21st Australasian Irish Studies Conference Maynooth 2015

The 21st Australasian Irish Studies conference was held at Maynooth University from 18 to 20 June 2015.

The Conference Convenors were:

Philip Bull (Department of History, La Trobe University, Melbourne and CSHIHE, Maynooth) P.J.Bull@latrobe.edu.au

Oona Frawley (Department of English, National University of Ireland, Maynooth) Oona.Frawley@nuim.ie

Pauric Travers (Department of History, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra) Pauric.Travers@spd.dcu.ie

Ireland’s Others: Diversity in History and Culture


Allen, Jaclyn

Wipe the Sea of Memory: The Sea in the Poetry of Temple Lane and Rhoda Coghill

Often accused of ignoring history in their work, midcentury Irish women poets did discuss the political, especially when discussing issues of land and space. Although they reclaim both urban and rural spaces, they also focus on the sea. Looking at the work of Coghill and Lane, the sea is constructed as a de-historicised place which provides a new basis for poetry. This may be seen as an escape from history and memory, but it highlights the stranglehold memory and culture can place on a writer and especially a writer whose gender marks her as an outsider to tradition and its authority.

Arthure, Susan

The Irish of Baker’s Flat, South Australia: Forgotten and misremembered

In 1854 many Irish families came to labour at the Kapunda copper mine, about 75kms north of Adelaide in the mid-north of South Australia. They squatted rent-free on land known as Baker’s Flat, and remained there for at least 70 years, set apart from the broader community, and resisting all attempts to remove them. Although hundreds of Irish lived there, the written histories document little about Baker’s Flat, and if mentioned at all, the narrative tends to be a stereotypical one based on the widespread perception of the Irish as dirty, drunken and violent. An historical archaeology project has enabled a more complex interpretation of the settlement, including material evidence of Catholicism and a community trying to live respectable lives. The spatial layout, and historical evidence of the lack of fencing and unrestrained stock, indicates the continuation of a traditional Irish clachan and rundale settlement pattern.

Bennett, Charlotte

“[T]hat long succession of casualty lists”: War Talk in Irish and New Zealand Catholic Secondary Schools, 1914-18

The First World War impacted youth across the British Empire. Irish and New Zealand secondary school institutions became key spheres of cultural mobilisation efforts, and teacher-articulated war talk sought to elicit particular responses amongst their student populations. Drawing on periodicals produced by prestigious Catholic boys’ schools, this paper explores how conflict-related discourses shifted during the mid-to-late 1910s in both countries. Whilst militarised masculinities, duty, and religious explanations proved common themes in war discussions, specific content varied. Localised experiences with regards to mass fatalities, the 1916 uprising, and conscription proved crucial in determining how institutions sought to present themselves within their own communities. Attempts to mediate adolescent engagement with the conflict were inextricably shaped by wider transnational and regional concerns.

Blaazer, David

Undoing difference: symbolism, finance and nationalism in the creation of the Irish Free State currency.

As a largely symbolic act, the creation of a separate Irish currency in 1926 was entirely consistent with the political culture of the Irish Free State. While the state’s political leaders believed that Ireland’s economic prosperity depended on its use of sterling, and thus on the goodwill of the Bank of England, they also saw an independent, state-controlled currency as essential to the dignity of an independent nation. The creation of such a currency, and its disentangling from the currency arrangements of Northern Ireland, required complex negotiations between the Irish government, the Bank of England, and note-issuing commercial banks on both sides of the new border. This paper will show that the success of these negotiations was ultimately assured by a conservative consensus on the principles of finance powerful enough to transcend national differences.

Blair, William

Commemoration 1: Principle and Practice

(Roundtable, with Dominic Bryan, Jason Burke, and Sophie Long)

This roundtable, the first of two on commemoration at the conference, considers the ways in which commemoration should be and / or can be guided by a set of principles. How does such a set of principles work in the practice of commemoration? In the middle of the ‘decade of centenaries’ in an all-Ireland context, such questions have particular resonance.

Brownlee, Attracta

Irish Travellers: Faith and Identity in Contemporary Ireland

Various aspects of Irish Travellers’ culture such as their history and language, music and storytelling traditions have received extensive coverage in both scholarly and popular literature. However, Travellers’ religious lives have not received prominent attention. The aim of this paper is to explore the ways Travellers’ spiritual beliefs and practices serve as a means of affirming their cultural identities as Irish Travellers. Their interactions with the institutions of church and state will also be explored in the context of the current discourse surrounding recognition of Traveller ethnicity in a multicultural Ireland.

Bryan, Dominic

Commemoration 1: Principle and Practice

(Roundtable, with William Blair, Sophie Long and Deirdre McBride)

This roundtable, the first of two on commemoration at the conference, considers the ways in which commemoration should be and / or can be guided by a set of principles. How does such a set of principles work in the practice of commemoration? In the middle of the ‘decade of centenaries’ in an all-Ireland context, such questions have particular resonance.

Bryan, Dominic

Commemoration 2: The Politics of Now

(Roundtable, with Jonathan Evershed, Oona Frawley and Gillian McIntosh)

This roundtable, the second on commemoration of the conference, considers the ways in which commemorative practice reflects political issues of the present, and never merely the events of the past. This discussion aims to consider the layers of political meaning in commemorations of events as distinct as the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme in both Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland.

Bull, Philip

One Landlord Family’s Responses to Changes in the Irish Polity: The case of Monksgrange

Monksgrange in county Wexford and its occupants, the Richards and Orpen families, had to respond to many challenges and changes in Irish national life. From the time of Catholic emancipation, through the land and nationalist struggles of the late nineteenth century to an independent Ireland there is a story to be told about this family and its relationship to the various national issues with which it had to contend. In this paper both the continuities and the changes in the way each generation faced up to the external environment will be explored.

Burke, Damien

The archives of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia, 1865-1931

One hundred and fifty years ago, two Irish Jesuits arrived in Melbourne, Australia at the invitation of James Alipius Goold, Bishop of Melbourne. For the next hundred years, Irish Jesuits worked as missionaries, educators, writers, chaplains, theologians, scientists, pastors and directors of retreats, mainly in the urban communities of eastern Australia. This paper will seek to explore the work of this mission from 1865 until the creation of Australia as a Vice-Province in 1931, as told through the archival prism of the documents and photographs held at the Irish Jesuit Archives.

Full paper.Archives AustralianMission IrishJeuitArchives


Burke, Jason

Commemoration 1: Principle and Practice

(Roundtable, with Deirdre McBride, William Blair and Sophie Long)

This roundtable, the first of two on commemoration at the conference, considers the ways in which commemoration should be and / or can be guided by a set of principles. How does such a set of principles work in the practice of commemoration? In the middle of the ‘decade of centenaries’ in an all-Ireland context, such questions have particular resonance.

Byrne, Elaine

IRA Activity in Australia 1968-1974

Research on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) abroad has tended to focus on acts of terrorism, fundraising and the import of arms from America, the United Kingdom and Latin America. But what of Australia? Research of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) files on the IRA point to the following: (1) The factors which mitigate against successful IRA organisation and support in Australia; (2) Why the IRA sought to organise in Australia; (3) Examples of specific instances of IRA activity in Australia, such as fundraising and the importation of arms to Belfast, and (4) A profile of the IRA activists. The Irish disapora in Australia, particularly the IRA in Australia, is an “other” who have traditionally fallen outside what has been seen as the mainstream of Irish and Australian history.

Choi, Seokmoo

James Joyce’s representation of Irish people in the (Former) British Colonies.

Studies on Ireland and the British Empire have revealed that Ireland participated in the British Empire, to a greater or lesser extent. Based on those studies, I discuss how Joyce represents Ireland’s partnership in the British Empire, a field hitherto rarely touched by Joyce scholars. Joyce demonstrates that Irishmen, whether rich or poor, Catholics or Protestants, were not ashamed of joining the British army. In a few examples from his works, it is assumed that a better future was generally expected for Irish people who moved to the (former) British colonies. Nonetheless, Irish Catholics who were soldiers and settlers were treated somewhat differently from Protestants. They were required to overcome sectarian prejudice and marginalization. By implying that the Catholic Church and the British Empire colluded in expanding and consolidating their power in the colonies, Joyce indicates that the Catholic Church generally benefited from the expansion of the empire more than the Irish people did.

Clark, Gemma

Women, Everyday Violence and the Irish Civil War

This paper considers women’s interactions with the Irish Civil War. I argue that, on the one hand, women were disproportionately affected by the acts of ‘everyday violence’ (house burning, boycotting, etc.) that characterized Ireland’s conflict. Yet, on the other, female civilians and revolutionaries were rarely singled out for serious/sexual assault, during 1922–23. What explains the scarcity – compared with contemporaneous mainland Europe and other civil-war zones – of rape as a weapon of war in Ireland? How significant was gender as an identity label, within local communities torn apart over not only the Treaty, but also historic struggles over religion, land ownership and loyalty to Britain? What roles did women play as perpetrators – as well as victims – of civil-war violence?

Cooper, Sophie

Changing Narratives: Memory and identity in the Victorian Irish diaspora.

The changing priorities of political elites altered what it meant to be ‘Irish’ in the diaspora, and who this label could be applied to. Through the use of speeches and ballads, and the focus on different historical figures as ‘heroes’, it is possible to track the changing emphases of religion, Irish nationalism, and identity abroad. Using the Irish communities of Melbourne and Chicago during the mid to late nineteenth century, this paper explores the narratives of ‘Irishness’ put forward at different times by elites desiring, and achieving, different results.

Crozier-De Rosa, Sharon

Gendered Emotions: The Militant Woman, Irish Nationalism and British Patriotism

When the British and the Irish campaigns for the female franchise entered into their militant phases, violent and unwomanly feminists were condemned for bringing shame on their respective communities of national womanhood. With the advent of World War I, British militants abandoned their aggressive campaign in favour of patriotic war work, thereby partially redeeming themselves. On the other side of the Irish Sea, however, militant suffragists continued their campaign. Amid increasing nationalist fervor, many of them denied any allegiance to what they claimed was an imperialist war that promoted and was supported by a masculine culture of militarism. How did these Irish feminists defend their female militancy in a nationalistic Ireland? On a different but related note, how did they react to appeals made by patriotic feminists in imperial Britain to be allowed to assume fighting roles in the male militaristic machine?

Cusack, Danny

Mannix and Mahon v. Lynch

This paper delivered at his alma mater will relate Archbishop Daniel Mannix to the contrasting political stances adopted between 1916 and 1920 by Irish-born West Australian Labor MP Hugh Mahon (famously expelled from the Australian Parliament in 1920 for “seditious utterances”) and the Irish-born West Australian Labor senator and ardent conscriptionist Paddy Lynch. It will also offer a few reflections on recent scholarship on Mannix and his enduring appeal to people of various persuasions.

d’Alton, Ian

Prisoners of war? The Anglo-Irish and the conflict of 1914-18

This paper resonates across a number of the conference themes – the Great War, the Irish country house, and the formation of identity amongst possibly the most significant of Ireland’s ‘others’ – the southern Irish Protestant community ultimately beached by regime change in 1922. It examines the extent of participation by that community in the war effort (and comes to conclusions which run somewhat counter to current wisdom). It posits that the War was southern Protestantism’s ‘foundation myth’, and that it ‘sharpens the bleak light’, in the Anglo-Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen’s words – interrogating notions of cultural and political identity, of belonging and place, physical and metaphysical. A feature of the paper is the utilisation of literary as well as historical sources.

Dynan, Loretta

How research brought an Irish family to life in Australia: The Leahys of Tallarook.

Land ownership in mid-nineteenth-century Australia met with varying degrees of success. Where many settlers failed, others enjoyed remarkable success and prosperity. This paper examines how three impoverished siblings from Tipperary became successful landowners by adapting to the harsh rural environment in Australia. In doing so, they helped shape the regional communities in which they settled. Crucial to their success however was the maintenance of close bonds within a large network of relatives and friends. Yet, despite material success and strong family support, one sibling nonetheless disappeared from the family narrative for several generations.

Eipper, Christopher

All Politics is Local

In Ireland, “If you’re hungry enough, you’ll dig up the tar on the road with your teeth to get a vote.” It’s not only the other parties that are a threat to you, it’s your running mate. Indeed, it’s the internal rivalry that can be the most bitter and acrimonious, as well as the most entertaining. Based upon three decades of ethnographic research, All Politics is Local is the first feature-length documentary depiction of Irish politicians from an ethnographic (rather than a journalistic) perspective. A depiction of the 2007 electoral campaign in Cork South-West, it portrays the fray from within. As such, it aims to make an academic contribution to Irish studies designed to inform and explain as well as entertain.

Elder, Ann

Path Without Primroses: a reluctant Irish-New Zealander’s 1917-18 war, and its lasting effects

When war was declared in 1914, Arthur Donnelly, though full of Imperialist ideals and patriotism, did not rush overseas straightaway. Qualified as a lawyer, he was ear-marked to take over his father’s solo criminal law practice, and enlisted only in August 1916, after conscription became law. He arrived at the Western Front just in time for the worst of Passchendaele and subsequent fighting. Using evidence from his public speeches as a foremost lawyer, banker and sports administrator, plus oral sources, this paper explores how war experience and Irish patrimony shaped his outlook, and contributed to the happy balance of diverse elements he achieved.

Evershed, Jonathan

Commemoration 2: The Politics of Now

(Roundtable, with Dominic Bryan, Oona Frawley and Gillian McIntosh)

This roundtable, the second on commemoration of the conference, considers the ways in which commemorative practice reflects political issues of the present, and never merely the events of the past. This discussion aims to consider the layers of political meaning in commemorations of events as distinct as the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme in both Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland.

Finnane, Mark

The Irish and crime in the colonies: a reprise

In a paper at an earlier conference in 1988 I proposed that there were good reasons to be sceptical of a view that Irish migrants in nineteenth-century diasporic destinations were especially prone to criminal offending, landing them disproportionately in prisons. Current research in criminal justice history takes larger data sets, linking and comparing them in ways that may enable a more fine-grained analysis of patterns of crime, policing and punishment. In this paper I will present an account of Irish vulnerabilities in migrant destinations, with data drawn from the Prosecution Project being conducted at Griffith University and other large scale projects including the Old Bailey Online, Founders and Survivors and the Digital Panopticon. The paper will consider how far that earlier account of Irish criminality in the colonies remains justified.

Fahey, Charles

‘All my prospects for this year. I think is spoiled’ : William Farrell, Thomas Purcell and unskilled Irish labour in Melbourne 1878-1911

In the long boom of the 1880s Irish labourers played a significant part in providing the labour for major building and infrastructure projects. This paper will explore the role of Irish workers in the Melbourne labour market through and examination of the available statistical data and through the diaries of two unskilled labourers – William Farrell and Thomas Purcell. William Farrell arrived in Melbourne in 1878 when he came out of service with the British Army in India. After a failed attempt to start a business as a fuel merchant, he was forced to seek employment as a construction labourer. Such work was casual and subject to the cyclical swings in the colonial economy. During the boom of the 1880s Farrell was unable to find steady employment and in the depression of the 1890s he experienced long term unemployment. Thomas Purcell, the son of an Irish farmer in the Heathcote district of Victoria, migrated to Melbourne in the early 1880s. Initially Purcell found steady work difficult to obtain. Like many Irish migrants and men of Irish background, Purcell realised that a path to security was a billet in government employment. After working for a number of yeas as a casual railway labourer, Purcell was rewarded for his diligence and regularity with a permanent position. He remained in permanent employment from the mid-1880s to 1916. Farrell and Purcell represented the two extremes of steady employment and casual employment, and the paper will try to assess how the Irish and their families were distributed between these positions.

Frawley, Oona

Commemoration 2: The Politics of Now

(Roundtable, with Dominic Bryan, Jonathan Evershed and Gillian McIntosh)

This roundtable, the second on commemoration of the conference, considers the ways in which commemorative practice reflects political issues of the present, and never merely the events of the past. This discussion aims to consider the layers of political meaning in commemorations of events as distinct as the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme in both Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland.

Geary, Larry

‘No man in Australia did greater work for Ireland’: Dr Nicholas M. O’Donnell (1862-1920)

Nicholas Michael O’Donnell was born on 9 June 1862 at Bullengarook, Victoria, son of Michael O’Donnell, farmer, and his wife Johanna Barry, each of whom was born in County Limerick. O’Donnell studied medicine at the University of Melbourne, and established a medical practice at Victoria Street, North Melbourne, which he maintained until shortly before his death in January 1920. He was a key figure in Irish nationalist politics in Victoria, a Gaelic scholar, an ardent promoter of Irish cultural activities, and as committed to his Catholic faith as he was to his Irish heritage. This paper explores his multi-faceted career.

Hall, Dianne

‘Excruciatingly funny’:  Patsy O’Wang, race, Irishness and humour in early 20th century Australia

The American play Patsy O’Wang was performed by amateur theatre groups in many early 20th century Australian towns. Its depiction of racialised Irish and Chinese servants was considered ‘excruciatingly funny’ by audiences such as those in Pyree (NSW) in 1927. This paper will analyse these stereotypes in the context of shifting racialisation of the Irish in Australia in print, iconography and amateur drama like Patsy O’Wang.

Heininger, Joseph

Representing the Great War’s Unheralded Others in Patricia McCarthy’s Horses Between Our Legs

The English and Irish poet Patricia McCarthy published her collection of poems, Horses between Our Legs, in 2014. These poems are by turns narrative, lyrical, and elegiac and they focus on portraying the ways in which ordinary people in England experienced the Great War’s rending of their lives. I shall examine several of her outstanding poems on Great War themes, including the prize-winning elegiac narrative “Clothes that Escaped the Great War,” with its Heaneyesque images and poignant evocations of the losses felt by those who were caught up in the war on the British homefront.

Hoffmann, Barbara

Fifty Lashes to Freedom: Irish Convicts and Australian Identity in Roger McDonald’s The Ballad of Desmond Kale

In his 2005 novel, The Ballad of Desmond Kale, Roger McDonald presents an intricate and multifaceted tale that ranges from gentlemen’s halls in London to barren outposts deep in the Australian bush. Linking his vast range of characters, times, and places is a ballad sung of escaped Irish convict Desmond Kale. The spread of this ballad – sung originally in the Irish language and translated to English only for Kale’s grandson, a ‘native’ Australian – offers comfort to the other Irish convicts and evokes the ire and sometimes the fear of Kale’s enemies and oppressors. In my paper I will discuss the ways in which McDonald presents the Irish convict as the archetype of Australianness, one which erases the long held “convict stain” and which likewise serves to reframe the oppressed Irish as progenitors of a new race, one that would ultimately thrive where the British believed it would perish. In particular, I will examine the ways in which McDonald’s use of the ballad engages in the connection between storytelling and national identity, a synecdochic representation of the work that McDonald’s novel itself does.

Kavanagh, Joan

In a Class of their own: The selection of Irish female convicts for transportation to Van Diemen’s Land.

Over ten thousand Irish people were transported to Van Diemen’s Land between 1803 and 1853, of which almost four thousand were women. The lives of these women has been much documented and researched in Tasmania, with many descendants tracing their ancestors back to their places of origin in Ireland. This has been mainly a one sided affair with relatively few Irish people tracing their convict ancestry in Tasmania. Why is this? Can it be put down to the nature of the women sentenced to transportation? Did the sentence of transportation reflect this fact? What is the myth and what is the reality? This paper will examine the selection process of 138 Irish women transported in 1845 on board the convict ship Tasmania bound for Van Diemen’s Land.

King, Carla

‘A country blessed with almost everything …’: Michael Davitt in New Zealand, 1895

In November 1895, Michael Davitt visited New Zealand during a lecture tour of Australasia. The trip was more than a means of earning money and seeking to regain support for the splintered Irish Parliamentary Party. By now an international figure, a newly elected MP with strong connections with the British labour movement, he was keen to observe New Zealand’s society and to interview its leaders. He included twelve chapters on the colony in his book, Life and Progress in Australasia (1898). This paper will address his experiences and impressions and suggest some influences of his visit on the development of his ideas.

Knittel, Janna

Irish Salmon, Native Salmon: Environmental, Economic, and Spiritual Links

Salmon inform religious and cultural traditions on the west coasts of both Ireland and North America, from the First Salmon Ceremony of the Wasco and Lummi peoples to the Salmon of Knowledge, and indigenous traditions of salmon fishing have long provided food and income. Economic dependence on rivers and fishing have also shaped both peoples’ reactions to environmental threats such as gas pipelines and dams that affect fisheries. I will trace and compare cultural commonalities in poems about fish and fishing by such poets as Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene), Elizabeth Woody (Navajo/Warm Springs/Wasco/Yakama), and Duane Niatum (Klallam), Mary O’Malley, Seán Lysaght, and Michael Coady. In representing a vulnerable, even endangered way of life, these poets give voice to Otherness.

Larkin, Felix

Edmund Dwyer Gray Jr: His life in two hemispheres

This year is the seventieth anniversary of the death of Edmund Dwyer Gray Jr (1890-1945). A scion of the Gray family who owned the Freeman’s Journal newspaper from 1841 to 1892, he emigrated to Australia when his family lost control of the Freeman as a consequence of the ‘Parnell split’. He eventually settled in Tasmania, where he became a journalist and politician of note. Elected to the Tasmanian parliament in 1928 for the Labour Party, he was treasurer and deputy premier from 1934 until his death, except for six months in 1939 when he served as interim premier. His mother was a daughter of Caroline Chisholm, the philanthropist celebrated as ‘the emigrants’ friend’. My paper will outline his life story, which parallels that of Sir Charles Gavan Duffy – hence the title of my paper.

Long, Sophie

Commemoration 1: Principle and Practice

(Roundtable, with William Blair, Dominic Bryan and Deirdre McBride)

This roundtable, the first of two on commemoration at the conference, considers the ways in which commemoration should be and / or can be guided by a set of principles. How does such a set of principles work in the practice of commemoration? In the middle of the ‘decade of centenaries’ in an all-Ireland context, such questions have particular resonance.

Lynch, Claire

Who’s for the Game? Irish Boyhood and Virtual Battlefields

‘Who’s for the game, the biggest that’s played,
The red crashing game of a fight?
Who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid?
And who thinks he’d rather sit tight?‘ Jessie Pope (1916)

Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies (2010) is a novel of multiple ‘battlefields’; contemporary Dublin classrooms, videogames, and the First World War. Excluded by the school syllabus, ‘The Dublin Pals’ are reclaimed by the novel as the boys discover a parallel generation in Irish soldiers of the Great War, including Skippy’s own great-grandfather. Simultaneously, Skippy is absorbed by the virtual battles of videogames, seeking comfort in the warmth of this ‘digital hearth’ (Flynn 2003, p.561). The absence of physical autonomy and masculine authority in his real life (as a victim of abuse) is played out in the game a way to keep the digital home fires burning,

Mahony, Christina Hunt

Dramatic Repercussions: the Effect of the Wilde Trials on the London Theatre – a Test Case.

1893 was a revolutionary year in the history of the English-speaking theatre. In what was a rather short theatrical season by today’s standards, the London stage in 1893 boasted productions of Tennyson’s Beckett, Pinero’s The Second Mrs Tanqueray, no fewer than six plays by Ibsen and three by Wilde. Victorian theatre had been radically altered by exposure to the work of these modern playwrights. Then, in 1895, the Wilde trials began, and the Irish playwright was convicted and sentenced. In less than eighteen months a volte-face occurred, driven by theatre goers and critics alike, that would set back innovation in the theatre for years to come. The reputation of another Irish playwright, a near contemporary of Wilde, illustrates the arc of popular taste in this crucial period in 1890s drama.

Malcolm, Elizabeth

Disarming Irish Men, 1760-1845: Masculinities, Nostalgia and the Civilizing Process

Joep Leerssen has characterised the years 1760-1845 as a sattlelzeit or transition period, during which there were major changes in Ireland’s cultures. This paper will suggest that styles of masculinity too underwent a notable transformation during these years. It will interrogate a variety of Irish and English writers in order to highlight changing fashions, not only in men’s clothing, but also in their manners and behaviour. It will argue that this period of rapid change had, by the early 19th century, bred in some an intense nostalgia for the past, when men were perceived as having been more truly masculine. Other commentators, however, mounted a powerful critique of 18th-century Irish masculinity, seeing in it a reflection of backward and barbaric times that had already disappeared elsewhere.

McAtackney, Laura

Gendering the Decade of Centenaries: re-inserting the roles of the ‘brave women of the many fights’

As we move through the Decade of Commemoration in Ireland the desire to remember this important period has focused on unearthing new perspectives on old events to allow reconsideration of the period with the distance of time. I argue that one aspect that needs to be included in these re-assessments is the role women played. Whilst Markievicz, MacSwiney and Gonne were well know and influential characters at the time, and have been retained to some degree in public memory, it is clear that many more women were forgotten, ignored and othered in post-independence Ireland. This paper will discuss the use of underused and unusual sources – graffiti and personal papers – as a means of showing how we can move.

McDonald, Rónán

John Mitchel and the Prison-house of Language

“We cease to think, if we refuse to do so in the prison house of language; we barely reach the doubt that sees this limitation as a limitation.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)

John Mitchel’s Jail Journal, recounting his period of transportation between 1848 and 1853, is one of the sacred texts of Irish nationalism. Yet Mitchel’s later support for slavery and involvement with the confederate side in the American Civil War has gravely damaged his reputation. This paper offers a close critical analysis of language and form in this text – a work of indisputable literary as well as historical significance. It argues that Jail Journal manifests many features that earn the epithet “modernist”, as it struggles to express its encounters with otherness. It chafes against the strictures of expression and thought, aware that language means both entrapment and possibility.

Self-writing is often about growth or freedom or escape, and indeed Mitchel’s Jail Journal concludes with his escape from Van Diemen’s Land. But both formally and in narrative terms Mitchell’s story is about confinement and imprisonment, conditions which inform the tone, the descriptive affects and the political outlook. That Mitchel’s prison ship is also one that takes him around the world, where he experiences transnational and transcultural encounters makes the dialectic between restriction and freedom, group and individual, home and away, all the more parlous.

McIntosh, Gillian

Commemoration 2: The Politics of Now

(Roundtable, with Dominic Bryan, Jonathan Evershed and Oona Frawley)

This roundtable, the second on commemoration of the conference, considers the ways in which commemorative practice reflects political issues of the present, and never merely the events of the past. This discussion aims to consider the layers of political meaning in commemorations of events as distinct as the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme in both Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland.

Merino-Alvarez, Raquel

Irish drama in Spain: integrating diversity through translation

In Franco’s Spain the staging of foreign theatre in translation was a frequent way of introducing topics and trends that were often barred to Spanish playwrights. Among the foreign playwrights approved and staged we find a substantial number of Irish names. Shaw and Wilde’s plays had been staged and published before the Spanish Civil War and were revived since the 1940s without major opposition. O’Casey was first introduced to Spanish theatre in the 1950s, in spite of his political stance. In the more progressive 1960s, Synge’s plays were translated and staged to highlight diversity throughout Spanish stages.

Mohr, Thomas

Prime Minister James Scullin and the Sovereignty of the Irish Free State

The year 2013 marked the fiftieth anniversary of US President John F. Kennedy’s historic visit to Ireland. Yet, Kennedy was not the first foreign leader of close Irish descent to visit their ancestral home after the creation of the self-governing Irish state. James H. Scullin, prime minister of Australia, was also greeted by large jubilant crowds and his 1930 visit also provided a much needed boost to national morale in Ireland. Scullin’s visit is also important because the Australian Prime Minister personally intervened to assist the Irish government in a matter of supreme national importance. The 1930 Imperial Conference saw the British government raise a legal argument that suggested that the constitutional status of the Irish Free State had been frozen when the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in 1921. Scullin’s support for the Irish government was important in resisting this argument. The Australian prime minister also proved to be an intermediary between the British and Irish governments in a particularly difficult period in Anglo-Irish relations.

Molloy, Kevin

Tradition and the Literature of Irish-Australian Identity: images of Ireland in early twentieth century Irish-Australian thought.

The early twentieth century was an important time for the Irish colonial world, one that witnessed increasing consolidation of an Australian Catholic-Irish identity. The years 1900 to the mid-1930s was also a time when key texts such as Charles Kickham’s Knocknagow; travel writing by William Bulfin, and the journalism of Robert Lynd, began to be more widely publicised in newspapers like the Sydney Freeman’s Journal, the Melbourne Advocate and Sydney Catholic Press; further, formats such as photographic reproductions of the Irish landscape began to play an increasing role in the mental and visual lexicon of the Irish in Australia. The result was the consolidation of an overarching, possibly fossilised image of an Irish past, where nostalgia, inherited memory, and the place of Ireland as a source and referent for both religious and cultural tradition had free play. Using principally the writings of Kickham, and with reference to the anthropologists Conrad Arensberg and Solon Kimball, this paper will explore the uses to which the colonial-Irish newspaper press drew upon and reinforced set, fixed images of an Irish past for consolidating and enhancing its religious and cultural cohesion in early twentieth-century Australian society.

Morris, Nicola

Irish Methodist chaplains in the Great War.

Irish Methodism entered the First World with only one minister officially recognised as a Chaplain to the Forces, it ended the war with a total of 22 ministers accredited as Chaplains and on active service. This was proportionately more, per head of congregation, than any other Irish Church and constituted over 10 per cent of their active ministerial cohort. These men served with a range of British and Irish Divisions, in every major theatre, defying orders from senior officers in order to better serve their men. Even when serving with British Divisions, Irish clergy maintained a distinct national identity, and articulated feeling ‘very much of an exile so far as Ireland was concerned’ particularly in the weeks following the 1916 rising. This paper will explore how ministers expressed and mediated their sense of Irishness and Britishness during the war and how the course of the conflict modulated their identification.

Murphy, James H.

Purging the Liberals: Reducing Political Diversity during the Repeal takeover of Dublin Corporation, 1841-3.

Following the passing the Municipal Corporations Ireland Act of 1840 elections were held for Dublin Corporation in October 1841. Dublin Liberals came to power and Daniel O’Connell held the office of Lord Mayor for 1841-2. O’Connell announced that he would exercise the office impartially and seemed to suggest that national politics would not be emphasised in the workings of the reformed corporation. O’Connellite practice was very different, however, especially as O’Connell geared up the Repeal Association for the Repeal Year of 1843. Of most significance was the Repeal campaign against non-Repeal Liberals, thus effectively turning the Liberal party into a completely pro-Repeal party. This was facilitated by the fact that Tories were physically concentrated in a small number of wards, ensuring that there was little chance that a conflict between Repealers and non-Repeal Liberals would lead to letting in a Tory. One thing was certain: within two years of the advent of the new corporation, it had come firmly under the control of the Repeal party and there had been a significant reduction in political diversity.

Nuttall, Deirdre

“We were like the poor whites” – Stories of Poverty and Exclusion among Protestants in the Republic of Ireland

Throughout the twentieth century, and into the twenty-first, Protestants in the Republic of Ireland have seen a steady decline in numbers and influence. The resulting sense of marginalisation and loss is felt most keenly among poor Protestants. Whereas Protestants from wealthier classes are represented (albeit usually as villains) in Ireland’s dominant historical narrative of oppression and deliverance, poor Protestants, particularly from rural areas, tell stories of being excluded, of excluding themselves, and of feeling a profound sense of loss and absence in their own communities and homeland.

O’Brien, Odhran

Bishops and Bureaucrats: Leadership, government and Catholicism in colonial Western Australia

During the mid-to-late colonial period the transportation of Irish convicts and assisted migration of Irish settlers to Western Australia saw the colony’s Catholic community grow significantly. The Catholic Church progressed from being a disenfranchised faith group, one of the colony’s ‘others’, to waging an asserting influence within the religious and social arena. This transition was guided by the leadership of a Spaniard, Father Martin Griver and his protégé, an Irishman, Father Matthew Gibney. This paper will elucidate the way in which Griver and Gibney used both their personalities and policies to encourage the government to support the Church’s religious ministry and social welfare initiatives.

O’Donnell, Mary Louise and Frances Thiele

Cultural transmission and Catholicism in a colonial context: a study of the Loreto Order (IBVM) in Australia

The introduction of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM) to Ireland in 1821 by Frances Teresa Ball was a seminal moment in the history of the Catholic church, not only in Ireland, but also worldwide. The educational ethos and model practiced at Rathfarnham House (later Loreto Abbey) from 1822 onwards was replicated at convent schools throughout Ireland and subsequently in North America, Australia, India, and South Africa during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This paper focuses on the importance of music education at Loreto schools in Australia (for example, Ballarat and Toorak) and specifically the significant role the teaching of pedal and Irish harp played in their pedagogical philosophy of a well-rounded education.

Patrick O’Callaghan

Robert Torrens and the reception of the Torrens System of Land Registration in different countries

Robert R. Torrens (1814-1884) was an Irishman who created the now universal Torrens system of Land Registration in South Australia in 1858. He subsequently returned to England in 1862 and campaigned for a similar land registration system in both Ireland and England.  This was adopted in varying forms over the next 30 years.  Since then, the Torrens system of land registration has spread over many countries in the world.  This paper examines the reception of the Torrens system in different and diverse jurisdictions and concludes that his efforts at dissemination of his land registration system depended upon the role title registration played in individual, social and professional advancement in each country and how landed wealth in each jurisdiction viewed where their interests lay.

Paseta, Senia

The Irish Question in British Suffrage Politics, 1909-1914

The story of the women’s suffrage movement has been told many times and from many angles in British and Irish historiography, but attempts to situate the Irish women’s suffrage movement in a wider British context have been limited. More strikingly, the impact of the Irish Question on British suffrage politics has largely been ignored, despite the fact that feminist and Irish nationalist aspirations posed two of the most serious challenges to the British constitution in this period. This paper will explore the constitutional, ideological and practical connections between the movements, highlighting their collective contribution to the UK’s Edwardian crisis.

Pilz, Anna

‘Graceful and capricious’: Trees, National Character, and Rosa Mulholland’s The Wicked Woods of Tobereevil

Commenting on the Irish landscape in his Researches in the South of Ireland (1824), Thomas Crofton Croker quotes an English gentleman who linked Irish trees to Irish national character. In the context of the Victorian alignment of human character and natural environment, this paper analyses Rosa Mulholland’s 1972 novel The Wicked Woods of Tobereevil in a comparison with Katharine Tynan’s A Girl of Galway (1901).

Roberts, John

Lehitraot Ireland: Finding the Jewish Experience in the Irish Diaspora

The study of Irish emigration has mostly been focused on the Roman Catholic experience with obvious consequences on the ways in which we think about religion within the Irish diaspora. In this paper I attempt to break away from this stereotype through focusing on Ireland’s Jewish migrants, who have preserved and created new forms of Irish-Jewish cultural identity abroad, such as in the United States and Israel. Working with a more general framework of the Jewish and Irish diasporas, and using theories of migration and binational identity, I seek to make way for a more religiously and culturally diverse diaspora.

Rushen, Liz

‘Haybags, wanton widows and discontented old maids’: Perceptions of Irish women in colonial Australia

When 1200 Irishwomen arrived in the British colonies of Australia in the mid-1830s, they were initially welcomed for their skills, labour and marriage potential. However, as ship after ship arrived, colonial attitudes cooled and the women were seen as a corrupting influence on colonial society. This paper examines the reasons for this shift in perception and the extent to which these attitudes affected the women.

Scott, Yvonne

Cooke’s Explorations in New Zealand: The work of Irish artist Barrie Cooke (1931–2014) in New Zealand.

From the late 1980s, for more than 25 years, artist Barrie Cooke visited New Zealand annually. Probably the first Irish artist to address ecological issues, Cooke (who had studied Marine Biology for  a time at Harvard) a keen fisherman, was acutely aware of the environmental challenges to lakes and rivers in both Ireland and abroad. While he lamented the devastating impact of algal infestation of Irish lakes, New Zealand initially represented for him a pristine unspoiled wilderness. My research maps his progressive annual migration around the South Island of New Zealand, exploring the rain forests and freshwater environments to inform his art, and examines both the diversion from, and comparability with, his landscape imagery in Ireland.

Sullivan, Rodney and Robin

Monumental Messages: Irish-Australians in Brisbane, 1872-1928

This paper interrogates four secular monuments to Irish-Australians erected in Brisbane between 1872 and 1928. They claimed a disproportionate share of Brisbane’s cultural landscape, preserving memory and historical evidence in material form. The monuments—a memorial column, two statues and a building—were products of collective remembrance and the evolution of Irish identities in Australia. They intermingled time and place, transmitting messages about an Irish past, but, more pertinently, of the antipodean present and future. The two statues commemorate Irish-Australian state premiers. Their memorial-making processes echo social, political, religious and ethnic aspirations, as well as rivalries. The biographies of the four monuments vary, disclosing a range of fates from obscurity to reinvigorated prominence.

Szedmina, Livia

John Devoy and Irish independence: a rebel’s balancing act

Irish independence was significantly backed by the Irish-American community in various forms: financial, moral, military, organizational support. The author’s presentation explores this support focusing on John Devoy’s life and work. Devoy was one of the most active, determined, even stubborn nationalists, adherent to his principles, yet also practical almost to the point of being flexible. He used his exceptional organizational skills cooperating with physical-force Fenians, negotiating with Westminster MPs, and precariously balancing between the constitutional and revolutionary, the legal and illegal, a tightrope walker between the civilian and military, the peaceful and violent approach towards the ultimate goal: Ireland independent.


Terrazas, Melania

Memory and the working through of conflict and trauma: Evelyn Conlon’s Not the Same Sky

This paper examines the role of a number of key stylistic features such as, intertextuality, repetition (at the levels of language, imagery or plot) and a fragmented narrative voice in the capture of trauma. I shall apply the term to Evelyn Conlon’s Not the Same Sky (2013). The paper will analyze the most significant intertexts in Conlon’s novel of conflict and memory with a view to demonstrating that intertextuality can be one of the main mechanisms to give voice to traumatic experiences in literature. Close attention to the dialogical aspects of Not the Same Sky will reveal the intertexts that shape the traumatic pasts of its over 4000 Irish girls orphaned by famine, aged between fourteen and twenty, who were shipped from Plymouth in England to Sydney in Australia on a sailing ship during 1849 and 1850, in particular the troubled memories of self that they share, and that work themselves out in conflict and fear. Equally, the text by Conlon will allow a full account of trauma in its individual and relational forms.

Thewissen, Catherine

Narratives of Hospitality: Representations of the Great War in Irish Home Front Wartime Novels (1914-1922)

The Great War is one of the great unspoken of Irish history. While history is investigating that forgotten period of Ireland’s past, the fiction contemporary to the event has, as yet, not been analysed. This paper looks at representations of the Great War in Irish Home Front Wartime novels, more particularly in two novels by Irish writer Jessie Richard: The Light above the Cross Roads (1918) and The Fire of Green Boughs (1919). It discusses the place of the Great War in the overall framework of the novels and the images created around the event (1914, 1916, ideologies, mass mobilization, alienation,…). The overall argument of this paper is that Great War representations in these two novels offer alternatives to the two competing versions of Irishness crystallized during the First World War. They disturb the myths and offer a fresh perspective on the much debated concepts of nation and national identity in Ireland.

Travers, Pauric

Lynch’s War: Colonel Arthur Lynch, the First World War and Ireland’s Others

Arthur Lynch (1861-1934), Irish-Australian republican, was sentenced to death for high treason in 1903 for leading an Irish brigade in the second Anglo-Boer war. He was later pardoned and became Irish Party MP for West Clare. During the first world war, he actively supported Britain and the Allied cause. In the final months of the conflict, with Ireland in a state of upheaval, he was commissioned as a Colonel in the British Army to raise an Irish brigade for service in France.   He stood down as MP for Clare in December 1918 but unsuccessfully contested Battersea South as a Labour candidate. This paper will explore Lynch’s attitude to the war and his evolving relationship with Ireland, Britain and Australia. Lynch was an eccentric and unpredictable maverick but his story does throw some light on the multi-layered identities of Ireland’s others.

Troupe, Shelley

The Dublin Jewish Dramatic Society: Performing at the Margins

This presentation is the beginning of a project that aims to document the productions of the Dublin Jewish Dramatic Society (DJDS), an amateur theatre that was active between the 1920s and the 1950s. The company’s performances coincided with important events, such as the enactment of Ireland’s 1937 Constitution and the Second World War, which shaped both Irish history and Jewish history. The study’s immediate goal, then, is to determine (1) how the performances of a marginalised community served as a means of expression for its experiences and concerns and (2) how, if at all, those concerns changed during the company’s lifetime.

Wooding, Jonathan

Three Australian Churches with ‘Irish’ Round Towers

The ‘round tower’ is a distinctive motif of medieval churches from the ‘Celtic’, or specifically ‘Gaelic’, nations. This paper will centre on three parochial churches built between 1901 and 1936 in Australia which incorporate recreated ‘Irish’ round towers. A close analysis of the use of this motif in modern Ireland and Australia, along with a detailed look at the history of the Australian examples, reveals that, far from being ‘genre’ exercises or patriotic accretions, each of the Australian round towers is a thoughtful essay by a significant architect in the spirit of the wider medieval revival, responsive to the religious, social and political discourses in its era.