Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/119

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
105
A FEW IRISH CENTRES.

sterling patriot, he established the Geelong and Western District St. Patrick's Society, as a bond of union amongst the Irishmen of the district, and the organisation continues to flourish, and to maintain the principles of loyalty to faith and fatherland which he eloquently enunciated in his opening address.

From its earliest days Geelong has been largely peopled by the Irish. No better evidence of this could be furnished than the significant fact that the address of welcome to Victoria, presented to William Smith O'Brien on his liberation from captivity in Van Diemen's Land, was actually signed by every member of the Geelong Corporation. In the Corporation of Melbourne the address to the exiled patriot was far from meeting with so unanimous and so favourable a reception.[1] And further, when Smith O'Brien

  1. The address was in these terms and was presented by the late Sir John O'Shanassy on behalf of the Irishmen of the Colony:

    "To William Smith O'Brien, Esq.

    "Dear Sir,—We the undersigned citizens of Melbourne and Geelong avail ourselves of the opportunity afforded us by your visit to this country, to congratulate you and your companions in exile, Messrs. Martin and O'Doherty, upon your liberation from a painful and protracted bondage.

    "We beg to express to you our most sincere gratification for having afforded us, by your visit to Victoria, the pleasure of offering to you, personally, an assurance of our sympathy and esteem; and, transient as we know your stay necessarily is, we rejoice at the occasion which enables us to greet you with a hearty welcome.

    "We deeply regret to learn that the fond hope so long and so ardently cherished by men of every shade of political sentiment, indeed by every generous mind acquainted with your character and history, has not been fully realised by the graceful concession, on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers, of the full measure of your freedom.

    "We desire to acknowledge the immensity of the sacrifice which you made from the noblest feeling that can actuate the heart—a pure and disinterested love of country. We appreciate and honour the manly bearing and dignified fortitude which have characterised you under a terrible adversity, and anxiously trust that the impolitic restriction which debars you from a return to all you hold