The building boom is back with a bang Down Under, and one enterprising Mayo man has no intention of letting the opportunity pass him by. Last week saw the launch of Oz Labour Solutions – a new Irish recruitment and labour-hire company based in the Irish neighbourhood of Randwick in Sydney. At the helm? Patrick (Pac) McTigue from Funshona, just outside Cross village.
Oz Labour Solutions connects jobseekers with opportunities across the whole spectrum of construction, from skilled and unskilled labourers to qualified professional roles in engineering, project management and more.
“The current boom in Sydney across residential, commercial and infrastructural projects, has created a huge demand for workers of all skill levels,” Pac explained, “and Irish people are well respected in the industry here, due to our skills in construction and the work ethic we show wherever we go in the world.”
Green and red blooded
Pac – known as Paddy in Australia – comes from a large, well-known family. His father, the late Paddy McTigue, was known far and wide as a huge supporter of Mayo GAA and local club The Neale – a passion that still burns bright in all of his eight children.
“We’re a massive family when it comes to supporting Mayo GAA,” Pac told The Mayo News. “My five sisters and brother at home travel the length and breadth of the country following them in challenges, league and championship, and my other brother, Tony, who is based in New York makes the trip for the big games when he can.
“My father was a massive supporter of everything Mayo GAA. He would follow the ladies county team with the same passion as the men’s team, something I think that came about ever since my older sister Hazel played for Mayo ladies.”
Pac has many fond memories of his dad when it comes to following football, both club or county. Two stand out though. “When my younger brother Jason’s Under 16 team won the county final, Dad was in the last stages of motor neuron disease and wasn’t able to step out of the car to help them celebrate, and the entire team jumped the fence and crowded around him … that meant a lot to him.
“The other favourite memory was when The Neale won the County after 110 years in 2012. The first game went to a replay and the second went to extra time, and eventually we won by five points. Dad had passed away just a few days before the first game, but the players and management dedicated the win to Dad. Seeing his name on the score board in lights made myself and our family very proud, and we know he was with them that day.”
For Pac, being a Mayo supporter Down Under presents itself with certain logistical challenges, but none insurmountable, it seems. “The time difference between Sydney and South Mayo makes its awkward to catch games – but we’d never miss one here … and with the GAAGO app, it’s great to get the live coverage and analysis,” he said, adding: “For some reason I lose the stream when Brolly is talking though!”
Backpacker to businessman
Pac grew up in Funshona, where his mother, Mary Teresa, and brother, Jason, still live. He went to primary school in Cross NS, and ‘then crossed to the dark side, Galway’ to attend secondary school in the Presentation College Headford.
Eventually, in April 2004, Pac headed off to Australia, initially landing in Childers, Queensland, where he spent seven months doing the typical backpacker stuff – working on farms, playing rugby and enjoying the sun and laid-back lifestyle. “I then moved to Sydney, where the Irish community is really well established, and I settled very quickly into the swing of things – with the GAA, the great social scene and of course plenty of work.”
There, in that famous Bondi haunt for the Irish, The Cock n Bull, he met his future wife, Cork woman Karen. Together, they decided to move home to Ireland in 2006, ‘but the pressures of the recession brought us back out to Australia in 2013’.
Since then, he has not looked back personally and professionally. He and Karen married last August, and are now looking forward to the dividends that the boom will bring. “Sydney is a fantastic city to live in, with the outdoor lifestyle and beaches on your doorstep. The mining boom was based in remote areas of Australia, but this current flood of work is much more central and far better for work-life balance,” he explains.
Pull of home
While he is smitten with Sydney – citing opportunities, the Irish community and the view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as the things he loves most about the city – Pac still hankers for south Mayo, especially when tragic events unfold locally, such as the recent loss of Orla O’Malley (20) in a car accident. “I’d like to express my deep condolences to Mike O’Malley and his family from our village in Cross on the tragic loss of his daughter Orla last week, it really shook the village and she will be a massive loss to the community.”
Like many emigrants these days, technology has helped him feel less like an exile on the other side of the world. “You always miss home, but it’s much easier now with Facetime and WhatsApp, so I can keep in touch with my Mam and family in Mayo and Tony in New York.”
Still, there are some things that technology just can’t help with: “Other than family, what I miss most about Mayo is match days when Mayo are playing, the craic with my friends in Headford and the smokey bacon burger from Supermac’s.”
Although Pac reckons he and Karen will stay in Sydney for the ‘foreseeable future’ because of the construction boom, “Karen is a home bird so I do see ourselves coming back at some point … home is always home.”
When The Mayo News caught up with him last week, one thing was high on his agenda for the weekend. “We’ll all be out watching the Mayo/Galway match here in Sydney on Sunday night. It’s not the same as actually being there, but we’ll round up the troops – Paul Calwey (Crossmolina), the Reilly brothers Dec and Enda and Johnny O’Haire (all Ballinrobe lads) and Martin Walsh (Headford) to name a few – and we’ll find a good watering hole somewhere”
While the match did not go Mayo’s way, it seems Pac McTigue still has plenty to celebrate in his adopted city … even if smokey bacon burgers are thin on the ground.
For more information on employment opportunities or moving to Sydney, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0061 417 364 455, or visit www.ozlaboursolutions.com.
The NSW government predicts that the next five years will deliver the biggest housing construction boom in the city of Sydney, with almost 185,000 new houses and apartments to be added to the city by 2021 – about 85 percent more properties than were built in the previous five years. Additionally, commercial projects are soaring with more than 2 million square metres of new office space to be built across metropolitan Sydney between 2019 and 2023.
The main buzz sector, however, will be the huge investment in transport infrastructure projects by the State. Over the three years spanning 2016/17 to 2019/20, the dollar value of work done on roads is predicted to grow by 27 percent, from $6 billion to $7.7 billion, and that of work done on rail, bridges and harbours is expected to rise 49 percent, from $1.6 billion to $2.4 billion.
LAUNCH Fionnuala Doherty of Oz Labour Solutions, just-crowned Sydney Rose Aisling Walsh and Paddy McTigue, Cross, at the launch of the newest Irish recruitment company in Sydney, Oz Labour Solutions.