Irish Flair at St Patrick’s Family Festival

Fun, Family and Faith came together at St Patrick's Cathedral for the Apostle of Ireland
Michael Axiak, seminarian for the Diocese of Parramatta, plays bodhrán with members of Celtic Fire: Sean McLoughlin, Alison Boyd and Martin Horan. Photo: Diocese of Parramatta/Art in Images

By Jordan Grantham, Catholic Outlook


Families, friends and parishioners came together at the St Patrick’s Family Festival, organised by the Diocese of Parramatta’s Life Marriage and Family Office (LMF), from 2-5pm on Saturday 18 March 2017. Most Rev Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta attended and welcomed people to the event.

Click here to see photographs of the event.

There was a great atmosphere at the lively event, with more than 150 people in attendance. The band jigged, BBQs sizzled and children laughed while playing soccer on the grass. A balloon artist delighted the children who were running themselves ragged, happy to play, regardless of the weekend’s drizzle and cancelled outdoor rides.

Catholic Outlook spoke to three generations of the Colborne family at the festival.

“I only just got here but we’re under shelter, so far so good,” Erica Colborne said, who attended with her mother, brother and son.

“I like the music,” Peter Colborne, Erica’s brother, said.

Erica learned of the St Patrick’s Family Festival from signs on the Cathedral precinct fence. Erica’s mother entered the raffle for baskets of Irish whiskey and Clonakilla wine. “I gave up alcohol for Lent but I’d look forward to it after Easter!” she said.

Julie-Ann McGlaughlin (right) volunteering at the St Patrick’s Day Family Festival. Photo: Diocese of Parramatta/Art in Images


Julie-Ann McGlaughlin and husband Jim brought the family to volunteer. The McGlaughlins are proud members of St Finbar’s Parish, Glenbrook.

“We love supporting the family. We were privileged to go to the World Meeting of Families last year and we’ll be attending Dublin, next year,” Julie-Anne said.

“My husband’s McGlaughlins came from Ireland in about 1920, so we’re very Irish,” she said.

The 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, USA set their hearts on fire and increased the family’s desire to serve the Church.

“We’re just committed to the parish, we now run the sacramental programs, Jim’s on the parish council and just doing what we can to ignite the Faith.”

“It was from the World Meeting of Families, it really did change our lives.”

About 10 stalls lined the Quadrangle of St Patrick’s Cathedral precinct. Several stalls represented the LMF, Campion College Australia, Natural Fertility Services and St John’s Ambulance First Aid. Other stalls sold special Irish treats, such as soda bread, Irish cheese, an Irish Big Breakfast, Irish sausages, black and white pudding, potato bread, colcannon and buttermilk scones. Exotic Irish flavoured soft drinks were available including Club Rock Shandy and Cidona Sparkling Apple Drink. There was a raffle for parents to win a collection of Irish whiskeys and wine.

Spectacular Irish dancing entertained the gathered crowds, thanks to the prize-winning Halloran School of Dance. The sixteen dancers wore bright traditional Irish dancing outfits while executing well-timed kicks and taps. Melissa Yeo, journalist at the Parramatta Advertiser, interviewed Leanne Halloran in the lead up to the St Patrick’s Family Festival. “The music is infectious, you find that people can’t help but tap their hells or clap along,” Leanne told Ms Yeo.

Musical entertainment was provided by Irish folk band Celtic Fire, which featured the accordion, whistles and Irish lyrics. Celtic Fire has played also at Mamre House, PJ Gallagher’s and the Mean Fiddler in the area of the Diocese.

The St Patrick’s Family Festival was a huge success thanks to the dedicated work of the LMF’s leadership, volunteers from the LMF, the Diocese, Campion College Australia, and the Cathedral Parish of St Patrick.

Click here to see photographs of the event.

Click here to read more about the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, 2018.

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