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.

Animated Irish movie treat for Sydney, Melbourne

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen features the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Pauline McLynn and Tommy Tiernan.

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen features the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Pauline McLynn and Tommy Tiernan.

The forthcoming Children’s International Film Festival, be be held in Sydney and Melbourne, will feature an star-studded Irish animated movie.

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen, which was co-produced by Telegael (Ireland), Nukufilm (Estonia), Grid Animation (Belgium) and Calon (Wales), took out the Best Animated Feature award at the Schlingel Festival for Children and Young People held recently in Chemnitz in Germany.

Produced on a budget of €10 million, Captain Morten and the Spider Queen is the first feature length stop-motion film to be animated in Ireland.

The all-Irish cast includes Brendan Gleeson, Pauline McLynn, Ciarán Hinds and Michael McElhatton, stand–up comedians Mario Rosenstock, Jason Byrne, Tommy Tiernan and Neil Delamere as well as young up and coming Irish talent Cian O’Dowd and Susie Power who play the roles of Morten and Eliza.

The movie is focused on ten-year-old Morten who spends his days building a toy ship and trying to avoid the ire of his reluctant guardian – a mean ex-ballerina named Anna – while his father is at sea.

Morten hopes to one day be a Captain just like his dad. After a chance meeting with the inept magician Señor Cucaracha, Morten is magically shrunk down to the size of an insect and trapped aboard the deck of his own toy ship as the room around him floods! With a wicked Spider Queen and Scorpion Pirate already on board, being Captain is going to be harder than he ever imagined.

For screening details, click here.

Irish beauty blogger jets in for Bondi event

Irish beauty blogger Louise McDonnell.

Irish beauty blogger Louise McDonnell.

Top irish make-up artist and beauty blogger Louise McDonnell is on her way to Sydney for a one-off ‘masterclass’ event.

McDonnell, who runs LMD salon, is an established influencer in Ireland’s cosmetic industry with a robust social media following.

“I have been in Australia twice before and love the lifestyle there,” McDonnell told the Irish Echo from Ireland. “I have many friends who live there. With my large Australian following online, I decided it was time to bring one of my make-up masterclasses to Sydney.”

The masterclass event, to be held in Bondi Junction, will be unapologetically “girly”, she said.

“I love to create events which are a fun-filled girly days out. I provide lots of make-up expertise, tips and tricks along with a bit of craic. I cannot wait to come to Australia to sprinkle a bit of LMD magic on Sydney.”

McDonnell’s talents have attracted the attention of TV celebrities and she lists Katie Price, Chloe Ferry from Geordie Shore, Lauren Goodyear from The Only Way Is Essex and blogger Suzanne Jackson among her clients.

“I find celebrities very easy to work with, they are just normal people like me and you,” she said.

The masterclass event, which will be presented in association with the Irish-owned Headoffice hair salon, will take place at Easts Leagues Club on Friday, May 31 from 7pm. Tickets are $130. To book, click here.

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.”

New memoir celebrates the life of Irish Australian cellist

The late Maureen O’Carroll, who played cello with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

The late Maureen O’Carroll, who played cello with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

A NEW memoir has been published that celebrates the early life of Irish Australian cellist Maureen O’Carroll, who died in 2012.

Born in the Sydney suburb of Balmain to Irish immigrant parents, John and May O’Carroll, Maureen carved out a very successful career as a professional musician.

She and her nine siblings all showed a gift for music and their parents saw this as the path out of poverty.

Six of them, including Maureen, attended the NSW Conservatorium of Music High School and went on to become professional musicians.

O’Carroll was drawn to the cello at a very young age, and would prop her brother Robert’s violin on a jam tin and play it like a cello.

At 17, she joined the New Zealand National Orchestra and went from there to New York, where she performed with Frank Sinatra, among others. In 1974, she returned to Australia as a single mother of three. She played a blind audition behind a curtain (to avoid gender discrimination) and was accepted into the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

The O’Carroll clan. Six of the children attended the NSW Conservatorium Of Music.

The O’Carroll clan. Six of the children attended the NSW Conservatorium Of Music.

Being a child of two rebels who had fought for Irish independence, Maureen was deeply patriotic about Ireland. At one Sydney Symphony concert, she noted Rule Britannia was on the program and refused to play it. She placed her cello down and marched off stage, only returning at its end.

The new book, A Musical Memoir of an Irish Immigrant Childhood, has been written by her daughter Leora although Maureen is posthumously credited as a co-author.

“Even though her family endured hardships and poverty, my mother always had an optimistic outlook and her humorous takes on her childhood is what makes her recollections so enchanting,” Leora told the Irish Echo.

“As an adult, I was working in New York City as a television writer and producer and decided to move to Seattle where my mother lived, so that we could finally work on this memoir.

Maureen, aged 12, practicing her cello.

Maureen, aged 12, practicing her cello.

“We sat side by side for many months to write the book. It was important to us to authentically capture the memories as seen through the eyes of a child. During the writing process, I learned much more about my mother’s life, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work with her to capture these memories.”

In this extract, Leora writes about her father’s barber shop in Balmain which was called The Anchor. While hairdressing certainly took place at The Anchor, John O’Carroll ran other enterprises from the shop, which was set up in the family home on Darling Street.

“The most popular feature of the Anchor, however, was not the barbering, but Dad’s other business – his lending library. Housed in a partitioned area at the back of the barber shop, was a small collection of books which included volumes of Macaulay’s History, The Complete Works of Benjamin Disraeli, and The Novels of Lord Lytton, all undoubtedly purchased as a lot by my father at an auction.

“They were dry and unreadable Victorian works, but they weren’t meant to be read. One of dad’s sidelines was bookmaking. He wasn’t binding more volumes for the library but taking bets on the horse races. Bookmaking was an illegal activity, but this didn’t stop many shopkeepers from engaging in it, and my father enjoyed maintaining a unique system to disguise the betting; a borrowed book would be returned with the bet and money placed inside, and another book would be checked out ready for the next bet.

“On Saturdays, the Anchor was a social centre for many local men, who were off work that day and would evade their share of household chores by insisting to their wives that they need a haircut or shave. But of course barbering wasn’t the main attraction. Saturday was the most important day for horse racing and consequently, a particularly busy one for the lending library.

Leora O’Carrollm, who wrote the memoir with her late mother.

Leora O’Carrollm, who wrote the memoir with her late mother.

“Clutching their Lord Lytton novels, the men would hover around the radio in the smoke-filled Anchor, engrossed by the announcer’s incessant monologue of race results from tracks around the country, and as this was thirsty work, they took turns carrying a billy can up the street to the London Hotel to be filled and refilled.

“The lending library was enjoying a burgeoning patronage when my father fell victim to an informer. It was suspected that the woman who ran the comic book shop a few doors away didn’t appreciate the competition, and one day two policemen came into the Anchor – “We’re sorry Jack, but we have to take in your account books.” They probably were sorry too, also being patrons of the lending library. My father didn’t say anything but looking unconcerned, beamed one of his cheeky grins and proudly handed over his ledgers. All of his records had been written in Gaelic.

“Gaelic was not a common written language in Australia and while many Irish people may have spoken the ancient Celtic tongue, there were very few who read it. An attempt was made by the authorities to find a translator. The search was unsuccessful, and even if there was someone who could translate Gaelic, no self-respecting Irish person would have ever agreed to be employed in such a fashion.

“Without the required evidence, the case was dropped and my father resumed his concerns at the Anchor, congratulated by all the eager literary members of his lending library.”

Maureen O’Carroll: A Musical Memoir Of An Irish Immigrant Childhood is available via Amazon

Irish boy Fox finds his voice in Australia

Entertainer Bobby Fox, who now calls Sydney home, was born in Edgeworthstown, Co Longford.

Entertainer Bobby Fox, who now calls Sydney home, was born in Edgeworthstown, Co Longford.

Bobby Fox had to come to Sydney to find his voice. And what a voice.

The Longford native is one of four featured singers in the new production of Saturday Night Fever, which opens at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney next week, the latest entry is his impressive showbiz resume.

Fox is now an established star of Australian musical theatre with credits ranging from Jersey Boys to Hot Shoe Shuffle to Spamalot to Assassins. But it was Irish dancing that originally steered him towards a life in showbiz.

“All my upbringing was Irish music and Irish dancing,” he tells the Irish Echo at Saturday Night Fever rehearsals in Sydney. “When I first came to Australia I wanted to expand my horizons as a dancer but I absolutely needed a break from Irish dancing.”

He had performed and toured internationally with Riverdance as well as a number of spin-off shows.

“I was a champion dancer up to the time I joined Riverdance in 1998 but that was when I became passionate, that’s when the passion went ‘click’ and I just wanted to perform.”

Fox relished his time with Riverdance and describes the ensemble as “the very best”. He went on to join a show called Dancing On Dangerous Ground, in which he performed in London and in New York, at the Radio City Music Hall. He then joined To Dance On The Moon, a smaller Irish dance show. It was this production that first brought him to Australia in 2002. But he knew it was time for a change.

“I was doing a performing arts course in Sydney and one of the elements was song ‘prep’. So I had to put a song together and perform it for the class. Everyone around me was saying ‘you have to come back to Australia’.”

He says he owes a debt of gratitude to the couple who ran the course, Elena and Mario De Cinque of ED5 International, who helped him apply and ultimately secure his residency.

“They researched the visa pathway and gave me the money to pay for it. They just said ‘pay us back when you have the money’. Three weeks after I got my residency I got a call to say I had a part in the Sydney production of Mamma Mia. As soon as I had my first couple of paychecks I said ‘thanks lads’ and I was on my way.”

Bobby Fox at rehearsals for Saturday Night Fever in Sydney.

Bobby Fox at rehearsals for Saturday Night Fever in Sydney.

If Mamma Mia was the springboard, Jersey Boys was the splash hit.

The stage musical, which dramatises the remarkable real-life story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, premiered in Sydney in 2010.

The show had won Tony and Olivier awards in New York and London as well as a Grammy for best recording of a musical so expectations were high for the Australian production.

The Edgeworthstown man’s ability to master Frankie Valli’s trademark falsetto was key to him securing the role and he was given the nod by the singer himself.

“I had sung falsetto before but I didn’t think it was that special,” he says. “I could sing before Jersey Boys but Jersey Boys taught me how to sing. I learned how to do it safely, how to clarify it, how to expand the sound, how to take it from just hitting the note nice and sharp to it being something that bellowed through walls.”

Fox went on to perform the role almost 1,000 times around Australia leading to other musical theatre roles in Blood Brothers, Oklahoma and the Australian musical Ladies in Black, which toured nationally and for which he received a Green Room Award nomination. In 2017, he performed in Assassins for which he received a Helpmann Award nomination. On screen, Fox’s credits include Upper Middle Bogan, It’s a Date, Tricky Business and House Husbands. He also appeared in the feature film The Cup. He is also one of Australia’s most in demand corporate and event entertainers.

He admits to creative restlessness and says likes to expand his musical resume along the way.

“I know there’s always something more to me. If I was doing the same thing all the time I would explode.”

In Saturday Night Fever, he is one of four star vocalists along with Paulini, Marcia Hines and Nat Conway, performing songs like How Deep Is Your Love, Stayin’ Alive and More Than A Woman. His involvement, he says, came about through his girlfriend.

“My partner Mel [actress, singer and model Melanie Hawkins] who plays Stephanie, was auditioning for the show so we watched the movie together. That was the first time I had actually seen it. I was obviously familiar with the music and I’m such a big fan of disco. The craftsmanship of the tunes is second to none.”

Fox, whose sister Lisa is an accomplished actor and performer in Ireland, will soon get a chance to

channel his Irish heritage in his own show, The Irish Boy, in which he will sing, dance and reveal his other musical skills on the button accordion and the bodhrán.

“What I want to do is take the traditional and combine it with what’s happening now. I want to replicate that session feel like when the craic’s on and the tunes are good..”

Dubliner Enda Markey, who is producing the show, said, “Bobby is one of the most charming and charismatic performers in the country, and it’s been a real labour of love to be able to develop The Irish Boy with him to create a unique celebration of our home country, showcasing Bobby’s incredible talents.”

It will also give Fox a change to dance again. Last year, while performing Assassins at The Sydney Opera House, he fell on stage during his big number on opening night, breaking his foot.

“It will be a year in June since that happened,” he says. “I’m keen to get the feet moving again.”

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.”

Expat businessman's fairytale castle project complete

KING OF THE CASTLE: Killeavy Castle’s owner Mick Boyle with key players in the renovation, Jason Foody, Clare Clarke and Gary Flynn.

KING OF THE CASTLE: Killeavy Castle’s owner Mick Boyle with key players in the renovation, Jason Foody, Clare Clarke and Gary Flynn.

A Sydney Irish businessman has completed a fairytale project in his old hometown.

Mick Boyle, who was born in South Armagh, and his wife Robin have restored the 180-year-old Killeavy Castle to its former glory.

In doing so, they have also launched a new hotel business, creating 85 jobs in the border region.

“Robin and I wanted to change the way people think about South Armagh,” said Mr Boyle, who runs a successful construction business in Sydney.

“We want to create a destination venue where tourists and local people can come to and enjoy great dining, access the beautiful mountain walks and feel very connected with their natural surroundings.

“We want Killeavy Castle to be a world-class destination where people can escape the busyness of modern life and get closer to what’s important.”

It was 2013 when Mr Boyle first became aware that Killeavy Castle was on the market.

The old building, originally designed in 1836 by architect George Papworth of Dublin, had fallen into disrepair after sitting derelict for more than a decade. The Boyles bought the property for £1.3million in 2013 and set about restoring it.

The £12 million renovation involved more than 90 local contractors, from design to construction and landscaping companies, with the expertise to undertake the extensive renovations with painstaking care and to ensure the 19th century building has been fully restored to its former glory.

Killeavy Castle now has four luxury bedrooms, a formal dining room, a cellar bar and private function facilities, all with period features that have undergone significant restoration. Behind the castle there is a permanent marquee for weddings, retreats and corporate events.

An underground tunnel once used as a servant’s passageway now links the castle to the newly built 45-bed boutique spa hotel, a Grade 2 listed building that was once a coach house, a mill and farm buildings.

Mr Boyle says the renovations will put a modern twist on the traditional charm of the castle.

“What makes us unique is our location and heritage. We are situated at the foot of the mighty Slieve Gullion, with unrivalled natural beauty and incredible views. Our heritage and provenance are at the heart of everything we do.

The restoration includes a luxury hotel with five-star wedding facilities.

The restoration includes a luxury hotel with five-star wedding facilities.

“Our food will be sourced locally or grown in our walled garden; our 85 staff [mostly] live locally, and we have incorporated the beauty of the countryside into the design and interior of the castle and hotel. We also have a working farm with Cheviot sheep and longhorned cattle.”

Asked what the impact of Brexit might have on his new venture, Mr Boyle replied: “I haven’t a clue. I don’t think anyone has a clue.”

Mr Boyle and his family are well-known to the Irish community in Sydney.

Mick senior and Pauline Boyle

emigrated from south Armagh in the 1960s. Young Mick was just five when the Boyles settled in St Mary’s in Sydney’s western suburbs.

“My father was active for many years in Penrith Gaels and was president for several years at around the time the new club opened up,” he recalls.

In the 1990s, Mick junior set up his company Abergeldie, which provides complex infrastructure like roads, bridges, dams, shafts, tunnels, rail and water infrastructure. The firm now employs more than 500 people and has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland and now, Newry, Co Down.

The general manager of Killeavy Castle Estate, Jason Foody, said the new hotel was already attracting business from across Ireland and overseas.

“There has been a great demand for our unique facilities, with 50 events already booked in, from fairy-tale wedding ceremonies to glamorous receptions. We have had inquiries from all over the world, with people excited to visit the estate and take in the breath-taking scenery.”

The castle and hotel are located at the foot of Slieve Gullion in south Armagh

The castle and hotel are located at the foot of Slieve Gullion in south Armagh

Congratulating the owners on the development, Gary Flynn, business acquisition manager at First Trust Bank, which helped finance the project added: “We are incredibly proud to have played a part in the restoration of Killeavy Castle. The exceptional attention to detail at every step of the project has resulted in the creation of one of the most stunning venues on the island of Ireland.

“Mick’s passion for South Armagh is infectious. It’s clear he is committed to creating hospitality excellence and showcasing the beauty and charm of the local area on a global stage.

“The castle itself still has so many of its quirky period features, sympathetically restored to its former glory.

“So often we see investments of this scale taking place in our cities, so it’s great to see such a high-quality development of this kind enhancing our rural communities and is testament to the potential that is there to be harnessed,” Mr Flynn said.

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.

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.

Sydney Irish air rage accused 'overdosed' on sleeping pills

Leroy Hyland was restrained on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney after attending the Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas in October. Picture: Facebook

Leroy Hyland was restrained on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney after attending the Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas in October. Picture: Facebook

An Irishman who attacked a crew member on a flight back from the Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas had taken an excessive dose of sleeping tablets, a court has heard.

Leroy Thomas Hyland took quadruple the recommended US dosage of a sleeping pill which he had never previously consumed during a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney on October 10th last year.

The 26-year-old then “woke up in a freaked-out state” and believed that passengers were gang members and had stolen his wallet, passport and phone.

Mr Hyland, who is on bail, has pleaded guilty to three charges in relation to a disturbance on Delta Air Lines flight DL41 from Los Angeles to Sydney on October 10 last year.

He pleaded guilty to behaving in an offensive and disorderly manner on an aircraft, common assault and assaulting/threatening with violence/intimidating aircraft crew.

The 26-year-old appeared before Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Tuesday where his lawyer said he took an adverse reaction to sleeping pills taken after “an overseas catch-up trip to Las Vegas to watch the Conor McGregor fight.”

Mr Hyland ran out of the usual sleeping tablets he took for long-haul flights and purchased sleeping pills which a shop assistant suggested would “really knock him out” for the 14 hour flight from LA to Sydney.

He initially took two pills but didn’t feel much effect so he took a further two tablets which is quadruple the recommended US dosage, according to his lawyer.

He then fell asleep but woke an hour later and “the nightmare begins.”

Hyland travelled to Las Vegas to watch Irish UFC fighter Conor McGregor in action.

Hyland travelled to Las Vegas to watch Irish UFC fighter Conor McGregor in action.

Mr Hyland was in a “freaked out state” and believed other passengers were gang members and had robbed his belongings, the court heard.

His lawyer said: “This was the first time he had taken this type of sleeping pill and he had no prior knowledge of its effects.”

The Irishman had a blanket over his head “to hide from those he believed were targeting him” and a flight attendant said he was “rambling about getting robbed.”

He believed the flight attendants were part of the group that had stolen his belongings telling them ‘you are part of it, you are one of them.’

The court heard Mr Hyland was disorientated and told crew members: “Someone is trying to steal my identity. I don’t know who to trust.”

Mr Hyland’s lawyer said he was frightened by the situation in which he found himself and at one stage shouted: ‘Help, help’ in a thick Irish accent which may not have been understood.

A doctor’s report tendered to court concluded that Mr Hyland’s behaviour could have been caused by taking an excessive number of sleeping tablets.

After the incident on-board, Mr Hyland was restrained for the remaining 10 hours of the flight and arrested when the plane landed at Sydney Airport where he “appeared very confused” and didn’t seem to remember what had happened on the flight.

His girlfriend was concerned and took him to hospital that night and the court heard he “wasn’t right until 7am the next day.”

Mr Hyland’s lawyer told the court the 26-year-old works 60 hours a week as a sheet metal worker and the act was “so out of left field, there’s a low to zero risk of him re-offending.”

He said: “This man is worthy of a second chance” and asked the court not to jail him.

“He made a mistake and it’s not going to happen again,” he added.

He said it had always been Mr Hyland’s dream to “live and work in Australia” and he hoped to apply for permanent residency in the future and a criminal conviction put this dream “at risk.”

The acting magistrate said she accepted that Mr Hyland was otherwise of “good character” and “didn’t take the tablets with the view that this would occur.”

But she found the offences were “very serious” and asked for a sentencing report to be prepared before she passes sentence.

The case was adjourned until April 16 to allow for the preparation of this report.

Mr Hyland was supported in court by his brother who travelled from Ireland to attend the hearing.

His employer, his partner and a close friend all provided character references to the court.

A victim impact statement from the US flight attendant who was attacked by Mr Hyland was also submitted to court.

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.

Irishman escapes conviction after festival drug arrest

An Irish tourist has escaped conviction after being arrested with ten MDMA capsules.

An Irish tourist has escaped conviction after being arrested with ten MDMA capsules.

An Irish tourist arrested with 10 MDMA capsules at a music festival in Sydney on Sunday has faced court.

David Crean, 32, was one of ten people arrested for drug supply at the Ultra Music festival in Parramatta.

He was charged with supplying a prohibited drug after a sniffer dog sat down next to him when he entered Parramatta Park at about 1.45pm, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Crean, who was reportedly on a two-week holiday to Australia, escaped conviction after he argued the party drug is "not strong enough" in Australia and all of the pills were for his personal use.

According to police evidence tendered in court, Mr Crean was "nervous" and "visibly shaking" when he was spoken to by police, and when an officer asked "be honest, do you have any drugs on you?", he admitted he had drugs in his underwear.

Police uncovered a plastic resealable bag filled with coffee grounds and 10 capsules of MDMA during a search in a private tent. Mr Crean told police he "did not intend on selling the capsules and planned on consuming all of them himself as the purity of MDMA in Australia is not strong enough", the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Mr Crean's lawyer told Parramatta Local Court her client was willing to plead guilty to drug supply to get the matter dealt with quickly so he could return overseas on Friday.

Magistrate Richard Funston did not record a conviction because of the small amount involved and Mr Crean's lack of a criminal record. He told the tourist he could have died if he took the capsules.

"It's an incredibly foolish thing to do and obviously – I say it for the purpose of the court as well – people die of drug overdoses," Mr Funston said, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

During the event, which attracted over 20,500 people, 395 person searches were conducted, with 98 drug detections made during the operation for cannabis, cocaine, and MDMA.

Twenty-nine revellers were issued Criminal Infringement Notices, 28 for possession of MDMA, and one for cocaine, along with 13 cannabis cautions.