Irish Community News

Death of much-loved Sydney Armagh man

Jim Burke was well-known to Sydney’s Irish business community.

Jim Burke was well-known to Sydney’s Irish business community.

Sydney’s Irish community is mourning the death of popular businessman Jim Burke, who passed away on July 3, aged 59 after a four-year battle with cancer.

Jim Burke died surrounded by his loving family; wife Gill, children Clare, Liam and Niamh; and his stepdaughter, Katie. He is also mourned by his siblings in Ireland: Gene, Luke and sister Breege.

Burkie, as he was known, is remembered by his many friends as a larger-than-life, wonderful person who made an impression on anyone who ever met him.

Born in Keady, Co Armagh on September 18, 1959, Peter James Burke went to secondary school at St Patrick’s College, Armagh, from 1971 to 1978, where he was an active member of the school’s Gaelic football and basketball teams. He also played football and hurling for Keady.

After completing his A-Levels, he went to Queens University, Belfast where he graduated with a BSc in computing science in 1982. He then did a postgraduate course in Education and took up a career as a secondary school teacher.

In the mid-eighties, he and his then-wife Stephanie, emigrated to Australia.

He was a teacher at Patrician Brothers Granville, then made the shift to a corporate world which was crying out for people with computer science knowledge. He joined Bank of New Zealand and later Westpac, working in the London office.

Jim Burke was much-loved by his family: wife Gill, children Clare, Liam and Niamh and stepdaughter, Katie.

Jim Burke was much-loved by his family: wife Gill, children Clare, Liam and Niamh and stepdaughter, Katie.

On his return to Australia, he worked for AMP and IAG. Returning to Westpac, he became the CIO for Institutional Banking .

There, he managed the introduction of a number of innovative payment systems. In 2013, he was nominated for Finance CIO of the year. He was also an enthusiastic member of the Lansdowne Club.

His boss and friend, Jim Tate of Westpac wrote of him: “He is the most inventive and intuitive people manager I have met. He knew how to recognise strengths, weaknesses, aspiration, resilience, what person to talk to, who to avoid and what roadblock to work around, which no amount of faux online personality tester could ever deduce.”

In his last months, he asked Professor Tom Hugh at Royal North Shore Hospital, what he could do to help cancer research. He set up a foundation aiming to raise $120,000. Through Westpac, Jim helped organise a fundraiser on May 17 last. At least 300 people showed up. It was funny, moving and successful and more than $180,000 was raised on the day. The foundation is now up to $250,000.

His work continues as the Jim Burke foundation for Liver Cancer Research. Donations can be made here.

One of his oldest friends from St Pat’s in Armagh said of him:  “You stuffed in so much over your life that the suitcase of memories and friends burst at the seams…. When I think of you, I smile.”

So should we all.

His funeral service will be held at St Joseph’s College chapel, Hunters Hill on Thursday July 11 at 10.30am.

Tyrone Dad's appeal for suffering son

An Adelaide Irish family is praying for a heart transplant to save their three-year-old who has endured five open heart surgeries to alleviate his rare conditions. 

David Hope Glass was transferred to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital in May, where he is reliant on a pacemaker, mechanical valve and heart failure treatment drug Milrinone to keep his tiny heart beating. 

With just one quarter of David’s heart properly functioning, his parents remain hopeful for a “miracle”, with his Irish father Liam Glass saying the family had placed their trust in God since finding out about David’s condition when his mother Cindy Glass was 20 weeks pregnant.

“We want to show what faith and hope can do, and hopefully one day David can tell people,” he said.

David’s list of medical conditions is long and complex, from Atrioventricular and Ventricular Septal Defects which have left holes in the walls separating the chambers of his heart, to Pulmonary Stenosis, characterised by an obstruction of the flow of blood from the right heart ventricle to the lungs.

The David Glass Appeal is raising money in young David’s name. Photo: Go Fund Me.

The David Glass Appeal is raising money in young David’s name. Photo: Go Fund Me.

An appeal in his name has raised more than $8,000 through Go Fund Me, leaving his parents overwhelmed by the kindness of friends and strangers.

Melbourne’s Irish Australian Support and Research Bureau has also helped the family while they have been in Melbourne.

The money is intended to relieve pressure on the family, with both parents left unable to work as they care for their first-born.  

David was placed on the waiting list for a donor heart this year, his father explaining, “It’s the only option.”

According to Transplant Australia, patients needing a heart transplant commonly wait nine or more months for a suitable organ donation.

Patients can often depend on Milrinone for years, but it is difficult to predict how long it will be effective for each individual, leaving David’s parents and doctors in the dark as to the urgency of a transplant.

While most children with severe heart failure can use a mechanical heart device known as a VAD until a transplant is undertaken, this option would likely be fatal for David due to the increased risks associated with having only one working ventricle. 

Father Liam, David, mother Cindy and Bella at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. Photo: Adrienne Myszka, Heartfelt.

Father Liam, David, mother Cindy and Bella at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. Photo: Adrienne Myszka, Heartfelt.

Despite being in a state his father described as sickly stable, David is otherwise like any other child his age. 

He adores his little sister Bella who keeps him company in the hospital, and is obsessed with the children’s show Mister Maker, with starring actor Phil Gallagher recently showering his young fan with signed gifts. 


“He’s a happy, humble wee boy,” said Mr Glass.

David (so named for the young faithful who defeated the mighty Goliath) has his own battle ahead as he awaits a donor heart, but Mr Glass believes his son is in the best hands after he pulled through a recent surgery against all odds. 

The Glass family had been told to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. 

“The surgeon came out crying and said God got me through that...we’ve been praying for the hands helping David.

“I said, ‘now you’re speaking my language’.” 


If you would like to donate to the appeal, visit Go Fund Me.

The Glass family thank Adrienne Myszka for providing photography free of charge.

Doyenne of Australian Irish dancing community honoured

Jan Currie-Henderson has received an OAM for her 60 years of service to Irish dancing.

Jan Currie-Henderson has received an OAM for her 60 years of service to Irish dancing.

Celebrated Irish dance teacher and adjudicator Janice Currie-Henderson’s Order of Australia Medal (OAM) will be in good company alongside her multitude of prizes.

Ms Currie-Henderson, ‘Miss Jan’ to her devoted students, received a Queen’s Birthday Honour last week for services to Irish dancing, just two years after receiving a lifetime achievement Brigid Award for her contributions to the Irish-Australian community.  She was also honoured last year by An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (The Irish Dancing Commission), the sport’s peak body.

“I got such a shock when I got that letter,” she said.

“I don’t know who nominated me...I’ve asked, but the good fairy’s not speaking up to tell me!”

Ms Currie-Henderson, whose family hails from Offaly, Derry and Dublin, has lost count of how many young competition hopefuls she has guided through jigs and reels in her 60 years of teaching but knows the number must be in the thousands.  

Her own involvement with the tradition began at the age of five when her father saw an Irish dancing performance in the Brunswick Heads hotel owned by her grandparents.

“We came down to Sydney to live and there was Irish dancing in the school, Daddy enrolled us of course,” Ms Currie-Henderson said.

Jan Currie-Henderson at her recent Diamond Jubilee celebration with (from left) sons Craig, Andrew and Michael Henderson and husband Bob.

Jan Currie-Henderson at her recent Diamond Jubilee celebration with (from left) sons Craig, Andrew and Michael Henderson and husband Bob.

The eager prodigy would go on to become a national champion and knew by 17 that she wanted to share her skills with new generations.

In 1959, she set up the Currie-Henderson Academy of Irish Dancing. Ten years later, she became a founding member of the Australian Irish Dancing Association (AIDA).

She is a past president of the NSW division of the AIDA and continues to serve as its vice-president.

Her dedication has reaped rewards, with troupes of students from her academy winning over 100 national titles.

Fast-paced moves are the norm in Irish dancing, and Ms Currie-Henderson has watched the centuries-old tradition evolve into something quite different, especially since the emergence of Riverdance in

Today, costumes embroidered with Celtic motifs are enhanced with a healthy dose of glitter and crystals, but the sport has undergone more than a surface-level makeover.

“The basics of it are all the same but it’s more expressive now...we still have the rules in competitions but in the shows you can express yourself differently.

“It’s not always people of Irish descent, there’s dancers of many, many nationalities, they just love Irish dancing.” 

Ms Currie-Henderson will receive her OAM at Government House in September while her students prepare to take October’s Australian Championship by storm.

 

Sydney Rose Rebecca summons Anzac spirit for Tralee

Sydney Rose of Tralee for 2019 Rebecca Mazza with parents Catherine and Anthony.

Sydney Rose of Tralee for 2019 Rebecca Mazza with parents Catherine and Anthony.

Newly-crowned Sydney Rose of Tralee Rebecca Mazza was inspired by her heroic Irish great-grandfather to enter the contest.

James Daly emigrated from Kanturk, Co Cork to Fremantle at the age of 19 in 1909 where he pioneered clearing land and farming in Western Australia while raising four children with his wife.

He enlisted with the Australia Imperial Force (AIF) in 1915 and fought bravely at Gallipoli and later at Pozieres where he was wounded and unable to take any further part in the war.

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Although he died before Rebecca was born, the 24-year-old said the Irishman’s courage and strength continue to influence her family to this day.

“Without him coming to Australia and without him surviving Gallipoli and the Western Front, we wouldn’t be here. There’s this idea of where we came from and all the things that happened to make us as individuals. I often think, imagine if James got killed at Gallipoli, I wouldn’t be here,” she says wistfully.

Rebecca Mazza’s Cork-born great grandfather James Daly.

Rebecca Mazza’s Cork-born great grandfather James Daly.

“Knowing that inspires me to do as much as I can with my life because it’s so meaningful. You don’t know the impact you are going to have on future lives and that really resonates with me.”

James is something of a talisman for Rebecca and the Mazza family.

“Anytime something difficult is going on my Dad says ‘You’ve got the blood of Anzac flowing through you, so you can do anything’,” Rebecca said.

It’s a strength the family called on after Rebecca’s younger brother Tom, 21, was diagnosed with a devastating brain tumour two years ago.

Rebecca, who was raised in Perth but moved to Sydney last year, says her selection as Sydney Rose came as a welcome boost for her parents Catherine and Anthony Mazza and siblings Madeline and Thomas.

“My family are absolutely thrilled. I don’t think I’ve seen my parents on such a high for such a long time.

“They’ve been through the mill after my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He had to have emergency surgery and came out of that not being able to speak and it was just horrific.”

Tom underwent further operations and thankfully with help from speech and rehab teams, he is now fully recovered and studying nursing.

Rebecca currently works as a mobile speech pathologist helping families to develop strategies to communicate with their son or daughter who has difficulty speaking due to conditions like autism or cerebral palsy.

She was studying speech therapy at university when Tom got sick and said it spurned her on to complete her degree so she could help her brother and others like him who face speech issues due to medical conditions.The 24-year-old spent several months working in a school in Waterford in 2013 and can’t wait to get back to Ireland this summer.

“I need someone to make me laugh; I just love the Irish banter.

“Irish people are so good at communicating with each-other and telling stories. I remember coming back from Ireland and the banter wasn’t there. Australian guys lack the same level of wit as the Irish and I do miss that.

“I have a very Irish sense of humour. I just absolutely love Irish people. I can’t wait to meet all the Roses from around the world. It will be fascinating.”

But Mazza is keeping her cards close to her chest about what she will perform on stage for RTÉ’s television cameras.

“I play guitar and piano so I have a few options up my sleeve,” she joked.

Sydney Parade president has 2020 foresight

Thousands of revellers attended the Sydney St Patrick’s Day festivities in The Rocks this year.

Thousands of revellers attended the Sydney St Patrick’s Day festivities in The Rocks this year.

Planning for the 2020 Sydney St Patrick’s Day celebrations will begin in earnest this month when the new organising commitee is elected.

The annual general meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 18 at the Gaelic Club at which the current committee will stand down and new office bearers will be voted in.

Incumbent president Karen Murphy will again put herself forward to lead the organising committee.

“Yes I will be putting my hand up again for president,” Ms Murphy told the Irish Echo.

Moving the community celebration to The Rocks area had been a great succcess, Ms Murphy said, and it was important to continue working with all stakeholders to make it even better.

“The Rocks is the ideal location for the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade celebration,” she said.

“This year we elevated the profile of the event through different stakeholders in the Irish community along with Property NSW and Tourism Ireland. This will continue for 2020.”

Fundraising, she said, would be a key focus if she is re-elected

“We want to create a first-class event for the Irish community marking our nation’s heritage and culture.”

Karen Murphy wants to remain as president of the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade. The AGM takes place on June 18.

Karen Murphy wants to remain as president of the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade. The AGM takes place on June 18.

This year’s celebration attracted thousands of revellers to The Rocks but relentless rain during the day forced the early closure of the community concert at Dawes Point Park.

Ms Murphy said that the full impact of the early closure will be revealed at the AGM.

“We had a reserve fund for a rainy day but our performance this year was a little affected by the weather.”

Both she and the treasurer would report to the AGM, she said, but fundraising would remain a key priority.

“Fundraising is always needed as with any community group relying on the big hearts of volunteers,” she said.

“The committee will continue to organise regular fundraising events throughout the year, the highlight being our annual Christmas Ball which will be held late November or early December.

“The Mercantile Hotel is also organising a raffle whereby a $2,000 flight voucher is up for grabs with 100 tickets being sold for $50 each.”

Ms Murphy says if she is re-elected, she will also continue to devote her energy to “the parade, children and family culture activities, citizenship ceremony, great live music and possible international acts.”

PJ O'Brien's Southbank tops Black List for April

PJ O’Brien’s in Southbank, Melbourne topped the Guinness Blacklist for April.

PJ O’Brien’s in Southbank, Melbourne topped the Guinness Blacklist for April.

PJ O’Brien’s in Southbank, Melbourne was the number one Guinness outlet in Australia for the month of April.

The pub, located on the banks of the Yarra in central Melbourne, topped the Irish Echo’s Black List in the most recent survey, the official national ranking for Guinness volume sales.

Its sister pub in Sydney, which topped the Black List for March, came in second place and Durty Nelly’s in West Perth came in third.

The national top ten was completed by The Mercantile Hotel in The Rocks, The Drunken Poet in West Melbourne, The Quiet Man in Flemington, Maloney’s Hotel in Sydney, irish Murphy’s in Brisbane, The Fifth Province in St Kilda and The Woodvale Tavern in Perth.

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The NSW top five was PJ O’Brien’s, The Mercantile, Maloney’s, The Porterhouse and The Doss House in The Rocks.

The Victorian top five was completed by Jimmy O’Neill’s in St Kilda.

The Queensland top five also included Finn McCools in Fortitude Valley, Finn McCool’s in Surfers Paradise, the Dublin Docks Tavern in Biggera Waters and McGinty’s Bar in Cairns.

Western Australia’s top five also included JB O’Reilly’s in Leederville, Murphy’s irish Pub in Mandurah and Paddy Malone’s in Joondalup.

Fiddlers Green in Darwin was the top Guinness out in the Northern Territory and Irish Murphy’s Hobart was No 1 in Tasmania.

The Black List is published each month by the Irish Echo.

The Blacklist :: National Top Ten :: April 2019

  1. PJ OBrien’s, Southbank, Melbourne

  2. PJ O’Brien’s, Sydney

  3. Durty Nelly’s, West Perth

  4. The Mercantile Hotel, Sydney

  5. The Drunken Poet, West Melbourne

  6. The Quiet Man, Flemington

  7. Maloney’s Hotel., Sydney

  8. Irish Murphy’s, Brisbane

  9. The Fifth Province, St Kilda

  10. The Woodvale Tavern, Woodvale, WA

Minister considers plight of Victorian Irish family

Damian Drum is the Nationals MP for Nicholls. He is supporting an Irish family’s bid to stay in Australia.

Damian Drum is the Nationals MP for Nicholls. He is supporting an Irish family’s bid to stay in Australia.

A local federal government backbencher and the Victorian Premier have voiced their support for an Irish family facing deportation.

Federal member for the seat of Nicholls Damian Drum is backing the Hyde family’s bid to remain in Australia and says Immigration Minister David Coleman is reviewing their case.

“I am waiting for the Minister to get an opportunity to look through the file. It will be done probably within the week,” he told the Irish Echo.

“I’ll be in constant contact with the Minister on this one and we are hopeful that we can get a good decision but we are not in a position to make a call on it yet,” he said.

Christine and Anthony Hyde’s application for permanent residency was refused because their son Darragh, 3, has cystic fibrosis.

Unless the Minister intervenes, the family who have lived in the north Victorian town of Seymour for 10 years, must leave the country by June 18.

“I spoke to David (Coleman) on this case,” Mr Drum said. “The Minister is in a very difficult position here. This situation where you have people out here on work visas who have children with severe disabilities, there is a real potential that this could cost the country millions of dollars and everyone understands that.

“If the Minister intervenes in this case, it will set a precedent so we have to be very careful,” he explained.

Darragh Hyde has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Darragh Hyde has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Despite this, the Nationals MP said he feels “relatively confident” after his conversations with the Minister.

He added: “There’s still a lot of work to be done in relation to all the data that goes into the appeal, all the data that the Hydes need to present. All that data has to find its way from the Department to the Minister.”

Mr Drum said he became involved in the case at the request of the local community.

“Many people from within the community have been stopping me and saying: ‘Can you help this family?’”

He said the Hydes have proven that “they are making a substantial contribution to our nation.”

Christine works as assistant principal at a local primary school and Anthony works as a bus driver.

An online petition calling for the Hydes to be allowed to remain in Australia has received over 100,000 signatures.

Mr Drum said: “The family has got the backing of the local community –I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

“As local MPs we get lots of requests in this regard and my first answer is always to refuse a letter of recommendation for people that I haven’t met.

“I went against my strict rule in relation to letters of support in this case.  I’ve only done that on the back of a strong letter of recommendation from the school where Christine Hyde works.”

Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews says the Hydes should be allowed to stay in Australia.

Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews says the Hydes should be allowed to stay in Australia.

The Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews has also thrown his support behind the Hydes saying “They’re effectively Aussies.”

The Labor MP said: “This is a great family.  They’ve been SES volunteers and school teachers in their local schools, they’ve have contributed over the past 10 years.

“The young boy was born here, some compassion and some common sense (is needed).

“There’ll be some costs for the medical treatment he needs, but there will be so many more benefits to Seymour, to that local community and indeed for all of us.”

Christine and Anthony Hyde applied for permanent residency in 2015 before Darragh was born.

Shortly after his birth, the toddler was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and their application was rejected on the basis that his illness would be a burden on the state.

The family argued that Darragh’s condition is mild and have doctors reports to back that up.

They also argued that Darragh is Australian born and therefore should not be forced to leave..

“Darragh is Australian –he was born in Australia and has never set foot out of Australia.  He’s never been to Ireland.  It’s really unfair,” explained Christine.

Christine Hyde told The Irish Echo the message she would like to get to the minister.

"Just read the case. Just read our story. Just take it in, read the facts and make a decision: Yes or no. I believe any person that reads our case, like the many others who have, that have a heart and have a bit of compassion will see the unique circumstances around our situation and will say ‘yes’. But I don't even know if they're going to read our case,” she said.

Federal Minister for Immigration David Coleman has the power to allow the Hydes to remain in Australia.

Federal Minister for Immigration David Coleman has the power to allow the Hydes to remain in Australia.

"I have no idea what we're doing. i honestly don't know where to begin. There's parts of me that says, 'It will be fine, don't worry about it'. Then there's parts of you thinking, 'What if we're not? Do we need to start packing?' Where do we begin with this? This is our home of ten years, how do you begin to pack that up in 28 days? We still have to work. We can't just stop life either so I don't know where we are with it at all.

"You don't want to get to a point where you've got ten days and it's a no. Who can pack up in ten days? Get out of the lease and sell a few cars, it's not realistic.

"If they just gave us an answer at least we would have some time to sort things out. There's no point giving us an answer on 17th June when we're supposed to be out of the country on the 18th.

"You have to have that in the back of your head and worry about it as well. We don't want to be seen as the people who overstayed a visa or anything like that. It's not us, we want to follow the request. if the request is to leave by the 18th of June, so be it. We'll do that. Don't tell us on 17th June that the answer is a ‘no’, that you're not going to intervene.

"Now there's a timeline on it, now we have an end date to this, it's like, 'Come on'. I don't know what to do."

“We don’t want to be seen as the people who overstayed a visa or anything like that. It’s not us, we want to follow the request. if the request is to leave by June 18, so be it. We’ll do that. Don’t tell us on 17th June that the answer is a no, that you’re not going to intervene,” she said.

With additional reporting by David Hennessy

Gaelic Club board to step down as EGM called

The Gaelic Club occupies the top level of 64 Devonshire St in Surry Hills.

The Gaelic Club occupies the top level of 64 Devonshire St in Surry Hills.

The current board of Sydney’s Gaelic Club is to step down en masse after an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) was called by a group of its members.

The Gaelic Club, which is affiliated to the Irish National Association (INA), is based at 64 Devonshire St, Surry Hills and runs a range of cultural activities there including Irish music and language lessons.

It appears that the INA, which owns the site, has lost confidence in the Gaelic Club’s leadership team and wants to see change.

Sixteen members of the Gaelic Club signed a petition to request the EGM. Seven of the signatories are understood to be current INA committee members.

The petition said the purpose of the request was to “elect a new Board which will develop a business and management plan for the operation of the Gaelic Club and a Memorandum Of Understanding with the INA on the Gaelic Club’s use of premises.”

In a letter to members dated May 25, 2019, a clearly unhappy Gaelic Club president Alana Sheil said the Gaelic Club Board had received a letter from the INA President Karl Kinsella in December 2018 requesting that the Club enter a formal lease arrangement.

This request was rejected by the Board because, Ms Sheil said, “this would make Directors personally liable for any shortfall in income to pay agreed rent”.

Gaelic-Club-Logo.jpg

The Gaelic Club is a not-for-profit entity and its directors are volunteers. According to its 2018 Annual Report, the club’s total income was $203,130 with a small operating loss of $345.

According to Ms Sheil’s letter, which was co-signed by the Club secretary Maria Hayes, “the [Gaelic Club] Board and the INA Committee did have two face-to-face meetings… to resolve these issues”.

“The current Board has tried everything in its power to negotiate a reasonable outcome,” Ms Sheil wrote.

A subsequent letter from the INA president, dated May 15, 2019, advised that the Gaelic Club will be “required to enter a commercial lease on 1 June 2019 for $20,000 per annum”.

Furthermore, according to Ms Sheil, the INA has declined “the long standing practice to split the electricity bill 50/50” and “rescinded their support to cover the cost of the annual insurance premium of $4,769.45”.

“These recent financial imposts will render our management of the Club unviable,” Ms Sheil wrote. “The Board … will be stepping down at this EGM. We cannot continue in good faith, to act in the interests of the members under these conditions.”

The Gaelic Club and the INA have endured a turbulent history at the Devonshire St premises.

The property was once owned outright by the Irish National Association.

However, twenty years ago, an audacious bid to redevelop and regenerate the club failed.

The financing of the redevelopment was provided by private individuals and the NSW GAA. The subsequent build was struck by delays and financial pitfalls. 

When the revamped Gaelic Club finally opened, two years behind schedule in March 2002, it was not as profitable as had been hoped. The ground floor bar and auditorium remained in Irish community ownership for just two more years before being sold off for $3.45 million to repay debts.

The INA, which is a registered charity, retains ownership of the upper floor which, according its most recent annual report, is valued at approximately $3,000,000. The INA reported a financial deficit of $62,000 in 2017/18.

The premises is now also home to the Irish Support Agency (ISA). During her recent visit to Sydney, Irish Minister Heather Humphreys officially opened the new ISA office at the Gaelic Club.

The Gaelic Club EGM will be held at 64 Devonshire St, Surry Hills on Monday June 17, 2019 at 7pm.

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.”