March 22

The Irish in Australia

 We tend to see the Irish through the haze of the tricolour at that time they were part of the British Empire,” said Richard Reid, senior curator to a new exhibition at the National Museum of Australia on the Irish in Australia, ‘Not Just Ned”.

He was speaking to Jacqueline Maley about the Irish in Australia during colonial times. This was published in  The Sydney Morning Herald on 15 March 2011; it does not appear to be on the web. 

“They were not all extreme Republicans,” he said .

“They wanted to be respected for themselves as colonials. They were never in ghettos and they weren't all rusted on ALP supporters. There was a huge diversity of Irish presence.

There is a wide range of exhibits in the exhibition including ' Chif’s Chair', a wooden chair that Prime Minister Ben Chifley used when attending Mass at St Christopher's Cathedral in Canberra. His Presbyterian marriage was not regarded as legitimate."

Not allowed to take communion, this  humble chair placed at the back of the church allowed him to slip in when he could.

And Ben Chifley, like all of the great ALP leaders, was of course a constitutional monarchist.


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