Among the many fine papers at the Australasian Irish Studies Conference in Adelaide last month was that on the Irish settlement at Kapunda, South Australia in the 19th century. The archaeology around this settlement is being analysed by Susan Arthure, a PhD archaeology postgraduate student at Flinders University.
During the nineteenth century, around 500 Irish were illegal squatters for on a piece of land next to the Kapunda Mine, called Bakers Flat. Little remains on the surface of their presence, and this Kapunda history was hardly known until Susan set out to investigate the archaeological story. Other archaeologists joined in the study and analysed headstones in the nearby Catholic cemetery for what could be learned about this unique Irish settlement.
Val Noone, veteran of many Irish Australian conferences, remarked at the farewell gathering for the conference that ‘the current work coming from South Australia is a bright new stage in Irish Studies’. He told a group of us later that in his opinion:
Susan Arthure’s paper on archaeological evidence of a clochán on Baker’s Flat at Kapunda was the stand-out news story of the conference, and of international importance.
Unknown to us at the time, but as if to confirm Val’s comments, Susan had just won a major award for her work. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Flinders University, Professor Robert Saint, announced in December that Susan had been awarded the Best Research Higher Degree Student Publication for her paper ‘Being Irish: The Nineteenth Century South Australian Community of Baker’s Flat‘, published in 2015 Archaeologies, 11(2).
We extend our congratulations to Susan.
Susan is from Trim, County Meath and now resident in Adelaide. She is doing fieldwork on Bakers Flat, Kapunda, South Australia