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Around the world in 30 days part 3 By Fr. Liam Kelleher

There are 3 weeks down of my exciting world tour with a little more than a week to go. There is no let up in the pace and intensity and certainly the excitement of the trip. I touched down in Perth on Saturday evening on my 14th flight in less than 3 weeks , but mercifully there are only 3 more to go. There is no let up either in the searing heat which has brought Australia’s worst ever bush fires. On Saturday in Melbourne it was almost unbearable, with the temperatures in the mid 40’s, with a high at one stage of 49 Centrigrade, recorded at the Melbourne Cricket ground, for the Aussie v England one day International. I certainly was not there because much as a I like most kinds of sports, cricket does nothing for me.

Let’s get back to where I left off the week before in Auckland in New Zealand. After enjoying the whole atmosphere of the Harbour and the buzz surrounding the America’s cup on Sunday Monday was a day for writing. In the evening, I visited another good friend Mike and Margaret Hickey and family. They had come back 100 miles from there beach holiday to meet me. This time of year is the time for long holidays from school in New Zealand and Australia. On my last visit to Auckland, before the 2000 Olympics Mike brought me and my niece Linda on a full day tour of the picturesque city and surrounds and we later met up at the Sydney Olympics, where we shared many a good time, at the Samsung hospitality centre, in the company of many more friends. We are a most enjoyable get together and it was back to the Franciscans, for another short nights sleep. I was due to fly to Sydney at 6.30 am, but I was able to change the flight to 9, but it still necessitate a 6am rise. I said my good-byes to Fr. Michael Burgess who had Mass in the local Mother Teresa convent, at 7am . Fr. Matthias Murphy brought me to the airport and we were there well before 7am, so there was no danger of being late. The flight took off in good time for the hop to Sydney.

On arrival at Sydney I tried to get in contact with a few friends, among them Helen Kennedy, Joan O’Shea and Mary Farrell, Mary whom I stayed with during the Olympics, just missed my call. It was a beautiful day so rather than being caught up in heat of the city, I took the ferry to Manly beach, a journey of a little more than 30 minutes, giving a beautiful view of Sydney harbour its bridge and Opera House. I spent a relaxing 3 hours on a packed beach and returned to Circular Quay, to soak up the atmosphere of a throbbing metropolis. There were all kinds of street acts going on, I sat there and reflected on the words of Eric Bogels song immortalised by the Clancy Brothers, a Quay that witnessed many sad experiences of soldiers going to and coming from war. In a few days there would be more heartache, when the soldiers would leave again for the Gulf, on a mission that most Australians and rightly so, think unnecessary and futile.

I did make contact with Mary Farrell but at that stage it was too late to meet up, with a flight out of Sydney at 6.45 to Brisbane. Although only a little more than an hours flying time apart, and on the same coast, Sydney and Brisbane are on a different time zone, time zones seem to be very mixed up in Australia and while it is bright in most places in the morning at 5am or earlier, it is dark in most places by 7.30pm. Smoke clouds from the devastating fires ahd almost obscured the sun and I touched down at Brisbane to be greeted by Maria Madigan a former athlete with North Cork and working as a doctor at nearby Redcliffe for a year. Maria’s dad and mom, Imelda and Gerard, were just finishing up a 3 week visit. We went to the local Rugby League club in Redcliffe for dinner. You can get a full dinner for 8 Australian Dollars and the folowing evening before departing there was a special, for $11 for 2 and that was for a 4 course dinner. We were on the beautiful beach early in the morning where the warm water, was really soothing to the wearied limbs. In the afternoon we took a stroll into Redclffe, a beautiful seaside town, with fine shops and a fine jetty and boardwalk. We saw where the first English prisoners and soldiers landed. We came across a huge man made childrens pool all of 100m long constructed just off the sea and beautifully appointed and amazingly there was no charge for its use. It was there I found out as well, after reading it on the front page of the paper that my good friend, Rob De Castella’s house was destroyed in the fires at Canberra. Rob won the world marathon title in Helsinki in 1983 and was a visitor to the famous Fermoy International Cross-country. He lost all his medals and everything he had in his home when close on 500 houses in the neighbourhood were destroyed in the holocaust.

Long Chat

I had a long chat with Imelda and Ger about there 3 weeks experience and they were in awe of the weather of course and the marvelous sporting facilities the country posesses and the use made of them. There is little time for children to get into mischief and there was a much more active involvement. They were also impressed with the friendliness of people. Again and not for the first time, the discussion came up on how our standards in Ireland have drifted particularly in the area of basic manners and respect and of course in values. I have mentioned it before and again in New Zealand it was remarked on more than one occasion, how Ireland had deteriorated very much for the worse. In fact one Irishman who had not been at home for a few years, until last year had no hesitation in saying that “Ireland had gone down the tubes” It is sad to see this coming from so many quarters and from people who have a great love and respect for the old country.

They blame parents in particular for allowing their children to roam around freely, at far too young an age and citing in particular the number that are drinking and smoking, particularly girls, at so young an age. This situation would certainly not be tolerated in any of the countries I have visited on my tour. So they all can’t be wrong. We must get our act together, in Ireland at every level, the Gardai must get much tougher, parents must get much stricter and more responsible and the practice of basic manners must also become a priority as well as a meaningful practice of faith. As one person I met on my travels wisely put it, “unless we value our values and put them into practice, we are lost.” After out 2nd dinner in Redcliffe Rugby League club ,Maria who was droping her parents to the Airport to return home dropped me there as well, where I was collected by Gillian O’Sullivan a sister of Sonia and who had asked me a number of times to visit her. We arrived back to her spacious apartment, in time to watch a sporting mega occasion the quarter final of the Australian tennis between El Aynaoui of Morocco, who had put out Australian favourite Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick. It was after 1 am local time, before the sensational game ended after nearly 5 hours of non stop action. With the American winning, on set 5 ,on an incredible score line of 21 games to 19. Commentator John McEnroe, said at its conclusion that it was a match that would go down in history as one of the great sporting epics.

Early Start.

Despite the late night it was an early start in the morning, I dropped my bags at Gillians workplace in the city and went on a 5 hour tour of Brisbane. Having never been there before, I found it a lovely city with many places of beauty and interest, among them the City Hall, the Botanic gardens and the cruise up the river, on the River Cat, After lunch Gillian accompanied me to the train Station for the short journey to the Airport and it was off again this time to the city of Melbourne. I was met by another friend Edel Mooney a nurse from Offaly who I met in Perth, last year and who does quite a lot of running and plays Gaelic Football. Her friend Donal deposited me at the home of famous Australian Marathon Runner, Steve Monegetti who had leased the house out to another runner, Julain Payne and his wife. When Edel introduced me to them, Julian quickly interjected, that the had met me in Cork 1n 1996. Injury has now forced him out of running and he is now giving the same commitment to cycling and has risen to International class in a short space of time. At 10 am next morning, I was in Sonia O’ Sullivans fine house at Miller St, near the Richmond cricket ground and a short walk away from the famous ground, where Ron Delany won the 1,500m gold medal in 1956. Right beside it is the Rod Laver Arena, which was housing the Austalian Open Tennis Cahmpions. Sonia’s house was hive of activity with people coming and going. The children Ciara and Sophie, were playing with their friends. Sonia who is hampered by injury was soon on the treatment table, being treated by English physio, Allison, who worked for a year under Gerard Hartman in Limerick.

Drug testers

The drug testers arrived as well on one of their regular visits. Then the King of Ballycotton” Noel Berkley arrived for treatment, he is currently visiting Australia getting warm weather taining for another shot at the Nike Ballycotton 10, a few years ago I met him in Kenya about the same time. After lunch Sonia took us both to the Rod Laver Stadium and she secured a pass to the grounds for me which allowed you inside the grounds, to watch the tennis on the big screen and savour the atmosphere at close qaurters. All tickets had been sold out for weeks. I made enquiries and 2 tickets became available, just then by chance so I had no hesitation in paying the $71 to be present at a feast of tennis for 7 hours plus. Noel was going with Sonia, Nick and family to the beach for the week-end, so he was going to leave early, I gave him my pass I got in Sonia’s name and he actually got in, to watch the tennis before he had to leave early. We watched the thrilling women’s doubles final where the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus came back from the dead, to defeat the Spanish /Argentinian. Duo of Paola Suarez and Virginia Ruano-Pascaul 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. We also saw the incomparable Martina Navratilova reach her 57th grand slam final at the age of 46. She teamed up with Leander Paez, to defeat Zimbabwe’s Kevin Ullyett, and Romanian glamour girl, Daniela Hantucova. They subsequently won the final on Saturday. The much awaited mens semi-Final drew a full house including Aussie Premier John Howard and Kylie Minogue, to see the showdown between Andy Roddick and 31st seed, surprise Rainer Schuettler of Germany. Such was the intensity of the sun outside the tempetures had risen to 40, the roof was closed in, making for near perfect, windless conditions, it would rise to an almost unbearable 45 the following day.

While the match was close enough it realy did not live up to expectations with a leg weary Roddick losing out to the efficient German on a scorline of 7-5, 2-6 6-3 6-3 and so ended the popular Americans dream. So after 7 hours of non stop action it was time to leave for the big city and drag the weary again limbs back to base.

Saturday morning saw the day dawn, with record tempertures, one walk outside the door and one felt like being in a furnace. I gave the women’s final a skip, watched the absorbing contest bewtwen the Williams sisters, hoping Venus would win, but Serena took her 4th grand slam event on the trot in 3 sets, a great record. Just as the tennis was finishing my good friend from Charleville, Kevin Byrne, who lives about an hour away, with his Australian wife and 3 children paid me a visit. Kevin has been in Australia for 20 years now and lives north of Melbourne, on a golf course, how he played 18 that morning in the searing heat was a mystery to me. While we could only meet up for a short while it was great to see him and his sons Conor and Ryan, I tried my best to convert Kevin into an Athlete when I was with North Cork , but I failed, he did win the Long puck at the Finals of the National Community Games at Mosney and is now involved with Collingwood, Aussie Rules club, finalists, in last years Grand Final.

Then it was off on another mission with Edel, a visit to her good friends from Offaly, great GAA people Pauline and Sean McIntyre. As well as partaking of a beautiful dinner in the comfort of the air conditioning, I was given a total run down on the GAA in Melbourne and particuarly the exploits of their own club, Garryowen. Gaelic Games, including hurling, football and Ladies Football are thriving in the district. There are 2 hurling teams but 5 ladies football and mens clubs. There is no distinction when it comes to the GAA, Ladies and men coexist under the one banner. There are 5 ladies Football teams at Senior Level as there are in Perth and its hard to believe ,there is no Senior team in Cork City and just one club, newly formed Nemo Rangers. In the Inter State games, 5 from Garryowen represented Victoria and Tinka Leah Stellars, made the Australian team to Tour Ireland. Edel Mooney was on the panel as well but was unable to make the trip.

Sean McIntrye

Sean who looks after the hurling team and has a garage full of hurleys and jerseys, with his official title property officer, told me that it was very difficult to get sponsorship for Gaelic Games in Melbourne and he is particularly grateful to the GAA in Ireland for their support, especailly from Joe McDonagh former President. He is a good friend of incoming President, Sean Kelly and looking forward to further support. The women get none and fact they were annoyed, to be asked for funds to support the now defunct Ladies Gaelic Football magazine. They are now in off season due to hot weather but resume training for the new season shortly. The next big drive will be for the St Patricks Day parade and with the theme this year “Sport” they are hoping for a huge input from all the clubs. Gaelic Park the home of Garryowen which I saw on a previous visit will be represented with a float. For anybody going to Melbourne and interested in playing, Gaelic Games contact the following email adresses. Pmcintyre@samrtchat.net.au tel 03 97010350 or the Garryowen web site at; garryowengac@hotmail.com.

Hectic dash

After all that information it was hectic dash to the airport,and luckily, the flight was delayed by 30 minutes so I made it for another 4 hour trip to my favourite place on earth Perth. Melbourne has been voted the most liveable city in the world, but try telling that to people on Saturday with tempertures near 50, but Perth is the most isolated city in the world. The temeperture was just over 20, on arrival at 10pm and I was collected by Sean and Garret Murphy, while Martina was at home in Subiaco getting ready for my arrival. It was great tot be back in what I now consider my 2nd home at 210 Railway St, Subiaco. I was dispatched to my usual room and we talked long into the night.

Sunday morning, Australia day dawned realtively cool at 25 degrees, it would rise to a still comfrotable 35 later in the day. I went along to the local Mayors office in Subiaco for the swearing in, of the new Australian citizens It was a very worthwhile experience and after the outdoor formaliites were completed we treated to refreshments in the Mayoral office The Mayor of Subiaco,Tony Costa is a real modern day hero and a really popular politician. He was sent to Austrailia as a boy from Belfast when he was wrongly taken from his parents, his background vitually obliterated and he grew up in anonimity in Bindoon about an hour North of Perth. He came to Subiaco 30 years ago and is now the first citizen of Subicao city close to Perth. He is extremely proud of his Irish heritage and visited Ireland in 2002. Sadly his mother had died before he found her and he did visit her grave in England, he also has numerous relatives in Irleland and he told me he was received with open arms ,by his long lost relatives. He is a champion of all that is good in life and is the most popular holder of office in the district. He has recently donated sites for social housing and he works tirelessly, for the city entrusted to his care.

When the meal was over I went with Martina and Garret to Scarborough beach and on way back we collected Ronan who was visiting a friend. Ronan had got up at 4.30am to go surfing at Scarborough with his friend and that is pretty common in Australia, they go to bed early but get up very early. After that. Tony and his good friend Brian from Scotland came round and we went by train from Daglish station across the road for another ceremony in Freemantle in the Anglican church honouring one of Austrtalias great pioneers C Y O’Connor. He shaped the life of Western Australia in the early last centrury and the end of the century before, The Meath man graduated as an engineer from Dublin University and emigrated to New Zealand In 1891 he accepted the office of Western Australias Engineer in chief in 1891. He was responsible for constructing Freemantle harbour but his great engineering feet to design and supervise the construction of the 560 Kilometer waterpipe line from Mundaring near Perth to the goldfields at kalgoorlie.

He had so many critics of what many considered an impossible engineeering task that he took his own life, in frustration just 3 weeks before his dream became a reality This Is the 100th Anniverasary of an event that was to have a profound effect on Western Australia and which made the goldfields what they became. He has also commemorative medals struck in his honour The ceremony atthe Anglican church where he worshipped was dignified and meaningful and was a privilege to be at and great credit to the Australian -Irish heritage Association. who hold a ceremony like this on each Australia day. for the past number of years. Fr. Dennis Calughtonn from St Johns welcomed everybody and he conducted the ecumenical service with Fr John Shermon. Sally Desmond. welcomed everybody on behalf ofthe heritage society in both iirhs and English.An enlightening address was given by Professor Brian Money of Notre Dame with the topic being, Community in perilous times. He outlined his own upbringing as a catholic in Belfast and how he found out about the Santa Claus myth when he saw his parents crying when he was 12 because they had no money to buy presents.

He spoke of bigotry which he confesseed existed in his own life and prayed for tolerance and acceptance and questioned the impending likelyhood of war in Iraq which few Australians supported. His inspiring talk was loudly applauded, the ceremony concluded with Derek Slaon singing the Our Father and Ave Maria. The President Brian Corr thanked all and we all retired to the trancept for refreshments. We also paid a visit to the Famous Marketes of Freemantle and to Rosie O’Grady’s pub where we witnessed a fine exibiiton of Iirsh dancing before returning back to Subiaco on the train. Most of us gave the spectacular fireworks, a miss this year, although almost, on que we could hear the thunderous sound of the opening salvo, just as I was finishing mass outdoors. We all retired to spend the remaineder of the evening at the Iirsh club, to renew old acquaintances and make more new friends. Its 40 degrees to-day as I write and we are looking forward to a BBQue this evening, when the tempertures cool down and wonder what the next week has to offer. Till next week GOODAY.

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