‘People are less defensive about being Irish now,’ wrote Bob Scally in The New York Times, back in the 1990s. That obviously referred to America, but applied to Australia also, now as then. Although ‘Irish’ was the third highest reported ancestry in the 2016 Australian census, at 10.2%, only 0.4% of the population in 2016 were Irish-born. Today’s Irish-Australian is mostly third or fourth generation and some are now interested in finding out more about the ancestor who first set foot in this country.
Our leading article this month looks at what it meant to be Irish in Australia in the years since 1788.
In this edition, we start a new series which we are calling ‘Ghosts of Irish-Australia.’ It will be written in the voice of an Irish person from the next life, someone who exists where, as Tennyson put it, ‘There is sweet music here that softer falls / Than petals from blown roses on the grass … Music that gentlier on the spirit lies / Than tir’d eyelids upon tir’d eyes.’
Such people may not be too exact on facts like name of ship, year, names of towns or people; we expect that they would not be offended if you, dear reader, were to correct any errors or add any details by way of a comment at the end of the articles.
We would love to have contributions from you for this series. Our editors would be happy to help you with the writing if needed.
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