- Publication Date
Ulster Historical Foundation and New South Wales University Press
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Reading other people's mail, as this book enables the reader to do - with sensitive and incisive commentary and linkage designed to focus and illuminate the materials - is to enter the Irish migrant experience with an intimacy whose intensity is particularly human and moving.
These letters, ranging from those of convicts writing to their wives in the 1820's through accounts of the voyage out, and pioneering life in mid-century, through love letters, to stories of success and failure to master the land, to the remarkable family saga (1883-1929) which ends the book, bring their writers alive again.
The immigrant Irish, distinctive independent and colourful, have had a profound and sometimes spectacular impact on the history and character of Australia, but this book goes beyond the sometimes superficial and public manifestations of Irishness in Australia. It shows through the lives of the ordinary Irish - Anglo-Irish, Ulster Protestant Irish, and Catholics from both South and North - the extraordinary complexity and diversity of the Irish influx, and the way it interacted, at the ordinary day-to-day level, with its new Australian environment.