Welcome! We’re delighted that you could join us as we make our way along the “Irish Ancestry Trail” in Australia – specifically the part to the south-east of the country comprising the states of Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. So, what is the “Irish Ancestry Trail”? Well, that’s the name we give to the more common paths of immigration that the Irish followed as they left their homelands on the island of Ireland all the way from the 1700s to the present day.
In March, 2018, we packed our bags and headed along just one of these trails. The plan was to fly to the city of Sydney in New South Wales – then travel south to the City of Hobart in Tasmania. Finally, we would travel north again to Melbourne to use as a base for the state of Victoria. Along the way we would meet up with the descendants of many of the Irish who made their way to this part of the world, survived, thrived and put down roots.
So, this feature is divided into five different sections outlined below – but I do suggest that you fully read all of the present Introduction section to get a flavour of where we went and the people we met along the way!
We called our route through this part of Australia the “Irish Ancestry Trail”. Why? Well, we noticed that many of the ports and inland settlements we were scheduled to visit attracted many Irish settlers down through the years – and are consistently mentioned in shared stories from our readers. Places like: Sydney in New South Wales; Hobart and small towns across Tasmania; the Blue Mountains west of Sydney – or perhaps in the strong Irish settlements of Ballarat or Koirot in Victoria. These were just some of the areas that accepted large numbers of Irish immigrants over the centuries – and we planned to visit some of their descendants as we travel around, to hear their stories and see their home places. We hope you will join us now – and we know you’ll enjoy the stories and the journey!
Planning the route of our journey, we decided to head direct to the city of Sydney – flying in over “Botany Bay” itself. This was to be our base as we met up with local Green Room members and then headed out west into the Blue Mountains. Following that, we made the city of Hobart in Tasmania our home as we explored the people and stories around this fascinating island. Finally, we headed towards the city of Melbourne in Victoria where we met with local members and headed into the towns and homesteads associated with their ancestors – mostly free settlers who came for the land and the gold in the mid 1800s. So, you can see our planned stops along the way in map above using a red x.
Also, we remembered the advice we give to all folks visiting Ireland – make sure you leave lots of time to get to know the locals. Get out of your car, walk around and ask for directions. Bearing this in mind, we made sure that we had a “host” in each of our stops along the way – and we use the stories of these gracious hosts (and their ancestors) to breathe real life into a set of articles that might otherwise have been moribund with records and maps. So, introducing our guides along the way…..
Now, while a map is a good start for finding your way in such a huge country – we instead were guided along by the stories of some of our Green Room members. So, here are the five very special people that we met (among many others) along the way. We use their stories to tell the deeper tale of each province – perhaps you can spot a story that is very close to one of your own ancestors?
Leigh and Anne Scott, The Blue Mountains, New South Wales. Leigh and Lynda Scott’s Scott ancestors arrived in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, in the early 1800s. They still farm the land that their ancestor started shortly after arrival in the area. The Scotts originated in County Tyrone in Ireland. You can find out more about Leigh and Anne in our New South Wales section of the Irish Ancestry Trail.
Anne Keating, Brisbane (Moreton Bay), Queensland. Anne’s Feeney ancestor arrived in Moreton Bay as a guard on one of the last prison ships to come to that area in the mid 1800s. He originated in County Longford in Ireland. You can find out more about Anne in our Queensland section of the Irish Ancestry Trail.
Doug Barrett, Tamar River, Tasmania. Doug’s Barrett ancestors arrived in north Tasmania as free settlers in the mid 1800s. They originated in County Sligo in Ireland. You can find out more about Doug in our Tasmania section of the Irish Ancestry Trail.
Des Dineen, Melbourne, Victoria. Des’s Dineen ancestors arrived in Victoria in the mid 1800s – where they settled down on a farm north of Melbourne. They arrived from County Limerick in Ireland. You can find out more about Des in our Victoria section of the Irish Ancestry Trail.
Thank you all for your wonderful company and hospitality along the way – and for being so generous in sharing the stories of your Irish ancestors. We do hope that you feel this feature does them justice. I know that everyone else will enjoy a peep into a world that became home for so many of those shared Irish ancestors of ours.
Right, that’s the end of the introductions. We hit the road and the first thing we encountered was a freak Snow Storm! Which is unheard of in County Cork in early March.
We do hope you will join us along the way!
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Thomas Francis Meagher Escapes from Tasmania
Anglo Norman Surnames – Following the Norman Trail to Ireland (#402)
The Convict Irish in Australia – A Trip to Van Diemen’s Land (#401)
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