Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/286

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free and hospitable soil of Victoria; and, as Prime Minister of three Victorian governments, he facilitated, by every means in his power, the transit of Irish families over twelve thousand miles of water to the homes and homesteads that awaited them in the land of plenty. Thanks to the system of open competition for appointments in the Civil Service, thousands of young Irishmen were enabled to out-distance all competitors at the prescribed examinations; and, whenever John O'Shanassy was in power, they had not long to wait for the prizes to which they were entitled. Nothing pleased him more than the satisfaction he felt in being instrumental in advancing young Irish-Australians who exhibited ability and promise. One of the last acts of his busy life was to preside at a convention of delegates (of whom the present writer was one) which was held in St. Patrick's Hall, Melbourne, for the purpose of drawing up a scheme of federation for the Catholic Young Men's Societies of Victoria. All who were present at that gathering could not foil to be impressed with the deep sympathetic interest evinced by the veteran statesman in the welfare of the young Catholics of his adopted land, and with the sound practical advice embodied in his presidential address.

No higher compliment has ever been paid to an Australian statesman than the large gathering, representative of all classes and creeds in the community, which entertained Sir John O'Shanassy in St. George's Hall, Melbourne, when he was about to revisit the land of his birth, and seek the restoration of that once robust health which had become shattered in the service of his adopted country. Accompanying a munificent public testimonial was an address, signed by the foremost men of the colony and couched in these most appreciative terms: "Whatever differences of