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Heritage is something I care deeply about. A Manx flag flies proudly outside Redhead's home. My reluctance to spend money is seen everytime I open my purse and moths fly out. My Scottish gene is very strong, and my Manx gene is ever there, warning me about the moordie doo and the dangers of saying a word spelled R.A.T and knowing that such a thing would cause great discomfort in my genetic history. 

I have a New Zealand history, and I love the memories of a childhood spent wandering the hills and green paddocks of my beloved homeland. 

Yet I drink in the solitude of the Australian Outback and the heat and the rain and the sheer joy of being Australian. 

No, I am not Irish. Yet there is something in me that feels the beat of a heart that must come from my Manx heritage: that of an Irish jig or a lament well sung. 

In many of us, there is that seed of the Irish. That thing we cannot put our finger on. That wondrous joy of hearing a song and feeling unable to stop the tap of the foot and the song that springs suddenly into our hearts and our minds. 

It is like a tonic to the soul. 

 Before you get your knickers in a twist, I am not Irish. I am a Kiwi New Zealander born of Manx and Scottish heritage and living in Australia. 

What is the luck of the Irish?  Many people think it is a good thing to have.

I asked one of our commenters ( Paddy ) what it meant and he said to me " Well, my old Gran used to say that if it was raining soup, we'd be carrying forks. "

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And that sounds like a pretty good definition to me.

The Irish have been renowned for their gift of seeing the funny side of life during times of adversity. They have borne the brunt of many a joke at their expense and seem to take it in their stride. Something that gays, lesbians, transgenders and left wing activists have not been able to do. 

In fact, being offended is almost a badge of courage these days. It is the catch cry of so many and the art form of being offended has been crafted into a political statement. 

Perhaps it takes real suffering to create what we call ghetto humour. You know that thing: when we laugh at that which is not really funny. And the Irish have done it with great gusto. 

As St Patrick.s Day approaches I am reminded of the claim that there are now more Irish people living in America than there are in Ireland. In fact, in 1841, Ireland had a population of over 8 million;  today there are barely 5 million.

An amazing 32.3 million or 10 percent of people living in the USA claim Irish heritage.

Kansas City has the second-largest St. Patrick's Day parade after New York. The world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred on March 17, 1762, in New York City, featuring Irish soldiers serving in the English military. This parade became an annual event, with President Truman attending in 1948.


Sorry, this was the closest I could find in NYC. 1960.

Australia began as a penal colony of Great Britain in the late 18th century.  Following the First Fleet in 1788, 160,000 convicts were transported starting with the first shipment out of Kingstown, near Dublin, in 1791. About a quarter of these convicts were Irish.

It was 50 years later that free Irish migrants arrived in Australia in the form of the Quinn family, their daughter would grow up to be the mother of Ned Kelly.

On 17 March 1795 there were rowdy festivities among the Irish convicts, and the cells were filled with prisoners so it could be said that this was the first Australian celebration of St Patricks Day. 

The Irish had an early influence on Australia. They came to Australia from the late eighteenth century as convicts ( like Red Kelly, Ned's father ) and free settlers ( like the Quinn's ) wanting to immigrate from their homeland. Some of those who were transported to Australia were prisoners of war, many of whom had fought in the 1798 Irish rebellion for independence, but others were settlers who struggled to establish their lives during the Irish famine and the harsh years in Ireland that followed. In the late 19th century, Irish Australians constituted up to a third of the country's population.

Peter Lalor was an Irish-Australian "  rebel " and, later, politician who rose to fame for his leading role in the Eureka Rebellion, an event identified with the birth of democracy in Australia.

In fact, it is said that the didgeridoo, a musical instrument of indigenous Australians, likely gets its name from the Gaelic words ‘dúdaire,’ meaning a horn blower, and ‘duth’, meaning native. Whether or not it is true, I genuinely do not know.


As Happy Expat commented:

My wife's great grandmother was an orphan of the potato famine and was sent to Australia with many other orphaned girls to balance the sexes here.  The Irish girls who were sent to Australia at that time, over four thousand of them, were from Irish workhouses and were shipped to the Australian colonies at the time of the Great Famine (1848–50) to meet a demand for domestic servants.

The story is that when the ship pulled up at Williamstown the girls were lined up and her great grandfather who was a rabid Methodist,said to this girl "You'll do." She said "OK". Great grandfather then said "You have to renounce the Catholic Church."She said "OK".

According to 1848 records of the Lady Kennaway, the complement of 191 Irish orphan girls were well behaved and in excellent health, enjoying the benefit of a full allowance of rations on the 85-day voyage. Although few could read and almost none could write, they were given a prayer book and testament from their poorhouses. Image: Wikicommons

This event is recorded in a book of my wife's family history which is in the National Library.

They got married, obviously and had a farm at Darraweit Guim, a little hamlet not far from Kilmore, about 40 miles north of Melbourne. They ran sheep. It is still in the family, owned by one of my wife's cousins and they still run sheep.

Great grandfather was, sadly, drowned trying to cross a flooded creek in a horse & buggy after a trip to Melbourne.
Great grandmother was made of very tough stuff. She carried on with the help of her sons. Her Irish family is still living in the same district of Ireland about 45kms north of Cork.

It was always assumed that she came from Cork but in 2005 my wife and I made a trip to Ireland to follow the threads of what is in the book; called the Green Book because it has a green cover.

The Green Book is a history of the Phillips family which was my mother-in-law's family. It was put together and published by a family member who was rather an academic. It is recorded in the National Library with an ISBN.

The book embraces direct descendants as well as their spouse's families. There are some notables among them, the most famous being Wilfred Canning of the Canning Stockroute fame. 



Wilfred Burchitt, a devowed Communist,the only Australian born citizen to have his citizenship revoked when he became an interrogator of allied prisoners for the North Koreans during the Korean war.


A documentary about the Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett. This thirty minute segment focuses on his reporting from North Vietnam in 1963, and his return to Cambodia, from which he reported in 1975.

Another was a son who a soon as he left school at 18, joined the air force and became a Lancaster pilot with Bomber Command and then became a leading heart surgeon in Canberra.

Ann Barrow's resilience allowed her to live to a ripe old age. The genes of longevity passed through the females of her descendents. My mother-in-law was 105 when she died. She was one of five girls in a family of eight surviving children. Of her four sisters, only one failed to get past 95. Of the other girls my mother-in-law was the only one who qualified for a letter from the Queen the rest passing away at 96,97 & 98.
Yes, the family has a very rich history.

We discovered that she did not come from Cork at all. This was assumed because that is where she was put on the boat to Australia. She actually came from a little hamlet called Barrow. Her maiden name was Barrow. We tracked them down after much frustration when we came across a large transport depot with the sign Barrow Brothers.

The same family of Barrows. We went to the farm that they now occupy and raise racehorses and had a marvellous afternoon with them. Relatives who had never seen each other before but knew of each other thanks to the Green Book.

I might add that we spent a month driving around Ireland and it is certainly a most beautiful country.

Of course, one cannot go past the Guinness Brewery in Dublin and the Jameson Whiskey distillery in Cork but seriously, the history is around you wherever you go.


The only black spot was in Belfast where I was hoping to see the Harland & Woolf Shipyard. Sadly there is no ship building there now and the place is like a desert.

During the night we were wakened by gunfire and cars racing around at high speed. Apparently, it was par for the course there with the Catholics and the Protestants still fighting each other.

A marvellous experience nevertheless and I would go back there any time. It is a real pity that they can't settle their differences.

A sentiment that is shared throughout our world today. If only we could settle our differences.

But it seems that, as Paddy said, it is raining soup and our governments are handing out forks.

This article is a collaboration between Monty and Happy Expat with a little help from an Irish leprechaun.I hope you enjoyed it.




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