O’Kiwi News

January 11, 2012

Happy New Year. As we kick off 2012, Irish music and storytelling are alive and well in New Zealand. Here’s some news about what’s coming up:

Accordions and craic

Sharon Shannon

Famed Irish accordionist Sharon Shannon will be lighting up Wellington’s Town Hall with her infectious tunes and seven-piece big band at the International Arts Festival on 14 March.
She will also play two concerts at Womad in New Plymouth and one in Auckland.
Shannon has toured and recorded with musicians including Bono, Sinead O’Connor, Steve Earle and Mark Knopfler. She hails from the tiny village of Corofin in County Clare.

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New Zealand light through Irish eyes

December 1, 2011

Few people observe landscapes more sharply than the people who paint them. Irish-born Wellington painter Michael McCormack has painted Ireland and New Zealand and is keenly aware of how the light and colour compare.

Michael McCormack

Michael McCormack by his Island Bay studio

Our luminous crystal-clear light, which so many Kiwis notice on returning home, is different from Ireland’s softer light, he says. ‘The main thing about the New Zealand light is its impact on the colour of water. It turns the sea a beautiful blue. But I miss the dark skies in Ireland when the sun suddenly comes through the heavy rainclouds to light the ground while the sky remains pitch black.’ Read the rest of this entry »


Book reviews

November 20, 2011

Good books on Celtic history, Shane MacGowan, and what the Irish world was like when our ancestors emigrated.

The Sea Kingdoms: The History of Celtic Britain and Ireland. Alistair Moffat. Harper Collins, 2002. 316pp.

I was intrigued out on Kapiti Island a few years ago when a friend explained why the island was such a great stronghold for the Maori chief Te Rauparaha. Kapiti commanded quick and easy access from Taranaki in a huge arc down the Wanganui and Horowhenua coasts, across the top of the Marlborough Sounds to the western end of Golden Bay. With the land so densely forested the sea was not a barrier but a highway for a seafaring people such as the Maori.

Scot Alistair Moffat, in a brilliant history of Celtic Britain and Ireland, looks at his part of the world in the same way. ‘So that the dynamic of Celtic culture can be better understood,’ he writes, ‘this story needs to be seen from a vantage point not on the land, looking out to sea, but from the sea, looking towards the land.’ Read the rest of this entry »


Irish fighting for New Zealand

November 10, 2011

Paul Kelly writes about his Irish great uncle, Robert Edward Kelly, an Irish immigrant who fought in World War 1. Family members back in Ireland couldn’t understand why their New Zealand kin were so keen to fight for the British in the Great War.

A recent O’Kiwi blog had some notes about my Kelly family from Boyle in Co. Roscommon. The story of my great-uncle, Robert Edward Kelly, provides some more insights into the fortunes of New Zealand’s Irish migrants.

Robert Edward Kelly

Robert Edward Kelly fought at Gallipoli

Robert was the third son of my great-grandparents, John Kelly and Elizabeth Catherine Kelly (nee McCann) from Boyle. They had their children in quick succession – my grandfather John William Kelly was born in January 1886 and Robert was born in December the same year.

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The Kelly clan from Boyle in Roscommon

October 18, 2011
The Kelly home in Boyle

The Kelly home in Green Street, Boyle

Researching family history can be a frustrating business, but Tawa resident Paul Kelly was delighted to come across a heritage site which is a goldmine for descendants of families from the town of Boyle in Co Roscommon.

Paul’s grandfather, John, grew up at No. 7 Green Street in Boyle. The site allowed people to click on a house number and add photographs of family members who had lived there. Paul added family photos which can be viewed under ‘People’ on the homepage. Read the rest of this entry »


Emmett Devlin: migrating back to Ireland

October 11, 2011

Emmett Devlin, a second-generation New Zealander, swam against an age-old tide of Irish migration when he and his wife Trish decided to settle in Ireland 11 years ago.

‘We were very unsettled in New Zealand but we had such a lovely time on holiday in Ireland in 2000, visiting family and so on, that we decided to have a go at living there,’ he says.

Emmett Devlin

Emmett Devlin: settled in Ireland

Emmett, Trish and their son Joe are back here on a month-long holiday visiting friends and relations and taking in the Rugby World Cup. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Give us a hug’

October 3, 2011
O'Kiwis On Tour in Auckland

Paul, Sam, Pat, Jack and Hayden in their swish O’Kiwi polo shirts before the Ireland v Australia test

Two weeks travelling around the North Island following the Irish rugby team, in our O’Kiwi On Tour jaunt, has been a lesson in how to enjoy sport.

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