Wakefield Press Essay 2020 Prize Winner – Susan Arthure


Congratulations Susan Arthure on your winning essay ‘Kapunda’s Irish Connections’. This article is from a chapter in ‘Irish South Australia: New Histories and Insights.’

Susan is a PhD candidate in the Archaeology department here at Flinders University. She researches the archaeology of Irish-Australia, social identity and Irishness, and the Irish-Australian experience.

Early Irish immigrants have long been overlooked in South Australia’s puzzling history, writes Michael Bollen, but archaeologist Susan Arthure has dug deep to shed light on the story of a traditional ‘clachan’ at Kapunda. Diary of a Publisher: Digging into SA’s Irish history.

Its capital is named after German-born Queen Adelaide, its main street after her English husband, King William IV, so it is not surprising that little is known about South Australia’s Irish background.

However, the first European to set eyes on Adelaide’s River Torrens in 1836 was Cork-born and educated George Kingston, who was deputy surveyor to Colonel Light; the river was named in turn for Derryman Colonel

Torrens, Chairman of the South Australian Colonisation Commission. Adelaide’s first judge and first police commissioner were immigrants from Kerry and Limerick.

Irish South Australia charts Irish settlement from as far north as Pekina, to the state’s south-east and Mount Gambier. It follows the diverse fortunes of the Irish-born elite such as George Kingston and Charles Harvey Bagot, as well as doctors, farmers, lawyers, orphans, parliamentarians, pastoralists and publicans who made South Australia their home, with various shades of political and religious beliefs: Anglicans, Catholics, Dissenters, Federationalists, Freemasons, Home Rulers, nationalists, and Orangemen.

Irish markers can be found in South Australian archaeology, architecture, geography and history. Some of these are visible in the hundreds of Irish place names that dot the South Australian landscape, such as Clare, Donnybrook, Dublin, Kilkenny, Navan, Rostrevor, Tipperary, and Tralee (as Tarlee).

The book’s editors are twentieth-century Irish immigrants from Dublin (Dymphna Lonergan), Portadown (Fidelma Breen), Trim (Susan Arthure), and by descent from eight Irish-born (Stephanie James).

‘Until very recently, the impact of the Irish in South Australia has been underestimated and under-researched. This sparkling collection of essays at last does justice to the Irish in South Australia, and will appeal to all who seek to understand more of the state’s unfolding history.’ – Emeritus Professor Philip Payton

‘Ranging across a broad field of interests from history to archaeology, these detailed vignettes are as rich and diverse as the Irish who populate them.’ – Associate Professor Heather Burke

‘There is something in this book for everybody; the scholar, the family historian, no less the casual browser. The editors must be congratulated on their initiative.’ – Dr Brad Patterson

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