The 21st Australasian Irish Studies conference will be held at Maynooth University from 18 to 20 June 2015. The conference series was initiated in 1980 by the renowned Irish historian Oliver MacDonagh. Keynote lectures will be given by distinguished scholars including Guy Beiner from Israel and the Irish scholars Margaret Kelleher and Terence Dooley. The strong international character of the conference is ensured as a result of proposals from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Britain, the United States, Spain, Belgium, Serbia, Italy and Korea. Those attending the conference will find it a rich and rewarding insight into the contemporary state of research and writing on diverse areas of Irish history, literature and culture. You can register for the conference online through the conference website.
The centenary of the start of the military phase of the Gallipoli campaign on 25 April 1915 will be well commemorated in Australia and New Zealand, as might be expected. Although many thousands of Irishmen served at Gallipoli and died there, the campaign is not well known in Ireland and has not been widely commemorated there. In recent decades ex-pat Australians and New Zealanders have conducted ceremonies in Dublin on the anniversary of the landing at Grangegorman Military Cemetery and at St Ann’s Church in Dawson Street. This year, however, with the centenary of the campaign, a number of events in Ireland will mark the occasion.
One in particular should attract considerable interest. At 3pm on 25 April 2015 at the Dublin City Library and Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Philip Lecane will give a talk entitled “Beneath a Turkish Sky: The Royal Dublin Fusiliers and the Assault on Gallipoli” This is the title of Philip’s forthcoming book which is scheduled for publication in June by The History Press Ireland. It is not widely known that during the landing at V Beach at Cape Helles the Irish suffered more casualties than did the Australians and New Zealanders in their landing at the beach at Anzac Cove.
Other events include the “Gallipoli 100” conference In Kells, County Meath, on 24-25 April 2015 in St Columba’s Church of Ireland church in Market St and a wreath laying ceremony at the Mayo Peace Park in Castlebar. No doubt there will be many others.
In addition, the History Hub at University College Dublin is publishing a six-part series of podcasts on the Irish at Gallipoli which I recorded during my time as the Keith Cameron Chair of Australian History in 2014.
The Irish Anzacs Project is a significant research undertaking of the Global Irish Studies Centre (now called Irish Studies at UNSW), made possible by a grant from the Irish government’s Emigrant Support Program. The project aims to identify all Irish-born enlistments in the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War, or as close to all as is practicable, and to compile a publicly accessible database containing information on each of them. The database will provide families with information on their Irish-born family members who served in the war as well as providing statistical information to assist researchers understand the contribution of the Irish to the Australian war effort.
The information in the database has been extracted from service records held by the National Archives of Australia and includes the following details: name, town and county of birth, date and place of enlistment, declared age, occupation, marital status, next of kin location, previous military service, religion, and the unit to which initially posted. Over time, additional information is being added from other sources such as the Roll of Honour, the Embarkation Roll, the Nominal Roll, the list of Awards and Decorations and the Red Cross files relating to the wounded and missing and to prisoners of war, ultimately producing for each soldier a comprehensive record. When completed the database will contain details of more than 6000 Irish-born soldiers and nurses who enlisted in the Australian forces.
The Irish Anzacs database was launched in Ireland on 17 October 2014 by the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Charlie Flanagan TD at University College Dublin with a live Skype link to the Global Irish Studies Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. The launch of the database was followed by a full-day symposium “Emergent Nations: Australia and Ireland in the First World War – Gallipoli, Conscription and Commemoration“. The Australian launch of the Irish Anzacs database will take place on 28 March 2015 during the 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry in Canberra.
To access the Irish Anzacs database go to the webpage of Irish Studies at UNSW.
Fr Frank Brennan SJ gave the 2014 Keith Cameron
Lecture at University College Dublin on 22 September in the presence of the President of UCD Professor Andrew Deeks and the Australian Ambassador to Ireland Dr Ruth Adler. The annual lecture is the most significant event in the calendar of the Keith Cameron Chair of Australian History at UCD. As the current holder of the chair I was delighted when Fr Brennan accepted my invitation to give the lecture. I have known Fr Brennan for more than 30 years and he has always impressed me as one of Australia’s finest activist intellectuals and a brilliant speaker on topical subjects with an uncanny ability to explain complex issues of public policy to a general audience without sacrificing the subtleties and nuances of the debate. On this occasion he spoke about Australia’s controversial asylum seeker policy explaining its history and background and arguing the need for a moral foundation to the policy rather than one justified by narrow legalism based on a strict reading of international conventions. The large audience who squeezed into the lecture room in the John Henry Newman Building did not leave UCD disappointed. And the high quality of the questions from those who came to hear the lecture gave the speaker an opportunity to expand on the subject and to put the Australian experience into the broader context of the problems facing all First World countries, including Ireland, in dealing justly with persons fleeing persecution while maintaining border security. The moral force of Fr Brennan’s argument is compelling and you can read the full text of the lecture here.