Sunday 14 June 2015

A June jaunt

Ireland to Australia A rainy winter morning was not enough to prevent an early start to Brisbane to attend Ireland to Australia: Searching for Ancestors seminar hosted by the Queensland Family History Society. After a trouble free drive of one and a half hours we arrived at Gaythorne in time to collect handouts and enjoy a morning concentrating on our Irish forebears.

First up was Mary King, the convenor of the QFHS Irish interest group. Her presentation Learning to think Irish in a new way focussed on a wide range of available resources. Her formidable knowledge of extant resources was accompanied by a handout of the slides, nine to a page which I shall peruse with magnifying glass in hand. She certainly managed to convince me to keep looking for a variety of alternatives.

A timely morning tea gave us a chance to enjoy a quick cuppa before Dr. Richard Reid's talks. 
His first presentation The great tide of emigration: 19th century Irish emigration to Australia focussed on the journey with illustrations of the parting of the ways and reflections on the journey actually undertaken by ancestors. His book Farewell my children provides more details on this story. The complete statistics used in his research are available online in the manuscript through ANU digital publications.
The second talk There is no person starving here: Australia and the Great Famine in Ireland, 1845-1850 focussed on the conditions during the famine.

Richard's excellent presentations used a variety of illustrations from the National Library of Ireland Lawrence collection which can be filtered by county, town, subject and photographer. Another excellent source for information and images mentioned is the Illustrated London News which is available free through eresources with a National Library of Australia reader's card. It is easy to forget about the rich variety of resources freely available via the NLA and our State Libraries.
Reference to the poorhouses, the tumbling of cottier's accommodation and the conditions of the time were well documented and illustrated with references from the "Freeman's Journal" which is also available through the British Newspaper collection of the NLA's eresources.

The value of attending seminars and other educational opportunities can never be underestimated. Thanks to both speakers I have some new leads to follow and at Richard's exhortation will read another account of Irish history. The recommended title was The sharing of the green: a modern Irish history for Australians by Oliver MacDonagh.

To wrap up our June jaunt, my friend and I had lunch at the lovely Eden Gardens at Carseldine before the afternoon drive home.

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