South West Irish Community Group launches in Bunbury

Meet the committee: Gareth Johnston, Therese Mahoney, Gerard McGrath, Mary Bryce, Peggy Maguire, Garbhan Cullen and Archie Taylor. Picture: Pip Waller
Meet the committee: Gareth Johnston, Therese Mahoney, Gerard McGrath, Mary Bryce, Peggy Maguire, Garbhan Cullen and Archie Taylor. Picture: Pip Waller

A NEW community group has started up in Bunbury with the hopes of connecting those with Irish blood, relatives, or just a love for the culture, throughout the South West.

In December 2021, South West Irish Community Group chairperson Ronan O'Mara, who has lived in Bunbury for nine years, made a Facebook post asking if Irish people around the community would be interested in a community get together for the holidays.

The post generated a response from almost 150 people, who all met at the Koombana Bay Sailing Club a few weeks later.

"Normally, we would have family over or would go back to Ireland for the holidays but people couldn't because of COVID," Mr O'Mara told the Mail.

"So we decided we'd have this event at Christmas to get all the Irish in Bunbury together.

"It was a great success - so we just continued on from there."

According to the Australian Census, 17,026 people in the Bunbury area claim to have Irish heritage.

Mr O'Mara said the group hoped to not create opportunities for Irish Bunbury residents to get involved with Irish cultural activities, but to also support newly arrived Irish migrants to the area.

"A big part of the group is also to foster social interaction and networking opportunities between the Irish born, those of Irish descent and those just interested in the culture.

"It's to connect people, promote Irish culture and have a good time doing it."

"Community is very important to us Irish - and we're fun loving, hard working people."

In a first for Bunbury, the South West Irish Community Group will hold a St. Patrick's Day celebration event on March 12.

From 9am to 12pm, visitors can enjoy a Gaelic football workshop at the Leschenault sports fields, followed by entertainment and family fun at the Koombana Bay Sailing Club from 1pm to 6pm.

The event will include a live performance from Irish/Australian band, The Jarrah Celts.

To further support St. Patrick's Day, the City of Bunbury will be lighting eight landmarks green from March 14 to 18.

These landmarks include the Marlston Hill Lookout, Koombana Bay Footbridge, Koombana Bay Foreshore, Marlston Waterfront and Guppy Park.

For more information on the South West Irish Community Group and to purchase tickets to the St. Patrick's Day event, visit https://www.facebook.com/SouthwestIrish/.