funds…he had a publishing background and he met Lady Fairfax at a publishing conference in New York,” Ms Keating said.

“They got on very well, and she offered for the Ireland Funds to use her property in Australia.”

Tech billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar founded Atlassian in 2002.

Tech billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar founded Atlassian in 2002.

After Lady Fairfax’s death in 2017, the property was purchased by enterprise software company Atlassian’s co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes as a family home.

The 1.121 hectare estate on Sydney Harbour, owned by the Fairfax family since Federation, is understood to have been purchased for close to $100 million, making it Australia’s most expensive house.

Atlassian’s co-founder Scott Farquhar bought the neighbouring Elaine estate.

The future of the Garden Party at the iconic location was thrown into doubt after the sale, Ms Keating explaining, “we had no history with the new owners.”

The Cannon-Brookes family, however, chose to invite the Ireland Funds to use the venue again.

The Fairwater estate was owned by the Fairfax family for over 100 years.

The Fairwater estate was owned by the Fairfax family for over 100 years.

“It’s a real coup for us and the supporters that the new owners have invited us back,” Ms Keating said.

The 2018 Garden Party raised over $200,000 for key causes including integrated education, community development, and peace and reconciliation in Ireland, and Ms Keating is confident this year’s gathering will be just as successful.

“It’s a chance for supporters who have…spread their wings to give back through the Ireland Funds in Australia.”

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.

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.