GADIGAL LAND: Terry James Irving (17/6/1970–10/6/2021) was a valued member of the South Sydney community. Those who knew him best remember a proud Bundjalung man, fiercely loyal, quick-witted – a lover of animals, music and painting.
On Tuesday, February 15, the community gathered to honour Terry’s life and to pay respects to his family. The memorial service at the Park Café on Chalmers, one of Terry’s favourite places, included spoken and musical tributes, tears and laughter.
Aunty Narelle Lyons gave the Acknowledgement of Country.
Uncle Colin and Aunty Nita Lyons conducted a Smoking Ceremony, and Aunty Melva Kennedy shared stories of Terry’s struggles and triumphs. “He was always respectful to me,” she said, “he called me Nan – and I will always remember him.”
Mike Simpson and Jane Linwall from St Vincent’s Hospital Homeless Health Service (which includes Tierney House) paid their respects, as did Tiffany Forsyth from the Haymarket Centre, where Terry lived for a time.
Sr Anne Jordan, co-founder of Cana Communities, now serving as leader of the Presentation Sisters, Lismore, sent the following message: “When I think of Terry the first image that comes to mind is of him sitting outside Woolworths and the smile that lights up his face as he recognises me on approach. The hug that followed each time is held in my ‘body memory’ and still warms my heart.
“Through all the ups and downs of cleaning or repairing his home, trying to keep in touch so his medical team or court support could help him over the next hurdle, Terry had a great appreciation of his friends, and I am honoured to be known as one of them.”
Barista, Dee, performed an a cappella version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” – “Won’t you help to sing / These songs of freedom? / ’Cause all I ever have / Redemption songs …”
Owen Roberts, who busks with his guitar in the park, offered a moving rendition of the folk spiritual, “Wayfaring Stranger” – “I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger / Travelling through this world below / There is no sickness, no toil, nor danger / In that bright land to which I go …” – before joining with Uncle Colin on yidaki for an impromptu “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”.
Several people stepped forward to give thanks, paying tribute to Terry’s faith, generosity, vulnerability, dignity and courage.
Miriam Pepper, Andrew Collis and Abner Cox shared musical tributes on behalf of South Sydney Uniting Church.
“Terry taught me that there is always hope and not to give up,” Miriam said. “Terry was always good to my dear dog Rango, and one of the first to offer condolences when Rango passed away. He also loved the songs of Jimmy Cliff and ‘Peace’ is a song we have learnt to play” – “How is there going to be peace / When there is no justice, oh no, oh …”
Abner chose a composition by Gerald Finzi called “Fear No More the Heat of the Sun”. The lyric by William Shakespeare concludes: “Nothing ill come near thee! / Quiet consummation have; / And renownèd be thy grave!”
With thanks to Elly and Peter at the Park Café for hospitality, including sandwiches and muffins, coffees and lemon myrtle tea.
Blessings upon you, Terry. Rest in peace, dear friend.
Read tributes and prayers here: https://bit.ly/3p7lugM