Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/170

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securing in England the class of immigrants suitable for the new colony, and it was understood that, in carrying out his mission, he should confine himself almost exclusively to the selection of immigrants from England and Scotland. About this time (1861) there was great distress in Ireland—a partial famine, in fact—and, as usual under such painful and unforeseen circumstances, the heartless landlords were busily engaged evicting and exterminating the poor afflicted people who were unable to pay their rents. On the estate of Lord Digby, near Tullamore, King's County, a large number of families were under notice to quit. Under ordinary circumstances they would, no doubt, like thousands of their compatriots before them, have found new homes and words of welcome across the Atlantic, but America was then the scene of sanguinary strife between the North and the South, and that avenue of escape was thus closed against the persecuted people. There seemed to be no alternative before them but the poor-house, when some of them remembered that Father Dunne was then in the town of Tullamore. Knowing that he had spent some years as a missionary priest in Australia, they came to him in the hour of their affliction, and besought him to obtain passages for them to any of the Australian colonies. Father Dunne communicated at once with Mr. Jordan, the immigration! agent of the Queensland Government, but that official's reply was the reverse of encouraging. It amounted indeed to a practical exemplification of a still-cherished maxim in some quarters—"No Irish need apply." Nothing daunted by this rebuff, the good priest lost no time in opening up negotiations with the owners of the Black Ball line of ships, with whom Mr. Jordan had contracted to carry his selected immigrants to Queensland. This immigration was con-