22nd Australasian Irish Studies Conference Adelaide 2016

The 22nd Australasian Irish Studies conference was titled Change, Commemoration, Community.

Under the umbrella of Change we envisaged subthemes of creativity, rebirth, revolution, renewal, new departures, innovation and economics; Commemoration encompasses all the significant events in Ireland’s political, social and economic life and is particularly significant in 2016 when there is a spotlight on commemorating and celebrating the centenary of the Easter Rising; equally important are the events of the Great War; Community included the diaspora, Irish language, religion, volunteerism, immigration, emigration, sport, cultural studies, literature, writing, music, dance and drama.

The conference was sponsored by Flinders University of South Australia and proceedings took place at the flagship city premises in Victoria Square, Adelaide – a superb central location with modern facilities.

Below are the abstracts from the 22nd Australasian Irish Studies Conference: 29 November – 2 December 2016.

Name Susan Arthure
Affiliation Flinders University
Title Australia’s first clachan: Identifying a traditional Irish settlement system in nineteenth century South Australia
Abstract This presentation focuses on the archaeology of a nineteenth century Irish community in rural South Australia, at a place known as Baker’s Flat. My research indicates that Baker’s Flat operated as a clachan, a traditional Irish settlement system characterised by clusters of houses and co-operative farming methods.

Baker’s Flat is, in fact, the first clachan settlement to be recognised in Australia, and there are a number of factors why this is so. The clachan system, although it was widespread in Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, has been researched across few disciplines – most studies have been carried out by geographers, and almost never outside Ireland. In South Australia, historically, the Irish have tended to be invisible in the landscape, the predominant view being that they were mainly undistinguishable from their British counterparts. At Baker’s Flat, the histories are sketchy and dominated by stereotypes and generalisations, rendering the actual lifeways of its inhabitants both invisible and illegible.

My archaeological research combines archaeology with elements of history and geography, and has seen a more complex picture emerge of the Baker’s Flat community. A geophysical survey and archaeological excavation have shed new light on how this clachan operated, including the strategies that people were using to maintain this traditional way of life in a new colonial environment.

Name Matteo Binasco
Affiliation University of Notre Dame, Rome Global Gateway
Title “The people are well disposed, and most of them are Irish”. The Holy See’s perception of Irish emigration to New Zealand in the second half of the nineteenth century
Abstract The aim of this paper is to provide a new analysis of Irish emigration to New Zealand in the second half of the nineteenth century through the lens of Roman sources. By drawing on the material contained in the Vatican archives, the paper will seek to highlight which kind of perception the authorities of the Holy See had towards the community of Irish Catholics who established in New Zealand. The paper will also focus on the specific strategies that the Roman authorities sought to develop in order to assist the Irish Catholics, and if they were perceived as an “endangered” community.
Name Fidelma Breen
Affiliation University of Adelaide
Title Cultural identity and the Irish diaspora in Australia
Abstract This paper considers aspects of cultural identity amongst recent Irish immigrants to Australia. Ireland’s most recent recession and the accompanying wave of emigration supplemented an already sizeable Irish population in Australia with a new cohort of migrants. While the migration path to Australia is well-trodden, recent arrivals represent the changing nature of emigrants: better-educated working holiday makers seeking a career start and families seeking opportunities for their children and escape from debt. This paper examines the communities that different types of migrants search for upon arrival and the insulation these offer in and from Australian society. The use of compatriot networks in both labour and social circles is explored. Results from a PhD project entitled ‘Economics and Emotions: Irish migration to Australia 2000 -2015’ are scrutinised. Specifically the paper will investigate levels of cultural identity and avenues of cultural expression amongst recent Irish migrants. ‘Irish’ identity has many levels – as a place of belonging it is diasporic, national, county, town and village, culturally it has sporting, art and language aspects and individually we consider onomastics. Involvement in Irish cultural activity is essential to maintaining the connection to Ireland for migrant children and it is the gateway to heritage appreciation for second and higher diasporic generations. This leads to a consideration of bicultural identities and an evaluation of the uptake of Australian citizenship amongst the study’s informants.
Name Dr Philip Bull
Title Revolution and civil war: experience of a Wexford country house
Abstract Monksgrange in county Wexford came through the Irish revolution and the subsequent civil war relatively unscarred but its occupants were very much aware of how events impinged on them. In particular, Goddard Orpen, the eminent medieval historian, and his daughter Iris Orpen kept journals recording their experiences and observations in this relatively remote house. More specifically, Goddard Orpen recorded in detail his reactions to the Easter Rising of 1916 and wrote a full account of the first of the raids on the house by the irregular Republican forces in July 1922. His daughter kept similar accounts of two subsequent raids in November 1922 and March 1923. These accounts are supplemented by family correspondence, especially that of Adela Orpen the owner of the property and wife of Goddard. In this paper an analysis will be made of these documents and conclusions drawn in relation to the character of the individual members of the family and what is revealed about the wider unrest occurring around them, including insights into the republican irregulars and their activities.
Name Peter Burke
Affiliation Rural News Group
Title Irish resistance to conscription in New Zealand in WWII – the untold story
Abstract When New Zealand introduced conscription in 1940 a large group of young Irishmen living in NZ refused to be drafted into the armed forces. Technically they were British subjects and liable for service. However they formed the Eire Nationals Association (ENA) and six of their members volunteered to appeal their conscription as a test case for their colleagues. One of these was my father, Matt Burke. Their appeal was based on Eire’s neutrality in WWII, and that for them to fight for Britain would be a betrayal of their loyalty to Eire given the terror they had personally seen inflicted on their fellow countrymen during the war of independence. The paper will reveal details of the interaction between the New Zealand, British and Irish governments and the ENA to deal with this situation and to overcome this impasse. This is a unique and as yet untold piece of Irish/New Zealand social history which will form the basis of a book to be published in the next 12 months.
Name Assoc. Prof. Malcolm Campbell
Affiliation The University of Auckland
Title ‘Distasteful to the European community’: Anti-Irish bigotry in Britain’s Pacific empire during the First World War
Abstract The rise of the Home Rule Movement in Ireland in the last decades of the nineteenth century raised new questions about the loyalty of the Irish within the British Empire and of their suitability as colonial functionaries. Events in Ireland in the early part of the twentieth century including the 1916 Easter Rising aggravated these concerns, even on the remotest frontiers of the empire. Fears of Irish disloyalty and republican sedition ran deep among those charged with the administration of Britain’s empire in the Pacific. Drawing on the records of Britain’s Western Pacific Archive, this paper examines the controversy that arose in the wake of the Easter Rising on the island of Tulagi over the appointment of an Irish medical officer, Dr J. E. O’Sullivan and a nurse, Sister Boland, to service in the Solomon Islands Protectorate. Branding the Irish as uncivilised and disloyal, colonial officials worked to dismiss Dr O’Sullivan from his post and replace Sister Boland to improve ‘the prestige’ of Britain and win greater respect for the protectorate from the indigenous and expatriate populations. Scrutinising the campaign within the Western Pacific High Commission, this paper demonstrates the coalescence of anti-Irish sentiment and religious bigotry that marginalised and excluded men and women who were deemed by superiors to be not fit or qualified for service in the British Empire in the Pacific.
Name Frances Carter
Affiliation National University of Ireland, Galway
Title Labour agency among the Dubai-Irish:  Social stagers or acquiescent actors?
Abstract The changing nature of Irish migration combined with legislative changes in traditional receiving countries, such as Canada and Australia, has meant that Dubai has emerged as a new immigrant destination for Irish highly-skilled migrant professionals (‘the Dubai-Irish’). Dubai is characterised by the low numerical minority status of its local population (90% of the population are non-nationals), a gender imbalance (70% of the population are male), and an ambiguous tiered system of economic, political and social rights among permanent residents linked to the legal framework of migration, which prohibits citizenship except under strict conditions. This has led to a fluctuating, informal hierarchy of migrant communities. This research has two aims.  Firstly, the research investigates how reworking strategies as a component of labour agency are used by the Dubai-Irish to overcome constraints and optimise opportunities in this migrant hierarchy.  Secondly, the research explores the tension between labour agency as perceived by the Dubai-Irish and their behaviour, embodied as re-working strategies. The research uses a qualitative research design, incorporating a case-study methodology, situated in constructivist grounded theory. The biographic-narrative interpretative method (‘BNIM’) of interviewing is being used. NVivo 11 has been chosen to code data as it allows for systematically exploring the inter-related nature of the data by tracking initial, focussed and theoretical codes using a process of Peircean abduction.
Name Dr Hawk Chang
Affiliation The Education University of Hong Kong
Title Re-evaluating Lady Gregory in modern Irish literature: A feminist ethics study
Abstract The subjugation of women in Irish literature has been criticized in recent years. The subordinated status of women becomes apparent when one compares Yeats and Lady Gregory. While Yeats is universally acknowledged as the spokesman of the Irish Literary Revival and the symbol of modern Irish literature, Lady Gregory is ridiculed by George Bernard Shaw as the ‘charwoman of the Abbey Theatre’. Lady Gregory’s influence on the Celtic Revival is known but not so well researched. By bringing into discussion the socio-historical aspects of Irish Literary Renaissance, textual analysis of Lady Gregory’s plays, and Carol Gilligan’s feminist ethics, it is expected that the role women play in Irish Literary Renaissance, the connection between nation and women, and the construction/deconstruction of women in 20th-century Irish literature will be further explored. Hopefully, this paper will help clarify the nature of female writing and justify Lady Gregory’s contribution to modern Irish literature.
Name John Clancy
Affiliation Independent researcher
Title Don Pedro Campbell, founder of the Uruguayan Navy?
Abstract In this paper, John Clancy will introduce the little known Irish historical personage of Don Pedro Campbell. Born in Tipperary in 1780, he spent most of his military career in what is now Argentina. A likely deserter from the British army which tried to unsuccessfully invade Buenos Aires in 1806, Campbell became a gaucho. He later attached his star to that of Artigas and the Federalists. Artigas is now regarded as the heroic founding father of Uruguay.

John Clancy will present the highlights of Campbell’s naval career on the principal rivers of the north east provinces of Argentina and the Provincia Oriental (now Uruguay), his brief period as governor delegate of Corrientes province, and his ultimate defeat by the Unitarist forces of the Buenos Aires government in 1820. Campbell spent his remaining years in exile in Paraguay, working at his original trade as a tanner until his death in 1832.

John Clancy will also aim to place Don Pedro Campbell into a correct historical definition. Was he a conquistador style adventurer, a broader version of an Irish raparee, a successful naval commander, or, like Artigas, a visionary with a dream of a republican and federalist Argentina? How did he come to be regarded as the founder of the Uruguayan navy, and does he deserve this accolade? The role of Anglo-Irish peer, Lord John Ponsonby, in the creation of Uruguay, will also be touched upon.

Name Honorary Assoc. Prof. Frances Devlin-Glass
Affiliation Deakin University
Title Odoriferous Odyssey: The writing of smell in James Joyce’s fiction
Abstract James Joyce’s Ulysses is encyclopaedic in so many ways, and in posing a variant of the proposition that Joyce himself put, that his novel could be used to reconstruct Dublin, I ask the question: ‘could the smells of Joyce’s Dublin be recreated from the pages of his fiction?’ and the answer is, resoundingly, ‘yes’. By examining how systematically he changed his methods of representing smell between Portrait and Ulysses, this paper will demonstrate how he built smell into his novel with ‘the meticulosity of the insane’ and furthermore delve into the intellectual reasons which buttress this enterprise.
Name Dr Gillian Dooley
Affiliation Flinders University
Title Iris Murdoch’s Irish novel: The Red and the Green
Abstract Iris Murdoch was born in Ireland in 1919, and although she grew up in England and lived there all her life she always identified herself as ‘Anglo-Irish’. In 1968 she told an interviewer that she felt ‘a very emotional attachment to Ireland, of a rather obscure, half-annoyed kind.’1

The Red and the Green (1965), set in Dublin in the week leading up to the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, is Murdoch’s only historical novel. This work is, however, in many ways concerned with the same kinds of personal drama that animate her other fiction, weaving historical events into the fabric of a complicated narrative involving several members of an extended Anglo-Irish family. Although the characters are fictional, there are many small and unobtrusive hints of her own personal identification with the material scattered throughout the text.

In this paper I will put The Red and the Green in the context of Iris Murdoch’s Irish background, and consider what led her to depart in this single case from her usual practice of writing novels set in a more or less contemporary time and concerned only with fictional events.

[1] W.K. Rose, ‘Iris Murdoch, Informally’, From a Tiny Corner in the House of Fiction: Conversations with Iris Murdoch ed. Gillian Dooley (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003) 19.

Name Dr Anastasia Dukova
Affiliation Griffith University
Title ‘The Irish Volunteer’ in Queensland: Police and the War Effort, 1911-1919
Abstract At the onset of the First World War, Westminster halted the Home Rule Bill and suspended emigration from Ireland. Concurrently, the Irish Volunteers, a nationalist military organisation, mounted a tireless nationwide anti-conscription campaign. In the years prior to the emigration ban, around 100,000 Irish people left Ireland and roughly 1,000 came to Queensland. In the ensuing decade, nearly a third of the total 239 Queensland police recruits were Irishmen. Approximately half of the decade’s police recruits joined in the war effort, however, only seven Irishmen had joined up. Although the Irish recruits formed just under a third of all supernumeraries sworn in into the Queensland Police between 1911 and 1919, only six per cent of the men took leave of absence from the force to join the war.

The presentation examines the comparative reluctance of the Irishmen in the Queensland Police to enlist in the 1914-18 war effort. Incorporating a transnational approach, it explores the influence of events in Ireland upon the Irish community in Queensland, concentrating particularly on British wartime policy and the impact of the 1916 Rising.

Name Prof. David Fitzpatrick
Affiliation Trinity College, Dublin
Title The Easter Rising: Four Fallacies
Abstract This paper explores four fallacies concerning the Dublin rebellion of 1916, popularly known as ‘the Easter Rising’: that it constituted a popular ‘rising’, that it occurred at Easter, that it was heralded by the ‘Proclamation of the Irish Republic’, and that all was ‘changed utterly’ as a result. Each of these fallacies, deeply embedded in historical usage and commemorative rhetoric over the intervening century, served in different ways to justify and glorify what might otherwise have been condemned as an act of terrorism, without popular support and with horrific consequences. The paper traces significant changes in nomenclature after the rebellion, and the context in which each of the four dubious terms was popularised. This is followed by a broader survey of the importance for vying factions of commemorating the rebellion, and the policies and practices which its example has served to justify. Finally, it examines vestiges of these practices, and the continuing acceptance of all four fallacies, during the recent orgy of centennial commemoration.
Name Bronte Gould
Affiliation Flinders University
Title Kapunda’s Colonial Irish Medical Men 1848-1899
Abstract The Kapunda copper mine opened in January 1843 attracting workers from three main ethnic groups with Irish and Germans in the minority. In 1848 Dr M H S Blood was the first medical practitioner to be appointed to the mining community. Blood was Irish born and trained. He had worked as the ship’s doctor on the voyage out with his family. However, Blood was not the only Irish doctor to serve the community. In following years there were others who chose to live and work within the Kapunda district gaining professional experience, and taking part in community life. For some this was an important training ground before their move to Adelaide, followed by a rise in their professional standing within medical circles. Whilst they were part of an ethnic minority group, the fact they were medical professionals allowed them greater opportunities in life than their patients – the Irish labourers and mine workers. This presentation will focus on the lives of four Irish medical practitioners between 1848 and 1899, and the roles they played within the Kapunda community and beyond. These doctors were George Tallis, Matthew Henry Smyth Blood, William Talbot Clindening and James Alexander Greer Hamilton.
Name Dr Dianne Hall
Affiliation Victoria University, Melbourne
Title Good soldiers: Irish republican women in Australia 1924/5
Abstract In early 1925 Kathleen Barry Moloney wrote home from Brisbane to her new husband in Tipperary lamenting their long separation while she was touring Australia on the order of Eamon de Valera saying that she ‘had the bad luck to be a good soldier’ and so had followed orders to leave Ireland only days after their wedding. Unlike the Irish Envoys who were deported from Sydney during a similar fundraising tour in 1923, Kathleen Barry and Linda Kearns’ 1924/5 tour has received little attention. This may be because it was not controversial– they were supported by Archbishops Mannix and Duhig, travelling widely, impressing audiences and they raised a large sum for Irish Republicans and their families.

This paper will analyse their tour and suggest why it was more successful than that of the Irish Envoys only two years before. Drawing on Australian newspapers as well as Barry’s letters and the papers of the Irish Republican Prisoners’ Dependents Fund, I will argue that one important reason was that the women consciously used conventional feminine ways of communicating and organising in order to allay concerns about the radical nature of their tour.

Name Kelly Henderson
Affiliation Independent Researcher
Title Early Irish connections to South Australia, the great experiment of the philosophical radicals
Abstract James Connolly, founder of the Irish Labor Party and Easter Rising leader, criticised Daniel O’Connell in his 1910 book Labour in Irish History, but assessment of O’Connell’s contribution to improving the lives of the working class should consider his assistance with founding South Australia – the ‘great experiment in the art of colonization’ of the philosophical radicals, Benthamites and colonial reformers.

In 1834 the South Australia Colonization Bill was introduced into Britain’s First Reformed Parliament. Aided in the House of Lords by the Irish-born Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, the Bill received Royal Assent in the final seconds of the Reformed Parliament. Years later, on 23 May 1837, a democratic street-naming committee deciding the names of Squares and Streets of South Australia’s capital city, Adelaide, included the Duke of Wellington, George Strickland Kingston and Daniel O’Connell in their roll of honour, long before the renaming of Dublin’s Sackville Street.

This rare example of a British Province constituted by parliamentary charter escaped the Colonial Office empowered to give birth to an Australian democracy, and this paper considers South Australia’s early Irish connections commemorated in the City of Adelaide’s squares and streets.

Name Dr Rory Hope
Affiliation Independent Researcher
Title John Hope of Clare: an under-recognised colonial achiever
Abstract Scots-Irishman, John Hope, reached the infant colony of South Australia in 1838. The second son of a ‘Distributor of Postal Stamps’ from Maghera in County Londonderry, he established himself in the colony’s mid-north. Despite limited resources and modest social capital, his eventually extensive property holdings, and, possibly his Protestant background, enabled his close association with prominent figures like members of the Hawker, Horrocks and Hughes families. Although an 1880 obituary, which stated that ‘he never came forward as a public man’, was accurate in terms of colonial politics, locally Hope was involved with the Presbyterian Church, and both a local councillor and magistrate. His diaries not only reveal the extent of his interaction with local Catholic and Protestant Irish, but also his Adelaide social activities, and his lengthy overland (and overseas) trips to view potential properties. Given Hope’s early colonial arrival, his demonstrable pastoral success, and the significance of his community roles, it seems strange that his life and contribution has received such little recognition, and that his name is absent from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
Name Dr Maggie Ivanova
Affiliation Flinders University
Title Irish theatre in 1916
Name Dr Stephanie James
Affiliation Flinders University
Title The evolution of Adelaide’s Irish National Association 1918-1950: From security threat to cultural force
Abstract Founded in mid-1918 in the shadow of the interstate arrest of seven Irish National Association (INA) members, Adelaide’s branch, despite its proclaimed cultural agenda, aroused security alarm. This paper begins to document the history of the Terence McSwiney INA branch – named during the War of Independence when its activities intensified security concerns. It negotiated amalgamation with the United Irish League, and was associated with the Self Determination for Ireland League. Following the Civil War and apparent organisational decline in 1927, the INA was reactivated using innovative strategies to broaden its appeal. In 1927 the first Aerideacht (outdoor cultural gathering) was staged, and from 1928, the INA organised ABC ‘Wireless Nights’ demonstrated the appeal of Irish music. In 1930 the group reported 18 different functions. The St Patrick’s Day Ceilidh and the Aerideacht (attracting up to 5,000) were significant annually, but there were also public lectures, concerts, sometimes country concerts for St Patrick’s Day. Gaelic classes from 1933, and various Irish dancing programmes were also provided. Apart from Southern Cross reports, there seems no record of membership. In the early 1950s, the INA blended first with the Irish Pipers, and then the Patrician Association, the forerunner of Adelaide’s Irish Club.
Name Dr Jeff Kildea
Affiliation University of New South Wales
Title The paradox of prophecy: Hugh Mahon and the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal rights
Abstract The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the referendum which amended the Australian Constitution to give the Commonwealth parliament power to pass laws in relation to Aborigines living in any of the Australian states. At that time the outcome of the vote was considered a significant reform. Yet, 66 years earlier, such an idea had been put forward by the Irish-Australian member for Coolgardie Hugh Mahon when he moved in the House of Representatives a motion to appoint a royal commission into the condition of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Western Australia with a view to determine the expediency or otherwise of amending the Constitution to achieve that reform. Mahon’s motion lapsed for want of parliamentary time to debate the question and the idea languished for decades before it was finally adopted in 1967. Nevertheless, Mahon’s prophetic motion in support of the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal rights sits uneasily with his overtly racist attitude towards Asian immigration and towards the Aborigines themselves, whom he considered to be the lowest type of humanity on the planet. This paper examines Mahon’s words and deeds on issues concerning race and seeks to resolve the apparent paradox.
Name Jennifer Liston
Affiliation University of Adelaide
Title Saving Grace: Re-imagining, re-placing, and rescuing Grainne Mhaol, a sixteenth-century Irish pirate queen
Abstract Grainne Mhaol (pronounced Graw-nya Wail) also known as Granuaile (pronounced Gran-ool-ya) and the anglicised version, Grace O’Malley, was a formidable chieftain who lived in Mayo in the west of Ireland from 1530 to 1603, during one of the most turbulent political eras in Ireland’s history. Anecdotes about Grainne and her adventures live on in oral tradition in Ireland, but it wasn’t until 1979 that Anne Chambers wrote an extensive, exhaustively researched biography of her. National contemporary histories of Ireland, including the comprehensive Annals of the Four Masters, don’t mention Grainne. The History of the County of Mayo places her in historical context and recounts some of her activities. Most of the details we know about her have been sourced from several volumes of the Calendar of the State Papers, which include her several petitions to Queen Elizabeth, and her detailed replies to eighteen questions directed to her by Queen Elizabeth’s officials in 1593.

In this paper I will discuss how I have rescued and restored Grainne’s voice through the medium of constrained poetry. The poems don’t simply present straight, chronological accounts of her life, however; I re-worked and re-created stories from her ancient past and her far-distant future as a kind of offering, or compensation, to her, for having been written out of history.

Name Ruth Macklin
Affiliation Independent Researcher
Title ‘[W]e pine for ceremony’: Ritual and redress in Seamus Heaney’s poetry
Abstract Seamus Heaney’s poetry reveals the poet’s life-long interest in and commitment to ritual. This paper explores notions of ceremony and communality in the Nationalist funeral, a rite that has achieved particular prominence in recent Irish history, and in several more private domestic rites. As a religious or ‘binding’ experience, the funeral rite offers participants an established and structured set of practices with which to acknowledge a loss. However, in relation to the Nationalist funeral in particular, images of consolation and display are embedded with notions of exposure and constraint, rendering ambivalent the restorative nature of the ritual. The performance of everyday family rituals, while no less complex, is temporarily restorative. Through repetition and regularity, the peeling of potatoes or folding of sheets developed into family rituals. The performance of these chores allows mother and son to negotiate a changing relationship and to commune silently, keeping them ‘allied and at bay’ (HL 28). In these later poems, Heaney’s important construct of redress restores specificities that ritual, through familiarity and regular performance, can occlude. For Heaney, discovering the fragility of domestic life, which had seemed both permanent and inevitable as a child, is a process parallel to discovering the fragility and sacramental value of language.
Name Prof. Elizabeth Malcolm
Affiliation University of Melbourne
Title The Irish and Australia’s ‘Unnecessary Wars’ in Africa and China, 1885-1902
Abstract The history of Irish Australians fighting in overseas wars is usually believed to have begun in 1914 with the First World War, while the beginnings of popular opposition to such wars are often dated to 1916-17 and the rejection of conscription. Yet some Irish Australians had taken part in a number of earlier overseas military campaigns, whereas other Irish Australians had vehemently opposed these. The Australian colonies sent contingents to fight for Britain: in 1860-61 and 1863-7 in New Zealand (New Zealand Wars); in 1885 in the Sudan; in 1899-1900 in South Africa (Boer War); and in 1900 in China (Boxer Rebellion); plus, in 1902 the new Commonwealth government despatched additional Australian troops to fight the Boers. All these were unashamedly imperialist wars, so why did Irish Australians participate in most of them and how did they justify their involvement? Equally, how significant and effective was Irish-Australian opposition to what the historian Henry Reynolds has recently called Australia’s ‘unnecessary wars’?
Name John Mannion
Affiliation Independent Researcher
Title From Connemara to Pekina and back again
Abstract My family came to live at Pekina in 1952; from Carrieton, about 70km north, where they were sheep graziers – outside Goyder’s Line [of rainfall]. Despite being Irish Catholics it took a while for these ‘outsiders’ to be accepted into this ‘little Ireland’ or ‘Vatican Valley’, but little did the locals know that this family, from Connemara, Co. Galway, had been in the area from the 1870s. In fact my great great grandmother, Mary Mannion, nee Coyne, had been a local midwife.

What Michael and Mary Mannion, and their infant son John thought – he probably didn’t think much at all – on a day in 1865, as they looked back at the shores of Ireland, aboard a sailing ship bound for South Australia, I will never know.

That day was the last they would ever see of Ireland, and possibly their three other children, Mary aged 7, Bartholomew (my great-grandfather), aged 5 and Joseph aged 3, who they left behind, to follow several years later in 1873. Whatever their circumstances they must have been desperate to migrate to a new life, for not only was this a physical migration, it was a migration of their hopes and aspirations to re-establish and better themselves in the colony of South Australia, 12,000 miles away.

My pursuit of family and social history has taken me back to Ireland four times and also to the USA, opening up discoveries and a heritage that I am extremely proud of.

Name Janine McEgan
Affiliation Flinders University
Title Irish memorialisation in mid-north South Australia
Abstract The Irish were important contributors in the development of colonial South Australia. The majority were poor, famine-affected and Catholic, arriving on assisted passage to be the labour force for land owners. Emigrant Irish keenly continued religious practices, food and social traditions and speaking their native language. Furthermore, they tended to settle in quite homogeneous communities upon arrival in the colony. Historians, however, suggest Irish migrants blended into the colonial society leaving no apparent mark on the cultural landscape. Did they, however, express cultural traditions in the memorialisation of their departed? This project aims to determine to what degree any traditions were incorporated in the graves of the Irish settlers, if at all. The mid-north of South Australia, which had considerable Irish settlement in the nineteenth century, was used as the study area. Two hundred headstones from 1850 to 1899, a time of the highest concentration of emigration from Ireland, in six cemeteries, four Catholic and two Anglican, were recorded. Non-Irish Catholic and non-Catholic Irish were included, enabling religious aspects of memorialisation to be determined as opposed to cultural.
Name Dr Perry McIntyre
Title Community commemoration of the Famine
Abstract The struggle for survival during the Irish Famine meant that little was done on the ground to remember the terrible human suffering of individual people and communities. Only some newspaper reports and official enquires struggled to comprehend what was happening and attempt to address the multiple issues of crop failure, starvation, emigration and the responses or lethargy of governments. Now, over 170 years later there is an industry in memory, in monuments and commemoration extending from multi-million dollar memorials like that in central New York to hand-made signs on burial plots. This paper looks at some memorials, communities and how perceptions of this event has changed over time.
Name Jennifer McLaren
Affiliation Macquarie University
Title Irish planters and merchants in the British Caribbean, c.1780—1830
Abstract This paper will consider the complexities of the Irish experience in the British Caribbean by exploring the Caribbean lives of two Irish merchants—John Black and Samuel Watt. To date, British imperial history has been dominated by English and Scottish experiences of empire—my research aims to write Ireland into that history, exploring the tensions and paradoxes inherent in the Irish experience of empire.

John Black left Belfast for Grenada in the mid-1770s, and remained in the region until his death in Trinidad in the 1830s. Throughout his Caribbean life, Black maintained a steady correspondence with his family in Belfast, and retained strong ties with Ireland. He was involved in a range of activities in the Caribbean, including slave-trading and plantation ownership, and occupied various posts under the Spanish, and then British, administrations in Trinidad. Samuel Watt left Donegal for Barbados at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and remained there (on and off) until his return to Ireland a quarter of a century later. He too maintained a steady correspondence with his family in Ireland. The letters of both men provide an insight into the Irish experience of empire, and the precariousness of life in the region at the close of the long eighteenth century.

Name Eamonn McNamara
Affiliation The Australian National University
Title The Holy Cross Dispute revisited: Children, paramilitaries and the ‘new’ Northern Ireland
Abstract In June 2001, residents of the Protestant Glenbryn estate in Belfast protested against parents attempting to take their children to the Catholic Holy Cross School through the Ardoyne Road. The incident captured worldwide media attention (including a docu-drama) in addition to interventions from paramilitaries and Northern Irish politicians. The protest ended on 23rd November 2001 after the intervention of Northern Ireland’s executive. I argue that loyalist protestors and Holy Cross parents attributed the dispute to the failures of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA), which had promised to bring peace, justice and reconciliation to Northern Ireland following the Troubles (1968-1998). The Holy Cross dispute provided the public space for non-political actors to explore their expectations of the ‘peace-process’. Whereas ‘public opinion’ of the GFA has mostly been examined by scholars through voting patterns and opinion polls, I utilise local newspapers The Shankill Mirror and The Andersonstown Times, as well as memoirs focusing on the event authored by protestors and supporters of the Holy Cross parents. Far from a localised quarrel, the Holy Cross dispute reveals Protestant and Catholic communities coming to terms with what it meant to live in the ‘new’ Northern Ireland constructed by the GFA.
Name Jeanette Mollenhauer
Affiliation Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Title Old roots, new routes, same spirit: Irish dancing and community bonding
Abstract Irish convicts, in 1788, began an immigration path which is still being followed in the twenty-first century. This path was often onerous, marked by experiences of marginalisation in Australia and nostalgic longings for Ireland itself. One factor of amelioration has been the sustenance of community spirit by traditional dance and music. This paper presents, first, a brief historical overview of dance practices amongst Irish immigrants, both during the sea voyage and in the post-settlement context. It then draws on data obtained from ethnographic research among three Irish dance groups in Sydney. Personal narratives of immigrants who currently dance in Sydney reveal the important role played by dance in connecting with their roots while they move along new life routes in Australia. The physicality of the dancing, with its movements and motifs performed in unison, acts as a binding force among participants. Furthermore, Irish dancing embodies both a representation of cherished memories of Ireland and a realisation of communion with other Irish immigrants in diaspora. Analysis of Irish dance praxis in Sydney, from the time of the First Fleet until the present day, exposes a nexus of processes: migration, diaspora cognizance, nostalgia and community coalescence.
Name Dr Kevin Molloy
Affiliation Monash University; State Library of Victoria
Title ‘Two different worlds’: re-thinking post-war Irish migration to Australia, 1947-1969
Abstract Australia’s post-war Irish migrant cohort – those born between the mid-1920s and early 1940s – constitute the first to grow to maturity in an independent Ireland and a six county Northern Ireland. Carrying the legacy of 1916, family memories of the War of Independence, and amongst other things the burden of sustaining the Irish language in the new state, this generation is often described as that lost generation, those who were born into an independent Ireland and six county Northern Ireland, but who missed out on the economic, educational and social advances that only began to transform Irish society on both sides of the border from the 1960s.

Building on work undertaken by Val Noone, Liam de Paor, Seamus O’Hanlon, and Seamus Grimes; Irish historians Piaras McEinri and Breda Gray; and drawing from personal interviews, this paper will explore some of the issues in what historian Alistair Thomson calls the ‘living record of the complex interaction between past and present within each individual and in society’ as revealed through oral histories as source materials.

In highlighting the major contribution the post-war Irish migrants made to the fostering of Irish culture in Australia conclusions reached will reveal the social and emotional complexities of this generation in negotiating what many now perceive as ‘two different worlds’.

Name Peter Moore
Affiliation University of Technology Sydney
Title Irish lawyers in the colonies: Defining the indefinable
Abstract Sir Gerard Brennan characterised the Irish contribution to Australian law as ‘significant yet indefinable’.[1] Alex Castles thought it ‘cannot really be quantified’.[2] One way to make it more definable, and to quantify it, according to Tony Earls, is to conduct ‘more rigorous historical research into the background of Irish lawyers in Australia’.[3]

To that end this paper conducts a prosopography of all Irish-trained lawyers admitted in two Australian colonies, New South Wales and South Australia, and also in New Zealand, between 1837 and 1861, the generation when most colonial practitioners had qualified in the UK. It argues that a study of the rank-and-file instead of a famous few will supply a better understanding of their backgrounds and encourage a clearer appreciation of their part in forming colonial legal cultures. The paper distinguishes the Irish from English, Scots and other ethnicities. It examines religious and political affiliations, parentage and schooling, formation and legal practice in Ireland, reasons for emigration, and colonial legal practice careers, successes and failures alike. It tests Earls’ hypothesis that Irish lawyers were more university educated, better adapted to apply English law outside England, and culturally less Inn-centred than English lawyers. It concludes by identifying a ‘typical’ Irish lawyer – and whether that helps to define the ‘indefinable’.

Name Patrick Morgan
Title ‘Sitting on the shelf’: The sadness of Dr Mannix
Abstract The mordant humour of Dr Mannix has often been noticed, but his deep sadness has been less appreciated. It derived partly from his failed attempt in 1920 to become a player in negotiations leading to freedom for Ireland. He possessed a unique combination of qualities – tribal leader, tribune of the people, rousing orator, prelate, astute political actor – needed at the time. Mannix had missed being a legendary figure in Irish history. He encouraged De Valera and later Santamaria in this ‘saving the nation’ role as a surrogate for himself. Nothing in his subsequent life compensated for this great disappointment. In 1913 he hadn’t wanted to leave Ireland; in 1924 he described himself as ‘a castaway on the southern seas’. His withdrawal into a certain mild melancholy was combined with an aristocratic hauteur deployed as a distancing device. He took up no Australian habits. His exile from Ireland was compounded by his exile from the Vatican, which reprimanded him on three occasions. In his personality the general attitude of vanitas vanitatum merged with the particular long-range perspective which the Catholic Church induces in its grandees. This attitude of detachment in turn made possible the sardonic humour with which he commented on events.
Date submitted
Name Dr Val Noone
Affiliation University of Melbourne
Title Recent Australian Irish research, 2007-2016
Abstract This paper surveys recent research into connections between Australia and Ireland. Building on my previous surveys presented to the 1998 and 2007 Irish-Australian conferences and published on the ISAANZ website, analysis is offered of conference proceedings, the Australasian Journal of Irish Studies and selected other publications. The bulk of the paper consists of an analytical bibliography of research of the past decade. Some reflections on trends are also included.
Name Dr Angeline O’Neill
Affiliation University of Notre Dame Australia
Title Resistance, sacred space and the Easter Rising
Abstract The Easter Rising changed Ireland in many ways; this paper examines the creation of sacred space immediately following the Rising and the role of memory and narrative in maintaining and perpetuating such space. The Stone-breakers’ Yard in Kilmainham Gaol, the site of fourteen of the sixteen executions of rebel leaders, is a powerful example of this process. The executions of the leaders of the Rising, many of whom saw their religion and their nationalism as inextricably entwined, opened the Stone-breakers’ Yard to religious interpretation. Central to this is the presence of the Capuchin friars, who provided support for the prisoners during their final hours and in several cases were present during the executions. Drawing on letters and journals written within the walls of Kilmainham, as well as some recent fictional representations of the Rising, this paper asks what constitutes sacred space and how important is the memory of resistance to the narrative process which defines and interprets such space.
Name Dr Pamela O’Neill
Affiliation University of Sydney, University of New South Wales
Title Behind Every Great Man:  Commemorating Maria Charlotte Plunkett
Abstract Maria Charlotte Plunkett, wife of the first solicitor-general of New South Wales John Hubert Plunkett, is a shadowy figure, noticed by several contemporary writers in a superficial manner, referring to her looks, her musical preferences, and her habits as a hostess. This paper, using the important evidence supplied by a letter in the Melbourne Archdiocesan Archives, re-examines the evidence to present a substantial picture of Maria. Travelling to New South Wales as a young Irish bride, thirty years later Maria appears to have been on intimate terms with Bishop Goold of Melbourne, with whom she was clearly in the habit of discussing secular politics in a highly informed way. Sadly, following the death of her husband and her unsuccessful petitions to parliament for financial support, Maria ended her days in exhausted poverty, a dependent of the Sisters of Mercy who had depended on her support in their early years in the colony.
Name Simon O’Reilley
Affiliation Independent Researcher
Title St Patrick’s Day in South Australia
Abstract In this presentation, I examine the Irish community celebration of St Patrick’s Day in South Australia from the 1840s through to the 1940s. St Patrick’s Day was an eagerly anticipated event which took many different forms over the decades from games of football and dinners in the 1840s and ‘50s to horse races in the 1860s. The 1870s saw a formal procession through the principal streets of Adelaide, as well as many country towns. St Patrick’s Day was commemorated down the years until the 1940s, when World War Two and the mass migration which followed changed the fabric of South Australia’s Catholic population.

My presentation looks at the cultural meaning of St Patrick’s Day in South Australia and how it represented the Irish community’s religious devotion, in conjunction with political aspirations for Irish independence, whilst fostering a pride in Irish culture. I will use my own extensive collection of local 20th century St Patrick’s Day badges to illustrate the symbolism of St Patrick’s Day in South Australia. The badges are unique to South Australia and demonstrate a strong connection with Irish Nationalism. The badges also emphasise a boycotting of British Imperialism in South Australia.

Name Prof. Melanie Oppenheimer
Affiliation Flinders University
Title Re-remembering 1916 and its aftermath: Áine Ceannt, the Irish White Cross and Voluntary action
Abstract One of the lesser known stories of the aftermath of the 1916 Rising and the civil war period concerns the Irish White Cross and the role played by Áine Ceannt, perhaps better known as the widow of Easter Uprising leader, Eamonn Ceannt, who was executed on 8 May 1916. Established in Dublin in 1920 and largely funded by the Irish diaspora and supporters particularly in America, the Irish White Cross sought to relieve hardship and suffering, as well as provide reconstruction funds for the thousands caught up in the campaign of terror and destruction. After a re-organisation of its structures and mission, a Committee for the Maintenance of Orphans (later the Children’s Relief Association, Incorporated) was established in 1922. Áine Ceannt became its Secretary. Working in a volunteer capacity, Ceannt and the voluntary committee sought to assist families, children and orphans in particular who had lost their fathers in the violence or whose breadwinners were disabled as a result of the ongoing disruption and hostilities. The Association closed its doors in 1947. Following the themes of this conference of commemoration and community, this paper will focus on the intersections of war, gender and voluntary action as it relates to Áine Ceannt, the Irish White Cross and Irish history since 1916. The roles played by women activists in the revolutionary years and afterwards has been downplayed in the historiography as has a recognition of the importance of community based voluntary organisations. Through an examination of women such as Áine Ceannt and community organisations such as the Irish White Cross, we can explore a new historical dimension of the Easter Uprising one hundred years on.
Name Dr Brad Patterson, Kathryn Patterson
Affiliation Victoria University, Wellington
Title ‘Thus the old warriors go out, some to die in the hospitals, others in the benevolent institutions, and some in the asylum…’: Discharged Irish soldiers as settlers in colonial New Zealand
Abstract Lamenting the death of an old Irish former soldier in the Avondale Asylum, aged 77, a January 1901 correspondent to the New Zealand Herald noted that many who had ‘shed their blood for Queen and country’ ended up far from home friendless, destitute, forgotten. But was this the common experience of those Irish soldiers who chose to take their discharge in the colony prior to the withdrawal of the Imperial regiments in 1870? The identities of those making up this previously unresearched migrant group were addressed in a previous ISAANZ conference paper, and since 2013 a collective biography project has focused on around 1200 ‘other ranks’ from four major regiments. Drawing from published and manuscript records, newspapers, and extensively from family history materials, the exercise addresses a number of key questions. How mobile were these folk? Did they marry and establish families? What civilian occupations did they take up, and what was the extent of their post-discharge economic success? What roles did they play in the communities of which they became a part? Some interim results suggest that while many indeed ended their lives in straitened circumstances, a respectable number enjoyed modest success, and a few moderate wealth and significant social standing.
Name Rebekah Poole
Affiliation Wenona, Sydney, NSW
Title Progression and Change: Conflict murals and Transformations
Abstract The patterns of change within Northern Ireland’s conflict murals mirror the progress of both warfare and peace. Long prior to the iconic images such as ‘Death of Innocence’ in the Bogside and ‘Bobby Sands’ on the wall of Sinn Fein Belfast, loyalists were using murals to celebrate William’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne. These images, which Stuart Borthwick suggests were designed to enforce the message of the enduring strength attached to the Protestant Ascendency, served to further unbalance the volatile conditions ignited in the Civil Rights era. As the Troubles broke out, true thematic transformation occurred, with the narrative shifting from a singular one to the dual perspective of loyalist and nationalist, from celebration of Protestant victory to a series of traditional images where Celtic imagery ran deep. The period of escalation through the mid-1970s and the eventual war-weariness that settled upon both communities from 1979 onwards further transformed the progress of the murals, as memorialisation and memory became the central focus of graphic displays. Now we see a new trend emerging as Northern Ireland accepts and moves forward as a peaceful society, and concepts such as internationalism and resolution emerge.
Name Prof. Andrew Scott
Affiliation Deakin University
Title Ringing out through the foggy dew: Learning about the Easter Rising and other Irish rebellions through folk songs in Australia
Abstract This paper examines the transmission of historical knowledge about the 1916 Easter Rising to people of Irish descent in Australia through music and university education. Songs such as ‘The Foggy Dew’ as sung by The Dubliners, and as then further explained by committed lecturers in tertiary history subjects, have helped to educate younger generations about this event and have influenced individuals’ political development. The Easter Rising is one of a series of major events in Irish history which have been effectively memorialised in song in Australia. The event in this series which has produced the largest number of popular songs, however, is the 1798 Irish Rebellion: narrated in ‘The Wearing of the Green’, ‘Roddy McCorley’, and ‘Kelly the Boy from Killane’. All of these have become well-known in Australia and also, to those tunes, new Australian folk songs were written, played and recorded. Those songs express a strong sense of Celtic identification and associate an Irish rebellious spirit with Australian historical events like the Eureka Stockade and the life of bushranger Ned Kelly. The paper will consider the convergence of these songs in performances and informal sessions held from the 1970s, appropriately, at a Melbourne venue named after a 19th century campaigner for Irish Catholic emancipation – the Dan O’Connell Hotel. It will consider the political and ethnic importance of this music and its contribution to stoking the fires of genealogical interest by more Australians to rediscover their Irish ancestries, which had in many cases been previously hidden or downplayed.
Name Dr Evan Smith
Affiliation Flinders University
Title Between devolution and national liberation: The Communist Party of Great Britain and the ‘Irish Question’, 1949-1968
Abstract In the lead up the 1964 election, the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) stated that it was the only party contesting the election that called for an end to the partition of Ireland (as Sinn Fein abstained from UK elections). The CPGB held that Ireland was Britain’s oldest colony and had promoted an end to the separate existence of Northern Ireland since the 1920s. In the era of decolonisation that followed the Second World War, the CPGB believed that the Irish Free State would gain full independence similar to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (which did occur in 1949), but accepted the idea that British rule in Northern Ireland was a form of neo-colonialism to be challenged by the Northern Irish population (especially the labour movement).

However, unlike its support for the insurgent national liberation movements that emerged in the British colonies, such as in Malaya, Kenya and Nigeria, the CPGB chose to support the united Irish labour movement, rather than Sinn Fein or the Irish Republican Army. Before the advent of ‘the troubles’ in 1969, the Party called for the remaining British troops stationed in the North to be removed, but believed that this could done peacefully. In some instances, such as in the 1958 version of The British Road to Socialism, the situation in Northern Ireland was seen as more akin to the political landscape in Scotland or Wales, rather than the strategy of insurgent national liberation seen in many other colonies.

Supporting the push for civil rights for the Catholic population in Northern Ireland, as well as an end to ‘police state’ present in the North, the Party were sympathetic to the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, but were completely caught by surprise, like many of the British left, by the events of 1968-69, which saw British troops intervene. The options of devolution or peaceful national liberation, as hoped for by the CPGB for the last twenty years, disappeared as the situation in Northern Ireland demanded a more ‘militant’ approach.


Name Honorary Research Assoc. Prof. Rodney Sullivan, Honorary Research Assoc. Prof. Robyn Sullivan
Affiliation University of Queensland

University of Queensland

Title ‘Let the damn Protestants do the enlisting’: The TC Beirne libel case in Brisbane, 1916-1917
Abstract This paper focuses on a Queensland Supreme Court trial and its Brisbane context during World War One. In October 1916, a Protestant weekly, The Sentinel, accused, without naming him, a Catholic businessman in Fortitude Valley, of disloyalty, undermining the war effort and discrimination against non-Catholics. Thomas Charles Beirne, a Legislative Councillor and the most prominent Irish-Catholic retailer in Brisbane, owned the leading department store in the Valley. He took himself to be both the target and casualty of the paragraph and sued The Sentinel’s editor and printer.

The ensuing trial exposed some of the dynamics of Brisbane’s Catholic-Protestant divide during the Great War. This paper situates the trial in a series of sectarian exchanges triggered by the Easter Rising in Dublin and intensified by the debate over conscription. The trial itself exemplified the wider sectarian dilemma, with Irish Catholics and British Protestants trading allegations of denominational bigotry.

The paper appraises the consequences of the Beirne libel trial and verdict for the individuals involved and the wider community. It also considers some implications of the case for the meaning, memory and historiography of sectarianism in Queensland.

Name Prof. Donald W. Tighe
Affiliation American University School of Communication, Washington DC
Title The role of constructed Irishness in the political imagination of the United States, through the prism of the Northern Ireland peace process
Abstract This paper analyzes how ‘Irishness’ in American political culture and consciousness is conceived, constructed, and leveraged within U.S. foreign policy. This examination – of how the constructed Irish-American identity has yielded foreign policy influence and impacts beyond what the size, population, and power of Ireland would suggest – illuminates more broadly how domestic political drivers influence U.S. foreign policy decisions and engagements, generally, and specifically discusses how these influences impacted the U.S. decision to engage so substantively in the Northern Ireland peace process that led to the Belfast Agreement of 1998, and since. Certainly, there are significant and documented domestic political interests at play when examining the relationship between the United States and Ireland; however, far beyond the realist concepts of Ireland/Northern Ireland, ‘Irishness’ looms large in the U.S. political imagination. Traditional strains of International Relations theory do not explain the U.S. decisions to engage in Northern Ireland, or why the engagement was successful. A more complex equation of IR theory including the tools Foreign Policy Analysis can help, leveraging the constructivist prisms of political identity and political imagination to understand the sources and stages of decision-making, with a wider array of actors and interests than traditional balance of power models suggest.
Name Rev. Dr Max Vodola
Affiliation Catholic Theological College, East Melbourne (University of Divinity)
Title Daniel Mannix and the Easter Rising: The man, the myth, the mystery
Abstract Soon after arriving in Melbourne in 1913, Archbishop Daniel Mannix became a divisive and outspoken figure in Australian public life. To his largely Catholic Irish working-class faithful he was a hero, an outspoken, forceful and courageous speaker on many of the public issues of the day. He changed public perception of Catholics and engendered fierce loyalty from the local Catholic community. However, there is little in his background in Ireland that points to the social and political divisions that were visited on Australian public life.

This paper will examine Mannix’s support for the Easter Rising that put him at odds with many of his fellow bishops in Australia and Ireland. He commanded the stage like few other public figures and his biting wit entertained vast crowds of supporters. Yet he was an enigma, living an almost monastic lifestyle at Raheen with few close friends and ordering that all personal papers be burned upon his death.

As we commemorate the Easter Rising, this paper will ask, ‘who was Daniel Mannix?’ And what, according to biographer Brenda Niall, ‘was released in him’ as a result of the Easter Rising?

[1] Gerard Brennan, ‘The Irish and law in Australia’ [1986] The Irish Jurist 95-106 at 95.

[2] Castles, Alex C., ‘Now and Then: Irish connections with Australian law’ (1992) 66 Australian Law Journal 532-537 at 532

[3] Tony Earls, ‘Irish Lawyers in Colonial Australia – “significant yet indefinable”?’, GIST (UNSW), 4 October 2012.