Irish Catholic

Irish people were the first Catholics in Australia and nearly all Australian Catholics before 1947 were born Irish or had heritage. It was in 1947 that Europeans started migrating to Australia.

Convicts

About 40000 Irish were transported to Australia as convicts. Most of these convicts were Catholics, even if nominally and they formed the largest percentage of the early Catholics. The first transportation from the island was in 1791 when the Queen dropped convicts in Sydney in terrible conditions.

The Castle Hill Rebellion and The Men of ’98

In 1800, about 400 men who were allegedly believed to have participated in the Irish rebellion of 1798 were transported to Sydney. Among this group was James Harold, Peter O’Neil, and James Dixon, who were the first priests in the country. The Governor found them to be cooperative and announced toleration for the Catholics in 1803 while also allowing Father Dixon to say mass.

Later in 1804, some of the Irish convict at Castle Hill rebelled, and they refused to listen to the pleas of the officers and Fr Dixon, they eventually fought the Battle of Vinegar Hills with the government forces and were defeated. Since then, the Irish have adopted a policy of assimilation, and respectability and soon became part of the society of New South Wales. A notable man during this period was James Meehan, a surveyor who performed most of the Colony’s survey during the time of Macquarie and helped Irish to settle to the southwest and Campbelltown area.  There was a period during the Macquarie era when there was no priest, and the Catholic worship was done in the homes of James Dempsey and William Davis, both of whom were also part of Men of ’98.

Irish Migration

During the Great Famine in the 1840s and later on, many Irish migrated to Australia. Although most of them settled in the cities, there were those who went to the countryside and some of the place they moved to are now Irish dominated areas.

Fr McEncroe, the Irish and the Benedictines

While there hasn’t been much political advancement for Catholics in Ireland for many centuries, they achieved significant success in the colonies and were soon occupying prominent positions. In 1857, John O’Shannessy became Victoria’s second premier. In 1886, Patrick Jennings became New South Wales’ first Catholic premier, and another important figure is Patrick McMahon Glynn who is considered one of the Fathers of Federation.

Irish Success

During the Great Famine in the 1840s and later on, many Irish migrated to Australia. Although most of them settled in the cities, there were those who went to the countryside and some of the place they moved to are now Irish dominated areas.

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