Against the Odds: Battle of Vinegar Hill 1804 and the Easter Rising 1916

Battle_of_Vinegar_Hill_Memorial-32635-22941On Sunday 6 March 2016 I gave an address at the Battle of Vinegar Hill Monument, Castlebrook Memorial Park, Rouse Hill on the occasion of the 212th anniversary of the convict rebellion there in 1804. In the address I reflected on the relationship between that event and the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, the centenary of which we commemorate this year.… Read the rest

Easter Rising and Captain Bowen-Colthurst

Terrible DutyNext year the centenary of the Easter Rising will be marked by many commemorative events and the publication of articles and books on numerous aspects of this significant event in the history of modern Ireland. A book recently published depicts the life of a little known participant in the rising on the British side, Captain John Bowen-Colthurst, who was responsible for the murder of innocent civilians, including the well-known newspaper editor and Dublin eccentric Francis Sheehy-Skeffington.… Read the rest

Governor Richard Bourke Commemorated

On 3 December 1831 Irishman Major-General Richard Bourke arrived in Sydney to begin a six-year term as the eighth governor of the colony of New South Wales. On the 184th anniversary of Bourke’s arrival, his contribution to the colony was marked by a reception at Government House in Sydney hosted by the current governor General David Hurley and Mrs Hurley.… Read the rest

The Irish at Gallipoli 100 years on

In this centenary year of the Gallipoli campaign the main focus of commemoration in Australia and New Zealand has been the anniversary of the landing on 25 April. For the Irish, however, August rather than April is the most significant month. Although three Irish battalions took part in the landing at Cape Helles as part of the 29th Division, it was in August that the Irish arrived in strength with the 10th (Irish) Division taking part in the major offensive that was intended to break the stalemate which had set in after the original landings three and half months before.… Read the rest

Anzac Day in Dublin 2014

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Jeff Kildea giving Anzac address at Grangegorman Military Cemetery (Courtesy Michael Lee)

When I arrived at Dublin’s Grangegorman Military Cemetery this morning at 6 o’clock for the Anzac Day dawn service to commemorate all those who died in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, a crescent moon was rising in the east. Very appropriate, I thought. After all, the victors in that campaign were the Turks, whose national flag includes a crescent moon.… Read the rest

The Last Summer: William Redmond’s Final Visit to Australia

This year 2014 we will be commemorating the centenary of the start of the First World War, which, appropriately, will overshadow many other centenaries. Nevertheless, apart from the war, a centenary event of relevance to Irish Australia is the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the Third Home Rule Bill, which had been introduced into the Westminster parliament in April 1912.… Read the rest

Disorder in the House

The Victorian parliament is in the news a lot these days, mostly for the wrong reasons. Google “Victorian parliament” and the results over the past month frequently include words such as “chaotic scenes”, “turmoil”, “mess”. In this finely balanced parliament, with the speaker under fire from the Labor opposition and from an independent member who holds the balance of power, members are not behaving as paragons of propriety.… Read the rest

Searching for Irish-Australia in Canada

Next week I am off to North America to see what I can find out about Hugh Mahon’s time there from 1869 to 1880. Mahon, the Irish-Australian politician who is the subject of a biography I am researching was a 12 year old schoolboy when the family landed in New York City in March 1869. From there they travelled to Ontario, Canada, where they lived for four years on a farm in Oxford County before returning to New York State and settling in Albany, where Hugh trained as a printer and journalist.… Read the rest

Cricket: When Irish Eyes are Smiling

My wife and I have just returned from a cricketing tour of England with the Sydney Cricket Ground XI that included two days at Lord’s for the second Ashes Test. The atmosphere at Lord’s was fantastic – too bad about the cricket. It was not long ago that as an Irish-Australian I took delight in the way Australia used to put England to the sword whenever the two teams played the game the English had invented.… Read the rest

Redmond Brothers’ Tour of Australia 1883

For ten months in 1883 John Redmond and his brother William toured Australia and New Zealand promoting the cause of Irish self-government and raising funds for the Irish National League. The Redmond brothers’ tour has received limited coverage in the published literature despite the length of the visit, the public controversy it caused and the significance which some historians have ascribed to it.… Read the rest