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They say if you’re not one, you want to be one… Irish that is. ‘Paddys’ possess the ‘gift of the gab’, charm and an enviable sense of humour. And I am not just saying this because I’m Irish myself.

The Irish brought us River Dance, colour photography and a cure for Leprosy (thank you, Vincent Barry) but here in Australia they may be more known for ‘enjoying the craic’.

Australia has strong Irish foundations. Up to one-third of Australians are of Irish heritage, vastly more, proportionally, than in the US. Here are just a few reasons to celebrate Irish Australians:

  • They’re hardworking: My dad, possibly the most determined, hard working person I have ever encountered, completed a TAFE certificate soon after arriving in Australia in 1990 (with three kids under 10 in toe) and started a civil engineering company – Cadifern Civil. Over the past 26 years his business has grown to be one of the biggest civil engineering companies in the Illawarra region, employing over 40 staff (including my two amazingly hard working older siblings) and has helped build infrastructure across Sydney and the South Coast.
  • They excel in the arts: Through song, screen and canvas, Irish Australians have contributed to our rich culture. Australian Idol winner, Damien Leith who hails from Kildare is one of the show’s biggest success stories going on to win seven platinum gold certification from ARIA. Renowned painter, Sir Sidney Robert Nolan was fifth generation Australian and award winning actress, Nicole Kidman can trace her heritage back to the Great Famine.
  • They’re passionate about sport: Australia has imported some of the best Gaelic Footballers to star in AFL (Zach Tuohy, Ciarán Sheehan, Ciarán Byrne and Pearce Hanley to name a few).  Plus, surfing legend Mick Fanning’s father hails from Co. Donegal.
  • They know their politics: Past Prime Ministers Joseph Lyons (1931–39), John Curtin (1941–45) and Ben Chifley (1945–51) were all of Irish descent. It’s not only historical politics either – in January this year twelve Irish-Australian women received awards for achievements in politics and the trade union.

Throw on a couple of episodes of Father Ted, fry up a Full Irish brekkie, brew a pot of Barry’s Tea and celebrate Australia’s Irish heritage this St. Patrick’s Day.


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