A Clonmel man has been named in the Australian honours list for his work for the Irish community in Sydney.
Tom Power was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his dedication to the Irish community and in particular for his leading role in the erection of the Great Famine Memorial in Sydney. The memorial is dedicated to the thousands of orphan girls who left Ireland during the famine.
He was instrumental in raising up to $350,000 for the monument which was inaugurated by President Mary McAleese in 1998 during her State visit to Australia.
Tom, who is originally from Horse Pasture, Powerstown where his nephew Eamon Power now lives, emigrated in 1956. He is a regular visitor home to Clonmel where he enjoys meeting his family.
“It was a great honour to be named in the list. I am very proud of it and I want to dedicate this award to the wonderful members of the memorial committee who worked so hard,” said Tom.
Tom said the award was a recognition of the tremendous amount of work that a lot of people had contributed ever since a commitment was given to President Mary Robinson that a monument worthy of the Irish Famine would be established.
In his retirement he was asked to take on the role of chairman of a committee tasked with providing the memorial. Tom was one of twelve children born to Ned and Julia Power. He is a twin whose other half Mary (Kelly) lives in Ballyvaughan.In a family of six boys and six girls he is the only surviving male and he has five sisters living in Ireland, Kitty O’Connor living in Killenaule, Peg living in County Waterford and two more sisters in Dublin.
He went to primary school in Powerstown and did his secondary education in Dungarvan. After one year in a seminary he went to Rome to continue his studies and in 1956 emigrated as a priest to work on the missions in Australia. He left the priesthood after fourteen years and worked in the public service for twenty five years. Five years after leaving the priesthood he married Patricia and they have two sons Robert and John.