Koroit Irish Festival Ambassadors

Marie Conheady

Marie Conheady

One of Koroit’s most recognisable and enduring residents is about to use celebration to put one of her most difficult years behind her.
Marie Conheady has been announced as the Ambassador for the 2021 Koroit Irish Festival, to be held on April 30 to May 2.
Mrs Conheady will be given the honour of leading the festival’s famous street procession on the Saturday of the event.
She will be cheered on by family, visitors to the region and members of the Koroit community, for her stellar contribution to what is the very unique Koroit way of life.
Mrs Conheady has always been known for your great zest for life, but for this year she is more appreciative than ever to be planning to walk through the gates of the Koroit Irish Festival.
While the world spent 2020 in the whirl that was the COVID-19 pandemic, Mrs Conheady was dealing with a major disruption of her own, having been diagnosed with breast cancer.
It was a huge blow to the 88-year old and one that left the usually affable mother of eight, grandmother to 19 and great grandmother to seven, facing the challenge of a lifetime.
“Well I was that sick I sort of didn’t know what was going on,” Mrs Conheady said of her condition at the height of her cancer battle.
“I remember Brian sitting alongside me Christmas day but I wasn’t able to communicate and apparently I was lucky to come through.
“It’s hard to kill a good thing (laughs).”
While cancer had floored her, COVID-19 was sticking the boots in.
For a woman so close to her family and community, the pandemic brought an unwelcome extra layer.
But even this could not topple her spirit and resilience.
“The only thing was this Covid, it was a killer when the family could only come in one at a time and for short times,” she said.
“It was a bad year really, but anyone I’m right, I’m heading off on a trip next week and enjoying life, it makes you appreciate it even more.
“I’m lucky I can go on trips with our wonderful Probus club in Koroit and each and every one of those people are wonderful and can’t do enough for you.
“And we are very lucky they (our children) are all around here, and not far away, we can call on them anytime.”
The family Mrs Conheady talks of came to being when she married her husband Brian 61 years ago.
The couple have been inseparable ever since and are rarely seen without each other by their side.
Like the rest of the family, Brian will be bursting with pride when Marie takes her place at the front of the Koroit Irish Festival street procession and officially becomes Koroit royalty.
Mrs Conheady is thankful and humbled by her chance to step into the spotlight.
“It’s a great thing to be asked to be the Ambassador, it’s a great honor and I appreciate it very much,” she said.
“Last year we missed it (the festival) terribly when we didn’t have it, I look forward to it and a lot of other people do too.”
Mrs Conheady is extremely proud of her Koroit roots, which go deep into the ground, given she has spent all but two of her 88 years calling the town home.
She is also proud of her Irish heritage, with her great grandparents having emigrated to Australia from ireland.
Her family lineage includes such Irish identifiable Irish surnames as Leddin and Dwyer.
The Conheadys have also visited Ireland, a trip that still burns bright in the couple’s memory.
“We had been to Ireland and the people were lovely, they’d invite you out and you’d go to their place for tea and the television would be turned off and they’d come out with their Irish music,” Mrs Conheady said.
“The Irish people, they love Australians.
“Only that old age has set in I’d love to go back to Ireland, I really would.”

The 2022 Ambassador will be announced in the line-up to the festival.

Koroit Irish Festival Ambassadors (since ambassador introduction in 2013).
2021 – Marie Conheady
2019 – Garryowen GAC Girls Gaelic football Team
2018 – Shirley Hardy-Rix
2017 – Jimeoin
2016 – Ron McCutcheon
2015 – Mike Brady
2014 – Damien Leith
2013 – Moira Kelly