A few years ago the Dictionary of Sydney worked with the Consulate General of Ireland in Sydney to produce a fantastic suite of entries on the impact of the Irish community on Sydney’s history, and a free walking tour about the Irish in the the city which is you can download onto your mobile device via our app.
The essays trace the paths and legacies of the thousands of Irish people in Sydney whose legacy is marked out across Sydney in monuments, buildings, schools, societies and festivals.
Perry McIntyre’s article on the Irish Famine Memorial at Hyde Park Barracks looks at the history of the 2,214 young women brought to Sydney from Ireland’s orphanages and workhouses during the period of the Famine is a poignant one.
Not everyone came to Sydney destitute of course. Anne Cunningham describes the arrival of John Hughes and his parents in 1840 on passage assisted by the colonial government. Hughes become one of Sydney’s most prominent philanthropists raising £8,000 for the building of St Canice’s Church, Elizabeth Bay.
The Irish community in Sydney has always covered a broad spectrum of society according to Dr Richard Reid‘s article, Irish in Sydney from First Fleet to Federation. Two of the first arrivals to the new colony were Irish convict Hannah Mullens and Surgeon-General John White. Immigrants who arrived as ‘felons or rebels’ didn’t always remain so; many did well for themselves creating a life of opportunity in their new country.
Nor, as Michael O’Sullivan explores, would many be aware that the Wicklow Chief, Michael Dwyer, is buried under the 1798 Memorial at Waverley Cemetery. The Irish National Association, whose colourful history is recounted by Anne-Maree Whitaker, maintains the memorial.
Both the INA and the Aisling Society have a long history of fostering Irish culture and heritage in Sydney. As Jeff Kildea relates, the Aisling Society began when three learned friends met for a drink at Pfahlert’s Hotelin Sydney in 1954. Their love of Irish literature, history and culture has kept generations of Irish-Australians connected to their heritage.
A history of the Irish in Sydney wouldn’t be complete without mention of St Patrick. Jeff Kildea tracks the changing mood of the Irish community in Celebrating St Patrick’s Day in nineteenth century Sydney. The exuberant revelries of 1795 and ‘acts of excess and violence’ of 1814 find a surprising counterpart in the Temperance tea parties of 1843.
Our thanks go once again to the Consulate General of Ireland for supporting these projects and making it possible to add this content to the Dictionary, and to all of the writers & contributors.
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