Sydney Commemorates the Easter Rising


Sydney commemorates the Easter Rising: Outside Mitchell Library during a break in the screening of films on the rising (Mike O’Flynn)

Under grey skies, reminiscent of weather in Dublin, a crowd of more than 300 gathered outside the GPO in Martin Place at 10 am on Easter Monday to hear Irish-Australian actor Maeliosa Stafford read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, first read 100 years ago outside the GPO in Dublin. The reading was part of a day of commemoration organised by the Aisling Society of Sydney to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.

Before the proceedings began Kevin O’Connor kept the growing numbers entertained by playing Irish tunes on his fiddle. Once the GPO clock had finished striking the hour, Aisling Society secretary Jeff Kildea gave a short address on the significance of the Easter Rising for Ireland and Australia. This was followed by the reading of the Proclamation, after which those fortunate enough to have secured tickets moved to the Mitchell Library for the screening of three films on the Rising: Martyrs of 1916 (1920); the docu-drama A Terrible Beauty; and the feature film Irish Destiny (1926).

In the Dixon Room of the library Indigenous elder Ken Canning gave an acknowledgement to country before Irish Consul General Jane Connolly formally opened the film screening. In between films members of the audience came forward to relate personal stories of their family’s involvement with the Rising.

Organiser of the event Tony Earls is to be congratulated on what turned out to be a very successful and enjoyable day of commemoration. The event was funded by a grant from the Irish government’s 1916-2016 Centenary Programme.


Maeliosa Stafford reading the Proclamation. On his left is Tony Earls (Mike O’Flynn)

Photographs of the day’s proceedings taken by Mike O’Flynn can be seen by clicking here. A video of the reading of the Proclamation can be seen on YouTube.

1916 Easter Rising Commemoration

On Easter Monday 28 March 2016 at 10 am the Aisling Society will commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising with a reading of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The Proclamation, originally read 100 years ago outside the GPO in Dublin by rebel leader Padraic Pearse, will be read outside the GPO in Martin Place, Sydney by renowned Irish-Australian actor Maeliosa Stafford of O’Punsky’s Theatre Company. The reading will be followed by a screening of films about the Easter Rising at the Mitchell Library. The commemoration has been made possible by the sponsorship of the Irish Consulate and the 2016 Centenary Programme. Organiser of the event Tony Earls says that both the reading and the film screening are free but entry to the film screening is by ticket only through Eventbrite.

Logo ConsulateLogo Centenary

Celtic Time presenter Ann Tomlinson talks to Tony Earls about the 1916 Commemoration

Celtic Time presenter Ann Tomlin talks to Tony Earls about the 1916 Commemoration (Éilis Hurst)

Anzac Day in Dublin 2014

Former Aisling president Dr Jeff Kildea, who holds the Keith Cameron Chair of Australian History at University College Dublin for 2014, gave the Anzac Day address in Dublin at the dawn service at Grangegorman Military Cemetery, where seven Australian and three New Zealand soldiers of the First World War are buried. For his report on Anzac Day in Dublin 2014 go to

Old Irish Sydney Walking Tour

Walking Tour 1 Walking Tour 2

A free app (for Apple and Android) is now available offering a self-guided, one hour walking tour highlighting the city of Sydney’s rich Irish heritage.

Twelve destinations are covered in the sixty minute tour. Historical moments are frozen in time including The Irish Famine memorial in the Hyde Park Barracks which commemorated the dislocation of the Irish community by famine and emigration plus the St Patrick’s Day Riot, which took place in Hyde Park in 1878. The tour can be walked in 1 hour or broken into two, half hour walks. Each tour is simple to follow with a GPS-enabled map of the route and its stops. Detailed text, audio commentary and stunning historical imagery reveal the stories of the Irish characters, events and architecture that have transformed the city of Sydney.

The app content has been developed by staff at the Dictionary of Sydney. The tour contains over 40 images (historical and contemporary) and 13 audio recordings written and narrated by local Irish actors Aine de Paor and Maeliosa Stafford. Members of the Aisling Society contributed to the historical content of the app and one of the sites included in the tour is Pfahlert’s Hotel in Margaret Street, where the Aisling Society was established in 1954. Alas, the pub is no more, having been demolished in the 1960s.

The app has been funded by the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Program. “I am really delighted that the new Irish Walking Tour app will be launched during the Sydney St Patrick’s Festival this year” said Caitriona Ingoldsby Consul General of Ireland in Sydney. “I am also very pleased that the creation of the app has been funded by a grant from the Irish government’s Emigrant Support Programme. Our aim is that, through this app, more people will become aware of the very strong Irish heritage and history of this wonderful city.”

Download the app from –

St Patrick’s Day Parade

The long tradition of the Aisling Society’s involvement in the St Patrick’s Day parade continued this year, as reported by our Treasurer (and inveterate SPD parade attendee) Padraic Hoban:

The Aisling Society of Sydney had a “float” in the St Patrick’s Day Parade yesterday. The truck was well decorated and so were the kids on the back of the truck. The society’s banner was prominent on the front of the truck and I could hear the couple of paragraphs about the society being read out over the P.A. system as we drove past the Sydney Town Hall steps. The rain arrived just in time for the start of the Parade but this didn’t dampen the spirits. There was lots of colour, and smiles and waves to and from the crowd.

The Gigli Concert

Gigli Concert

The Gigli Concert, a fiercely satirical, beautifully crafted play about the endurance of the human spirit and the ability to achieve the impossible will open on 4 April 2014 at the Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst. Hailed as one of the greatest Irish plays of the last century The Gigli Concert is widely considered to be playwright Tom Murphy’s masterpiece. The play will be presented by the Darlinghurst Theatre Company in partnership with O’Punksky’s Theatre, a company renowned for delivering standout productions of Irish drama. Tickets are on sale now, starting at just $30. The season will run until 4 May 2014. For tickets log on to the Darlinghurst Theatre website or phone (02) 8356 9987.

Ireland – in a new light

I have just received a copy of a new eBook Ireland – in a new light by Chris Hill and Colin McCadden. Published by eBooks Ireland it is a most wonderful illustrated book that takes you on a virtual tour of Ireland. The images – 400 in all – are enchanting with an amazing depth of colour. It’s a delight to flick through them on the iPad. The text is shoIreland - in a new lightrt, to the point and not intrusive, in most cases just identifying the scene but in others providing valuable context. There are also galleries of images that allow you to dispense with the text altogether. The arrangement is logical with chapters for the provinces and sub-chapters for the counties in each province. Navigation is easy, whether you want to browse seriatim or to jump to your favourite province or county. In a nutshell it’s a coffee-table book for the iPad – truly a great read/view. As yet Ireland – in a new light is available only for the iPad and through iBooks. In time that will change so that those with Kindle and Android devices can share the experience. At about $A15 it is a real bargain. Try it out with a free sample at the iBooks store or take a look at eBooks Ireland‘s Facebook page.

Irish Films at Sydney Film Festival

The 2013 Sydney Film Festival includes two films set in Ireland – Odd Man Out and What Richard Did.

Odd Man Out

This 1947 thriller was Carol Reed’s first collaboration with the Australian-raised cinematographer Robert Krasker, with whom he would soon make The Third Man. The story begins after a violent Belfast robbery attempt goes wrong, IRA gunman McQueen (played by James Mason) tests the loyalty of friends, the kindness of strangers and his wounded belief in the Irish Republican cause. The film screens on Saturday 8 June at 12.30pm at the Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 1. For further details click here.

What Richard Did

Lenny Abrahamson’s South Dublin-set drama follows a golden-boy teenaged athlete and alpha male whose fateful action one night shatters the lives of the people closest to him. The film screens on Friday 7 June at 7.45pm in the Event Cinemas George Street 4 and again on Monday 10 June at 7.45 in the Event Cinemas George Street 8. For further details click here.

Anzac Day and the Irish Anzacs

On Wednesday 1 May 2013 at 6.30pm Dr Jeff Kildea, adjunct senior lecturer at the Global Irish Studies Centre at UNSW, will be giving an Anzac Day address at Parliament House, Sydney on “Irish Anzacs: the contribution of the Australian Irish to the Anzac tradition”. If you would like to attend just let the Irish consulate know for catering purposes: (02) 92649635 or by using the consulate’s online contact form.

New Book: Undaunted: The Irish in Australia

John Wright, a freelance writer, formerly from Tasmania and now living near Oxford in England, has just had a book published by The History Press Ireland called Undaunted: The Irish in Australia. It contains 29 true stories about extraordinary adventures of Irish men and women from early convict/settler times through to the 1930s and features castaways, shipwrecks, cannibals, goldfields cross dressers, nurses, a runaway nun, war heroes, suffragettes, midwives, crocodile attack, a missing plane and explorers. About six of these stories are set in NSW. The book will be available in Australian bookshops from February 2013, RRP $34.99. More information from the distributors Woodslane.