Letters from Irish Australia: 1825-1925
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.
John King: Ireland’s Forgotten Explorer – Australia’s First Hero
In 1861 an Irish-born explorer emerged from the Australian outback, sole survivor of the country's greatest expedition. John King from Moy, Co. Tyrone, had crossed the arid continent and discovered tracts of rich, fertile land. With eight men dead, King's triumph was one of the world's great feats of endurance and thousands gathered to crown him Australia's first hero ...
Yet within weeks the handsome 22-year-old had been airbrushed from popular history. It was determined that King, an 'Irish working man' was an unsuitable champion and the two dead leaders of the party, the Anglo-Irish gentleman, Robert O'Hara Burke and English scientist William Wills, would be history's heroes.
Mentally and physically, King was a better equipped explorer than Burke or Wills. Educated at a Quaker primary school, King lived through the Great Famine, graduated after seven years at a tough Dublin military college, fought in the Indian Mutiny and was a teacher, linguist, musician, army sharpshooter, horseman and camel handler.
John King: Ireland's Forgotten Explorer - Australia's First Hero reveals the string of injustices done to John King by powerful contemporaries and subsequent historians, and on the 150th anniversary of his survival, seeks to give him his rightful place in the Burke and Wills historiography.