Nature of Event: An Australian-Irish Book Festival, hosted jointly by the Celtic Club and Eureka Australia, which presents three writers: Rod Smith, Geraldine Moore and Denise Tobin Shine
When: Wednesday 4 December at 7.30pm
Where: Celtic Club Metropolitan (corner Courtney and Blackwood Sts North Melbourne)
Rod Smith, in his book Guinness Down Under, has written an original and intriguing jigsaw puzzle of a book. The varied pieces include accounts of the families of four grandsons of the founder of Dublin’s Guinness Brewery who immigrated to Australia and New Zealand during the 19th century; the fictional memoirs and letters of another Guinness family member, a woman who lived in New Zealand and Fiji; and, finally, a history of the Guinness brewing business both in Ireland and Down Under. This is a book to be savoured, not just by those who love their pint of Guinness, but by all those interested in how Irish culture and tastes have shaped and continue to shape the lives of New Zealanders and Australians.
Geraldine Moore wrote George Higinbotham and Eureka: The Struggle for Democracy in Colonial Victoria. Higinbotham was a barrister at the time of Eureka who wrote anonymously for the Melbourne Herald. He visited Ballarat in October 1854 at the time of the burning of the Eureka Hotel and following the trip he wrote an editorial detailing the scandalous state of the administration on the goldfields and warned of imminent bloodshed if the government did not immediately reform the administration of the Goldfields. He then warned the governor that ‘worse would follow if the diggers’ grievances were not addressed’. And in another editorial Higinbotham praised the diggers as ‘the salt of the earth’ and defended their right to assemble, yet he pleaded with them to refrain from illegality. Two days before the battle he urged the immediate discontinuation of the gold licence fee ‘before many a poor fellow has been unnecessarily sacrificed’.
Higinbotham was deeply troubled by the conflict at Eureka and viewed it as a consequence of a seriously defective political system. He devoted the rest of his life to advocating for a truly democratic form of colonial government, independent of the Colonial Office.
Over his lifetime Higinbotham served as the editor of the Argus, a Member of Parliament, the Attorney General, a Supreme Court judge and finally the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Jeremiah’s Trunk by Denise Tobin Shine, is a multi-generational, heart-warming epic through two centuries. Abigail Skinner’s ancestors’ lives are shattered when Jeremiah, now a part-time artist/potter and husband and father, is transported to New South Wales for forgery. Throughout his convict years, Jeremiah dreams of returning to his homeland, but his life takes a new turn with the discovery of gold in 1851. Jeremiah settles in Ballarat, is deeply involved with the Eureka Stockade and starts his Australian dynasty. Readers will be interested how this well researched piece of historical-fiction paints a very clear picture of family life in Ballarat in 1854.