Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/191

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
177
THE MOTHER OF THE AUSTRALIAS.

sible Government. The first fully-endowed Parliament of New South Wales was opened on May 22nd, 1856.

Reference has already been made to the discovery of gold in New South Wales by Hargreaves. As in the case of Victoria, it resulted in a considerable accession of population. At first the eyes of all adventurers were turned towards New South Wales, but when the astonishing yields of the Victorian gold-fields became known, the auriferous regions of the parent colony became comparatively deserted. But in time they again received the attention to which they were justly entitled, and a large area of auriferous country in the south of New South Wales has since been profitably opened up.

Sydney will ever possess an affectionate interest for the Irish heart by reason of its having been the place of banishment of thousands of Irishmen during the early years of the century. These Celtic pioneers, it should be remembered, were transported in convict-ships to Australia for alleged offences that were not crimes at all in the legitimate sense of the word, and now-a-days are never regarded as such. Bishop Ullathorne puts the case very clearly when he remarks:

"The political circumstances of the British Empire were originally to a great degree responsible for the fact of the presence of a large proportion of the natives of Ireland amongst the first inhabitants of Australia. Ignorance or violation of religious principle, the knowledge or habits of a criminal life, were scarcely to any extent recognisable features in this unhappy class of Irish political prisoners. On the contrary, the deepest and purest sentiments of piety, a thorough comprehension of religious responsibility, and an almost impregnable simplicity of