History of troubled land

SEAN Hampsey has spent most of his 76 years in Australia, having arrived from Northern Ireland in 1960.

Hampsey was the eldest of 14 children, all of whom arrived in Australia with their parents, with one born in the new country.

Today he lives in St Marys, sells real estate and in his spare time writes music and the odd book.

Hampsey's latest tome, My Brother Sean, is an autobiographical cum historical account of life in the old country.

"I started writing it for my siblings; some had no recollection of their lives in Ireland," he said. "I wrote it as a history of the Northern Ireland conflict to give them some understanding of it."

It was the conflict that forced his family to leave Northern Ireland to make a new life in Australia.

"As Catholics, we couldn't find work in Northern Ireland because the Protestants dominated the economy," Hampsey said.

But he rejects the violence and "The Troubles" which began in 1968 and lasted several decades.

"Armed conflict is not the answer; negotiations and what unites us are the way," Hampsey said.

His life in Australia has included a horseback ride around the country, when he learnt to play the guitar.

Hampsey once operated his own business, which unfortunately collapsed, leaving him homeless in the 1980s.

"It killed me materially, but it didn't kill my spirit," he said.

"I decided to sell real estate and found I enjoyed it very much."

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