Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/308

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firmly and prosperously on the soil, who owe their success primarily to his helping hand and sagacious counsel at the critical moment of their arrival in a strange land. He knew well the dangerous propensity of the average Irishman in a new country to linger about cities and towns, to thoughtlessly cultivate chance acquaintanceships, to give too free a rein to his convivial temperament, and possibly to fall into the terrible gulf of drunkenness, which is the bane of his race. Hence, like the true philanthropist that he was, Mr. O'Grady spared no effort to get his countrymen out of the city as speedily as possible, and to establish them on the 640-acre land selections that were awaiting them in the country. The amount of good and abiding work that he thus achieved in a quiet way will never be known, but it is sufficient to entitle the name of Michael O'Grady to the lasting respect of the Irish in Australia. Though he successively represented South Bourke and the counties of Villiers and Heytesbury in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, and also held office as Commissioner of Public Works in the Ministries of Sir Charles Sladen and Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, he was never a prominent politician, and never pretended to be such. When his faith or his race was assailed in parliament, he was always ready with a vigorous defence; but his true vocation was outside the political arena altogether, the trusted adviser of his countrymen, the peace-maker in their little differences, the reliever in their distresses, and their best friend in all conditions of life. Springing himself from the people—he was the son of a Roscommon farmer—no one knew better their virtues and their failings, and this knowledge he utilised to the very best advantage for his fellow-countrymen in Australia. An Irishman distinguished for the unblemished integrity of his political life, his sound common-sense, his