La Trobe
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Irish perspectives in colonial Melbourne, 1841-1846

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posted on 2023-01-18, 17:58 authored by William Daniel Flood
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts to the School of Humanities, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

This thesis argues for a better understanding of the Irish community in Melbourne and a more nuanced understanding of the settler colonial experience. The thesis examines the colonial experience in Melbourne between the nonperformance of St Patrick’s Day in 1841 and the banning of all processions with the implementation of the Party Processions Act in 1846. St Patrick’s Day celebrations allow us to enter into a world of actions and reactions of the Irish people in Melbourne. The Irish Catholic community was perceived as a separate community with conditional membership that had to be constantly renegotiated. There was not a continuing state of conflict or division but rather difference that during particular episodes became amplified. Many of these fissures have been smoothed away in the current Australian histories which position the settler colonial experience as singular. While St Patrick’s Day provides an entry point to these differences, a reading of other important events, of everyday colonial life help to unravel their experience. There was a conversation, a dialogue, between the Irish community and the wider community that had to be continually negotiated at other community events, such as the Town Council elections held in 1842 and Legislative Council elections in 1843. These conversations occurred at hurling matches, and during celebrations for the twelfth of July, which in 1846 erupted into riots. These events help tell a story about the emergence of sectarianism in Melbourne amid the textures of everyday life. The settlers in Melbourne had existing expectations and a variety of responses to the events unfolding in the colony. They were informed not only by local events and circumstances but also by the current events occurring in England and Ireland. Episodes which have previously been positioned as exclusively Irish events, however they involved the wider community and had lasting affects.


Center or Department

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. School of Humanities.

Thesis type

  • Masters

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


Rights Statement

This thesis contains third party copyright material which has been reproduced here with permission. Any further use requires permission of the copyright owner. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all other content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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