Category Archives: Irish History

Ireland’s Farthest Shores: Mobility, Migration, and Settlement in the Pacific World (2022)

Malcolm Campbell, Ireland’s Farthest Shores: Mobility, Migration, and Settlement in the Pacific World Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 2022, 291pp., $US79.95 (hardcover), ISBN9780299334208. 

I was sceptical of the notion that the Pacific could be called ‘Ireland’s farthest shore’ – it’s a bit of a stretch but it does help to move the focus of the Irish diaspora away from the Atlantic – which is often seen as the only site of Irish diasporic experience.

Building on his earlier comparative work on Irish settlement in California and Eastern Australia, Campbell offers a comprehensive study of the ways that Irish-born and descended people have participated in the making of the Pacific world as we know it today, and the way the Pacific world has made them. Book covers seventeenth to late nineteenth century, dealing with Irish mobility; focus on the Pacific Anglo-world; and transnational themes. Also provides great overview of touchpoints of Irish history through the nineteenth and early twentieth century: radicalism, protest and dissent; faith and religion; nationalism; war and revolution. 

My full review published in History Australia 19:3 (2022): 618-9.

A New History of the Irish in Australia (2018)

A New History of the Irish in Australia by Elizabeth Malcolm and Dianne Hall. Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2018. Pp. 436. A$34.99 paper.

Not a comprehensive survey, but the strength of the authors’ collaboration lies in the breadth of topics they cover (some new to Irish Australian scholarship), and the variety of methodologies they adopt in doing so. Authors argue the diaspora is a complex, multi-national, multi-generational network, and the Irish who moved through this space from the 1790s to the mid-twentieth century were a complex people. Under the three headings of ‘Race’, ‘Stereotypes’ and ‘Politics’, the authors tease out the contradictions inherent in the Irish diasporic experience in an Australian context. 

The New History makes a serious contribution to the field of Irish Australian studies, to Australian history, and to Irish diaspora studies more broadly. The book showcases a variety of methodologies, uncovers new sources, and generously highlights numerous opportunities for further research. The authors deliver new perspectives on questions relevant to Australian history, such as the encounter on the frontier, and crime and mental health in colonial Australia. They also remind historians that the pervasive nature of stereotypes should not be overlooked. As Rónán McDonald wrote in his epigraph for the New History, Malcolm and Hall provide a necessary corrective to the false unity of the term ‘Anglo-Celtic’. In their hands, the multifaceted nature of Irishness and the Irish experience in Australia is carefully traced, without overlooking the commonalities of experience with other groups in Australia’s past.

My full review published in History Australia 50:2 (2019), pp.278-9.

Human Capital and Empire: Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British Imperialism in Asia, c.1690–c.1820 (2021)

Andrew Mackillop, Human Capital and Empire: Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British Imperialism in Asia, c.1690-c.1820. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2021, 344pp., hardback, £85.00, ISBN9780719070723.

This book makes a very strong contribution to Irish historical scholarship – must-read for students and historians working on Ireland’s diaspora, its relations with Empire and with its closest neighbours. Uses Irish, Scottish and Welsh involvement in the English East India companies (EIC) to explore the ‘multiple pathways into empire’ and the impact of the returning personnel, capital and ideas. First few chapters are a great resource for histories of EIC; each chapter of the remainder of the book provides new data about Irish participation in the British Empire, as well as about Ireland itself, its cities and regions. Mackillop pays close attention to the distinctive characteristics of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. By using the EIC as his case study, he manages to recast the British and Irish Isles as ‘an accretion of expanding regional, national and supranational communities and cultures’.

An easy read for an academic work – great uncluttered prose, consistent framework throughout, wealth of data.

My full review to be published in volume 22 of the Australasian Journal of Irish Studies (AJIS).

Country House Collections: Their Lives and Afterlives (2021)

Terence Dooley and Christopher Ridgway (Eds), Country House Collections. Their Lives and Afterlives. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2021, 334pp., hardback, €50.00, ISBN9781846829758.

A pleasure to read – beautiful illustrations, reproductions and photographs. Excellent scholarship but would also serve as a lovely coffee table book. 14 essays in the volume: 6 chapters each on English and Irish topics, and one on country house collecting practice in America and Lithuania. The themes are broadly: ‘Assembling and Dispersing’ and ‘Contexts and Reinterpretations’. Lots to interest social, cultural, art historians of Ireland; much to spark new research projects among the essays.

My challenge to the field is to historicise collections against backdrop beyond Ireland – what of the houses built and filled by the families who amassed a fortune further afield in colonial pursuits and transatlantic slavery? How did this ‘newer’ money impact the country house milieu in Ireland? 

My full review published in Irish Studies Review, 2022, Vol,30 (4), pp.498-9.