'Deep Green Loathing'? Shifting Irish-Australian Loyalties in the Victorian and South Australian Irish-Catholic Press 1868-1923'

Author: M Stephanie James

  • Thesis download: available for open access on 29 Oct 2017.

James, M Stephanie, 2014 'Deep Green Loathing'? Shifting Irish-Australian Loyalties in the Victorian and South Australian Irish-Catholic Press 1868-1923', Flinders University, Centre for Development Studies

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Abstract

This thesis examines the nature of Irish-Australian loyalty towards the British Empire at points of imperial crisis. It seeks to discover whether Irish-Australians managed to negotiate the multiple colonial loyalties towards Britain, Ireland and Australia, and whether post-Federation, they developed an Irish-Australian identity, and as claimed, jettisoned Ireland totally. It focuses on Victoria and South Australia, using Irish-Catholic newspapers, the Melbourne Advocate and the Adelaide Southern Cross, to identify the changing contours of Irish-Australian imperial commitment from the years of Fenian threats to the end of the Irish Civil War. The research demonstrates the complex mechanisms of the newspaper 'exchange' system used in Melbourne and Adelaide. This practice integrated material from across the diaspora and beyond, locating Irish-Australians within an information web which confirmed their Irishness and reinforced their Catholicism, often marginalising them further within a British-oriented community. Examination of six decades, concentrating on the ways two Irish-Catholic newspapers presented imperial crises to their largely Irish-Australian readers enables comparison between Irish Victoria and South Australia. Contrast between the Advocate and Southern Cross was most evident during the Anglo-Boer War and the Irish Civil War. However the impact both of significant demographic differences and editorial perspective was critical in shaping the newspapers' viewpoint. Understanding the background and development of both newspapers was vital for clarification of their role in the community and for their extreme divergence in 1922 and 1923. As the largest colonial and national minority group, most Irish immigrants and their descendants were differentiated by both religion and sentiment towards Britain. Dominant figures within the British-focussed majority observed levels of Irish imperial loyalty, noting examples of their continuing identification with Ireland. Although most Irish-Australians were happy in their exercise of imperial loyalty, before the Great War small numbers demonstrated their disengagement from this performance. And while the first years of World War One were marked by largely unqualified Irish-Australian loyalty, clearly displayed in both newspapers, this was irreparably disrupted by the events associated with the Easter Rising in 1916. In an atmosphere where disloyalty was tangible from 1917, Irish-Australians were subject to intense surveillance beyond the war and through the Irish War of Independence. The nature of the security monitoring reinforced the 'Otherness' of Irish-Australians. This group was simultaneously confronted by major internal fractures, and the belated, and often unwilling, recognition that Britain's interests would no longer accommodate previous commitments to Ireland. The newspapers revealed the loyalty shifting process which accompanied the unfolding horror of war in Ireland between 1919 and 1921, and for readers, the agonising vicarious experience of Civil War engulfing the country. Irish-Australians viewed both the Empire and Australia in ways that marginalised them from other Australians when the Empire was threatened. But by the end of 1923 while many had experienced division and discord in relation to the Empire and their stance as Australians, Irish-Australian identification with Ireland was changed but not dismantled.

Keywords: Irish-Australians,Imperial Crises,Loyalty,Disloyalty,Irish-Catholic newspapers,South Australia,Victoria
Subject: International Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2014
School: School of International Studies
Supervisor: Dr Catherine Kevin