Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/19

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5
A SURVEY OF THE SOUTH.

to fill successively so high and honourable an office, was solely on account of their recognised superiority, as, in every case, the majority of the assembly was composed of English and Scotch representatives. But it is not in politics alone that the Irish in Australia have made their mark. In colonial literature and art, not a few of the most distinguished names will be recognised as Irish; and, in humbler capacities, the great body of the Irish- Australians have done good service for their adopted land in a silent and unobtrusive manner. They were amongst the earliest pioneers in the development of the gold-mining industry; thousands of them wisely left the towns and, favoured by liberal land legislation, established homes for themselves in the bush, whilst hundreds, of scholarly attainments, found ready admission into the Government service. But, no matter what social position they may occupy, the Irish in Australia, no less than their American brethren, are thoroughly Irish and Catholic; and, if any proof of this were wanting, it is abundantly supplied by the munificent offering sent by Australia for the relief of the famine-stricken at home. When, a few years ago, the telegraph flashed the dire intelligence that the hideous pall of hunger was darkening the face of the old land, a simultaneous movement stirred the whole of the Australian continent. Local committees were everywhere organised, donations poured in from all ranks of society, and soon the magnificent sum of £94,916 16s. 8d. was raised by a population of less than four millions as a spontaneous gift of fraternal sympathy. The time has now arrived, I think, when the record of the Irish in Australia should be written, and I entertain not the slightest doubt that that record will not only be perused with patriotic interest,