ISAANZ 25: Conference Programme


DAY 1: 6 December

10:00 – 10:30 (NZDT) Conference Opening

Malcolm Campbell | Conference Chair, University of Auckland

H E Peter Ryan | Irish Ambassador to New Zealand

10:30 – 11:30 (NZDT) Keynote Address (Chair: Malcolm Campbell)

Spies, Informers, Fenians and the Canadian Secret Police
David Wilson | University of Toronto

11:30 – 12:00 (NZDT) Coffee break

12:00 – 1:30 (NZDT) Session 1A (Chair: Charlotte Bennett)

Convict Transports as Emigrant Ships during the Great Irish Famine
Cian T McMahon | University of Nevada, Las Vegas

In modern Ireland’s rogue gallery of oppressive technologies, the “coffin ship” enjoys pride of place. Historians, folklorists, and grandmothers alike all agree on the basic outline of that “miserable epic.” The crews were brutal, the captains were heartless, and the weather was ferocious. The ships were poorly equipped lumber freighters unsuited for human cargo. The helpless passengers, locked in the smelly darkness of steerage, were decimated by hunger and fever. The survivors arrived on the other side of the ocean in various states of undress and malnutrition.

Irish Catholicism in early colonial New South Wales
Damian John Gleeson | Australian Religious History Fellow, State Library of NSW

As the Catholic Church in Australia celebrates its official bicentenary (2020/2021), there is a renewed focus on triumphal clericalism at the neglect of an inclusive and accurate portrayal of the contributions by lay Irish Catholics. This paper, drawing on primary sources, provides a new account of Irish Catholics in the fledgling decades of the church’s formation in New South Wales. The landmark endeavours of lay Catholics – which to some extent pre-dated the arrival of two official chaplains, Frs Phillip Conolly and John Therry in May 1820 – were critical in the development of Catholic education, churches and later missions (parishes). In examining early Irish lay Catholics, this paper contests myths about people and institutions, including the ‘Men of 1798’, Catholic education, and the level of religious interest displayed by Irish Catholics.

Journey to New Edinburgh: The Irish Dimension of Pioneer Otago
Sean Brosnahan | Toitu Otago Settlers Museum

This paper will discuss the project by Toitū Otago Settlers Museum to retrace the footsteps of Otago’s pioneers in the development of the New Edinburgh settlement scheme via a film documentary showcasing home places and contexts in Britain and Ireland. A Wakefield class settlement undertaken by the New Zealand Company in partnership with the Scottish Free Church, the New Edinburgh scheme was designed to establish an exclusively Scottish and Presbyterian colony on the east coast of the South Island. Right from the outset, however, there were Irish participants in the colonisation scheme; Presbyterians fleeing famine in County Down, Anglo-Irish gentry from Antrim and eventually even Irish Catholics from Galway and Waterford. Key to the Irish component of the documentary’s research development has been reverse genealogy via the Ireland Reaching Out network, tapping into local expertise in parishes that sent migrants to Otago, as well as the progressive digitisation and online access to growing numbers of 19th-century Irish research resources. Following both the overall arc of settlement and individual origin stories, this unique film approach will tie together both ends of the migration story; who set off for Otago, from where and why?

12:00 – 1:30 (NZDT) Session 1B (Chair: Rina Kim)

‘As though it were on time I trod”: the deep time of the dead in Texts for Nothing
Chris Conti | Western Sydney University

The discovery in the eighteenth-century of the vast time scales of geological change, in which there is “no vestige of a beginning” and “no prospect of an end,” as Scottish naturalist James Hutton put it in Theory of Earth (1795), caused an epistemological rupture of the same magnitude as the Copernican Revolution. Indeed, the deep time of geological change may well be impenetrable to the human mind, as John McPhee suggested when he coined the term in his 1980 study Basin and Range. In this paper I compare the difficulties of comprehending the notion of deep time with the difficulties of reading Beckett’s Texts for Nothing. The concept of deep time lifts the subject out of time to contemplate a vast geologic time scale and then places it within time to reveal the recent and vanishingly small contribution of the human ‘story’ to the earth’s history. This oscillation between teleology and contingency characterises Beckett’s prose from the trilogy onwards, which de-narrates the structures of narrative prose fiction via a creatively self-cancelling subjectivity. By confusing the categories of beginning and end, temporal and eternal, animate and inanimate the notion of deep time displaces the human and divine from the story of creation in ways that continue to challenge the narrative structures of meaning at the base of culture. A similar confusion of categories creates the “one enormous second” and subterranean scene of Texts for Nothing, in which the “dead” narrator struggles to locate himself in “an old past ever new, ever ended, ever ending”, so as to undergo “a deeper birth, a deeper death, resurrection in and out of this murmur of memory and dream” that would enable him to utter the story of silence on the eroded surface of words. The confusion of boundaries in Texts and its tropes of disintegration create an abject but denationalised space in which Beckett excavates memories of walking the quags, heaths, and hills of the Irish countryside.

4 World Pictures: Cosmopoesis between Samuel Beckett’s Nohow On and the Anthropocene Moment
Cecily Niumeitolu | University of Sydney

The Anthropocene is a paradigm shifting concept that captures the ethical dimension of human induced climate change. As a public and interdisciplinary event and geoscience debate the Anthropocene reframes history, myth and memory as transforming geological archive. Capturing the indirect effects and affects of global change this metaphor transports culture into nature, earth science mythic into time- stratigraphic historic, the local into the global, the personal into unforeseen other (human, inhuman and nonhuman). It is a narrative device capable of representing imperceptible speeds and scales long and short, vast and infinitesimally small. As such, it develops interesting alignments with Beckett’s Nohow On trilogy: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho.

This paper creates a series of frames between the Anthropocene as a recent world making exercise and Beckett’s wor(l)d making exercises of Company (1979), Ill Seen Ill Said (1981) and Worstward Ho (1983)Beckett’s memories and history and his sourcing of myth are mobilised and complicated by the ever present metafictional dimension of these works. This paper explores how this dimension opens up an ecocritical perspective. It tracks some of the geological, geomorphic, and creaturely signs and signatures within these works. It speculates Nohow On into three world pictures: the world as woe (cosmological), the world as theatre (theatrum mundi)the world as pinprick (mundi punctus). Company centres on personal history and the Holy Writ decentring them into fable thereby troubling anthropo-centrism and its conditions, Ill Seen Ill Said situates the world as a spectacle drawing species life into art- surfaceand Worstward Ho engenders bodies and ground unpiecing them into “pins” and “pinhole” in “boundless void.” These three world pictures are atavistic twists of ancient, early modern and modern epochal thinking; they become a way to cross-reference this Anthropocene moment.

Deep Time in Samuel Beckett’s Prose
Mark Byron | University of Sydney

The panel ‘Deep Time in Samuel Beckett’s Prose’ explores how Beckett’s prose texts deploy frameworks of deep time, providing the means by which characters, narrators, and readers meditate on matters of history and memory. Beckett’s deep ambivalence toward the more overt representations of Ireland and its history – its demonstrations of nationalism, its social conservatism, and its hindrance of cultural expression – saw him develop strategies by which to circumvent these constraints, not least of which was to impose physical distance from his native country as an expatriate in Paris. Beckett’s prose narratives dig beneath surface modes of representation, pressing the deep structures of human, ecological, and even geological presence to reveal the ambivalences that occupy even the most bedrock categories of identity and existence. Chris Conti’s paper ”As though it were on time I trod”: the deep time of the dead in Texts for Nothing’ compares the difficulties of comprehending the notion of deep time with the difficulties of reading Beckett’s Texts for Nothing, texts which deal with vast oscillations between geological and human time by de-narrating the structures of narrative prose fiction via a creatively self-cancelling subjectivity. Cecily Niumeitolu’s paper ‘4 World Pictures: Cosmopoesis between Samuel Beckett’s Nohow On and the Anthropocene Moment’ examines the late prose texts of Nohow On in relation to the emergence of the concept of the Anthropocene. These texts produce three world pictures – the world as woe (cosmological), the world as theatre (theatrum mundi)the world as pinprick (mundi punctus) – which, in their metafictional drives, open up ecocritical modes of reading. Finally, Mark Byron’s paper ‘Samuel Beckett’s Earthwork Poetics,’ selects several modes of reference to geology and archaeology spanning Beckett’s writing career, and which demonstrate a progressively more subtle and ambivalent relation to matters of history and memory, perhaps most lucidly illustrated in relation to Beckett’s native territory of the Wicklow Mountains. Together, these three papers open up ways of thinking across Beckett’s prose in relation to Ireland and its history, in his critical examination of the deep structures of time, psychology, human habitation, and non-human history.

1:30 – 2:30 (NZDT) Lunch

2:30 – 3:30 (NZDT) Keynote Address (Chair: Sharon Crozier-De Rosa)

A Prolegomenon to Irish-Australian Literature
Ronan McDonald | University of Melbourne

3:30 – 4:30 (NZDT) Session 2A (Chair: Jimmy Yan)

Irish Nationalist Portrayals of Australasian Indigenous Peoples in the Nineteenth Century: Misrepresented Memorialisation
Ciara Smart | University of Tasmania

In the mid-nineteenth century Irish nationalists frequently referred to the plight of non-white colonised peoples in their major press circulations. At times they voiced strong statements of cross- cultural solidarity that challenged accepted racial standards. Yet their intent remains disputed and can be twisted by demands for a pleasing modern mythology that mistakes editorial interest for racial  enlightenment. Instead this paper will argue that sympathetic representations of Māori in the mid- nineteenth century nationalist press were designed to advance a particular vision of Irish self-governance. By memorialising Māori as an unjustly treated and tragically doomed people, Irish nationalists could argue for a concession to be made to their own situation. This transnational sense of shared and righteous victimhood became a strong rhetorical tool. While some evidence survives to indicate that joint Irish-Māori uprisings were considered, the limited nature of this evidence demonstrates that this sympathetic editorial support rarely survived the leap to real-world application. A comparison with the representation of Australian Aboriginal peoples offers the historian further evidence to clarify the conceptual limitations of this apparent sense of racial enlightenment. Finally, analysis of nineteenth century Māori responses to the Irish situation reveals a surprising awareness of global affairs. Māori responses suggest that we have under appreciated the extent to which local nationalist movements could frame their own forms of anti-imperialism as part of a transnational phenomenon in the mid-nineteenth century.

Stereotypes and Irishness in Australian Popular Culture
Diane Hall | Victoria University, Melbourne

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, recognised in one of his first speeches on an official tour of Australia in 2017 the complexity of the history of the Irish in Australia and the dispossession of the Indigenous peoples. This paper analyses one element of that complexity by examining how Irish Australians were represented in popular media when in the same frame as two other racialized groups, First Nations people and Chinese Australians. In April 1899, Irish-Australian cartoonist juxtaposed an Irishwoman, Mrs Muldoon, with an indigenous man, King Billy in a cartoon in the Bulletin. The ‘joke’ of the cartoon is that the caricatured Mrs Muldoon shows her ignorance of common usage of racial terms, being indignant at the suggestion that her son might be considered not as good as a ‘black wretch’ like King Billy. In 2019, the Australian film, The Nightingale, opened to critical acclaim.

The film, set in the 1820s, depicts the brutal assault and rape of an Irish-speaking convict woman, Clare, and then her journey through the bush in colonial Tasmania to take revenge on her English army attackers, aided by an Indigenous man, Billy. These two depictions of Irishness and First Nations people, created over a century apart, speak to changes in how Irish people were portrayed in Australian popular culture in relation to other marginalised and racialized peoples. This paper uses popular media, including theatre, film and television, to analyse these changes.

3:30 – 4:30 (NZDT) Session 2B (Chair: Chris Murray)

Irish Children’s Culture during the 1918-19 Influenza Epidemic
Charlotte Bennett | University of Auckland

On February 18 1919, a schoolboy at Dublin’s Castleknock College recorded in the yearly chronicle that “[i]t is too late to fly, we are firmly in the toils now.” Ireland was in the clutches of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, a devastating global crisis which killed approximately 50 million people. This paper uses documents penned by Irish children and youth to illuminate their reactions to events as they unfolded. Letters to newspaper columns, contributions to school magazines, and personal records such as diaries demonstrate that young people did not merely observe how the flu impacted homes, schools, and other social domains. Instead – like their counterparts elsewhere across the world – Irish youth actively engaged with the pandemic, responding in age- specific ways underpinned by their own cultural practices and reference points.

Irish Literature and Forgotten Pandemics
Maebh Long | Waikato University

During the 1950s and 1960s influenza was a recurring theme in the Cruiskeen Lawn, a satirical column printed in The Irish Times. The columns’ engagement arose from Ireland’s experience of brutal influenza seasons and, in particular, the 1957-58 pandemic, known at the time as the Asian ‘Flu. The pandemic’s H2N2 virus killed approximately 2 million people worldwide, but until our recent, COVID-inspired interest in historical lockdowns and outbreaks, has received very limited contemporary critical engagement. There is little scholarship on the pandemic’s impacts and its presence in the literature of the late 1950s and 1960s is largely unremarked. This is not unusual – even the 1918-19 pandemic is marked by a conspicuous literary and critical silence. Subsequent pandemics have figured as absent presences in much the same way, and if writers have struggled to represent outbreaks in their fictions, critics have frequently failed to recognise epidemics’ traces in writers’ oeuvres. This is the case within studies on Flann O’Brien, as the outbreak connections behind O’Brien’s last completed novel have been overlooked.

In this talk I take O’Brien’s The Dalkey Archive as a case study through which to explore Irish literary studies’ amnesia regarding medical history, specifically the 1957-58 pandemic, subsequent influenza outbreaks, and associated bacterial complications. Weaving together O’Brien’s correspondence, journalism and final novel, I propose a new way of understanding The Dalkey Archive, one that deprioritises its connections to politics to present it instead as a response to the symptoms and strains of pandemics, outbreaks, and O’Nolan’s own illnesses.

4:30 – 5:00 (NZDT) Coffee break

5:00 – 6:00 (NZDT) Session 3A (Chair: Patrick Coleman)

‘Old soldiers never die, they say. At any rate they are often tough lads, hard to kill’: An assessment of the longevity of Irish soldiers taking their discharge in New Zealand prior to 1870
Kathryn Patterson | Victoria University of Wellington

In 1911 “Tangiwai” commented in the New Zealand Railways Magazine that the ‘adventurous past of New Zealand’ is ‘not yet more than one lifetime behind us’. This paper considers the post army lives of a selected group of nineteenth century Irish soldiers who took their discharge from the British Army in New Zealand. Some 50% of those whose age at death is known lived passed 70 years of age. What factors contributed to their longevity, did they live longer than the general population and how did their longevity compare with British Army soldiers who served in other colonies?

Resentment and the Limits of Historical Narratives in Irish Women’s Protests
Sharon Crozier-De Rosa | University of Wollongong

This paper looks at the emotions of intersectional protest. It uses the case study of early twentieth-century Irish women who subscribed to a multitude of ideological beliefs – including feminism, nationalism, socialism and pacifism – to attempt to understand the different place of emotions like hope and pride and anger and resentment in sustaining political activism. In doing so, it examines the nexus between emotions, ideology and history. Adopting both an interconnecting and comparative approach, it investigates the relative efficacy of historical narratives in sustaining the emotional and moral dimensions of intersecting and competing ideological movements. It finds that, whereas the emotions–ideology–history nexus is effective, even lucrative, when it comes to masculinised anti-colonial nationalist and postcolonial politics, it is much less so when it comes to feminist protest.

5:00 – 6:00 (NZDT) Session 3B (Chair: Paul Harris)

An Domhan: Re-creating the Myth Through Mixed Reality
Noemie Beck | University of New Caledonia

An Domhan (‘The Earth’) is an innovative and unprecedented Mixed Reality (MR) device combining Irish Studies, Art and Communication Sciences. This interdisciplinary research- creation project has been developed by Dr. Noémie Beck, specialist in Irish Mythology and Folklore, and Gaëtan Le Coarer, PhD student in Art and Communication Sciences at the University of Savoie Mont Blanc, France, who has been in charge of the scriptwriting, conception and direction of the MR project.

An Domhan investigates the late legend entitled Oidhedh Chloinne Tuireann, ‘The Fate of the Children of Tuireann’ (dating from the beginning of the 18th c.), which recounts the redemptive quest of Brian, the one who has killed the father of the all-powerful god Lugh. Brian must bring him back unattainable magical objects from different parts of the world to be redeemed. Combining virtuality and reality, myth and history, tradition and modernity, as well as different types of coexisting worlds and modes of expressions, An Dohman allows its users to explore the myth in various ways and through different lenses. This paper will examine how the digital device provides new literary, memorial and artistic perspectives by offering a mosaic of possibilities and interpretations. Indeed, it not only allows to visit and re-visit this famous legend which is part of the identity legacy of the Irish, it also questions the creation and re- creation of myths since time immemorial. It challenges tradition as well as narrative modes, providing an immersive and interactive palimpsest of influences, dimensions and times that shakes the users’ beliefs. With its multiple spaces of creativity, analysis and meaning, An Domhan can therefore be considered an object of art as well as an object of remembrance in itself.

Historical Ireland: Control and Cadastrophe Through Stories and Images of Circumjacent Mythology
Jules McCue | Tasmania

This paper discusses the language and literature of Ireland from pre-history eras into the Christian period. Poems and legends are exploited by authoritive figures to maintain power, facilitating this function, by explaining the unknown and creating belief systems. Though compelling, this material is confusing to the cognitive facility of scientific era audiences.

In these mythological narratives and instructional verses, skillful language functions as a didactic device, the poetic transporting us to an ecstatic celebration of the natural world, the mirror of God. Herein, records of genealogical and migratory invasions are created to reinforce the right and might of the powerful, ensuring secular and sacred authority.

Varieties of historical sources reveal extraordinary snippets, including detailed and dynamic imagery, meshing real and imagined worlds that construct these myths and legends.

Some are tiny tales told by ordinary people, believing their verity, though pregnant with superstition or pure, creative imagination. Poignant are superstition, fragments of ancient sorcery and ritualistic beliefs that might beset a disempowered or infantilised people, who have borne the “cadastrophic” dispossession and violence of colonisation. Unlike the archetypal, heroic legends of Cú Chulain and Derdriu, though archeologically proven to hold fragile threads of truth, these tales are personal and local, intellectually naïve and charming.

Irish universal myths and tiny tales have cyclical or circular form, allowing heroes and villains to travel across time and place.

End of Day 1

DAY 2: 7 December

10:00 – 11:00 (NZDT) Keynote Address (Chair: Peter Kuch)

Irish Women’s Speeches: Voices that Rocked the System 
Sonja Tiernan | University of Otago

11:00 – 12:00 (NZDT) Session 4A (Chair: Dianne Hall)

The Stranded Clan of Laggan Valley: The East Donegal Unionist Border Petition of 1934
Samuel Beckton | University of Ulster

In Buckland’s 1973 work, he describes the history of Southern Unionism as an inevitable process of decline and wrote that Southern Unionists gradually gave up: ‘In the last month of 1921…the Southern Anglo- Irish…bowed to the political aspirations of the majority of their countrymen.’ By using the word ‘bowed’, he provides the impression that Southern Unionists surrendered instead of assimilated.

However, in November 1934 7,368 Protestants in East Donegal signed a Unionist petition, called a Memorial, to the British and Northern Irish governments requesting to transfer their region to Northern Ireland. This was a reaction to policies made in the Irish Free State by Fianna Fáil during the 1930’s that resulted in the Economic War. News of this event spread to numerous newspapers across the British and Irish Isles, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Southern Rhodesia through Irish diasporas across the British Empire. This was an exceptional event of Southern Unionism in post-partition Ireland, displaying an element of defiance in their development of living in the Irish Free State.

The paper analyses the roots of why the petition was created, and who organised the document? What were the terms of the petition, and the reaction to the petition in Ireland, the UK, and the Commonwealth? What did the petition manage to achieve and fail to resolve, such as creating the Derry-Donegal milk war that lasted three years.

Restoring Ireland: Post World War 2 Politics and the League for an Undivided Ireland
Emily Wilkinson | University of Auckland

This paper examines the foundation and largely unsuccessful development of Australian and New Zealand branches of the League for An Undivided Ireland in the years following World War Two. Shortly after losing the 1948 Irish general election, Eamon de Valera set off on a tour of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and India to reignite the anti-partition movement amongst international audiences. In the wake of the tour, Albert Dryer, an Australian doctor and lifelong supporter of an Irish republic, took on the mammoth task of establishing and running the Australian League for An Undivided Ireland in 1948. He corresponded with Kathleen O’Shea, secretary for the New Zealand branch, to coordinate and promote the League. Despite his efforts, Dryer faced increasingly uncooperative Australian state branches of the League, and O’Shea confirmed the failure of the New Zealand League for an Undivided Ireland in 1951. Dryer’s dream of a transnational network of Leagues came to a disappointing close.

Paired with the evolution of Irish identities, a lasting disillusionment with the partition cause may be a factor that explains the lack of engagement with the League for an Undivided Ireland in Australia and New Zealand. This paper will also explore whether elements of the Cold War (beginning post-WW2), and local and national religious tensions help explain, to a degree, why this attempt at forming an international network of Leagues for an Undivided Ireland never eventuated.

11:00 – 12:00 (NZDT) Session 4B (Chair: Jan Cronin)

‘Discovered and laid open’: Imagining the Irish in Shakespeare’s England
Michael Neill | University of Auckland

Given the amount of ink expended on this recalcitrant island in a succession of treatises and pamphlets, contemporary Ireland appears – at first sight anyway – to constitute a surprising absence in Shakespeare’s work and in the early modern theatre generally. Apart from a brief episode in Heywood’s Four Prentices of London (1594), we know of only one play of the period in which London’s geographically promiscuous stage was required, for a handful of scenes, to represent Ireland. In this paper I seek to probe that absence, examining a number of plays in which the Irish wars — especially the Nine Years’ War against Hugh O’Neill — figure on the margins theatrical consciousness. I explore ways in which this marginality can be related to what the English saw dangerous invisibility of the rebel Irish, and at the various devices by which they were brought imaginatively into view.

The Jew and the Nation-State in the work of James Joyce and George Orwell
Erin Carlston | University of Auckland

George Orwell said that the only part of his 1935 novel The Clergyman’s Daughter he liked was a chapter he modelled on the “Circe” episode of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922). Some readings of Clergyman’s Daughter suggest that Orwell perceived in Joyce a valuable way of writing about (political) history, and especially about the relationship of individual consciousness in relation to history. A few scholars have briefly noted the significance of the thirteen years between the two novels’ publication dates, attributing differences between Joyce’s original and Orwell’s homage to historical changes during that time. But no one has spent much time on the national difference between the two writers and how that influenced their treatment of the idea of the nation in these two texts.

In this paper I aim to address this lacuna and, in particular, to consider the rôles played in the two novels by Jewish characters. In Ulysses, one of the protagonists is a half-Jewish Irishman who embodies Joyce’s dream of a multicultural, secular Irish future. In contrast, Jewish figures in Clergyman’s Daughter are repulsive outsiders. This treatment of Jews is in keeping with Orwell’s emphasis on the British value of “common decency,” a political and mental attitude that he either explicitly or implicitly denied to Jews. In addition to considering the historical periods in which the two writers published these novels, then, we also need to examine their conceptions of Irish and English identity and the place of minorities within their images of the ideal nation.

12:00 – 12:30 (NZDT) Coffee break

12:30 – 1:30 (NZDT) Session 5A (Chair: Sean Brosnahan)

Sons of Eire Memorial
Peter Burke | Researcher, Wellington

At the beginning of WWII a group of Irishmen living in NZ opposed their conscription into the armed forces. They regarded themselves as citizens of neutral Eire and not British subjects and recounted their personal experiences of the Easter Rising and the War of Independence. They formed the Eire National Association (ENA) to represent their case to government and lodged appeals to the authorities in a bid to allow them to stay in the country and not be conscripted into the army. Their appeals failed and in January 1942 the authorities drew up a list of 155 Irish men who were to be deported back to Ireland for refusing to join the Crown forces. However the ENA continued to lobby the government and in October 1942 Prime Minister Peter Fraser said the men could stay.

At the instigation of Irelands Ambassador to NZ, Peter Ryan it was decided to create a permanent memorial to honour the patriotism of the men who suffered much public criticism for their stance. .To that end a beautiful sculpture was made on which is engraved the names of all the Irishmen involved in this action. The sculpture is now permanently displayed in Ireland’s Embassy in Wellington.

The sculpture features two stunning stain glass inserts representing Irish and indigenous NZ cultures It was unveiled in May 2021 by Ambassador Ryan and myself at a ceremony at the embassy attended by families and friends of the men.

This paper traces the story of this unique memorial.

Commemorative Displays of the Queensland Irish Association
Rodney & Robin Sullivan | University of Queensland

This presentation surveys Queensland Irish Association (QIA) commemorative displays in St Patrick’s Day and other Brisbane parades from initial participation in 1919 to 2019. QIA parade contributions projected a fluid Irishness, varying over time, with selections from Irish and Australian sources, in accordance with local circumstances and priorities. The century’s progression of displays portrayed mythical and historical Ireland as well as Irish-Australian priorities and subjects.

12:30 – 1:30 (NZDT) Session 5B (Chair: Meath Long)

The Queer Famine: Cherry Smyth’s Famished
Emer Lyons | University of Otago

Irish queer poet Cherry Smyth was born in 1960 in Ballymoney, County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Smyth was raised Protestant and has lived in London since the 1980s. Smyth grew up in a country wrought by battles over identity, British or Irish, Protestant or Catholic, and so over belonging. These questions have been complicated further by her lesbian identity and her life lived outside the island of Ireland (in London) so that Smyth and her work occupy multiple boundaries of belonging. In 2019, Smyth published her collection Famished a poetic sequence that explores the Irish Famine and how imperialism helped cause the largest refugee crisis of the 19th century. In this paper I will look at three poems from the sequence that are situated around County Antrim to question the way shame operates in contemporary Irish literature when writing the past.

“There seem to be three primary levels on which shame operates with regards to the Irish Famine: survivor’s shame; subaltern shame (the shame attached to having been dehumanised) and the shamefulness of ‘bringing it all up again,’ whereby the speaker about shame becomes shamed and stigmatised, just as a whistle-blower who speaks of what most people know, is often ostracised.”

Affective Memory and Feminine Desire in Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz (2011)
Yuwei Gou | University of South Australia

The Forgotten Waltz (2011) is Irish female writer Anne Enright’s fifth novel. It talks about Gina, a Dublin professional’s loving affair during Ireland’ economic bust. Alongside Gina’s relationship with her husband and her lover, Enright has also attended to Gina’s relation with her mother Joan, whose presence has helped Gina to reshape her sense of being in the world. Drawing on Pierre Nora’s (1989) ‘sites of memory’, affect theory and French feminist theory, this paper focuses on how Enright’s representation of Gina’s embodied memory of Joan has established in Enright’s novel a ‘site of memory’, standing against Irish patriarchal history’s erasure of the mother-daughter bond, and making contour of a feminine mode of desire. After Joan’s sudden death, Gina moves into Joan’s house. Gina’s bodily memory of her mother, especially her bodily connection with the sound and smell Joan left in the house, establishes the house as a site of maternal feminine bonds. Whilst Gina’s body has long been dislocated and disembodied in her relationships with men, in Joan’s house, through recovered bodily memories with her dead mother, Gina regains her bodily agency. This paper argues Gina’s affective memory of Joan allows her body to transgress the border of the past/present, the dead/living and to re-encounter her mother. In contrast to her deprived and degraded existence in patriarchal economy of desire, Gina’s affective bodily memory with the mother, brings her a sense of being with strength and hope and unfolds a mode of feminine economy of desire staying true to women’s inner bodily affects.

1:30 – 2:30 (NZDT) Lunch

2:30 – 3:30 (NZDT) Session 6A (Chair: Matthew Ryan)

The Murder of a Protestant Clergyman
Geraldene O’Reilly | Irish Interest Group, NZSG

The following headline appeared in The Clare Journal and Ennis Advertiser on the 8 June 1835:

With a horror that baffles description we have this day to announce the appalling murder of a Protestant Clergyman by some of the peasantry who are driven to deeds of blood and desperation by the wicked incitements of their demagogues.

On 1 June 1835 the Reverend Charles Dawson was murdered, shot dead in broad daylight on his own land holding at Ballinacarriga, a townland in the civil parish of Ardcanny in the county of Limerick. Who were the perpetrators of this crime? Within a week Patrick Bourke was in custody having been arrested for ‘being on the ground immediately after the foul deed’.

The newspapers of that time covering an account of this crime mentioned the difficulties that ‘rents and lands would soon be mixed up with tithes and churches’ and warned that the ‘ruin of one would be the prelude in the destruction of the other’. The question of sectarian conflict as a reason for this murder also has to be considered.

My paper will discuss the court case and its aftermath, where a point of Law was debated on the verdict of the trial of two men accused of the crime, 10 years after the murder was committed.

Memorialising King Billy: The Evolution of Orange Media
Patrick Coleman | Lincoln University

The Orange Order founded amidst agrarian conflict in 1790s Ireland, managed to spread rapidly across the British World. The central figure of King William (‘Billy’) III figures in the myth and memory of the Orange Order. Their core beliefs include the ‘civil and religious liberty’ originating with King William and then repackaged within the Orange Order’s central tenets.

This paper addresses how the Irish-founded Orange Order spread their message to include countries on the opposite side of the world such as New Zealand. Some key questions are: how did the Orange Order disseminate their message? What were the successful methods and what were the failures? What were the changes over time?

These issues are important for they illuminate aspects of Irish Protestant migration and enable exploration of the fraternity’s ideology of myth and memory.

2:30 – 3:30 (NZDT) Session  6B

Reflections on Seamus Deane
Maurice Fitzpatrick with Jan Cronin

3:30 – 4:00 (NZDT) Session 7 (Chair: Val Noone)

Remembering the Irish: Songs of the last Convict Ship and other stories
Enda Murray

This presentation will focus on producing independent media on the topic of Irish Australian culture while working outside of the academic space. Dr Enda Murray will present his experiences in making a commissioned radio documentary for ABC (Songs of the last Convict Ship) and making a no-budget feature TV documentary for the festival circuit (Áine Tyrrell – Irish Troubadour).

He will show clips from these works and talk about the challenges and opportunities in making and presenting the work.

Finally he will discuss building new film screening networks for Irish Australian audiences based on his work in founding and growing the Irish Film Festival over 7 years.

4:00 – 4:15 (NZDT) Coffee break

4:15 – 4:45 (NZDT) Conference Review

Panel and Questions



ISAANZ members who are not registered for the conference but wish to attend the AGM should email secretary [at] for the zoom link.