Where Irish settled in Australia

Since 1791, Irish people have emigrated to Australia. Emigration initiatives such as the Earl Grey scheme for orphan girls in the 1840s, and events such as the Irish Famine in 1847, saw different waves of people arrive on Australian shores in the 1800s. Whether by choice or by situation, these pioneers went on to create a new life for themselves and their families, contributing to the Australia of today. . . .

The Irish settler in Australia, both voluntary and forced was crucial to the survival and prosperity of the early colonies both demographically and economically. 300,000 Irish Free Settlers arrived between 1840 and 1914 and by 1871 the Irish were a quarter of all overseas-born. . . .

A strong Irish network of Bounty Immigrants existed in Melbourne before the 1850s. Then the Irish migrated in vast numbers, being the largest immigrant group after the English from 1854 to World War 1. And by 1871 when the community numbered 10,468 more than one in four Victorians was born in Ireland. The Irish famine of the 1840s caused large numbers of people to migrate due to poverty and difficult living conditions. They worked in Victoria as whalers, fishermen and farm hands and in townships as labourers and factory workers. The Irish settled most densely in the inner city and for a time some of the poorer lanes of the central city sustained conspicuous Irish population. Such as Bourke, Gipps and Lonsdale wards.

The 1850s remain the most significant decade for Irish Immigration to Victoria. In Melbourne for most of the 19th century, Hotham – northwest of Melbourne was the most Irish locality because of its position near unskilled labour markets in the railway yards, warehouses and wharves. Between 1850 and 1890 most Irish arrivals to Victoria came as assisted immigrants escaping cultural repression in Ireland and in contrast to many other groups they came as equal numbers of men and women. Major waves of Irish migration commenced during the reconstruction of Irish Agriculture after the 1840 famine and during the gold rushes of the 1850s after the discovery of gold in Victoria. Many sought their fortunes on the goldfields around the Ballarat, Bendigo and the Blackwood area. My husband’s great grandmother, Jane Roach from Kings County, (Offaly) daughter of Michaelis Roach & Jonnane Malone married Vincenzo Cocciardi (who jumped ship) Italian in Victoria on 27/12/1866 and they settled on the goldfields in Blackwood, raised 8 children and they are buried in the Blackwood Cemetery. All around the Victoria Goldfields in places such as Bendigo, Ballarat one will find many graves of Irish Immigrants.

Extract from a paper researched and presented by Sylvia Quinnell for the Botany Bay Family History Society Irish Interest Group in New South Wales. First published in the Ireland XO News, 3/4/2019. Republished with the author’s permission. https://irelandxo.com/ireland-xo/news/where-irish-settled-australia      Image IAN12/03/81/61c, Illustrated Newspaper file, State Library of Victoria.