Australia enjoys a rich Irish heritage. This important work of legal and social history shines a light, for the first time, on Irish lawyers in colonial Australia. The book explains how it was that so many young Irish immigrants chose the Australian Colonies for themselves, to make careers in the law, and for some of them, in other fields as well as in the law.
The book backgrounds how the divisions in Ireland – by class and religion – and a lack of opportunity led them to look elsewhere; the choices before them; and how they managed to infiltrate an already well established, English trained, colonial legal profession.
The author’s fine appreciation of these immigrant lawyers’ Irishness, humour, feistiness, is woven throughout his engaging narrative. The author turns his keen scholarly eye to a range of subjects, including whether the Irish lawyers brought with them the sectarianism prevalent in their homeland; a comparison of the experiences of Irish lawyers in the other British colonies; and the nature of the interactions between Irish lawyers and the Indigenous populations. Finally, the book examines the careers of leading Irish lawyers, assesses the significant impacts Irish lawyers had on the development of the colonies, and explores, how to this day there are so many leaders of the Australian legal profession, and legally trained politicians, who are of Irish decent, notwithstanding the fact that there was an almost complete coalescence of Irish lawyers with their non-Irish colleagues.