New book on Irish Australian history

Notice of New Irish-Australian

To Foster an Irish Spirit: The Irish National Association of Australasia 1915-2015

This new book by historians Richard Reid, Jeff Kildea and Perry McIntyre is the centennial history of The Irish National Association of Australasia which was formed in Sydney in 1915. For over a century it has been a significant ‘Irish’ organisation in Sydney. Irish sports, language, dancing, literature, history and culture have been, and are still, central to its existence. Above all, the Association has never swerved from its total support for the undivided freedom of Ireland.

Divided into three sections, Part One: From Go to Woe 1915-1935 by Dr Kildea covers the beginning of the Association, the internment of seven-members of the association during 1918-19 and the INA after Dryer’s death in 1963. These years saw the development of post-war Australia and the parallel development of the INA is intriguingly untangled by Kildea. In Part Two: Revival to Survival 1836-2015, Dr Reid examines the day to day running of the INA with its political involvement, the interaction between its committee, its members, the public and the Catholic Church. His analysis is staggering in its depth, hewn brilliantly from the surviving archive of the INA and Dryer’s papers in the National Library of Australia, augmented by the papers of Patrick O’Farrell also held in the National Library in Canberra. The INA’s involvement in annual events at the 1798 Memorial at Waverley Cemetery and the Association’s running of the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Sydney from 1979 to 1998 form the third part written by Dr McIntyre. These two activities were a large undertaking for the Association, but require their own analysis so they did not become buried in the general overview of the Association.

The INA was founded by Albert Dryer, born in Balmain, Sydney in 1888 to an Australian-born father of German and Irish descent and an Irish mother from Limerick. His interest in Ireland, once aroused, gravitated from support for Irish home rule with in the United Kingdom to the more radical notion of Irish national independence. Dryer’s prime objective was to proclaim Ireland’s basic right to absolute freedom. The first decade of the INA was marked by controversy as the Irish fight for independence resonated in Australia, further dividing a community already split over the First World War, conscription, industrial relations and religious sectarianism. At times the INA had a large and sometimes surprising impact on the Irish and Australian-Irish community which extended into social, political, sporting and cultural areas. This history draws on many sources to tell the story of the INA and the people who worked to drive the organisation and its vision into the twenty-first century. The interaction of committee members, the community, rivals and friends resulted in victories and losses which make this story so engaging.

Details of book:

Richard Reid, Jeff Kildea and Perry McIntyre, To Foster an Irish Spirit: The Irish National Association of Australasia 1915-2015

Order from Anchor Books, PO Box 4, Spit Junction, NSW 2088, or online

ISBN  9780646804309, 306pp, $39.95