Tony Strain’s Irish Band, Which, Which is Which, will be playing at the #humansingeelongexpo Sunday 8th October, Deakin Waterfront at midday. He is one amazing individual who works tirelessly for the Geelong Irish Society Inc. to the point where others can’t help but feel inspired by the passion that he puts into his work. Helping at all of their events both on the day and during the lead up to them. Every month at Aldi in Corio he can be found holding a BBQ sausage sizzle raising money for the Geelong Irish Society. In addition to that, Tony also contributes greatly to the wider Geelong community.
Over the last 15 years he’s been regularly visiting retirement villages and nursing homes, playing the bodhrán (pictured here) and singing with his group, entertaining the residents not only with his musical talents but also with his enthusiastic and charming personality. He spends a tremendous amount of time and energy promoting Irish culture in Geelong.
For 10 years he played Irish music with his group at Irish Murphy’s and for the last 2 years they have played at the Telegraph Hotel, the Batesford Hotel, Gold Digger’s Arms, the Geelong Naval Club, and Lord of the Isles, just to mention a few. He also visits the more senior members of the community at their homes as well as in hospital. In the past he has gone as far as to drive daily to a Melbourne hospital with the wife of one of the senior members so that she could visit her husband who had been admitted to hospital for a number of weeks.
Tony is originally from Belfast and came to Australia with his family in 1966. At the time, he was only 18 years old. For 6 months he worked for Ford which was quickly followed by 12 months of national service in the Vietnam War (1969-1970). When he returned, Tony worked with Shell for 27 years, during which he spent 18 months overseas in Singapore. Now, he’s one of the Geelong Irish Society’s longest serving committee members who puts as much passion into what he does that any one individual possibly can, perhaps even more.
His passion for the Geelong Irish Society can also be seen in those who started it all 38 years ago when a few dedicated individuals used to get together in the basement of a house in Maud Street, Geelong to have a few drinks to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. These people are the forbearers of what is now known as the Geelong Irish Society Inc. and their names were: Mr Finbar Murphy, Paddy and Madge Hickey, Paddy Hoare, Ernie and Eileen Dessent, Jerry and Kathleen O’Neill and Brother Jon Keane from of the Monastery at Lovely Banks. It was after four or five years in a basement room at the Trades Hall in Myers Street when a meeting was held and the Geelong Irish Society Inc. was formed. Since it’s humble beginnings, the Irish community in Geelong has grown substantially and now has well over 100 families.
The Geelong Irish Society Inc. aims to encourage and promote the Irish National and Cultural Heritage as well as socially enhance Irish-Australian relations. Throughout the year, they hold regular events and publish monthly newsletters that are distributed among their members. Some of their events include family days, dances, bus trips, trivia nights, and many other great get-togethers. Some of their members also visit nursing homes and put on small concerts as well as helping out other communities and charities.
Find out more about the Geelong Irish Society at the #humansingeelongexpo. They are one of over 40 exhibitors and will be at site 9, 10am – 3pm Sunday 8th October, Deakin Waterfront.
Written by Gemma Nicholls Photo: Phil Hines Photography