Реферат: The Irish and Australia

The Irish and Australia

Sometimes, in wandering among the tombstones of an old English countrychurchyard on the south coast overlooking the English Channel, one comes acrossthe headstone of a Royal Naval veteran who sailed the South Seas with Captain Cook,who discovered Australia. It is worth remembering that the voyages of CaptainCook were contemporary with the War of American Independence — King George,and his equally incompetent ministers, such as Lord George Germain, theSecretary of War, contributed greatly to the loss of the American Colonies,which had become a dumping ground over the years for British convicts until1776. Cook discovered New South Wales in 1770, finding a continent occupied bya small native population of aborigines, which even today numbers only 200,000. It was conveniently ripe for white settlement, and, in 1783, the BritishSecretary of State decided to switch the transpoortation of convicts fromAmerica to New South Wales. The first convict expedition, 750 in number, set sailfor Australia in 1787, under the command of Captain Phillip of the Royal Navy,who was to act as the first Governor. In January, 1788, the marines guardingthe prisoners became the first free settlers in Botany Bay. This site was thenabandoned in favor of Port Jackson, and in honor of Lord Sydney, the BritishHome Secretary, the new settlement of Sydney was named, and set up as amilitary state.

By 1790 Europe was in the turmoil of the French Revolution, and in 1798Ireland had risen in one of its periodic revolts, which was viciohusly put downby the redcoats, assisted by Hessian mercenaries. Broadly speaking, the Irelandof those days could be seen as an English garrison, run from Dublin Castle. Thepeasantry of Ireland was at the mercy of a largely debauched, drunken anddissolute landlord class which had the power to be judge, jury and executioner-- or transporter — of any of its tenants, be they political thinkers oranyone who stepped out of line in any way. The allpowerful magistrate class sentencedhundreds of people — men and women — without trial to transportation inconvict ships to Botany Bay. They were often sentenced for life, their«crimes» unnamed, and seldom, if ever, written down.

The first English prisoners had landed in 1788, and in 1791, Irishprisoners started to arrive, thus forging the first Irish-Australian links.Ireland was then a nation up in arms and in desperate political turmoil, andthe first prison ships contained many simple country folk, driven indesperation to political «crimes. » For many it became, undermilitary goading, a choice of transportation for life, or hanging by the neckor even suicide. The convict ships themselves were not much better than the oldNegro slave ships, as frequently the convicts were kept in irons throughout ahoorrendous six-month voyage, during which they suffered hunger, thirst, thelash and harassment from their captains and crews. In those days flogging was anormal form of discipline in both the British Navy and the British Army, andbrutality was the only way in which the officers could effectively govern andcontrol the lower-deck and lesser orders. It was not until as late as 1886 thatthe flogging of soldiers was abolished in the British Army, and then onlybecause of a case in which a man was flogged to death, and the British Armydoctors tried to cover it up by saying that the soldier had died of pneumonia!Not all the Irish convicts were poor folk or agricultural laborers, for, afterthe rebellion of 1798, Presbyterian ministers and professional men, such asdoctors, were among the more educated revolutionaries to be transported. Manyof the early political prisoners were Presbyterian ministers from County Derry,County Down and County Antrim. Very soon, Irish convicts formed a largepercentage of the prisoner population in Australia, and the authorities weregreatly concerned at their numbers, their escape attempts, their standard ofintelligence, and the fact that Catholic priests as well as Presbyterianministers were among the arrivals. For the military authorities' answer to mostproblems was violence-either shooting recalcitrant prisoners, flogging theminto submission, or allowing them to die of overwork and under-nourishment. Thebewildered convicts, separated from their home and country, their wives andfamilies, and ignorant of their ultimate fate, all too often tried to escape.The authorities, desperate to control the colony, regularly executed«trouble makers» by hanging them publicly, and any escaped convictswho were unlucky enough to be recaptured were certain to face a flogging beforethe hangman's noose. Flogging could mean two or three hundred lashes, whichleft a man's back cut open to the bone, and the flesh of his buttocks and legsreduced to pulp, everything short of actually being flogged to death beingpermitted.... Frequently a doctor was present to see just how far thetorture could be allowed to go. Throughout the nineteenth century, convictships regularly set sail from Cork to Sydney. Many of those transported wereCatholics who found, on arrival in their penal settlements, that the Church ofRome was not recognized, and they were obliged to attend state religiousservices of the Protestant faith. Although there were priests among the earlyconvicts, they were not allowed to perform their religious duties and it wasnot until 1803 that the first Catholic priest was permitted to celebrate masson Sundays for Catholic convicts, in a peculiar offical climate where «noPope~' was the order of the day. Appropriately enough, on the site of the housein Sydney where the first Catholic service was held, there now stands theCatholic Church of Saint Patrick.

Not all early Irish settlers in Australia were there for politicalreasons and one of the most famous exeptions was Robert O'Hara Burke. He wasborn in St. Clearb, in Country Galway, in 1820, the son of a British Armyofficer. He was educated in Belgium, joined the Austrian Army, and attained therank of Captain. He later returned to Ireland and joined the Royal IrishConstabulary. Restless, like many an Irishman, he emigrated to Australia, andbecame an Inspector of Police in the state of Victoria. When the state decidedto explore the continent he was chosen to lead one of the first expeditionsbecause of his military and commanding background.

Many intrepid explorers worked at opening up the interior of the greatcontinent, and all suffered from the immense drought and tropical heat. TheRobert 0'Hara Burke expedition was no exception. Financed by the state and bypopular appeal, the expedition purchased camels, horses and supplies, andpicked the men who were to attempt the crossing of the unknown continent fromVictoria in the south to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, some fifteendegrees south of the equator. Leaving Melbourne, Burke and his team of expertsset out to be the first white men to cross the vast continent from south tonorth. The expedition left in August 1860, and a month later reached Menindeeon the River Darling. Already the camel expert had left the party, in highdudgeon at the attitude of the impetuous Irish leader of the expedition, whohad rashly decided to push on into the unknown, uncharted outback. Not waitingfor the main support of his expedition, Burke and two companions with theirhorses and camels and several months' supplies, headed north for Eyre Creek inQueensland. Crossing the Tropic of Capricorn they reached the Cloncurry and theFlinders rivers, and they viewed the northern seas before starting on theirreturn journey. Four months into the new year they missed the back up party atCooper's Creek. Again the impatient Burke decided to press on and complete theremainder of the return journey by a different route. By May their last camelwas dead and they were near starvation in the wilderness. By the end of Junethe deputy leader of the expedition was dead; Burke died later of starvation,and only John King survived.

Although this remarkable journey was technically a failure, thecitizens of Melbourne were deeply moved by the gallantry of the captain fromGalway, and erected a monument to his heroic memory. The monument featuresstatues of Burke and his companion, William Wills. His ill-fated and badlymanaged foray into the unknown inspired many to follow his exploratory zeal andopen up the interior of Australia. In the time of Robert 0'Hara Burke and hiscompanions, such pioneer expeditions of exploration knew little or nothing ofthe existence or whereabouts or customs of the native aboriginal inhabitants ofthe outback. Burke's party, on their outward journey, was given sustenance bythem on one occasion, when they were lost and without food. The expedition'ssole survivor, Irishman ]ohn King, owed his life to the natives who took careof him for several months, feeding him on native plants unknown to white men.Today, the once uncharted and unknown outback is a tourist attraction withair-conditioned coaches traveling to see the rock cuttings and drawings of theAustralian aboriginals, who carefully preserve their sacred rocks and caves andmysterious folklore — their places as holy to them as any Christian holyshrine is to us. Nevertheless, all too little is known of the folklore andworship of the original native inhabitants. For the first Irish settlers in Australia,it must have been an extraordinary change to see kangaroo, wallabies, emus, theblack swan, the duck-billed platypus and a thousand different species of fish-- a sharp contrast to the Emerald Isle.

The last chapter of Irish convicts in Australia was written in theadventures of the old whaling ship, The Catalpa. She was purchased by AmericanFenians and, flying the flag of the United States, succeeded in rescuing sixFenians — Thomas Darragh, Martin Hogan, Michael Harrington, Thomas Hasset,Robert Cranston and James Wilson — from Fremantle in April, 1876. The freedprisoners were released in New York in August, having successfully evadedcapture by the British naval cutter, The Georgette.

The exciting stories of the adventures of the Irish convict politicalprisoners in Australia would make a dozen epic, action-packed movies! Theaverage Australian with Irish roots today is generally aware that about half ofthe population has some link with Ireland, and that while only a smallpercentage of the original convict population were there for political»crimes, " the majority of ordinary coonvicts were being punished foroffences which simply reflected the appalling defects of the landlord systemwhich kept ordinary Irish people in hunger and in poverty. Many prisoners, whoserved their sentences as servants to their masters, became landowners in duecourse. In the late 1800s, the rush to get rid of as many poor and hungrypeople as possible resulted in assisted passage schemes taking more than 100,000 emigrants of Irish origin to the new colony, where they worked to repay thecost of their fares. Of these assisted emigrants, the majority came from Corkand Kerry, with counties Clare and Tipperary well to the fore, followed by manyPresbyterians from the province of Ulster. Naturally, women were in shortsupply, and in the new wave of emigration, wives often came out free. Thefamous Caroline Chisolm devoted her life to encouraging girls to come out andmarry in Australia, and she was particularly successful in attracting Irishgirls as ideal wives for farmers.

Irish names keep appearing in the limelight of Australia's literary andpublic life. From Armagh came Victor James Daley, reckoned by many to be one ofthe leading poets of Australia by virtue of two volumes of his verse publishedthere while he was a journalist. He died in Sydney in 1905. A contemporary ofthe poet was Sir Frederick Mathew Darley, a native of Wicklow, who became alawyer in New South Wales, a member of the legislature, and chief justice in1886. Before his death in 1910, he had reached the rank of Governor. FromElphin, in County Roscommon, came Roderick Flanagan who founded The SydneyChroanicle and edited The Empire as well as being the author of The History ofNew South Wales, the province where he died in 1861. If you look at the map ofNorth Western Australia today, you can see the first gold-mining area ofKimberley. It was discovered by the Irish geologist and surveyor, EdwardTownley Hardman, who was born in the town of Drogheda in County Louth, in 1845,and who has a range of mountains named after him in Kimberley. One of Hardman'scontemporaries was William Edward Hearn, born in Belturbet in the County ofCavan. Educated at the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in Dublin, hebecame professor of Greek at Queen's University, Galway, and emigrated toAustralia to become Dean of the University of Melbourne, where he was also amember of the legislative council of Victoria between 1845 and 1870. Well knownfor his political and academic works, he died in Melbourne in 1888.

As with Irish emigration to the United States of America and toEngland, it was the custom for brothers and sisters, once established, to sendfor other members of their families, and frequently those families came fromthe same counties in Ireland — thus certain townships and cities had heavyconcentrations of Mayo people, or people from Clare or Kerry, or what have you.Sydney was a magnet for Irish emigrants, both convicts and free citizens. FreeIrish emigrants, in the beginning, naturally drew on Irish convict labor forthe development of their holdings and businesses. Booroowa, south of Sydney,became a second Tipperary. The biggest concentration of Irish descent today isto be found in the eastern states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and,of course, Tasmania. Western Australia comes second on the list, while SouthAustralia has relatively few. Clare men figured prominently in the gold rush,and many an Australian tooday can boast of a grandfather from a town such asEnnis, County Clare....

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