The Irish in South Africa: The Police, A Case Study

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"Nineteenth-century South Africa did not attract mass Irish migration, but Irish communities were to be found in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and Johannesburg, with smaller communities in Pretoria, Barberton, Durban and East London.

As one would expect, a fair number of those in the British colonial service in the sub-continent were Irish. A third of the Cape's governors were Irish, as were many of the judges and politicians.

Both the Cape Colony and the Colony of Natal had Irish prime ministers: Sir Thomas Upington, "the Afrikaner from Cork"; and Sir Albert Hime, from Kilcoole in County Wicklow.

Place names such as Upington, Porterville, Caledon, Cradock, Sir Lowry's Pass, the Biggarsberg Mountains, Don­nybrook and Belfast reflect the Irish impact on the development of the subcon­tinent."

This article looks at the role of the Irish in the British colonial police forces of South Africa.

Donal P. McCracken

Donal McCracken has been an academic for over 30 years, with a research interest divided between environmental history, media history and the Irish diaspora in Africa. Books to his credit include nine sole-authored, two joint-authored and six edited. He was Dean of Humanities between 1994 and 2009, and is at present acting College Dean of Research. He is chair of the Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archive Advisory Board. He has been named South African Genealogist of the Year and won the Zululand Historical Society Award. He was the founding chair of the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust; is a former president of the Irish History Students’ Association; and was Irish Universities’ Debating Champion

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