A New History of the Irish in Australia

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Media: BOOK - paperback, 444 pages
Author: E. Malcolm & D. Hall
Year: 2018
ISBN: 9781742235530
Other: sketches, bibliog, index
Publisher: NewSouth Books

Irish immigrants – although despised as inferior on racial and religious grounds and feared as a threat to national security – were one of modern Australia’s most influential founding peoples.

In his landmark 1986 book The Irish in Australia, Patrick O’Farrell argued that the Irish were central to the evolution of Australia’s national character through their refusal to accept a British identity.

A New History of the Irish in Australia takes a fresh approach. It draws on source materials not used until now and focuses on topics previously neglected, such as race, stereotypes, gender, popular culture, employment discrimination, immigration restriction, eugenics, crime and mental health.

This important book also considers the Irish in Australia within the worldwide Irish diaspora. Elizabeth Malcolm and Dianne Hall reveal what Irish Australians shared with Irish communities elsewhere, while reminding us that the Irish–Australian experience was – and is – unique.

Introduction: The Irish in Australia

Section 1: Race
1. The Irish race
2. The Irish and Indigenous Australians: friends or foes?
3. The Irish and the Chinese in white Australia
4. Irish immigration 1901-39: race, politics and eugenics

Section 2: Stereotypes
5. Irish men in Australian popular culture 1790s-1920s
6. Employment: Bridget need not apply
7. Crime and the Irish: from vagrancy to the gallows
8. Madness and the Irish

Section 3: Politics
9. Colonial politics: Daniel O'Connell's 'Tail'and the Catholic Irish premiers
10. Catholic Irish Australians in the political arena after 1900: from sectarianism to the split
Epilogue: Irish Australia in the 21st century


Review: ‘A necessary corrective to the false unity of the term “Anglo-Celtic”, this beautifully controlled and clear-sighted intervention is timely and welcome. It gives us not just a history of the Irish in Australia, but a skilful account of how identity is formed relationally, often through sectarian, class, ethnic and racial divisions. A masterful book.’ — Professor Rónán McDonald, University of Melbourne


1 Review
  • Irish Ancestors in Australia? - Must read!

    Posted by Gary B on 4th May 2019

    Very well researched accademic book dealing with the Irish in Australia from European settlement to modern times. Although the book contains a lot of data it also clearly defines areas that still require further research by historians. The Aurthor's arguments are clearly defined at the start of each chapter and followed with a closing conclusion. Many examples based upon real people are used in the book.

    If you are of Irish descent then you need to make this book part of your must read list.
    Gary B

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A New History of the Irish in Australia


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