A very busy March 17 was far from Adrian McMyler’s mind when he moved from Buncrana to Australia last August, but a cup of coffee with Clonmany woman Eileen Mulligan (nee Donaghey) who he describes as ‘the queen of Sydney’ put the notion in his head.
Sydney’s St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival were looking for a marketing coordinator and Adrian lobbed in his CV, met with the chair of the organising committee and was appointed to the voluntary position.
And last week he had the big job of coordinating events for Sydney’s St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival.
“I’ve been on a lot of committees back home, but nothing on the scale of this,” Adrian told the Inishowen Independent. “The pressure and the workload is 20 times more.”
“I’m managing the marketing, which is a team of 15, and the entertainment, with a team of seven.
It’s not just the parade, which took place on Sunday near Sydney Harbour, but also involved a four day festival.
It began with an open-air film festival on Thursday where a live band lead a sing-a-long to The Commitments, continued with an Australian citizenship ceremony on Friday and the Sydney Opera House illuminated by green light.
Then there were Irish markets and concerts on Saturday.
The parade itself and a host of other cultural activities ended the festival on Sunday.
“There’s so many Irish people over here,” Adrian said.
“I’ve friends who say that you couldn’t go outside your house but you’d meet a Buncrana person.”
“The Irish are well respected here in Sydney.”
“Years ago, St Patrick’s Day in Sydney was boozy they tell me, but the committee is working to change that and have made it a more family friendly affair.”
“The committee is completely hooked into the city, and we help Irish people here all year round. Help out with jobs, our festival booklet is a directory where people get contacts.”
In addition to the marketing, Adrian is also heading up the entertainment for the four day event.
“Chloe McCarron [daughter of Bernie] from Buncrana was one of the headline acts we booked.”
“We’re delighted to have got the Muff Liquor company as our sponsor on the main stage,” he said.
“Laura Bonner is over here at the moment, they’re launching their brand here and have got backing from Russell Crowe and some other celebrities for it.”
Living in a land down under
Ahead of moving to Australia in August, Adrian came out as gay in February, which he described as the ‘happiest and scariest day’ of his life.
“Being from a small town, and being very well known locally, I was terrified what other people would think but all my family and close friends were so supportive of me,” he said.
“As the weeks went on I struggled mentally, I felt very insecure, lost confidence and was feeling like I needed to move somewhere with more opportunities, where I could be myself, comfortably.
“As soon as I met the [St Patrick’s Day Committee] group I felt like I belonged,” Adrian continued.
“Everyone was so kind and welcoming and supportive of who I was. I then joined them for a drink afterwards and got to tell my life story and how I was feeling. From that night I have felt supported and it has really helped me settle in. The organisation is very supportive of the LGBTQI+ communities and I am looking forward to strengthening these relationships in my new role.
“I really recommend joining a community organisation, get support, it’s ok to struggle, open up talk about it, the Irish diaspora is amazing and will support you every bit of the way.”
Adrian says he’ll be home for a holiday in the summer, but first wants to get his ‘regional work’ done, a requirement for extending his visa beyond 12 months.
His mind is already turning to Sydney’s 2024 St Patrick’s Day parade. Bands are being booked, grant applications lodged.
“Next year, we plan to take over the whole of Sydney on St Patrick’s Day itself,” he said.
“We’re trying to get St Patrick’s Day recognised as a public holiday.”