Irish South Australia: new histories and insights

Irish South Australia.jpgDue to be launched on February 1 at the Irish Club, Carrington St, Adelaide, by the Irish Ambassador to Australia Breandán Ó Caollaí, this volume of essays has had some enthusiastic reviews already.

Associate Professor of Archaeology at Flinders University, Heather Burke, says

This collection provides a unique set of insights into Irish life in South Australia throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The result is a series of fascinating and varied portraits of the South Australian Irish—rich and poor, urban and rural, Catholic and Protestant, male and female—each of whom sculpted their own notions of Irishness into new forms of belonging in a new colony. Ranging across a broad field of interests from history to archaeology, these detailed vignettes are as rich and diverse as the Irish who populate them.

The Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies’ Dr Brad Patterson notes:

In terms of sheer numbers, South Australia might well be viewed as the least Irish of the states, but this stimulating new collection of often deeply perceptive essays demonstrates beyond doubt that there has been a constant, entrenched and multi-layered Irish presence from the foundation years. With the authors drawn from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, new textures are refreshingly imparted, the themes encompassing not only the standard notables, migration peaks and political excitements, but also landscape expressions such as vernacular architecture, grave symbols and place names. Moreover, in the discussion of identifiable communities the emphasis tends to be on the micro-level, on rural villages and districts rather than major urban concentrations. This usefully augments more broad brush studies of Irish Australia, past and present.There is something in this book for everybody; the scholar, the family historian, no less the casual browser. The editors must be congratulated on their initiative.

Emeritus Professor of Cornish and Australian Studies at the University of Exeter, Philip Payton outlines that

Until very recently, the impact of the Irish in South Australia has been underestimated and under-researched. At a stroke, this splendid new book changes the historical landscape, revealing a rich and vivid Irish presence, discernible from the earliest days of European settlement. It charts the emergence of Irish communities in areas as disparate as Pekina in the southern Flinders Ranges, the Clare Valley, Kapunda, Mount Barker, and the far south-east. Alongside an Anglo-Irish elite, including such figures as George Strickland Kingston and Charles Hervey Bagot, we are introduced to members of the professional classes – lawyers and surgeons, for example – as well as numerous men and women who exhibited their ‘Irishness’ in a multiplicity of ways. There were Orangemen as well as Catholics. There were nationalists and Home Rulers, enthusiastic celebrants of St Patrick’s Day, and those who chose to memorialize their forebears through the erection of grave stones proclaiming their Irish identity.

This sparkling collection of essays at last does justice to the Irish in South Australia, and will appeal to all who seek to understand more of the State’s unfolding history.

The editors, Susan Arthure, Dr Fidelma McCorry-Breen, Dr Stephanie James, and Dr Dymphna Lonergan chose St Brigid’s Day as a suitable launch date for their fresh look at the Irish in South Australia.

Dymphna Lonergan is a member of Tinteán’s editorial group and has contributed two chapters to Irish South Australia: new histories and insights (Wakefield Press 2019). Enquiries to


5 thoughts on “Irish South Australia: new histories and insights

  1. I myself would’ve love to have gone but was on holidays. Research my Irish heritage has become so involving when I learned my parent’s ancestors were living within arms reach of each other at Bakers Flat.

  2. Pingback: Discovering my Irish Links – Inspiration through words and photography

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