The good news for those interested in Irish-Australian history is that two Australian Catholic newspapers The Freeman’s Journal (1850-1932) and The Catholic Press (1895-1942) are now being made available online. Trove, the National Library of Australia’s online research service, has for a number of years been digitising Australian newspapers and uploading them to its digitised newspapers website. Anyone with a connection to the Internet can access metropolitan dailies (at least one in each capital city) as well as numerous regional and local newspapers in all Australian states. The two Catholic newspapers now being uploaded are a rich source of information on Irish-Australia and events in Ireland between 1850 and 1942. The uploading of those newspapers is being undertaken progressively so that not all issues are available to be viewed as yet. However, the Trove search engine will process search terms and give a snippet view even if the complete article itself is not available. If you click on the envelope icon in the search result screen, Trove will send you an email when the article is available. There’s even a link to see what issues have been recently added.
The 97th anniversary of the Easter Rising falls on 24 April. Commemorations of this momentous event in Irish history usually occur on Easter weekend but it is not often that the calendar anniversary and Easter coincide. This year they are almost a month apart. In Sydney we had the usual Easter Sunday Mass at the 1798 Memorial in Waverley Cemetery, where Kerry Casey gave an interesting address on the participation in the Irish War of Independence of Australian soldiers from the First World War. In Dublin, one organisation which commemorates the calendar anniversary is Fianna Fáil. On the Sunday closest to the calendar date of the rising they host a Mass and ceremony at Arbour Hill Church and Cemetery. It was in that graveyard that the executed leaders were buried in a mass grave. So, if you missed the Easter commemorations you can catch up on Sunday 21 April. But if you are not in Dublin, one way to do so would be to listen to Nick Rankin’s radio piece on what the British Cabinet knew about the proposed rising in the lead up to Easter weekend 1916. The BBC 4 Document program is available online.
Saint Patrick’s Day has come and gone, yet again. In Sydney the day was marked with many events stretching over a couple of weeks. St Patrick’s Day is very rapidly becoming St Patrick’s month. A ball, many lunches and dinners and the annual parade were all well attended. But it has not always been so. The celebrations of St Patrick’s Day have waxed and waned over the years and have taken many forms. I recently wrote an article on Sydney’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations for the Dictionary of Sydney.