His Excellency Tim Mawe
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig ar Ghaeil is cairde Gael Brisbane is Queensland. Guím gach rath agus séan ar gach éinne atá ag ceiliúradh na Féile i mbliana.
No matter where we have been since 2020, the impact of COVID has been felt. And continues to be felt. In Australia, one of the most severe impacts has been to hinder our travel possibilities. Thankfully, many of the restrictions are easing and I hope we will soon be able to find our way to meet loved ones, to revisit favourite places or to explore new ones.
As the various lockdowns have drawn our focus to things that are close to us – in our town, in our city, or in our State, there has been a welcome uptick in local pride. I see this local pride in the way in which Irish people have been looking out for each other and in the renewed interest in the many Irish organisations across Australia.
However, this engagement with the local does not fully address the sense of yearning for home – the sense of cumha that sits with many Irish people here. Or, as St. Patrick’s fellow Welsh-people have it – a feeling of hiraeth. There does not seem to be an exact English translation of this term, but to Welsh people, it conveys a feeling of deep longing for something, especially their home.
Hiraeth recalls St. Patrick’s initial days in Ireland. He spent about 6 years tending to pigs on a hillside in Antrim. Great must have been his yearning for home and heartland. For him, in 5th century Ireland, his exile and lockdown eventually ended, and he was able to reunite with the place of his birth before ultimately making Ireland his home.
I am delighted that, despite the current complications, the Brisbane Irish Festival have put together a wonderful programme of events for this year, with the parade at its centre. This is a fantastic example of Irish community at work and I value it very much. I thank all the organisers of the festival and all the supporters, helpers and contributors who make the Festival come off the page and on to the street. I hope that you who are reading this do not just appreciate their work, but join in as well.
This year has to be the last one that we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day within the constraints of COVID. All the auguries are positive for a better 2022 and beyond. As we wait patiently for that, we will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year to the maximum possible. We will connect witheach other locally, we will use the technology to connect with home and starting with the Brisbane festival, we will seek out and find that other untranslatable term “the bit of craic”.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh is nár laga sibh.