Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/271

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

Tasmania. Father Conolly landed at Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, in 1820, and, during the succeeding fifteen years, he was the only resident priest and Catholic chaplain on the island. At first his congregation assembled in the store of the leading Catholic of Hobart, Mr. Edward Curr, but, after a few months' trial of this temporary expedient. Father Conolly resolved to approach the governor (Colonel Sorrell) with a request for a grant of land, on which to commence the building of a permanent church. "The regulations allow me to grant land only to those who bring capital into the colony," was the governor's answer to the priest's request. "Well," replied Father Conolly, "when I landed, I had just £14 in my pocket." "Then I regard you as a capitalist," said the governor, with a merry twinkle in his eye, "and will give you a grant in proportion. You may have fourteen acres of land." Father Conolly lost no time in selecting a site and erecting the first modest little Catholic church on Tasmanian soil, the precursor of the present spacious and beautiful St. Mary's Cathedral of Hobart. Year after year, he lived and laboured by himself amongst the few free settlers of his faith in Tasmania, and the Catholic convicts who were being annually expatriated from the old country. On behalf of the latter, he had to fight the same battle that Father Therry successfully waged in the parent colony, in order to relieve the Catholic prisoners from compulsory attendance at the Church of England services. "Many a poor fellow had the punishment of fifty lashes inflicted on him for not going to the Protestant church on all occasions," writes one of the oldest and most respected dignitaries of the Church in Tasmania.[1] It was not until

  1. The Ven Archdeacon Hogan, of Westbury.