Happy St Patrick's Day from Parramatta

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Comments (8)

pic.point on March 18, 2008

Happy St Patrick Day to you too, Ian

Greetings, Inessa

EVA_L on March 18, 2008

I know that it is a holiday in Ireland, but this holiday is marked in Parramatta too? Can you tell about this tradition, Yan? Greetings from Ukraine. Eva

Ian Stehbens on March 18, 2008

Dear Eva,


Much of the Australian approach to life and our values are drawn from Ireland. The establishment or authoritative systems have British origins, but the common people were much more connected in the early days of European settlement with Ireland.

You see, Australia was first colonised in 1788 by the English. This was at a time when the French Revolution was putting fear into the English establishment and they feared that the Catholic connection and sympathies between France and Ireland may spill over into Britain. Over the next couple of generations, this boiled into English politics.

And Irish desire for independence meant that there were clashes and especially during the reign of mad King George, for example, there were plots among "Irish sympathisers" to assassinate him as well. One of my wife's ancestors was allegedly involved in such a plot in 1802, for which he was found guilty and sentenced to be drawn, disembowelled, hung, decapitated, and quartered. He was given a remission on his sentence and sent to Australia for the term of his natural life, instead.

Many, many Irish were imprisoned over these years, and many were sent to New South Wales as convicts, so much so, that the numbers of Irish were greater than the numbers of English convicts arriving in NSW in some periods.

Here in Parramatta, there emerged a strong Irish culture. St Patrick's Church is still the Catholic Cathedral in Parramatta. The English church (later Cathedral) was on the south side of the Parramatta River as was/is its cemetery. The Irish church/cathedral and cemetery are on the north side. The main prison, orphanage and the female Factory (the "prison" where women were housed, worked) were all on the north side.

By the 1840s, many Irish free settlers were being assisted to come to Australia, especially Protestant ones, and they sailed on what was referred to as "Bounty Ships". They settled in Sydney and many created businesses such as draperies in Pitt Street, the main shopping street in central Sydney, and many became farmers, continuing their rural life of Ireland in NSW.

Next the Potato Famine in Ireland exported large populations of destitute Irish to America, but there was also a smaller flow to Australia.

And so, Australia owes much to Irish roots, and many Australians proudly claim Irish ancestry. The Catholic Church certainly played a large part in sustaining Irish connections, even to this day. The oppression of the Irish in the first decades of the 19th Century, and the relative poverty and disadvantage of the Irish in Australia certainly shaped the social justice values held dear in our society, today.

Some of the distinctive elements that make up the Australian social psyche I believe are rooted in Irish history and may be found in both countries today. In my thinking this includes our self-depreciating humour, our attitudes towards authority, our critical attitudes towards the English class structures, our pattern of hospitality, our "mateship" values. And then there is our national code of football, Australian Rules Football that derives from Gaelic Football, and the Protestant-Catholic divide that was entrenched in Australian society for a long time. (The post-Vatican II era has seen an active ecumenism and diminishing of that divide in the church generally here.)

I hope this is helpful, Eva, and maybe Inessa or other Irish friends may wish to comment or challenge or correct what I have written above.

Ian (who has no Irish ancestry, but does love Ireland!)

EVA_L on March 19, 2008

Dear Yan! Thank you for this very informing story of historical events which were beginning of Australian society. Without our pas it would not be Us with our gladnesses and sorrows.Best wishes. Eva

stephan Seo on April 2, 2008

Many thanks your explanation on Irish cuture with history in Australia.Your wording is a tremendous help me understanding which multi- society roots from Europeans including Irish in Australia.

Greetings, Stephan (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/9035997)

Ian Stehbens on April 3, 2008

Thank you dear friends, Eva and Stephan,

This has been one of the special joys of Panoramio. You both have been my teachers, taking me on excursions through Seoul and Kiev, revealing history, culture and national pride.

And how I love it all so much. And of course it is a joy to reciprocate.

You both have given me much pleasure. Appreciatively, Yan / Ian

pedrocut on February 20, 2009


I had a browse of you Aussie Pubs photos, and enjoyed your information of the beginnings of Australia. I must admit to not knowing too much about the history, and my immediate thoughts were to see if there was a pub with no beer.

I will take more interest now.

Regards, Peter

Ian Stehbens on February 20, 2009

Dear Peter,

Of the few images I have of Aussie pubs, it would have to be the Nindigully pub that would have the greatest chance of rising to that famed status, for the Weir River could isolate the pub for a week or more at times, especially in the past when the black soil country became impassable to wagons and coaches.

And I am pleased that you valued my historical analysis and comment.


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  • Uploaded on March 17, 2008
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    by Ian Stehbens