Hutt Valley Irish Society

In Memoriam

Austin O'Carroll - 8/4/1935 - 6/6/2013

Austin, along with his wife Anne, were for many years the heart and soul of the Irish Society, with reputations the length & breadth of the country, not to mention in both Ireland and Australia.

His passing was celebrated at the Irish Society, with many sharing their thoughts and memories of a man we all felt privileged to have known. It is only fitting that you hear their tributes in their own words:

Shirley Duffy toasts Austin O'Carroll
(Click a thumbnail to watch the tribute in a new window)
John O'Toole toasts Austin O'Carroll
Adrian Peoples toasts Austin O'Carroll
Pat Kelly toasts Austin O'Carroll
John Desmond toasts Austin O'Carroll
John Brophy toasts Austin O'Carroll
Brian Dunne toasts Austin O'Carroll
Alice Paul toasts Austin O'Carroll


Denis Murphy - 13 August 1930 - 21 November 2015

Denis was born in Killarney, Co Kerry.

He was living in Brisbane when he met Dora. They moved to Mt Isa and married there. But not long after they moved to New Zealand, settling in Masterton. Denis built a house there for them, and shortly thereafter their first daughter was born.

The family moved not long after, however, to Lower Hutt, where a former NZ Railways house became home and was extensively renovated, all while the family grew.

And it was from this period the family became involved with the local Irish community.

A tribute from Joe Coffey

I first met Denis when he was working on O'Leary's garage in Whites Line West, going on 50 years ago. He did a lovely job on the garage.

Whether it was because of his good work or not, it was the beginning of a life-long friendship between the O'Leary family and the Murphy family, and my own, the Coffey family.

I have worked on many projects with Denis over the years, such as school working-bees, or at the Hutt Valley Irish Club, especially on the original old Club which was a house next door to the present building. Denis, being the builder, carried more than his share of the burden. No sooner had we got the place up to scratch than we were approached by the commercial developers who wanted to buy the Club as it adjoined the commercial buildings towards High Street. They offered us the section where we built the present Club. So as fate would have it, Murphy's Law was applied and our newly-renovated Club house was demolished!

Denis was also involved in the planning of the new Club building - mainly on a 'consultancy' basis. You could always count on Denis to help where ever there was a need such as setting up the Rose of Tralee Balls, or concerts, etc.

Denis was very much his own man. Proud of who he was! Very well liked and respected by everyone. I never heard him boast about himself or what he had achieved. His actions spoke louder than words. He was a quiet man, who always listened more than he talked.

Denis and Dora were made Life Members of the Hutt Valley Irish Society for their outstanding contributions over many years. They were a great team. Denis did the physical work while Dora did the fund-raising. She was a fantastic raffle-ticket seller, never asking if you wanted to buy tickets, merely smiling and asking how many you wanted!.

Denis was a faithful and loving husband to Dora and a wonderful father to his children. A couple of days ago I met Bernadette. She told me how lucky she was to have a Dad like Denis, and I know she was speaking for the whole family.

Denis: I was privileged to be your friend. I will miss our good times together. God Bless you.

Joe Coffey.

Frank Shields - 1931-1 November 2012

Frank was born in Salthill, in Galway. Having acquired a car while working in Dublin, Frank was persuaded to take a brief holiday in Galway. While there he attended a dance and met Peg, whom he would eventually marry and spend the rest of his life with.

In 1954 they headed to Montreal, Canada to live. They spent 5 or 6 years in Canada before returning to the UK, eventually deciding to migrate to New Zealand.

Although they lived most of their adult years, and raised their family, in Upper Hutt, it wasn't until after Frank retired in 1990 that they joined the Irish Society, Frank even serving on the Management Committee for a period.

Tom Cassidy - 20 December 1928-15 October 2012

William Thomas Cassidy was known to all the Irish Society as 'Tom" or "Tommy".

Belfast born and bred, Tommy lived most of his adult in the Hutt Valley, but never lost his accent, nor his attachment to Ireland. Nor his involvement in the Irish Society, to the extent that he served on the Management Committee on several occasions.

Tommy was often one of the earliest to arrive at Society functions, to ensure he had a prime spot from which to observe the proceedings. On St Patrick's Day, he was often accompanied by large number of his 'clan', and would be a notable presence throughout the entertainment of the day.

He had an irrepressable sense of humour and fun, and many remember his seemingly endless fund of stories and jokes. Indeed, in his later years, after mastering the intricacies of email and the internet, he provided his friends with a constant stream of gags, witticisms, and humour sites to visit.

Tommy represented a generation now fading into history, leaving us with indelible recollections. We'll not see his like again.

Peg Shields - 1927-10 October 2012

Peg grew up in Grange, in County Waterford, the daughter of teachers. After leaving secondary school, Peg went to Galway with some friends for a brief holiday. While there she attended a dance and met Frank, whom she would eventually marry and spend the rest of her life with.

In 1954 they headed to Montreal, Canada to live. They spent 5 or 6 years in Canada before returning to the UK, before eventually deciding to migrate to New Zealand.

Although they lived most of their adult years, and raised their family, in Upper Hutt, it wasn't until after Frank retired in 1990 that they joined the Irish Society, and, in Peg's words, were "immediately made to feel at home."

Danny Forde - 9 May 1927-19 September 2012

Danny was born in the village of Broadford in County Limerick on 9th May 1927. Like many Irish Danny left school at a young age and worked for local farmers ploughing the fields behind horses. At the age of 24 he decided to see the world and left for Australia. He heard of a big job going in Melbourne where a large weir was being built at Eldon. He worked there for five years making a number of lifelong friends.

In 1956 he decided to come to New Zealand, working in Auckland for a short time before moving on to Wellington. He met his wife Dorothy at the Wellington Irish Society and was married in 1958. They lived in a rented house in Titahi Bay for 3 years where there oldest son John was born. They then built a house Wainuiomata where their other sons, Michael, Martin and Peter were born.

Danny loved sport and played hurling at the Feis’s; he also loved playing darts, pool and indoor bowls and often had competitions between Hutt and Wellington Irish Societies. He also loved golf and looked forward to the St Patrick’s Day golf played every year.

Danny died peacefully at Wellington Hospital after a long battle with a number of cancers. He is survived by his wife and four sons. May he now rest in peace.

Patrick Francis (Peter) O'Reilly - 9 June 1929-3 August 2012

“Patrick Francis O'Reilly was known to all and sundry as Peter. Born in a rural area of Co Longford in 1929, he had a rural childhood - hard work, simple pleasures, and plain living.

At about 18, like so many of his generation, Peter went 'across the water', ending up working in English coal mines. Although he missed the countryside of home, Peter took the chance to move to Australia and work in the copper and coal mines in the Northern territory. The climate didn't suit him, however, and in 1961 he moved across the water again, but this time he ended up working in the new Project building the Manapouri Power Station.

Hard work was matched with long breaks away from the Project during which Peter visited Christchurch, and it was on one such trip he met Colleen, at a Christchurch Irish Society function in 1962. They married in Invercargill a few months later. Colleen moved back to Christchurch while Peter continued working in the Manapouri tunnel and Powerhouse.

In 1963, tiring of the separation, they moved to Akatarawa near Upper Hutt, bought land and a house, and began raising their three children - Thomas, Bernadette, and Jacqueline.

The move and change of family circumstances didn't change his attitude to work, however, and he remained throughout his life dedicated to delivering quality work. The HVIS benefitted from this dedication as he voluntarily gave his time and skills to the building of the Society's new premises in Raroa Road.

Over his long life, Peter became a well-known and respected identity in Upper Hutt, acknowledged by those he met as a 'true Irish gentleman' - honest, courteous, energetic, dedicated to his family, his wide circle of friends, fishing,, swimming, and his Jack Russell terrier.

His passing leaves a gap his many friends will struggle to fill.

Neasa Scanlon - 31 July 1974-23 July 2011

Neasa died tragically at midnight on July 23, 2011. She had become a part of Alice & Brendan Paul's family. She was the daughter they never had in many respects. They loved her dearly and are devastated at her passing.

Neasa had been a great asset to the Irish community in Wellington over a number of years, giving freely of her time.

Many would have heard her lovely voice on the Capital Irish radio sessions or heard her play at sessions at Kitty O'Sheas and other musical events.

The Hutt Valley Irish Society is particularly grateful for the time she gave with the children of the club - teaching and playing with them as they learnt and performed songs.

She was farewelled on Thursday 28 July at 1pm at Old St Pauls, with a celebration of her life at the HVIS premises later that day.

Watch Neasa, as part of Glór na mBan, perform the Irish song "Máire Mhór" or a set of Irish reels, at the Mayfair cafe, Upper Hutt, New Zealand May 9th 2006.

John Sheppard

John Sheppard came to NZ in 1956 on the Captain Cook. John and Marion settled in the Hutt. He was a mechanic and owned BP Service Stations in Petone. John joined the Club in the early days of the old house. He was a generous benefactor and served on the committee and was a tireless member working for the benefit of the club He was highly respected by the Irish community.

He continued to participate in events and to make friends at the club and enjoyed the card evenings until recently.

Members will remember his smiling face and enjoyment of events. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family - John's wife, Marian, and children John, Angela, Fiona, Tony and their families.

Marian Sheppard - 13-08-1939 - 05-07-2015

Marian came from Balham London and met John her late husband when they were both very young. Marian was only about 18 when they got engaged. John was very ambitous and wanted to emigrate to New Zealand. It was agreed that John should go ahead and establish a base and when the time was right Marian would follow; that's how it fell into place.

John started a business and was very successful. Marian & John became the proud parents of 4 lovely children whom they adored.

Marian was a quiet friendly person for those of us that had the previlege of knowing her. We knew her warm friendly smile was the real Marian. She was never one to boast or steal the limelight. A very down to earth lady always staying in touch with her friends but never intrusive. She loved her evenings at the Irish Society and everyone there and beyond loved Marian . She will always be missed.

Tim Cahill - 11 May 1924-12 December 2009

Tim Cahiil

Originally from Co Limerick, Tim arrived in New Zealand in 1956 from England, where he had met Nancy, who was also Irish. His many friends Tim as a lively debater, who often triggered debates for the sheer enjoyment of them. But he also liked nothing better than to re-tell long, often rambling stories and tales.

He was always an active fellow; when young he enjoyed cross-country running, and athletics, as well as playing hurling and Gaelic football. And he enjoyed getting onto the dancefloor.

In later years, and especially in his retirement to Napier, he turned his considerable energy to his garden.

In addition to his active involvement in the Hutt Valley Irish Society, of which he and Nancy were Life Members, he was also involved with the Harbour Board and the Maritime Museum, as well as the Petone Workingmen's Club.

Kevin Regan

Kevin Regan Kevin Regan was born in Lismulgee, Carracastle, County Mayo. He left for England in the 1950’s and found work around Manchester, where he met and married Mary (Kenzie). In 1964 Kevin and his brother Gerald emigrated to New Zealand.

After getting a bit of money behind them in various jobs in the South Island, the two brothers started up Regan Bros Contractors in 1965. They worked all over Wellington doing the backbreaking ground work for many subdivisions such as Stokes Valley, Parkdale, Redwood, Tawa. Much of their work was the type others didn’t want to take on – where machinery might not fit so it was it was pure sweat, muscle and determination that saw the jobs through.

Kevin had a huge work ethic and it was a big part of who he was. Over the years he also had many interests. He applied the "no half measures" philosophy to everything he did in life.

His so called 'retirement' (he never did retire from work) gave him time to spend more time with his family. Kevin was a great storyteller and family life was full of fun and inevitable laughter. He was a real 'character', and someone who could always be counted on by his many friends, neighbours and local community.

After a very short illness, Kevin passed away on 22 February 2010 surrounded in his home by his wife and three daughters.

May he be resting in peace.

Dick Ives

Dick Ives A tribute by his son, Richard

Leslie Walter Richard ‘Dick’ Ives was born on April 16, 1924, in Derry in Northern Ireland, the middle of seven children. He described his childhood in typically blunt fashion – grim. His father died suddenly in his mid 50s, and though Dad never said as much, it was clear he was close to his mother, whom he described as a wonderful woman

In the second World War, Dad served as a signalman on HMS Fly in the Royal British Navy. Like many he spoke little of the war, apart from mentioning that while at sea he had rice every day for dinner and resolved never to touch it again once the war ended. Dad maintained this vow until about the 1980s.

After the war Dad worked at a Dunlop factory in Manchester, where he developed an interest in a young Irishwoman in the pay office known as Peggy, or Margaret. She returned the interest, the start of a partnership that would last more than 50 years and take them to the other side of the world.

Dad was unsettled in England so when he saw an advertisement for a job at Dunlop in far away New Zealand, he was off. He told Margaret, who soon followed. Shortly after she arrived in New Zealand, Dad popped the question. On April 12, 1952, they married at St Peter and Paul’s church in Lower Hutt.

Mum and Dad had little in common, were not prone to PDAs (public displays of affection) and neither made any secret of the fact that each was perfectly happy if the other wasn’t around, so they could be left in peace to do their own thing. But they had a deep and abiding respect for and commitment to each other. It was perhaps typical of the unusual nature of their relationship that when all the children left home that far from suffering from empty nest syndrome, they became closer than they ever had. They needed each other, they care for each other, they loved each other.

They had five children – Maureen the CEO, Shirley the rebel, Terry the practical one, Richard the wordy one and Sarah, the pharmacist-cum family doctor. Dad loved being a dad. He was very supportive of all our endeavours, particularly on the sports fields, even if some of his sideline comments weren’t always positive. He once told a daughter to ‘stop doing your knitting’ during a netball game: This was his way of suggesting that her concentration levels weren’t all they should be. “Round the legs fella” was a familiar refrain at questionable tackling techniques during a rugby match.

He worked at Dunlops in Upper Hutt until 1959 before moving to what would become Feltex Rubber in Petone. He was something of a pioneer of underlay, and rose to become technical manager. But he didn’t really like management, regarded meetings as a waste of time and was particularly scathing of accountants.

You often hear it said at funerals that the person who has died got on with everyone, that he or she didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone. I can assure you this was NOT the case with Dad.

What you saw was what you got with Dad and if you didn’t like it, tough: He wasn’t going to change for anyone.

Dad’s tolerance levels were low to non-existent. This is a man who once walked out on a daughter’s prizegiving at Sacred Heart College because the guest speaker was the then Education Minister Merv Wellington, and dad didn’t like him. This is a man who once walked out on a prizegiving of mine at St Bernard’s College because the queue for food was too long and the boys who were queueing were being too unruly.

Beneath a gruff exterior lurked a thoughtful and kind man, who cared about people. His endearing roguish charm meant that many who met him only briefly quickly warmed to him, and remarked on what an amazing character he was. He had a particular soft spot for the underdog.

He took the same approach to his widespread charity work. He was a do-er, not a talker: no committee meetings for him. He was a regular in the corridors at Stokeswood. It was Dad’s insatiable, unrelenting spirit that was perhaps his greatest gift to us all.

Dad has many interests – from sport to classical music, from history to gardening to politics to cryptic crosswords. In most of these he held strong views which he expressed succinctly and forthrightly. Brief and to the point, fella.

And finally, within the Ives family, our sense of humour can be harsh. There is a lot of what dad would call ‘taking the Michael’ and no one was spared, least of all Dad. I was often told that I was “just like my father” and that was NOT meant as a compliment. It was meant to imply that I was stubborn, impatient, intolerant and set in my ways.

And it’s true, I am all of those things, and so too was Dad. But there was so much more to Dad than that: so much more that was kind, thoughtful, caring, funny, and just plain good. And so the next time that someone accuses me of being “just like my father” I won’t be offended at all; in fact, it’d be the nicest thing they could possibly say

Sante Battiston

Sante Battiston A tribute by Joe Coffey

I got to meet Sante about 40 years ago. He was always a happy outgoing fellow, who liked nothing better than to wind people up in a good humoured way. In the good old 6-oclock pub days we would meet at the Kings Cross every Friday evening. Usually we had a group of 4 or 5 friends. Sante would usually play the matches game ie he would get 3 matches, put his hands behind his back then the persons whose turn it was to guess which hand held the most matches; if that person got it wrong he would have to pay for the round of Kahlua. It was good fun.

Sante's parents imigrated from Italy to N.Z and established their market garden business in Avalon. In later years they specialised in tomato growing. Sante's father built a number of glass houses in Mabey Road, and Sante continued to run the business after he retired.

One evening at the Kings Cross I told Sante I had planted a number of tomatoes and asked his advice as to the best way to grow them. He told me when the yellow flowers appeared on the stalks I should pull them off which I did. Some-time later he asked me how the tomatoes were doing. I told him they didn't produce any fruit he asked if I pulled off the yellow flowers like he told me to. He said only a stupid irishman would do that – that’s where the tomatoes come from! I told him only a stupid Italian would give advice like that. For many years after that he would say “You didn't pull the flowers off the tomato plants?”

Eventually asking my wife if this was true she confirmed it was. Even though I was the butt-end of the joke this only made our friendship all the stronger.

The real Sante was a great family man, a fantastic guy who did so much in the community for so many and in many organisations He spent many years in the Lions Club working on worthy projects, being elected President at one stage. The many organisations included the Workingman’s Club, Rotary, Naenae Bowling Club and our own Hutt Valley Irish Society. He was a Volunteer driver for needy people. Sante was a real caring person, he would call on people who he knew were sick or house bound.

On the social side he loved Rugby, a great supporter of Hutt Valley Marist, and also he enjoyed Lawn Bowls - a game in which we often competed against each other. I used to remind him it was the I.R.A. Against the Mafia.

Sante and his wife Colleen were very popular members of the Hutt Valley Irish Society, participating in many functions and events His funeral service was a testimony to his popularity and the respect in which he was held by so many in all walks of life. The Church of Sts Peter and Paul was filled to capacity and the tributes to him were both fitting and memorable.

Rest in Peace Sante.

Joan Larkin (nee O'Leary)

Joan Larkin A tribute by Ann Coffey

Joan was born on the 10th of January 1943, the 6th child of Myra & Maurice O’Leary, in Lower Hutt and raised on a small acreage in Gracefield Road on the Wainui Hill.

We had a carefree upbringing with lots of space to run, hide and play, although Joan was hindered by poor eyesight as a young child.

Being the older sister Joan was one step behind me most of the time. She did not take to the farm life or animals, never liking the dogs or attempting to milk the cows or ride a horse but she would help feed the hens and gather the eggs. In spring we had a field of daffodils to cut and sort into dozen lots, and get them ready for market. We had a swing in the trees, helped build a fort and played cricket with the boys, drove the cows up Leightons hill on the way to school in the mornings.

One of our favourite nights was Guy Fawkes when all the neighbours and friends would gather around the bonfire and let off crackers then a great supper afterwards. Carefree days.

Joan went to Our Lady of the Rosary school which she loved and where we made lifelong friends, then on to Sacred Heart where she took a Commercial Course. Joan’s teenage years were playing netball, softball, and going to the Prince Edward pictures and stamping our feet through the cowboy films; we went to local dances and spent times at friends’ houses and babysitting neighbours children, We baked a lot for the family, but Joan was a fussy eater, loving sweet things.

After leaving school Joan went to work in the Office at John Grants in Seaview for a few years. After that she worked for Otis Elevators in Wellington, so she made the journey by train with other friends who worked in the city. On Friday night us Hutt girls would train into the city to meet the town girls for fish and chips, the pictures or a dance for the evening.

We frequented all the dance halls, especially the Irish club on Sunday nights just making the late train home, Joan played Camogie and Netball for the Hutt Irish and the October Feis was a highlight of our year.

Joan met John Larkin who worked with our brother Maurice in the bus garage. They married in 1965 and bought a dairy in Brooklyn with a flat, where they lived a few years before selling up and buying a house in Galway Street, Waiwhetu. They had 4 children to raise and as the children got older the family moved to Cressy St Waterloo nearer to College and transport. Joan worked at Impact Manufacturing at Waterloo and Wingate for 22 years.

Joan was always a mine of information and always knew who was doing what. If you wanted to know the goings on, Joan was always in the know. She had a sharp memory which she used to good effect.

Joan was never self-opinionated, She was always looking towards the achievements of others especially in her own children as they came along: Brenda was destined to be a Film Star; Paul turned out to be a very competitive cyclist, in Joan’s opinion destined for the Olympics; Mary a very talented Irish dancer and Joan delighted in her achievements; Richard, oh my when he started playing Rugby and scoring trys, in Joan’s opinion he was heading for the top 15 in the country. Mum had bragging rights and she didn’t hesitate to call on them. She was so proud of her family and it didn’t stop there - once the grandkids started to arrive the cycle began all over again. Indeed, any relation, neighbour or anyone else she knew who achieved something she would celebrate and broadcast the good news.

Joan always kept up with what was going on, always thinking more of others than herself; even when her health had deteriorated she showed no signs of self pity or looked for sympathy. Everyone was more important than she was. Being a nosey parker helped keep her own problems at bay.

Unfortunately in her middle years she contracted Rheumatoid Arthritis, which brought her a lot of pain and disability. The management and medication has been troublesome and difficult requiring operations and hospital stays. A combination of hip, knee, shoulder and broken arm left her in a wheelchair these latter years, but in spite of this she has always remained cheerful.

I would like to acknowledge John for his 54 years of faithful caring support of Joan. A great housekeeper, baker, and cook, he managed to keep her home with support.

As a family my brothers and I offer our support, prayers and sympathy to John, Brenda, Paul, Mary and Richard partners d children and grandchildren.

Joan the pain has now gone. May you find eternal rest with your brothers, sister and parents.