2011 - The Inaugural Patrick O'Farrell Memorial Lecture

When:9 Nov 2011, 6pm - 8:30am
Venue:John B Reid Theatre, AGSM Building (G27), UNSW Kensington Campus
Who:Professor David Fitzpatrick, Trinity College, Dublin

'Australia's Irish Question'

Responding to Patrick O'Farrell's spirited attempt to turn Anglo-Irish history inside out in Ireland's English Question, this lecture will seek cultural and political explanations for the prevalence of various myths about the Irish in Australia. It will re-examine some of O'Farrell's themes, particularly his emphasis on the Australian imprints of Irish Catholicism and Irish radical and egalitarian tendencies. It will argue that the increasing identification of Irishness with Catholicism was in large part a calculated deception by Australian church leaders. While pointing out distinctive features of Irish immigration, it will question the extent to which the behaviour and experience of Irish settlers and their descendants differed from those of their British contemporaries. While noting significant differences in the political and social development of nineteenth century Ireland, Britian and Australia, it will draw attention to neglected similarities tending to subvert the romantic belief that Ireland represented an archaic, endemically poor, yet spiritually superior alternative to British and Australian materialism. It will conclude that beliefs about Ireland and the Irish, though often misconceived and sometimes disingenuous, have left an enduring imprint on Australian politics and culture.

David Fitzpatrick is Professor of Modern History at Trinity College, Dublin, where he has taught since 1979. He is a graduate of the universities of Melbourne and Cambridge, a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and a recidivist holder in the distant past of fellowships in Australian universities. His works include Politics and Irish Life: Provincial experience of war and revolution, 1913-1921 (1977); Irish Emigration, 1801-1921 (1984); Oceans of Consolation: Personal Accounts of Irish Migration to Australia (1995); The Two Irelands, 1912-1939 (1998); Harry Boland's Irish Revolution (2003); and Solitary and Wild: Frederick MacNeice and the Salvation of Ireland (November 2011). With Eric Richards and Richard Reid in 1989, he initiated the Visible Immigrants series of six seminars and books on neglected sources and issues relating to Australian migration. He also convoked the Trinity History Workshop in 1986, and recently edited its fifth volume of essays Terror in Ireland, 1916-1923 (spring 2012). He is writing a history of the Orange Order in Ireland.

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