Donal Blackwell: “The heritage is alive and well and it’s visible and Irish people are participating.”THE Irish heritage of south-west victoria is so strong it has encouraged one expat to lay down roots in the region.
Nanjing Night Net

Hailing from Limerick, Donal Blackwell arrived in Warrnambool in January and said he was blown away by the way people in the district embraced Irish culture.

“I’ve been looking for somewhere to settle down for the past few years and within a couple of weeks I decided Warrnambool and the south-west would be the place,” he told The Standard.

“Obviously the historical perspective is strong, but the friendliness of the people is what really blew me away.”

He said groups like the Friends of St Brigid’s at Crossley and local pubs like the Seanchai in Warrnambool and Mickey Bourke’s in Koroit presented the Irish culture exceptionally well.

“We have a term we use to describe people who were not born in Ireland but claim to be Irish, called Plastic Paddies, but that term does not apply down here one iota.

“I went to the big Irish session at St Brigid’s after the Port Fairy Folk Festival and had a great time.

“And the regular Sunday Irish music session at the Seanchai is some of the best I have heard outside of Ireland.”

Mr Blackwell said while many other regions had a formally-established Irish expats society, he didn’t feel the need to have one here.

“The heritage is alive and well and it’s visible and Irish people are participating,” Mr Blackwell said. And when it comes to laying roots in Australia, Mr Blackwell is not alone, with an average 22,000 extra Irish expats in Australia to celebrate St Patrick’s Day this year, following a period of mass immigration from Ireland last year, according to family history website ancestry南京夜网.

Warrnambool Historical Society past president Andrew Suggett said the area was originally sought out by the Irish because it was good for growing potatoes and onions.

“There is a long and proud tradition of Irish heritage not only around Warrnambool, but right across the south-west,” Mr Suggett said.

“I think that attracts expats to the region because it reminds them of home. I think its nice for them to be surrounded by that.”

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