News from Adelaide by Dymphna Lonergan
With all the news focused on Melbourne and Sydney and their Covid19 battles, little old and little known Adelaide has been quietly moving on to new normal (yes, with fingers still crossed).
Adelaide, ‘midway between Perth and Sydney’ I tell my Irish family, ‘like Cork on an Irish map’, was my choice of Australian city for emigration from Dublin in the 1970s, despite knowing nothing about it except that it was not big like Melbourne or Sydney. As my husband said at the time, ‘if we wanted to go to a big city, we could just go to London’. That made sense.
Nor surprisingly, over the years, we did find out that Adelaide was not as big as Melbourne or Sydney, but surprisingly in Australia it had a reputation of a country town. This was puzzling, as on our first trip into Adelaide from the migrant hostel in Pennington we were astonished to see ‘skyscrapers’. Our only experience of such an edifice was the 16-storey Liberty Hall in Dublin. Adelaide now is the fifth most populated city in Australia, five times smaller than Melbourne and Sydney, but five times larger than Cork. Whatever statistics are at play, it has always been big enough for me, and certainly it is a fortunate place to live in during Covid19, coming out of the hard lockdown in August, and remaining Covid19 community-case-free since then (fingers crossed).
Our schools never closed, but public institutions and facilities did. Cinemas and libraries opened again in August. Our Irish-language activities have increased, from weekly Zooms during lockdown to weekly classes in libraries and cafes and monthly pop ups in pubs, restaurants, and the delightful Botanic Gardens. Adelaide’s Gasra na Gaeilge hosted a film evening recently at the Irish Club in Carrington Street showing The Camino Voyage that had full attendance. You can read more about this at https://www.facebook.com/gasranagaeilge/
During the lockdown, Gasra’s Cork-born Marc Conaill took to the hills and recorded a first Adelaide native trail documentary in Irish from the Warren Conservation Park. Siúl sa Bush le Marc – Uimhir 1 is now available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhPEG1eIyf4&t=433s
Covid19 in Adelaide also had other unexpected positive outcomes. To the delight of art-cinema lovers, festival type films popped up in suburban cinemas due to the dearth of Hollywood fare. Adelaide’s own Film Festival was extended by a week in October. Social distancing rules meant maintaining empty seats that may account for so many films booking out so quickly.
Now Adelaide, like other cities, is welcoming back our people who have been prevented from returning due to Covid19. Interstate visitors from certain states are also welcome sights and offer the opportunity for networking. At a recent dinner in Adelaide hosted by the Irish ambassador to Australia, Breandán Ó Caollaí, I met Irish Club, GAA and Irish Chamber of Commerce members. Ballemena-born Ryan McClennaghan, President of the Adelaide chapter of the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce alerted me to the upcoming Irish Film Festival online. Thanks, Ryan. You can read all about this on https://www.facebook.com/irishfilmfestau
Dymphna Lonergan is a member of the Tinteán editorial collective and a proud Dubliner and Adelaidean