Mary FitzMaurice McBride has been President since 2006, with one year’s break.

Mary with President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, on his visit to Melbourne in 2017

Mary McBride Named 2018 Irish Australian of the Year

Comhaltas’ President Mary McBride, has been named the 2018 Irish Australian of the Year.

To quote a newsletter from Comhaltas, “We can think of no one more deserving of this award than Mary. Every single person who comes through the door at Comhaltas is made to feel welcome, wanted and valued because Mary is the absolute personification of ‘cead mile failte’. She does so much for Comhaltas, often behind the scenes, sometimes seemingly unnoticed, but never unappreciated…

…It sometimes seems as if Mary knows nearly everyone in the Irish community. Mary makes it a point to know everyone because she genuinely cares about people and has the biggest heart of anyone we know.” 

Congratulations to Mary on her well deserved achievement.

Mary was born in Ballyhaunis Co. Mayo and first came to Australia in 1979. She came for a family wedding as 3 of her brothers had moved over here.

Mary has always been an ambassador for Irish culture throughout all her time here.She has great contacts with Ireland and has always actively maintained them.

Everyone knows to go to Mary whenever anything Irish is needed.Over the years, she has been contacted by schools, local town halls, clubs, nursing homes, aged care places and has managed to find something Irish for them all.Mary has provided books, music, jerseys, flags, maps, CDs, pictures, newspapers, a hurley  …… the list is endless.

Soon after her arrival, she joined St. Kevin’s Football Club and the Melbourne Branch of Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann and has worked actively to promote Irish culture ever since.

Mary’s family were involved with G.A.A and  St. Kevin’s and she joined the club and worked tirelessly for them for many years.

She attended all matches and was soon involved with their social functions and on the committee. Mary became an integral part of St. Kevin’s.

In recognition of her work for the club, Mary was awarded the prize for “Best Club Person” of the year on many occasions.

Mary always had a keen interest in Irish culture, including Irish music and dancing.

Mary discovered Comhaltas and became a member in the early 1990’s and is dancing since.

Mary joined the committee and was elected President in 2006.

The ethos of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann is to promote the culture, music and dance of Ireland and as an ordinary member and now President, Mary has worked tirelessly to do that.

Mary has often spent hours driving around searching for a venue and hours on the phone organizing it. She also spends many hours on the phone and calling in person to look for sponsorship and prizes for the raffles.

On the night, Mary is always the first to arrive with her car full of table cloths, table decorations, balloons and prizes.

During the evening, Mary is constantly on the go, greeting people, introducing new people and ensuring that everyone has someone to talk to and can enjoy the evening.

At the end, Mary is the last to leave as the Hall has to be cleaned, decorations taken down and Mary brings home the various tablecloths to wash and decorations to prepare for the next function.

Irish Music:

Mary has spoken personally to just about every musician in Melbourne extolling the benefits of being part of Comhaltas either as a student or teacher.

She is constantly in touch by telephone with Comhaltas Head Office in Dublin for any information about visiting musicians or dancers. Whenever or wherever there is a chance to hold a workshop by a visiting musician/dancer, Mary will be first there, encouraging them to come along to a Comhaltas evening.

On her visits to Ireland, she calls into Comhaltas Head Office, either to make enquiries about the latest music/dancing videos/CDs or just to remind them that Melbourne Comhaltas is alive and well!!!

With the rest of the committee, Mary has been involved with the different concerts and workshops which include Bhan Tre, The Borderers, Mauris Walsh, Kevin Burke, Anthony O’Neill, Lynnell Moran, Felix Meagher, Nikki Cramer, Ewen Baker, Irene Cunningham, maria Ford and also presented the Orphan Girls.

Mary has organized for teachers from Ireland to visit Melbourne, for example Jerry O’Connor who visited in 2006. Gerry held fiddle workshops here that were very well attended and of great benefit to the fiddle players of Melbourne.

Set Dancing:

Mary has also been involved with many Set dance teachers visiting Melbourne, including Ger Butler, Jerry O’Reilly, Joe Mannix,  Mary Clancy, Mairead Casey, P. O’Dea, and Pat Murphy

Mary has danced with the Comhaltas dancers at nearly all the major festivals, including The NFF Canberra, The NCF Portarlington, Malden, Frances, the WindJam Festival in Burnley, Tasmania, Melbourne Irish Festival.

You can “friend” Mary on her Facebook page: