Irish Community News

Mates make sure grieving fiancee gets 'Frankie's car'

Broc Nicholson pictured recently with her Irish fiancee Francis Shanley who died earlier this month.

Broc Nicholson pictured recently with her Irish fiancee Francis Shanley who died earlier this month.

Friends of an Irish tradie killed in the M4 crash worked round the clock to finish a car he was working on as a surprise for his heartbroken fiancee.

Francis Shanley’s colleagues from Vaughan Civil in Sydney worked in secret to renovate a Subaru WRX so they could present it to Broc Nicholson at a celebration of their mate’s life on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old’s fiancee was “over the moon” when she was surprised with the car which has custom Frankie plates in honour of her partner.

Francis Shanley, from Bornacoola, Co Leitrim died when his car was hit by a beer truck in a pile-up involving eleven cars on the M4 motorway in Sydney on May 9.

A-53-year-old man has been charged with dangerous driving causing death after police allege he changed lanes and then stopped causing the fatal crash that killed Frankie.

‘Frankie’s Car’ - The Suburu WRX which was presented to Broc Nicholson by mates of her late fiancee.

‘Frankie’s Car’ - The Suburu WRX which was presented to Broc Nicholson by mates of her late fiancee.

Jamie Morrissey said his mates at Vaughan Civil “worked round the clock for the past nine days” to get the car ready for today’s ceremony at Macquarie Park Cemetery where it was presented to Broc.

“All his close friends came together to work on it –people who knew nothing about cars came to work on it because they wanted to do it for Frankie.

“It was good for us as well –it kept our mind off things.”

Frankie loved to buy cars and fix them up and he was working on the Subaru WRX when he was killed.

The car was “fully stripped” in his work yard with hundreds of parts everywhere so it was no easy feat for his mates to fully restore it in nine days.

“Frankie was an outstanding person. He was a gentleman and that’s why we did it. If it was any one of us, he would be the first person to step in and help so we thought it would be a fitting tribute to Frankie.

“He would do anything for you. Today is a very sad day for Broc but we hope we can bring a smile to her face when we surprise her with the car,” Jamie explained.

Francis Shanley’s workmates from Vaughan Civil who restored the car.

Francis Shanley’s workmates from Vaughan Civil who restored the car.

Broc Nicholson said Frankie would be “so proud” that his friends had finished the car for her.

She said: “He would be so proud and so am I. I know he’s going to be so jealous when I’m driving it instead of him.”

Family and friends of Francis Shanley who gathered for a special celebration of his life at the Camellia Chapel were told that he lived life with “love, honour, integrity and a sense of humour.

Celebrant Brett O’Brien said: “He was alert and alive. He made people laugh. He had a fearless enthusiasm for life and our world is poorer without him.”

His Australian fiancee Broc paid a beautiful tribute to Frankie.

“You’ve touched our hearts beautiful…You always knew how to make me laugh, listen to my problems, make me feel better when I was sick,” she said.

She poignantly read the vows she had written for their upcoming wedding. The couple were due to get married in August.

“You are my world. You are my rock. You are the reason I am the person I am today.

“I will hold you, honour you, respect you, cherish you and most importantly love you.

“To the most charming, funny, handsome person – I will always love you.”

The Suburu before its transformation.

The Suburu before its transformation.

Frankie’s younger sister Ruth Shanley said his family in Leitrim were heartbroken to lose him but had “beautiful memories” of their time together.

She said: “Frankie always used to look after me – he always had my back.

“He always put a smile on my face with his silly sense of humour and his cheeky smile.”

His close friend Gary Hart was friends with Frankie for over 20 years after meeting in school in Leitrim.

“There was never a dull moment when Frankie was around. Frankie was horrid craic. He’ll be sadly missed in this country and in Ireland,” he said.

Frankie is survived by his fiancee Broc Nicholson, his parents Christine and Basil Shanley and his siblings Mark, Ruth and Catriona Shanley.

He is also mourned by hundreds of people from across the globe who loved him particularly in the communities of Co Leitrim, Western Australia, Darwin, Carmila and Sydney.

Fiancee's tribute to 'lucky charm Irish boy'

Francis Shanley was on his way to work when his ute was struck by a truck.

Francis Shanley was on his way to work when his ute was struck by a truck.

The fiancee of a 36-year-old Leitrim man who died in yesterday’s major road accident in Sydney has paid tribute to her “lucky charm Irish boy”.

Francis Shanley from Currycramp, Bornacoola, Co Leitrim, who lived in the Sydney suburb of Wenworthville, died following an 11-car pile up on the M4 in Sydney’s west.

His fiancee, Broc Nicholson, paid tribute to her partner on Facebook.

“Most of you have heard the devastating news of our beautiful, strong head, lucky charm Irish boy Francis Shanley has sadly passed way today,” she wrote.

“He will be forever in our hearts and sadly missed. Going to be a long road ahead getting back on our feet.

“Fly high my beautiful angel, I love you forever and always.”

The tradie, who the Irish Echo understands had lived in Australia for ten years, died at the scene of the accident after his citybound utility was struck by a light-rigid truck carrying beer kegs, about 5.50am on Thursday morning.

Mr Shanley’s family is receiving consular assistance.

The Church Street exit where the crash occurred is the final opportunity for motorists to leave the motorway before distance-based tolls apply.

Police are investigating whether a last-minute bid to exit before the toll could have been behind the crash, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It is a part of the roadway which can cause problems with people leaving the motorway to then go into the Church Street off ramp," Police Chief Inspector Adam Phillips told the paper.

Irish tradie killed in Sydney car crash

Image taken from the Nine News helicopter of the fatal M4 accident.

Image taken from the Nine News helicopter of the fatal M4 accident.

A 36-year-old Irish national has died following a major accident on Sydney’s M4 motorway this morning.

The man, a 36-year-old from Wentworthville, died after his citybound utility was struck by a light-rigid truck carrying beer kegs, about 5.50am (Thursday 9 May 2019), at the Church Street off-ramp at Mays Hill, NSW Police have said.

It’s believed 11 vehicles were involved in the crash, with five people taken to hospital for treatment to various injuries; however, only 10 vehicles stopped.

The man has not being named but his family is receiving Irish consular assistance.

Investigators believe a vehicle involved in the crash may have left the scene before speaking with police.

“While investigators are not suggesting the driver of the unknown vehicle caused the crash, they do believe they may have information which may clarify the circumstances surrounding the incident,” a NSW Police statement said.

Crash Investigation Unit Commander, Inspector Katie Orr, said police wanted to speak with the driver of the 11th vehicle to find out what they may have seen at the time of the crash.

“We want to speak with this driver to find what they know about the events leading up to the crash,” Inspector Orr said.

“We also want to speak with any drivers who may have witnessed the crash and left the area or have relevant dash-cam footage.”

All citybound lanes have now re-opened after being disrupted for more than five hours.

Sydney Irishman avoids jail over air-rage incident

Leroy Hyland took four times the recommended dose of sleeping pills on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney.

Leroy Hyland took four times the recommended dose of sleeping pills on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney.

A 26-year-old Irishman has avoided a jail sentence after pleading guilty to a range of charges associated with an air-rage incident in October.

Leroy Hyland took four times the recommended dose of sleeping pills before he covered his head in a blanket, pushed a flight attendant and tried to storm the cockpit on an Los Angeles to Sydney Delta Airlines flight. He had been in the US to attend the Conor McGregor fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov in Las Vegas.

Hyland, who lives in Randwick in Sydney's eastern suburbs and is on a temporary working visa, was carrying an 'unidentifiable black object' when he told the flight attendants he had been robbed of his wallet, passport and phone. The flight attendants offered to accompany Hyland back to his seat to find his supposedly missing possessions, Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court heard on Tuesday.

“At this time, using both of his hands, the defendant gave [one flight attendant] a hard shove to his shoulder causing the flight attendant to fall backwards onto [the second cabin crew],' a statement of facts said. “The defendant ran towards the cockpit door and began beating on the door with his fists.”

The banging was loud enough for the captain to hear and internal security procedures were activated.

United States air marshals were forced to restrain Hyland for the remainder of the flight.

“In an attempt to get away from the air marshal, the defendant turned and jumped over seat 6B into the adjacent aisle, stepping on the passenger seated in seat 6C,” the statement of facts said.

Eventually the air marshals were able to restrain Hyland and he spent the rest of the trip handcuffed next to them until the plan touched down in Sydney.

Hyland was deeply ashamed of his conduct, defence lawyer David Newham told the court.

“There's definitely been a lot of soul-searching for My Hyland after this very, very regrettable event that occurred last year,' Mr Newham said.

The court heard Hyland had taken two tablets of the over-the-counter sleeping pill Unisom, then when he felt no effect swallowed two more.

Magistrate Julie Huber said if Hyland had not taken the tablets it was unlikely the disturbance would have occurred.

“Of course, you took four times the recommended dosage,” Ms Huber said, according to the Daily Mail.

“You took it upon yourself to take four times the amount simply because you wanted to sleep. In many respects it is no different from having that extra glass of scotch or alcohol.”

Ms Huber noted Hyland's contrition and that the had co-operated with the air marshals once he was handcuffed.

“It would appear that this is an unusual event and that as far as personal deterrence is concerned the requirement is relatively low,” she said.

Hyland was facing a potential penalty of a $10,000 fine and two years in prison.

Ms Huber fined Hyland $4,000 for behaving in an offensive and disorderly manner and imposed two community corrections orders of two years and three years with a total of 550 hours of community service.

The Rocks to host St Patrick's Day festivities in 2020

Revellers at The Mercantile Hotel in The Rocks on St Patrick’s Day. Picture: PropertyNSW

Revellers at The Mercantile Hotel in The Rocks on St Patrick’s Day. Picture: PropertyNSW

The Rocks will again play host to Sydney’s St Patrick’s Day festivities in 2020, the Irish Echo has learned.

Despite more than 44mm of rain on St Patrick’s Day, thousands of revellers made their way to The Rocks for the official Irish celebrations.

The determination of the Irish community to celebrate the national day despite the appalling weather impressed Property NSW, who manage The Rocks area.

“Our vision to transform The Rocks into an Irish village was a great success, with our restaurants, bars and retailers, and the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival organisers worked hard to ensure visitors had the best experience possible, despite the weather,” spokeswoman Sarah Cleggett told the Irish Echo.

“The Rocks shares a rich history with the Irish in Sydney and we look forward to celebrating St Patrick’s Day here again next year.”

More than 600 people took part in the modified parade, which weaved its way through the narrow streets of The Rocks. Outside the Mercantile Hotel hundreds of revellers enjoying the live music cheered on the parade as it made its way up to Dawes Point Park, the festival site.

Karen Murphy, president of the Sydney Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival committee, was delighted that so many turned up to celebrate, despite the downpour.

Large crowds made their way to The Rocks on St Patrick’s Day despite the downpour.

Large crowds made their way to The Rocks on St Patrick’s Day despite the downpour.

“The Sydney St Patrick’ Day Organisation volunteers would like to thank the Irish, friends of the Irish and those who were Irish for the day who braved the rain, walked with the parade, splashed in the puddles and demonstrated that hail, rain or shine nothing stops the celebrations on St Patrick’s Day. We are so proud of you.

“We have come home to The Rocks and will return next year. A big thank you to Property NSW who manage The Rocks precinct for their help and support. They have now been adopted into the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival family. Looking forward to seeing everyone again next year.”

The rain eventually took its toll on the festival site at Dawes Point Park, which closed early, at 2pm.

The decision to go ahead with the volunteer-run event resulted in a big financial hot for organisers who are appealing for financial support from the community.

“Even though the day was a great success, the weather did mean that [we] took a financial hit,” Ms Murphy said. “The fact the park had to close early and the heavy rain meant that forecasted revenue and donations fell short. In order to make up for this the committee are planning a couple of exciting fundraising events. Alternatively you can donate using the donate button on the website.”

Australia forcing family to leave because of toddler's illness

Christine and Anthony Hyde with their son Darragh.

Christine and Anthony Hyde with their son Darragh.

A Dublin couple and their young son are facing deportation from Australia because their son has Cystic Fibrosis.

Christine and Anthony Hyde moved from Dublin to Australia in 2009 and have been living in the small regional town of Seymour in rural Victoria for the best part of a decade.

But their three-year-old son Darragh, who has spent his whole life in Australia, has been deemed a health burden which has resulted in their visa application being rejected.

Ms Hyde completed an education degree and masters in special education since coming to Australia and is now an acting assistant principal at a local primary school. Her husband works as a part-time bus driver.

Because of the critical need for trained teachers in regional areas, the couple easily met the criteria for a skilled visa and were invited to apply for permanent residency in 2015, Ms Hyde said.

“On August 3, 2015 we applied to become permanent residents of Australia. A few weeks later our son was born and soon after he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis,” she said.

“Our family’s application for permanent residency was then refused by the Australian Department of Home Affairs because they assessed Darragh as having a condition which make him a burden on the community.”

The Hydes have launched an online petition to appeal to decision-makers in Canberra regarding their case.

Only ministerial intervention can now keep the family in Australia, they say.

“Unless the Hon David Coleman MP (Minister for Immigration), Hon Peter Dutton MP (Minister for Home Affairs) can help us, we will be forced to leave our friends, family, and the life we have built for ourselves in Australia,” Ms Hyde wrote on the petition blog.

“Darragh has the support of his family, our large support network in Seymour and the wider Australian community. By signing this petition, you are showing your support for Darragh and his life in Australia and you believe that he should be allowed to stay in Australia and have the opportunity to contribute to our community.”

Their situation is complicated by the announcement of the federal election on May 18 which means the government is in caretaker mode.

Cider brand sues GAA over Sydney Irish Festival

An ad for last November’s Sydney irish Festival which ran into problems over poor ticket sales.

An ad for last November’s Sydney irish Festival which ran into problems over poor ticket sales.

The widely-criticised Sydney Irish Festival, which took place in November, is now part of a legal claim against the GAA.

The manufacturer of Bulmers is suing the GAA in Ireland’s High Court, claiming it reneged on a deal to put the cider brand on tap in Croke Park, according to The Times.

In its action Bulmers, owned by C&C Group, is claiming it had an agreement for “pouring rights” in GAA headquarters. But the liquor company also wants to recover sponsorship money it claims it is owed relating to the Sydney Irish Festival, a GAA event in Australia last November, because the event did not go ahead in the way it had been presented to the cider company.

It is understood that C&C Group believed that sponsorship of the festival was linked to securing “pouring rights” in Croke Park.

The two-day festival in Sydney, which was sponsored by Magners, as Bulmers is known in Australia, was reduced to a one-day event due to lower than expected ticket sales. Held in the Sydney Showground, the festival included a hurling match on November 11 between league champions Kilkenny and Galway, the All-Ireland champions of 2017.

Plans for a “family fun day” on November 10, featuring hurling clinics, amusement rides, player autograph sessions, activities for kids and a Guinness World Records attempt to make the world’s biggest Irish stew, were all cancelled just five days before the event.

Galway revellers at the ill-fated Sydney Irish Festival.

Galway revellers at the ill-fated Sydney Irish Festival.

Well-known ballad singer Mary Black, urban folk performer Damien Dempsey, electro-folk outfit Saint Sister and enduringly popular trad band Lúnasa had been scheduled to perform on the first day of the weekend festival. The announcement of the change was met with disappointment and rancour, especially from those who had booked travel from other states and/or time off work. The late change left them out of pocket on air fares and accommodation.

Many patrons who attended the event were quick to criticise the organisation of the day with long queues for the bars. When some reached the top of a long queue, they were further frustrated to find out they could only get two drinks per person.

Paul Sergeant of Paul Sergeant Events, who was the local organiser of the festival, told The Irish Echo that the hurling had been a huge success but “we were deeply disappointed that we had to make the difficult decision to cancel the Saturday events and we apologise for the inconvenience it will have caused.

“There has been plenty of positive feedback about the day but it was spoilt for some by their experience at the bars. The venue operator has to adhere by RSA [responsible service of alcohol] requirements specific to every event, hence the drinks limit and bar closure times,” Paul Sergeant said.

“We have discussed the issue of lengthy queues with the venue operator and they apologise for being unable to meet the huge demand.”

Asked if another festival is planned for the coming years, Mr Sergeant replied: “The 2018 event was very much a test event. A thorough de-brief will be held … and that will determine what happens in the future.”

Three Irish nationals arrested trying to flee Australia

NSW detectives with the 20-year-old Irish national who was extradited from Victoria to NSW to face charges. Picture: NSW Police

NSW detectives with the 20-year-old Irish national who was extradited from Victoria to NSW to face charges. Picture: NSW Police

Three Irish nationals have been arrested, charged and detained by police over an alleged roofing scam.

One 20-year-old male was extradited from Melbourne to Sydney to face charges relating to the alleged scam.

He was arrested by Australian Federal Police at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport as he tried to board a flight to Shanghai, China.

He, along with two others, were charged by Strike Force Denain, a St George Police Area Command investigation into a series of alleged frauds, targeting elderly home owners. 

On Thursday March 7, another 20-year-old Irish national, bound for the United Kingdom, was arrested at Sydney Airport by Australian Federal Police.

Placed into custody, police allegedly discovered large amounts of cash and jewellery in the arrested man’s luggage.

He was charged with aggravated break and enter and denied police bail.

St George detectives quickly established that an alleged scam was underway and would continue the next day at a home in Bexley in the southern suburbs of Sydney.

It’s alleged the detectives contacted and warned the home owner, a 72-year-old man.

Following further inquiries, police arrested a 22-year-old Irish national at Sydney airport as he tried to board a flight to Qatar at 8.20pm on Saturday March 9.

A search of his luggage allegedly uncovered a large amount of cash and jewellery.

He was charged with fraud and deal in proceeds of crime; and refused police bail.

Refused bail, he was expected to appear today in the Sutherland Local Court.

NSW Police say they are looking for a fourth Irish male.

Full weekend of Melbourne Irish festivities

The Melbourne Irish Festival hosts a St Patrick’s Family Fun Day at Edinburgh Gardens.

The Melbourne Irish Festival hosts a St Patrick’s Family Fun Day at Edinburgh Gardens.

There are two major celebratory events taking place this St Patrick’s Day in Melbourne.

St Patrick’s Day Family Fun Day, hosted by Melbourne Irish Festival Committee, takes place at Edinburgh Gardens (Fitzroy North) between noon and 5pm. Described as Melbourne’s original Irish festival, this is a free event, supported by Yarra City Council.

The fun day boasts traditional and contemporary Irish music accompanied by Irish dancers as well as activities for kids. Irish food will be served.

St Kilda has its own Irish St Patrick’s Day Festival. This event is the first of its kind in O’Donnell Gardens, St Kilda.

Kicking off at 2pm, the day will be brought to life with live cultural music, traditional Irish dancing, food and activities designed to give everyone a little taste of Ireland. This is an over 18s event but there is a free family festival earlier in the day, between 10am and 1pm. This is a non-ticketed event but tickets are required for the adult celebration.

The Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce is holding a number of events in Melbourne. On Friday, the chamber hosts its annual St Patrick’s Day corporate lunch at Docklands. Starting at noon, this will be a chance to listen to some prominent speakers and do some networking at a waterfront location.

Also taking place on this day will be the chamber’s Brexit conference where visiting Irish Minister Damien English TD will be speaking.

The Irish Australian Support and Resource Bureau in Northcote is hosting a celebration on March 16. This will be a day cedlebrating Irish food, with free Sheridan’s Old Dubliner pork sausages from the BBQ. Craic agus ceol is also promised.

If your idea of a St Patrick’s Day celebration is to catch some of Ireland’s biggest musicians at the moment, you can see Kodaline who play Melbourne on St Patrick’s Day.

Kodaline made their name with singalong hits like All I Want and High Hopes which came from their 2013 debut album In A Perfect World.

This was followed by Coming Up for Air and then Politics of Living which have both further cemented them as one of Ireland’s best rock bands. Kodaline play 170 Russell on March 17.

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.

Queer Irish give green light to Sydney Mardi Gras

(Clockwise from left) Loretta Cosgrove, President of Sydney Queer Irish, Owen Feeney, Consul General of Ireland, Lorna Hennessy and special guest Panti Bliss.

(Clockwise from left) Loretta Cosgrove, President of Sydney Queer Irish, Owen Feeney, Consul General of Ireland, Lorna Hennessy and special guest Panti Bliss.

Dozens of revellers donned pink and green as part of the Queer Irish entry for this year’s gay and lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney.

This year, the group celebrated “a history of fearlessness in the Irish people that has led us to a more inclusive Ireland”, according to Sydney Queer Irish president Loretta Cosgrove.

“It was a long day starting at 12pm at the Gaelic Club to get our marchers glittered and into costume for some final rehearsals,” Cosgrove said.

“For the 80 marchers, the night of Mardi Gras is the cumulation of four weeks of build up and excitement taking part in rehearsals and getting together to make their props and bedazzle their costumes. For the SQI committee members its been months of work behind the scenes. Many Irish folks bring their skills to SQI so we can pull off such great night. This year we had Aaron Corcoran as lead choreographer and Regina Cremin-Scanell as our glitter and makeup artist.”

Irish revellers at the Sydney Mardi Gras.

Irish revellers at the Sydney Mardi Gras.

Bright, life sized lantern puppets representing the four provinces of Ireland joined SQI marchers in neon green and pink for the parade in an entry they dubbed Solas, the Irish word for light, which symbolised “Irish peoples’ fearlessness and courage to make positive change”.

The so-called “Queen of Ireland” Panti Bliss added some celebrity sparkle to the Irish entry.

“The crowd had a big reaction to us and especially loved Panti Bliss who interacted with the crowd in a huge way this year,” Cosgrove said. “We are very proud of all our members who took part and are incredibly grateful to the Irish Consulate in Sydney who have been a huge support to our community group.”

Established in 2010, Sydney Queer Irish (SQI) is a community-based organization supporting the Irish and Irish Australian LGBTI community through a variety of events and support networks.

The four provinces join the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

The four provinces join the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.



Putting The Rocks into Sydney's shamrock celebration

The Rocks area of Sydney will host Sydney’s official St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The Rocks area of Sydney will host Sydney’s official St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The Rocks area of Sydney will be the centrepiece of the city’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The Saint Patrick’s Day Festival, with the theme Back to Our Roots, will kick off with a walking parade through the area on Sunday, March 17, reminiscent of the first Irish community parade.

The parade will kick off at 11am from First Fleet Park and will make its way through the historic area finishing at Dawes Park.

The parade will be family focused, an event spokeswoman, Mary Doherty, said.

The map of the St Patricks Day Parade route for Sunday, March 17.

The map of the St Patricks Day Parade route for Sunday, March 17.

“Already applications have been coming in from local dancing schools, mothers groups and sporting clubs. Groups or individuals who want to join the parade can still submit an application on the Sydney Saint Patrick’s Day Festival website,” she said.

The celebration will include a day-long program of activities at Dawes Park starting at 11.30am.

“This year’s festival has something for everyone, young and not so young, Irish, non-Irish and those who just want to join in the craic,” Ms Doherty said. “As always music will be at the centre of the celebrations and this year’s line-up is fantastic.

“There will be live music from favourites such as Strawberries and Cabbage, Blackwater, Chris Harper and The Bottlers and plenty of up and coming acts in the form of buskers and street artists.

“The kids can enjoy dancing, Irish language sessions, cultural entertainment acts, musical performances, prizes for best dressed, crafts, face painting, a tattoo artist, raffles and lots more.”

Approximately 50 Irish nationals will become citizens at a special citizenship ceremony on the day.

A large licensed bar and various stalls will offer everything from food and drinks, to crafts. The party extends from Dawes Park with the entire Rocks area transforming into an Irish village for the day. To add to the celebration, the sails of the Sydney Opera House will be illuminated in green as part of Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening project.

The layout for the family celebration at Dawes Point Reserve.

The layout for the family celebration at Dawes Point Reserve.

“Now, would you get a better photo opportunity than that?,” Ms Doherty asked. “The Harbour Bridge, a green Opera House and a park full of people being happily Irish!”

The Mercantile Hotel, the iconic Irish pub in The Rocks, will be offering a full Irish breakfast from 7.30am on the day, plus live entertainment.

The Sydney Irish business community will celebrate St Patrick’s Day on Friday March 15.

More than 1,000 revellers are expected at the Lansdowne Club’s annual St Patrick’s Day Lunch at the International Convention Centre with special guest Heather Humphreys TD, Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Earlier in the day, the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce will host a St Patrick’s business breakfast at Doltone House at Hyde Park.

Australian solidarity with Irish nurses campaign

Expat nurses send a powerful message to the irish government from the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

Expat nurses send a powerful message to the irish government from the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

More than 250 Irish nurses gathered at the Sydney Opera House on January 20 with a simple message for the Irish Government: ‘Give us a reason to come home’.

The nurses gathered to show solidarity with their colleagues, nurses and midwives, at home who are campaigning for better working conditions in Ireland.

The protest was replicated in Melbourne and Perth as well as London, Saudi Arabia and Doha .

Laura Phillips, a Dublin nurse who organised the Sydney protest, said she had been overwhelmed by her colleagues’ support.

“It’s a support message. We can’t be there at home; we’re across the world for the reasons that they’re striking. We can’t be there to show our support so we thought we would send that message and also send a message to the government. There are nurses here who want the option to come home but won’t. They refuse to work for the pay scale that’s being offered,” she said.

Laura explains that nursing in Ireland left her burnt-out and completely frustrated while she was earning only €30,000 a year.

Since relocating to Australia, not only does she earn nearly double, earning $90,000 (€57,000), but conditions are better with a strict ratio of four patients to one nurse.

“I was trained to a really high standard but I wasn’t able to bring the highest standard to the bedside because the time wasn’t there. It’s impossible when you’ve got a patient load of six to eight patients along with other terrible working conditions.

“It’s very frustrating. Then your pay packet at the end of the month doesn’t reflect any of this, the extra hours I used to spend. Every shift would mean at least an extra hour on the ward and getting no thanks for it whatsoever. It was just impossible to do.”

Irish nurses Helen McEnery, Niamh Burns, Laura Phillips and Sorcha Sharkey in Sydney to show their support for their colleagues in Ireland who have taken industrial action for better working conditions.

Irish nurses Helen McEnery, Niamh Burns, Laura Phillips and Sorcha Sharkey in Sydney to show their support for their colleagues in Ireland who have taken industrial action for better working conditions.

Ireland will continue to lose good nurses to Australia and other countries if the issues at the heart of the strikes are not addressed, she claimed.

“It’s sad to see because we are trained to a really high level in Ireland on the taxpayers’ money and then the other health systems reap the rewards. That’s the reality of it. That’s why there’s been such a response to this support message.

“I know nurses who want to go home. Some have gone home and actually came back out because they couldn’t do it, they couldn’t work in the conditions and be paid that. It’s not a reflection on our skills, our high qualifications.

“Every other public sector job is paid better than us. The general public have been fantastic in terms of support. These are people who receive the care, see the constraints of the health system. These are families, parents, relatives. The question that has been asked time and again is, ‘how does extra money in a nurse’s pocket help the health service?’ It’s just where it starts. They have a massive recruitment issue and retainage (sic) issue. Nurses won’t work for what they’re being offered.

“There’s the age old idea that nursing is a vocation. It is not. It is a career. We’re highly skilled professionals. Nobody’s going to stand for that in this day and age. No nurse went into nursing because they wanted to make money. I would have gone into a different line of work for that; that was never my intention. My intention was to look after patients. Patient safety is completely at risk.”

Irish nurses at Federation Square in Melbourne.

Irish nurses at Federation Square in Melbourne.

More than 30,000 Irish nurses and midwives have been taking industrial action in a bid to bring the government to the negotiating table. Urgent surgery and critical care were not affected but about 13,000 outpatient appointments and 2,000 planned procedures were cancelled. Emergency departments operated but with fewer nurses. It was INMO’s first strike in 20 years.

A planned three-day strike earlier this week was called off after the Labour Court intervened with a proposal to improve nurses wages and conditions.

The Irish Echo spoke to another Irish nurse who did not want to be named but was also at the Sydney protest. The nurse from Galway told The Irish Echo: “I think we all got a little bit emotional. It’s quite sad to think that 10 of our year of 50 (student nurses) are left at home and we’re all leaving for the same reason.

“They try to do these incentives to bring us home but not one person I talked to wants to go back to the Irish health system with the way we were treated.

“I think we’re a third world country at home compared to the way we work out here.

“The care at home is second to none but that’s because the nurses are brilliant but we’re just not treated the way that we’re treated out here.

“It’s tough because we all have family at home and all our families would love to see us at home but I know well my mam would kick me up the bum if I went home to go back to the HSE. She would send me back on a plane to Australia.”

Irish Australian women honoured on St Brigid's Day

Winners of the 2019 Brigid Awards pictured with Senator Deborah O Neill (patron, Irish Friends of Labor) and Kaila Murnain (general secretary of NSW Labor). From left to right: Deborah O Neill; Kaila Murnain; Pam O’Mahony; Mary Yaager; Genevieve Kelly; Patricia Amphlett (“Little Pattie”); Anne Murnain; Geraldine Murray; Catriona Barry and Fiona Nix.

Winners of the 2019 Brigid Awards pictured with Senator Deborah O Neill (patron, Irish Friends of Labor) and Kaila Murnain (general secretary of NSW Labor). From left to right: Deborah O Neill; Kaila Murnain; Pam O’Mahony; Mary Yaager; Genevieve Kelly; Patricia Amphlett (“Little Pattie”); Anne Murnain; Geraldine Murray; Catriona Barry and Fiona Nix.

The fourth annual Brigid Awards took place in Sydney on February 1, with singer Little Pattie among the award-recipients.

The awards, named in honour of the eponymous Irish saint, recognise the contribution of women of Irish heritage to Australian society and span the business, community, political and social justice spheres.

Singer Little Pattie (aka Patricia Amphlett) received the Bridget Whelan Award for a career that saw her shoot to fame in the 1960s and perform across Australia and the US, including on Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show.

She has been an advocate for social change and sang the iconic It’s Time TV commercial during the 1972 Australian federal election when Labor reformer Gough Whitlam became prime minister. 

Senator Deborah O’Neill, patron of the Irish Friends of Labor and federal senator for NSW, said she hoped the awards would “continue to grow in the future, and in particular to reach out to the many young Irish who have made New South Wales their home in recent years”.

“Politically, the world faces many challenges in the coming decade, and it is incumbent on Labor to step up and meet the challenge of delivering a fairer and more equal Australia.”

Pam O’Mahony received a Community Hero Award for her work on behalf of the Irish community in Sydney and NSW through the GAA, the St Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and through the long-running Ireland Calling Radio show.

Genevieve Kelly received a Community Hero Award for her work on social justice through the trade union movement; as a founding member and first NSW President of the Australian Social Welfare Union; through education, as a lecturer and president of the NSW Lecturers’ Association; and in the political sphere, as mayor. With roots in Cork and Kilkenny, she was the first mayor to make a formal apology for the Aboriginal genocide a commemoration of Captain James Cook’s first landing in Australia at Kurnell. 

 Fiona Nix received an award for her contribution to the business community as founder of Australia’s leading independent film and entertainment agency NixCo, which has been involved in movies such as Moonlight and Hacksaw Ridge.

Other award recipients include: Anne Murnain, who has campaigned to raise awareness on poverty in rural Australia, particularly among Aboriginals; Catriona Barry, board member and chairperson of 3 Bridges, a community organisation that helps disadvantaged people; Mary Louise Yaager who has been involved with the St Vincent de Paul, the Sydney Archdiocese and the Right to Home Campaign; and Geraldine Murray, nominated for contribution to the Megalong Valley Pony Club as the club’s treasurer and fundraiser.

Popular Dubliner found success in Australia

Dubliner Clare Foley, who died on January 6, was a popular member of Sydney’s Irish community.

Dubliner Clare Foley, who died on January 6, was a popular member of Sydney’s Irish community.

OBITUARY: The Irish Australian community is mourning the death of Sydney-based Dubliner Clare Foley who passed away on January 6 at the age of 44.

Born in 1975 Clare attended St Pius School, Terenure (1979-1987) and Our Lady’s, Terenure (1987-1993).

She graduated from University College Dublin in 1997 with an Arts degree in English Literature and French followed by a Masters in International Marketing from Dublin Institute of Technology in 1998.

In September 1998, Clare was selected from more than 1,000 applicants for the Enterprise Ireland International Graduate Programme based in London. She worked with Irish companies helping them to win business and increase their exports with UK retailers. It was a role that called for strong networking, communication and event management skills. She was a natural. Clare moved to Sydney in 2004 with her partner Alex and took up residence in the Eastern Suburbs.

A proud Irish woman she was steeped in the Australian Irish community from the word go. She was a feature in Ireland House, first working for the Consulate of Ireland and then once again for Enterprise Ireland. In 2009, Clare became a member of the inaugural Australian Ireland Fund Young Leaders committee and remained a major supporter of Ireland Fund events.

From 2010 to 2013 Clare was the head of hospitality at Ticketek before moving to the Australian Rugby Union as the head of hospitality and events. Clare thrived in the role and the John Eales Medal Awards night became her annual triumph. The green jersey was always under the gold and she always delighted in an Irish win.

In July 2018 Clare married Alex Henderson, her long term love, at Tankardstown House, Slane, Co. Meath. It was a day the best of her life, she always said.

Well-known for her caring, warmth and sense of fun, Clare was passionate about friendship and has a wealth of friends who adored her.

Clare passed away on January 6, 2019 of advanced breast cancer. She was 44. She is survived by her husband Alex; her parents Tim and Margaret and her sisters Emma, Hilary and Louise.

Her husband and family extend their gratitude to all who supported Clare in the last two years, especially the ARU and the teams at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre and the Sacred Heart Hospice.

A celebration of Clare’s life will take place at 12 noon, February 15 at Thomas Prior Hall, Ballsbridge. If you would like to make a donation in honour of Clare please visit https://give.everydayhero.com/au/in-honour-of-clare-foley-1