Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/123

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109
A FEW IRISH CENTRES.

of Irish birth, Mr. J. H. Connor, now a member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, Geelong is indebted for the existence of the massive Exhibition building, which is one of the chief ornaments of the town. Another conspicuous building is the Convent of Our Lady of Mercy, a direct affiliation from the parent house in Baggot Street, Dublin. Within the convent enclosure are an extensive orphanage and industrial school for Catholic girls, both of which institutions are partially subsidised by the State. St. Augustine's Orphanage, in the same neighbourhood, is a commodious establishment for boys, and is under the skilful management of a community of Christian Brothers.

The typical Irish centre of the colony of Victoria is Kilmore. Its name, its history, its people, and its general characteristics combine to make it the most distinctively Catholic and Celtic town at the antipodes.[1] Occupying an exceptionally fertile valley about forty miles to the north of Melbourne and on the main road to Sydney, it was discovered by some early Irish immigrants, who settled down upon the land, prospered amazingly, and, with that generous warm-hearted love of kindred which is one of the finest traits of the Irish character, they lost no time in sending for and bringing out their poor and oppressed relations at home, to share in their prosperity and freedom under southern skies. Thus Kilmore soon became a little Irish colony in itself. To quote the words of a book] making traveller: "It gave me the idea that Tubbercurry had been rafted over holus-bolus from the Emerald Isle, so

  1. "In certain well-known districts, such as Kilmore in Victoria, where they (the Irish) form the majority of the farming community, they retain to a great extent the national characteristics of their parents."—Edinburgh Review, April, 1868.