Hervey Bay muso now a legal eagle
AT 74, Hervey Bay's Tony Friel has proved that age is no barrier when it comes to pursuing your dreams.
Mr Friel is better known to Fraser Coast residents on vocals, mandolin and harmonica with the traditional Irish band Slainte but - off stage - he has been working hard to complete his studies in law.
After becoming a Justice of the Peace in 2002, and then completing a Diploma of Justice Administration, Mr Friel was encouraged to train as a bailiff, which evolved into a three-year journey to complete a Bachelor of Laws.
"The registrar down at Hervey Bay Court House, Paul Thomas, invited me to train to become a bailiff in the district court," Mr Friel said.
"The bailiff essentially... looks after the jury before they're sworn in, and then swears in the jury and looks after them from then until they're dismissed.
It's not all that glamorous, you're really a gopher.
"I love the criminal law component of it, I don't like the sexual abuse stuff, you know these guys coming in and pleading guilty to sexually abusing their wee family members or whatever... that really annoys me."
Mr Friel said seeing the inside workings of the district court system during that time piqued his interest enough to go on to complete a Bachelor of Laws at Central Queensland University.
While it takes most people about four years to complete, Mr Friel said he was able finish the course in three years.
"I had a look at this Bachelor of Laws and it didn't look that daunting, so I made an application and they accepted me and I did it in three years," he said.
"My kids all say, "Dad you're not stupid, you just do stupid things".
"I'm retired, so it's easy for me. For someone who is married and has a family and is trying to work at the same time, I don't think you could do this. You'd be under pressure to do it in three years."
"Lots of people, particularly younger people, and younger married people who have children and are working, take maybe five or six years (to complete it).
"Which is far enough, they're (the university) very flexible like that and very attune to people who are working and how hard it can be sometimes."
Before Mr Friel can be admitted to the Australian Bar Association, he has two hurdles left.
"At the end of last year, I started a thing called PLT - professional legal training - so I'm in the middle of a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice.
"I've done the academic component, now I have to do one other course and a 25-week period with a company in the Bay for legal practice, then I can be admitted to the bar if I wish.
"But what does a 74-year-old want to do practising bloody law?" he laughed.
"It's just that I like it and I'm so interested in it."
You can see Mr Friel play live this Sunday at Hoolihans Irish Restaurant, from 1pm.