St Bridget’s Day book launch 1 February 2019

Ambassador O Collai accepting the St Bridget’s Cross (photo: Brendan Kearns)


Editors (L to R) Fidelma Breen, Stephanie James with the Ambassador, Brendan O Collai, Dymphna Lonergan and Susan Arthure (photo: Brendan Kearns)

Editors Fidelma Breen, Stephanie James, Dymphna Lonergan and Susan Arthure chose St Bridget’s Day, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere,  to launch Irish South Australia: new histories and insights (Wakefield Press) in the Irish Club, Carrington Street, Adelaide. The book promises a fresh look at Irish migration to South Australia from 1836 and the developing role played by the Irish in cultural, political, and social life. The South Australian Irish turned up in their hundreds to the launch. Interstate attendees included Dr Val Noone and Professor Rónán McDonald. Ambassador Breandán Ó Collaí flew in from Canberra and was warmly greeted.
A highlight of the proceedings was the presentation of aSt Bridget’s Cross to the Ambassador by Bridget O’Reilley, a direct descendant of Patrick O’Reilley whose family was evicted from the Shirley estate in Farney County Monaghan in 1849. He was fourteen years old when the family arrived in Kapunda. Bridget and her Dad Simon made the cross from reeds growing in Kapunda, a former mining town north of Adelaide. The cross was interwoven with copper threads to signify the mine that had provided work for the O’Reilley family on their arrival from Ireland in 1849, and today’s town where Simon is the local Irish historian. Simon contributed a chapter on St Patrick’s Day to the book. Also at the launch were Simon’s Dad Bernie and son Patrick.
O'Reilley family

The O’Reilley’s -from Monaghan 1849 to Kapunda 2019 (photo: Brendan Kearns)


Bridget dancing on her special day (photo: Brendan Kearns)