Expats celebrate St Pat’s with an Aussie twist

March 16, 2013 • Local, News,

Fergus Linehan outside the Opera House.

Fergus Linehan outside the Opera House.

St Patrick’s Day is a huge celebration for expat communities again this year, but some Irish adventurers are enjoying the festivities with a distinctly Aussie accent.

Many migrants have dived right into the lifestyle and have found their way into some quintessentially Aussie careers.

The Irish Echo caught up with some of the brave new Irish who have faced feeding pigs in the Northern Territory to running festivals at the Sydney Opera House.

Adventurer Claire Convery has set up home in a remote area of the Northern Territory – and she will celebrate St Patrick’s Day at work.

Convery, 25, is from Dundrum in South Dublin, and she has fallen in love with the lifestyle in the rural community of Daly Waters. She works at the

Hi-Way Inn roadhouse and is helping to organise a St Patrick’s Day party at the venue this weekend.

“I’ve been in the Northern Territory since September and I love it,” she said. “If I am going to stay in Australia permanently I would stay in the Northern Territory. I love the country, horses and the cattle stations. I go for a run in the evening and I see about 20 kangaroos.

“Last year at the roadhouse they did a ‘Brave and Shave’ for St Patrick’s Day. All the cattle stations came in and we are trying to get that going this year. We have hairspray and we are going to dye their hair green and orange.”

Convery has a couple of Irish pals in Daly Waters and was thrilled to find out that one of the stations recently hired four new Irish people. She loves working at the roadhouse and has a hand in every part of the business – including feeding the pigs.

“I do everything,” she said. “I work behind the bar, housekeeping and the yardie jobs as well like changing the bins, stocking the fridges, making ice and feeding the pigs. I avoid that as much as possible.”

Convery moved to Australia in November 2011 and has a background in accountancy.

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic venues in the world and Dubliner Fergus Linehan is a key figure behind the scenes.

Linehan is festival director for Vivid Live and is also the Opera House’s international programming consultant.

He said the main thing that was great about the Opera House was that everyone took your call.

“Everyone wants to play the Opera House,” he said. “There are only four or five venues around the world that everyone has heard of, including Carnegie Hall and La Scala.”

Linehan has found that the prospect of playing at the venue entices performers to Australia that would be otherwise discouraged by the huge distance.

He is working on the Vivid festival and is bringing in Kraftwerk for a series of shows. And he has also worked with The Cure and Florence and the Machine on a special concert with the symphony orchestra.

This St Patrick’s Day he will be busy because of his commitments to the festival. He expects there will be a great buzz around the Opera House as Damien Dempsey is performing and there are around six Irish people working there.

And he’s looking forward to the famous sails turning green.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “I’m used to it as we do projects onto the sails during Vivid. It’s a good acknowledgement of the size of the Irish community in Australia.”

Linehan moved to Australia in 2004 and lived here full-time until 2009. He took a year off and now lives between Sydney and London.

Bondi surf lifesaver Éamon O hAinin.

Bondi surf lifesaver Éamon Ó hAinín.

Éamon Ó hAinín will be up bright and early on St Patrick’s morning for his patrol on the glamorous sands of Bondi Beach.

The Dubliner works as a process development engineer but also takes time out to volunteer with the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Lifesaving Club.

“I really enjoy it,” he said. “It’s nice to be involved in a community organisation.”

Ó hAinín regularly rescues people from the surf and explained that a lot of what he does is preventative. About 2,500 people a year are rescued on Bondi Beach and the vast majority are tourists

who are not aware of the dangers that lurk in the water.

He said: “Bondi is a lovely beach but it can be quite dangerous, depending on the conditions.”

Ó hAinín, who is from Blackrock, first came to Australia as a backpacker in 1996 and he loved it so much he came back in 2003. He has been based in Sydney since then, and two of his sisters also live in Australia.



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