Sydney

Australian solidarity with Irish nurses campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irish nurses at Federation Square in Melbourne.

Irish nurses at Federation Square in Melbourne.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irish Australian women honoured on St Brigid's Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Popular Dubliner found success in Australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Singer Meg Mac cherishes Irish heritage

Meg Mac is a star on the rise with a national tour in April.

Meg Mac is a star on the rise with a national tour in April.

Irish Australian artist Meg Mac announced herself as a talent to watch out for when her song Known Better was selected for Triple J’s Unearthed progamme in 2013.

Accolades were soon coming her way. She was named Unearthed Artist of the Year while Marie Claire Australia chose her as an Artist to Watch and she received a nomination for Rolling Stone Australia’s Best New Talent award.

The ARIA Music Awards in 2015 saw her up for Best Female Artist and Breakthrough Artist while she was yet to even release her debut album. When her debut Low Blows landed in 2017, it went straight into the ARIA Chart at No 2 and won critical acclaim.

Now Meg has returned with GIve Me My Name Back, the first single from a new EP set for release in April when she also tours around Australia. The song is described as a ‘rallying cry, imploring girls to stand up, speak up and assert themselves’ and is about reclaiming identity, dignity and self-worth.

“It kind of means something different to everyone,” Mac told the Irish Echo.

“I’ve been getting literally hundreds of messages from people telling me what the song means to them and it’s completely different from what it means to me. Everyone can relate to what it feels like to lose who you are or your identity or feel like you’re not your full self anymore and that’s what I wrote it about but being able to see how it is relating to people is really amazing.”

The Irish Australian, who was born Megan Sullivan McInerney, has been writing material for her new EP and the next album to follow. She says she is now conscious of the pressure of producing a good follow up record.

“I think the first time you make something, that pressure isn’t there and then ever since then the pressure’s been there so I kinda just have to ignore all the pressure because if you focus too much on it you’re not going to make meaningful music,” she said.

Her powerful voice often sees her compared to Adele and Amy Winehouse but her earliest and strongest influences come from her Irish background. She was born in Sydney to parents from Donegal (Ballyshannon and Letterkenny) and Cork (Adrigole).

“Mum was always singing Irish songs. I realise now I know them and can sing along just from hearing them as a kid,” she recalls.

Meg Mac was born in Sydney to Irish parents from Donegal and Cork.

Meg Mac was born in Sydney to Irish parents from Donegal and Cork.

“My mum’s dad played accordion, bagpipes and violin, but my mum still has his button accordion and she often gets that out but she usually ends up getting really emotional and has to put it away. And he’s like in the folds of the accordion, he’s handwritten all the names of his favourite songs in all the folds. I never met him because he died before I was born.

“And my dad loves The Pogues and the Fureys, he’s always playing them so it was always around. My sister did Irish dancing.

“I think it is a strong influence. When my mum would sing a lot, she was just singing without any accompaniment. I’ve always loved being able to sing without music, you can just sing the song. When I’m writing as well, I love to be able to sing just the song and have a song be able stand up on its own, have a melody strong enough and pretty enough to seem like all those songs my mum would sing. Often, I’ll just write away from the piano, just singing.”

You will more than one member of the McInerney family on her records as sister Hannah often joins Meg on backing vocals.

“It’s easy, she knows how to sing with me. If I’m at home and I’m writing and I want harmonies, I’ll just call out to my sisters and they’ll come in and then straightaway I can hear what I wanna hear. It’s easy. And you can tell them that it sounds wrong or they’re doing it wrong and they’re not gonna be offended.”

The 28-year-old has fond memories of visiting her family in Ireland.

“Yeah, I’ve been a few times. I still have family there although I haven’t been in a few years.

“I always remember driving all the winding roads and having to stop for sheep to come across the road and then into my auntie’s house and she’s like, ‘go and dig out potatoes’. I’d never done that before: Go outside, pick the potatoes that we were going to eat for dinner. The most important memories are of my cousins, my grandparents. Living so far away, didn’t get to see them that much.

“It’s that weird thing where it feels like home but it’s not actually your home. That’s where both my mum and dad are from and I’m Australian but really I’m not Australian so it feels familiar. Whenever I meet Irish people, it feels like family.”

Meg Mac tours Australia April and May. For information visit www.megmac.com.au

Charges upgraded to murder after man's death

Christopher McLaughlin (L) and Nathan Kelly have been charged with murder.

Christopher McLaughlin (L) and Nathan Kelly have been charged with murder.

Two Irishmen have been charged with murder following the death of a 66-year-old man in Sydney.

The two men, both from Donegal, were originally charged with “affray” and “reckless grievous bodily harm in company” following the December 29 incident. But the charges were upgraded to murder following the death of victim Paul Tavelardis on Monday.

Christopher McLaughlin, 24, and Nathan Kelly, 21, appeared in court today via video-link from separate prisons. The defendants will remain in custody after the judge refused them bail.

They are due to appear in court again on March 6.

Kelly fronted Burwood Local Court on Wednesday via video link from Silverwater prison.

McLaughlin, who is understood to be a tunnel worker for WestConnex, also appeared via video link from Long Bay jail.

Meanwhile the family of Mr Tavelardis have paid tribute to the grandfather-of-nine who was battling leukemia.

“He loved to travel, that was his indigenous side, he loved to go, as we say, ‘walkabout’,” his son Bradley Tavelardis told The Daily Telegraph.

“Every two or three years he would save enough money, buy a sedan and go out into the desert and sleep in the back of his car.”

Bradley Tavelardis said his father was a peaceful man, did not smoke or drink, and “lived every moment” due to his illness.

Mr Tavelardis jnr said he held no ill-feeling towards the families of the two men who had made contact with them from Ireland.

“The families of the two boys, they would be going through a lot of hardship as well,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

Donegal men charged over Sydney assault

Christopher McLaughlin (L) and Nathan Kelly remain in custody.

Christopher McLaughlin (L) and Nathan Kelly remain in custody.

Two men from Donegal have been charged following an alleged assault in Sydney.

Christopher McLaughlin, 24, and Nathan Kelly, 21, both with addresses in Donegal, were arrested near the scene of the incident in the inner west suburb of Summer Hill.

They were taken to Burwood Police Station where they were charged with "reckless grievous bodily harm in company and affray".

Police said a 66-year-old man was found on the side of the road at the intersection of Grosvenor Crescent and Liverpool Road, just after midnight local time on Saturday.

He was treated at the scene before being taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where he is said to be in a critical condition.

Mr McLaughlin from Malin and and Mr Kelly from Glengad appeared before Parramatta Bail Court yesterday.

They were both refused bail and are due to appear before Burwood Local Court on January 9.

Police said neither Mr McLaughlin or Mr Kelly were known to the injured man.

Tina Cahill sentenced to eight years in jail

Tina Cahill and the man she killed, former fiance David Walsh

Tina Cahill and the man she killed, former fiance David Walsh

Tina Cahill has been jailed for stabbing her new fiance to death.

The Wexford woman stabbed David Walsh, 29, once in the neck in the early hours of February 18 last year, at the Sydney home they shared with two other Irish nationals.

The 27-year-old was originally charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter based on substantial impairment due to an abnormality of the mind.

The couple were said to be in a volatile relationship involving aggression on both sides.

At the New South Wales Supreme Court on Wednesday, Cahill, known as Tina, was sentenced to eight years in jail, with a non-parole period of five years.

Her earliest release date will be in February 2022 when she is expected to be deported to Ireland.

Justice Peter Johnson told the court: "I am satisfied the psychiatric evidence supports the existence of significant depression on the part of the offender at the time of the killing which arose from the unusual and abusive relationship with Mr Walsh."

The fatal incident occurred when an intoxicated Mr Walsh launched an unprovoked attack on a man who had been invited into the home in Padstow, a suburb of Sydney, by Cahill and the two other female housemates after they met him at the pub.

Cahill, who also had been drinking, tried to stop the attack, before she took out a "large, very sharp" knife from the cutlery drawer and stabbed him.

At the time, she was on a good behaviour bond and the subject of an apprehended violence order issued to protect Mr Walsh, after she was convicted of recklessly wounding him with a glass candle holder in 2015.

Cahill gave evidence about his repeated violence, including punching strangers and biting her all over her body, and said he accused her of sleeping with other men and deleted texts from her phone.

The judge accepted her account of Mr Walsh's controlling and demeaning conduct, observing their marriage was "doomed to fail".

The Rocks to host St Patrick's Day festivities

The Rocks area of Sydney.

The Rocks area of Sydney.

SYDNEY’S historic precinct The Rocks looks set to host the official community celebration of St Patrick’s Day in 2019.

The news was revealed at the recent sold-out Christmas Ball fundraiser at the Shangri-La Hotel.

The Irish Echo understands that the 2019 celebration will transform The Rocks into an Irish village with live music, stalls and family-friendly activities.

There are also plans for a children-focused parade from Circular Quay to Dawes Point Reserve and a citizenship event at which eligible Irish nationals can become Australian citizens.

The family friendly event will take place on St Patrick’s Day itself. which falls on a Sunday next March. The proposed move to The Rocks, which has yet to be finalised, marks a positive new direction for the volunteer-run event.

The Rocks is an area which is rich in Irish Australian history and includes one of the country’s best-known Irish pubs, The Mercantile.

Sydney has not staged a St Patrick’s Day Parade since 2014 when a rainstorm resulted in the event losing tens of thousands of dollars and facing possible financial ruin.

As a consequence, there was no official community celebration in 2015 but a determined fundraising effort resulted in the event returning in 2016.

The construction of the light rail and street closures in the city ruled out the possibility of a city parade and access to Hyde Park, which had hosted previous celebrations, had been lost.

So organisers moved the celebrations to Prince Alfred Park in Surry Hills. However, rain again forced the cancellation of the so-called Green Gathering. Then, last year, organisers moved the celebration to The Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park.

Sydney St Patrick’s Day Organisation president Karen Murphy said the committee was excited to share the news about The Rocks event.

“We have listened to the community and heard the desire to bring the celebrations back to the city,” Ms Murphy said. “And so, St. Patrick’s Day 2019 will see the return of a parade to the CBD.

“The Rocks has many historical links to the Irish community in Sydney, being one of the first places Irish people settled when they arrived in Australia.

“We want to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the area and its many associations with the Irish community.”

Sydney will one of the first cities in the world to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the committee president said the new location will offer the opportunity to showcase the best of the harbour city.

“With the iconic backdrop of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, we hope it will be a magical day for all those who attend the celebrations,” Ms Murphy added.

'I thought he was going to change', says accused killer

David Walsh and his killer, former fiancee Cathrina Cahill who is now awaiting sentencing.

David Walsh and his killer, former fiancee Cathrina Cahill who is now awaiting sentencing.

A Wexford woman who killed her fiance in Sydney has told a judge she did not leave the "controlling and fairly unpleasant" man as she loved him dearly.

David Walsh said he would change but would revert back to his bad behaviour, Cathrina Cahill, 27, told her sentencing hearing.

She was giving evidence on Tuesday in the New South Wales Supreme Court after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Walsh, who she stabbed once in the neck in the early hours of February 18, 2017, at their home in Padstow, south-west of Sydney.

"I honestly thought he was going to change. He was someone I did love and adore," she told the court.

Cahill, whose guilty plea was based on diminished responsibility due to an abnormality of the mind, previously gave evidence about repeated violence by Mr Walsh.

This included punching strangers and biting her all over her body, while he also accused her of her sleeping with other men and deleted texts from her phone, the court heard.

She had packed her bags many times to leave him, but Mr Walsh would tell her everything was going to be different, Cahill told the court.

She said: "He would be making me dinner, buying me flowers, buying me a teddy bear, but after two to three weeks it would go back to the way it was."

She agreed with Justice Peter Johnson that her evidence revealed a "pretty stormy relationship" and that Mr Walsh might be seen to be a "controlling and fairly unpleasant person".

But she said she stayed with him as she "loved him very dearly".

The fatal attack occurred when an intoxicated Mr Walsh launched an unprovoked attack on a man invited into the home by Cahill and the two other female housemates.

Cahill, who also had been drinking, was punched by her fiance when trying to stop the attack, before she took out a "large, very sharp, bladed knife" from the cutlery drawer and stabbed him.

Cahill's barrister James Trevallion said there was no evidence his client had ever struck Mr Walsh without any provocation and noted she was smaller than him.

He submitted she had no intention to kill, the stabbing had involved a single blow and Mr Walsh was the one who initiated the violence.

Justice Johnson, who said the case involved "unusual features" such as a "type of two-way domestic violence", will sentence Cahill on December 12.

My fiance bullied and threatened me, killer tells court

Cathrina Cahill, who killed her fiance David Walsh in February, 2017.

Cathrina Cahill, who killed her fiance David Walsh in February, 2017.

An Irish woman who killed her fiance in Sydney has told a judge of his repeated violence, including punching strangers and biting her all over her body, and how he accused her of sleeping with other men.

Cathrina Cahill said she could not look at other men when she was out with David Walsh, nor could she look in the mirror when driving as there might be a male driver behind. If she did, she said Mr Walsh would say: "I hope you got a good look, slut".

The 27-year-old was giving evidence in the New South Wales Supreme Court on Friday at her sentencing hearing for the manslaughter of Mr Walsh, 29, who was stabbed once in the neck in the early hours of February 18, 2017 at their home.

The couple shared the property in Padstow, south west of Sydney, with two other Irish nationals. Cahill, from Wexford, was originally charged with murder but the Crown accepted her plea to the less serious charge on the basis of substantial impairment due to an abnormality of the mind at the time.

When asked about the death by her barrister James Trevallion, she said: "There is not a day that goes by when I don't think about David's family. I loved him so much. He told me no matter what I did I would never get away from him and if I ever got with anybody else he would make my life hell."

She testified that Mr Walsh blocked people from her Facebook account, deleted texts and numbers from her phone and was convinced she was having an affair with her boss. He would come to her work to wait for her and make a gesture - which she demonstrated in court - of running a finger across his throat, she said.

David Walsh was violent and possessive according to his former fiancee Cathrina Cahill.

David Walsh was violent and possessive according to his former fiancee Cathrina Cahill.

Cahill told the judge of a string of incidents when Mr Walsh punched men - including his friend, Paul Mulligan, who had just arrived to stay at their house.

"I was in my bedroom and David came and out of nowhere started accusing me of being with Paul Mulligan which was totally untrue," she told the court. "David came out and just hit Paul", who then moved out.

The court was told of an incident when Cahill was with a female friend at a hotel when a man started talking to the other woman.

"David came in and hit the guy so hard he landed on the floor," she said. "He said 'he won't look at my missus again'."

Mr Walsh punched numerous holes in the house walls, threw a glass bottle through a new TV and "would constantly break things in the house", the court heard.

He would grab her face "and constantly bite me, that was his thing", she said.

A former housemate testified that she saw Cahill stab Mr Walsh in the back of his head on October 3, 2015. But Cahill said they had argued in their bedroom and she went to the door, but he blocked it and had a knife in his hand. She went to grab it, he ran out and she cut the back of his head with the knife, the court heard.

Prosecutor Nanette Williams suggested Cahill was lying because she knew the housemate's evidence was very "damning" about her purposefully going downstairs to get the knife and attack her partner in the head.

"That isn't true," Cahill replied.

The hearing will continue on November 9 before Justice Peter Johnson, who said he expected to sentence Cahill before December 14.

Court hears evidence of Irish woman's violent past

Cathrina Cahill has admitted to killing her former fiance David Walsh.

Cathrina Cahill has admitted to killing her former fiance David Walsh.

A newly-engaged Irish woman who has admitted killing her fiance in Sydney stabbed him in the back of the head more than 18 months before his death, a judge has been told.

Former housemate Isobel Jennings testified that the couple were arguing before she saw Cathrina Cahill come up the stairs with her hand behind her back and then suddenly stab David Walsh in the head three or four times.

Ms Jennings was giving evidence on Thursday at the New South Wales Supreme Court sentencing hearing of Cahill, from Wexford.

Cahill, 27, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to the manslaughter of Mr Walsh, 29, on the basis of substantial impairment.

She had originally been charged with murder but the charge was downgraded.

Cahill, who is known as Tina, admitted unlawfully killing Mr Walsh - who was also from Wexford - between February 17 and 18 last year in the suburb of Padstow.

She gave psychiatrists a history of being in a traumatic relationship with Mr Walsh, hallmarked by physical, emotional and verbal abuse over a period of time.

Under cross-examination from Cahill's barrister, James Trevallion, Ms Jennings denied lying about the incident in which she said Cahill had stabbed Mr Walsh in October 2015.

The court was told Cahill was charged with one count of reckless wounding of Mr Walsh in relation to him being injured after she threw a large candle at him in November 2015.

She was convicted of the offence in her absence and placed on a two-year bond in April 2016 at Waverley Local Court.

According to the agreed statement of facts, the couple argued on the night of February 17 2017 when they were drinking with others.

They parted, before Cahill, two female friends and Matthew Hyde, a man they had socialised with at one of the pubs, arrived back at the Padstow address where Mr Walsh was either asleep or partially asleep on a couch.

Soon after, Mr Walsh repeatedly attacked Mr Hyde wanting to know who he was and, during the ensuing chaos, Cahill screamed: "Stop it Davey, get off, get off ... he's with Grace."

She tried to get a grip of her fiance's arms when he swung his arm back and she fell to the ground, the facts said.

She moved towards him and punched him in the face with a closed fist, before Mr Walsh pushed her again and tried to punch her in the face.

Eventually, "the offender opened and closed the cutlery drawer quickly taking out a large, very sharp, bladed knife".

One witness said over and over again "put it back" but Cahill replied: "No, he needs to be taught a lesson. It's not fair. Look at poor Matthew."

The hearing is continuing before Justice Peter Johnson.

Murder charges against Irish woman downgraded

Cathrina Cahill and her fiance David Walsh who she has admitted to killing while under substantial impairment in February 2017.

Cathrina Cahill and her fiance David Walsh who she has admitted to killing while under substantial impairment in February 2017.

A Wexford woman has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her fiance in Sydney, after the charge was downgraded from murder.

Cathrina Cahill, 27, pleaded guilty in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday, on the basis of substantial impairment “by abnormality of the mind”, to the stabbing manslaughter of David ‘Daithi’ Walsh between February 17 and February 18 in 2017 at Padstow.

Her barrister James Trevallion referred to the need for the judge to be aware of the “extent of the provocation and controlling behaviour” by Mr Walsh, before her sentencing hearing was set down for November 1.

Cahill remains behind bars where she has spent the past 20 months. Members of her family were in the court to support her.

ABC Australia has reported that doctors’ reports tendered to the court indicate that she may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of the incident. 

Cahill admitted to unlawfully killing David Walsh – who was also from Wexford – between 17 and 18 February 2017 in Padstow. 

David Walsh, who was a father of three young girls in Ireland, was stabbed to death at his home.

He was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency services were called to the house on Watson Road.

According to AAP, Cahill’s barrister James Trevallion said the abnormality of the mind was caused by Walsh’s conduct towards her, stating that the judge needed to be aware of the “extent of the provocation and controlling behaviour” by him. 

The crown prosecutor told the court, ABC Australia reports, that she would need time to allow Walsh’s brothers and three children, who are in Ireland, to provide victim impact statements to the court. 

Speaking outside the court, Trevallion said Cahill was “doing ok”.

Australia to get another quick round of Coronas

The Coronas are heading back to Australia for a whistle-stop tour.

The Coronas are heading back to Australia for a whistle-stop tour.

Just a year after releasing their Irish number one album Trust the Wire and their last Aussie tour, Dublin rockers The Coronas return to Australia for three shows in November. 

Since establishing themselves in 2003, The Coronas have built up a loyal fanbase in Ireland and cemented themselves as one of our best live acts. 

Fresh from playing to 14,000 fans at Dublin’s 3Arena, lead singer Danny O’Reilly told The Irish Echo how excited the band are to be heading back down under. 

“The reaction we have been getting there is just amazing so we’re really excited about going back,” O’Reilly, the son of singing legend Mary Black, said. 

“We had a cool gig in Sydney in March, just to launch the gigs, and we love going there. We’re really excited and hopefully by the end of November, it will be nice and sunny as well so we’ll get a bit of sun on our skin.

“Often times we don’t get to enjoy the cities too much but hopefully we’ll get a few days either side just to enjoy the place. It was cool to be back in Sydney for a few days. We have a couple of friends living there now. 

“Hopefully when we go back in November, we might have a few days to enjoy it and chill out and catch up with people again.”

It was just last year that the band released their fifth studio album but in June they followed it with new material in the form of the EP, The Reprise, a collection of loose-end songs that did not fit on previous albums.

“We’ve been playing a few songs off it. It’s been going well. It’s always nice to have something new out there.

“I think the EP’s a little bit different for us, it’s a little bit of a departure from what we’ve done in the past. I mean it’s still Coronas, it’s still three and a half minute songs of my whiny voice on top of some pop songs but I think musically it’s slightly different for us. 

“It’s been getting an amazing reaction, much better than we even thought. We thought we were gonna release it under the radar just to have a release for our really eager fans who want to hear some new music but I think it’s helped us garner some new attention and some new fans so it’s really encouraging.

“We had more freedom because we produced it ourselves. It’s the first piece of work that we self- produced. It was very free and easy and like, ‘Okay, there’s no pressure on it to be a big successful album, we don’t need a load of hits, this is just something for us’. And I think taking that pressure off made it more enjoyable.

“Sometimes when you get too caught up in trying to write singles you can get off track a little bit. With this, we didn’t worry at all about getting radio play; this was more of a self-indulgent … undertaking. It was nice to be able to do that and scratch that itch and let ourselves just go with it.”

The lead single on The Reprise is The Note, striking for both the singalong and triumphant tune and the heartbroken lyrics it is married to. 

O’Reilly has often spoken about how he writes about his own life in his music. This song could very well be from the period after his high-profile break-up with television presenter, Laura Whitmore. 

“It’s about the struggle after a break-up and sometimes that maybe things aren’t great and they might not get better and having those depressing feelings so it’s definitely darker lyrically,” he said. “People are loving it and that’s really great to see. It’ s nice we found a home for it because it’s a song we’re really proud of.”

The band have started putting together material for their next album and O’Reilly reveals this comes as a relief after the last album’s difficult preparation.

“I’m really excited about the new stuff, more so than years gone by. With the last album Trust the Wire we’re really proud of it. I definitely think it’s one of our strongest albums but I think it was the closest I’ve ever been to having writer’s block. 

“I was definitely struggling creatively for a while so I just thought: ‘We’re getting older, trying to continuously improve creatively, it’s going to be difficult and it’s going to just get harder as you get older’. 

“That’s sort of what I had resigned myself to but then we went down to Dingle and had these two weeks where there were just songs falling out of us and I was like, ‘Oh my God. These are great’.”

O’Reilly will not be the only family member in Australia in November as his mother Mary Black will perform at the Sydney Irish Festival.  

Asked if there could be some overlap of their time here, O’Reilly replied: “It will be great. To be completely honest, I had no idea we were going to be in Australia at the same time, so thank you for that. It would be so cool. 

“If I can do it, I would definitely consider going over a week early maybe to Australia, seeing her show and just chilling out for a week. I hope that might work out, make a family holiday out of it.” 

The Coronas play Prince Bandroom, Melbourne on 22 November, Metro Theatre, Sydney on 23 November and Capitol, Perth on 24 November. For more information, go to www.troubadour-music.com

Harp In The South a Strumpet City down under

Kate Mulvany's stage adaptation of Ruth Park's Harp In The South runs until October 6. 

Kate Mulvany's stage adaptation of Ruth Park's Harp In The South runs until October 6. 

 

REVIEW: “There are no literary tricks, no displays of cleverness, little rhetoric and less sentimentality; it is full-hearted, astutely observed writing at its most cohesive.”

Eileen Battersby wrote this in The Irish Times as a way of describing James Plunkett’s novel Strumpet City (successfully adapted for the small screen by Hugh Leonard in the 1970s) but it could have been written about Ruth Parks’ The Harp In The South.

Different city and a slightly different time but its epic scale, its large cast of characters and its essential Irishness are common threads.

Actor and playwright Kate Mulvany, whose resume is already bulging with fine stage work, has adapted Parks’ three novels about the Darcy family - Missus, Harp In The South and Poor Man’s Orange – for the Sydney Theatre Company. The resultant mammoth production, directed by Kip Williams, is both impressive and captivating. 

The ‘harp’ of the title is Ireland and we are taken on a dramatic journey with the Darcy family from the rural NSW town which they first call home in the new land to the grimy Surry Hills slums to which they move in search of a better life.

The streets of Sydney are not paved with gold and their lives become a daily battle of survival against the forces of poverty, violence, illness, crime, alcoholism and prejudice. 

For all that, there’s warmth and humour galore interwoven into the script along with a number of Irish songs tastefully punctuating the narrative.

While this is a new play, it is immediately familiar to Irish eyes with shades of Sean O’Casey, John B Keane and even Brian Friel.

Emigration is a common theme for Irish playwriting but few are written from the perspective of those who have left, looking back over their shoulder, wondering if the grass beneath their feet is indeed greener.

The opening words of Siúil A Rún, which is used to great dramatic effect in Part 1, spell it out.

“I wish I were on yonder hill, ’tis there I’d sit an cry my fill”. 

Harp In The South is steeped in that immigrant world and for the Darcys, Australia does not ultimately deliver a better life for them or their descendants even if the play (six and half hours of theatre delivered over two performances) ends on an optimistic note.

In the #metoo era, Harp In The South resonates with feminist themes as we see three generations of women battle to keep their families together as their own dreams - and indeed their very lives - are sacrificed and abandoned.

As a consequence, the female characters get all the best lines, whether its Anita Hegh’s relentlessly-aproned Margaret Darcy or local brothel madam Delie Stock, beautifully played by Helen Thompson. The Irish-born matriarch Eny Kilker, played by Heather Mitchell chastises her Australian-born son-in-law Hughie Darcy at one point “Irish? You’re about as Irish as a feckin’ wombat!”.

Sadly, the male actors are not given as much to work with as their characters are either lazy drunks, sexual predators or gormless fools. 

Part 1 is a significantly more satisfying theatrical event than Part 2 and one wonders whether the adaptation could have been more comprehensively edited to create one single production.

But make no mistake, this is a very important addition to the Australian theatrical canon and one definitely worth seeing. For all of its Irishness, it is an Australian story. We see the seeds of Sydney’s multicultural, secular, pluralist, hedonistic present through the eyes of these spirited women and the flawed men who take their loyalty and love for granted.

4/5 Stars.

Two Aussie Roses miss the cut for TV final

Perth Rose Laura Cannon, South Australia's Emilie Helbig, Sydney's Caitlin MacInante, Melbourne Rose Suzie Jackson and Queensland Rose Sarah Griffin-Breen on the surfboard at the K Club in Co Kildare last week. Picture: Domnick Walsh

Perth Rose Laura Cannon, South Australia's Emilie Helbig, Sydney's Caitlin MacInante, Melbourne Rose Suzie Jackson and Queensland Rose Sarah Griffin-Breen on the surfboard at the K Club in Co Kildare last week. Picture: Domnick Walsh

Five Australian Roses made the long trip to Tralee but only three will feature in the live TV 'final'.

Sydney's Caitlin MacInante, Melbourne's Suzie Jackson and Perth's Laura Cannon will be part of the televised Rose Of Tralee final which will be broadcast over two nights from early Tuesday morning Australian time on RTE.

But Queenland's Sarah Griffin-Breen and South Australia's Emilie Helbig have missed out.

Unlike in previous years, only 32 of the 57 participating Roses get to take part in the televised portion of the pageant.

Queensland's Rose Of Tralee organisers posted the following message on their Facebook page.

"We are so incredibly proud of our beautiful Queensland Rose, Sarah. Her journey so far in Tralee has been amazing and we are excited to celebrate the rest of the Festival with her. All 57 Roses have done their Families and Centres proud and we wish the 32 through to the Dome the best of luck."

Others who posted on the official Rose of Tralee page were less magnanimous.

"Not fair on the other Roses," Fiona Real posted when the final list of 32 was revealed. "Won't be tuning in to watch the live shows. I think they should all go through after all the effort these girls went through to get there."

The final list of Roses for the first of two broadcasts is: Abu Dhabi, Arizona, Carlow, Dublin, Florida, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Monaghan, New York, New Zealand, Newfoundland & Labrador, Toronto, Waterford, Westmeath and Yorkshire

All three remaining Aussie Roses will take part in the second broadcast alongside: Boston & New England, Chicago, Cork, Down, Dubai, Galway, Germany, London, Mayo, Philadephia and San Francisco.

The Rose of Tralee will be available to watch for free, live and on-demand on RTÉ Player.