Irish-Australian Literature: Ghosts, Genealogy, Tradition


Opening with Christos Tsiolkas’s critique of multiculturalism, this essay considers the theory and practice of Irish-Australian literature in relation to questions of ethnicity and transnationalism. By comparing Irish-Australian to Irish-American literature and discussing ways in which theology becomes transposed into anthropology, it engages with problems of how to define such hybrid traditions and how they intersect (or conflict) with national narratives within a larger discursive domain. Australian authors such as Gerald Murnane, Thomas Keneally and Rosa Praed are compared to Irish authors based in London such as Oscar Wilde, with the essay arguing that Irish-Australian literature should be understood as an inherently relational rather than identitarian term. It also considers how Irish-Australian literature impacted upon racial politics across a global axis in the nineteenth century through John Boyle O’Reilly’s friendship with Frederick Douglass.

In a 2020 special issue of Griffith Review entitled ‘The European Exchange’, Natasha Cica commented wryly on how the word Eurocentric has now become ‘a label of shame’ in Australia, rather as was the term ‘wog, when I was growing up’ (11). Also contributing to this special issue was the celebrated Australian novelist Christos Tsiolkas, who argued against the assumption that ‘history’s ghosts’, those tensions and on occasions outbreaks of violence associated with particular ethnic loyalties, could simply be annealed by a progressive politics of multiculturalism. While acknowledging the destructive power of ‘Europe’s submerged ghosts’, Tsiolkas countered:

I am frightened of the reactionary elements to some of these impulses. But I am more terrified of a Manichean idealistic progressive who thinks in black and white, and divides the world into the pure and unclean . . . As a writer in Australia I think the great promise of a truly multicultural literature has been stymied by the laziness with which we have approached such definitions. This has been abetted by an identity politics in academia and in the arts that relies on simplistic dichotomies, and a facile understanding of multiculturalism that treats ethnicity and race as a kind of fashion. (24–26)

While Tsiolkas’s primary focus here is on his own Greek heritage, a similar case could be made for the significance of Irish culture within an Australian context. Rather than categorising it as merely another dimension of the contemporary multicultural mosaic, it is possible to reconceptualise the Australian literary tradition in relation to ‘impulses’ (24) and conflicts rooted in a genealogical past. ‘Progress has been vanquished by history’, as Tsiolkas put it: ‘The ghosts are taking their revenge’ (26).

There has, of course, been a great deal of historical and sociological explanation of how interactions between England and Ireland played themselves out in Australia over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with discussions ranging from the transportation of Irish convicts to controversies among Australian Catholic bishops over support for Britain during World War I, in addition to the perennial thorny question of Home Rule for Ireland. For various reasons, however, the issue of Irish-Australian literature has never come so clearly into focus. The purpose of this essay is to trace ways in which this constitutionally hybrid literary domain, resisting as a matter of principle circumscription either by location or national identity, serves effectively to expand the conceptual reach both of the Irish diaspora and the field of Australian literature itself. The impact of theories of transnationalism on Australian literature is by now an old story, but, as Tsiolkas indicated, such analysis has too often been proffered in a ‘simplistic’ way, without sufficient consideration of how this composite national body might be modulated or transformed through such inclusions. Historically, most accounts of Irish diasporic culture have centred on its transatlantic axis, and there has of course been much valuable work on how U.S. capital cities, particularly Boston and New York, have been affected in substantive ways by an Irish cultural presence. But there has been significantly less scholarly attention to how this Irish diaspora has played out over a transpacific axis or across the Indian Ocean, although the burgeoning critical work on a politics of place now emanating from southern continents would suggest this Irish ethnic experience would manifest itself in markedly different ways through encounters with various forms of situated knowledge in the Southern Hemisphere, not least as those are shadowed by spectres of indigeneity.1

Another aspect of the constitutional hybridity endemic to this Irish-Australian domain involves its transvaluation of religious doctrine into secular correlatives, something that has been more overtly apparent within an Irish-American historical context. U.S. writers with affiliations to an Irish Catholic heritage – Scott Fitzgerald, John O’Hara, Mary McCarthy – tended to frame their view of the world in radically different ways from more canonical writers such as Herman Melville or Robert Frost, whose works were shaped, often circuitously, by residual forms of Calvinism or other strains of Puritanism.2 This separatist theology underpinned the administrative theocracies of New England in the seventeenth century, and it subsequently gave rise to what Melville, in his essay on Nathaniel Hawthorne, called a ‘great power of blackness’ in his friend’s fiction, a ‘Puritanic gloom’ deriving ‘its force from its appeals to that Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin’ (243). As Melville and Frost understood only too well, borders between sacred and secular can become blurred and, in cultural or psychological terms, sometimes almost interchangeable. But if the religious infrastructure of Australian culture has been less self-evident than in America, its intertwining with political power systems has been no less significant. Just as Irish-American writers can be understood as countering the heavy institutional directives of American Puritanism that became consolidated into resolute national narratives intent on symbolically dividing the light from the dark, so Irish-Australian literature in its principled heterogeneity can be seen to challenge not only the traditional colonial hegemony mandated by Anglican orthodoxy and hierarchy, but also its more recent admittance of multicultural largesse. Indeed, the latter’s vapid and often patronising procedures might be seen as akin to the kind of sufferance with which Anglicans in days gone by would allow people into their ‘Broad Church’. A more stringent appraisal of Irish-Australian literature as a distinctive intellectual tradition would, by contrast, suggest the more complex ways in which Australian culture interrelates with vectors of universalism that cross equally between local and global, sacred and secular. It would also operate as a counterweight to sentimental romanticisations of the Irish diaspora, indicating instead how this phenomenon works, in reciprocal but often indirect ways, both to shape host cultures and be significantly modified by them in turn.

Part of the reason for the continuing obscurity of Irish-Australian literature as a discrete category is that it has never fitted particularly well into the postcolonial dialectic of dominant and subordinate cultures that has now become a rather too familiar framework for treatments of Australian literature. Declan Kiberd observed in 1995 how The Empire Writes Back, the seminal study of ‘Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures’ first published by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin in 1989, actually ‘passes over the Irish case very swiftly, perhaps because the authors find these white Europeans too strange to justify their sustained attention’ (5). It is true that The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, edited by this same trio of authors in 1995, included an excerpt from Writing Ireland, by David Cairns and Shaun Richards, but the key point here turns not so much on a simple inclusion or overlooking of Ireland as on its classification. Kiberd himself described how the agenda of Irish Studies should involve ‘ecumenical, even impure, practices’ (647), bringing together a variety of traditions, both Gaelic and Protestant, rather than conforming merely to the ‘rampant Anglophobia among many [Irish] nationalists’ (650). Kiberd understood Irish cultural identity to be always ‘dialogic’ (48), not so much an autonomous entity as one often engaged in transposing and inverting the settled hierarchies of the English Establishment, while Terry Eagleton similarly suggested it was ‘in terms of such tropes’ as ‘[p]aradox, metonymy, oxymoron’ that ‘the relationship between imperial Britain and colonial Ireland has to be read’ (125). For Eagleton, the syntactic and structural paradoxes of Irish writers such as Oscar Wilde typically work to ‘demystify’ the ‘idealizations’ of ‘the ruling British order’ (8), just as the sublime gothic aesthetics of Dublin-born Edmund Burke threw a disturbing shadow over the regular ‘civility’ (9) of English customs at the end of the eighteenth century, thereby threatening to subvert such civil customs from within.

Both Kiberd and Eagleton point to an elusiveness in Anglo-Irish cultural relations, something that resists formulation within regular models of authority and opposition. Aspects of such elusiveness also enter into Irish-Australian cultural relations, and this may be one reason that an intellectual tradition of Irish-Australian literature has been difficult to define. It is true, of course, that the concept of cultural ethnicity is itself evasive. Rey Chow has written of the ‘self-contradictory’ (viii) element endemic to the genealogy of ethnicity, by comparison with the term’s current usage. The word was previously utilised for boundary-setting purposes by Jews and Christians to refer to excluded gentiles or heathens, even though it is now more consciously deployed in a universalist fashion, to indicate that everyone should be considered ‘ethnic’ in the sense of belonging to one ethnic group or another. In this sense, ethnicity betokens two contradictory things at once: both a universal condition, within which everyone can situate themselves, and also a sign of putative foreignness or outsiderhood. Such inconsistencies encompass real tensions, since, as Chow went on to observe, any notion of a benign ethnic universalism fails to account for the hostility and intolerance that continues to accompany ethnic interactions. Hence the term’s ‘theoretical fuzziness’ (23) cannot gloss over or alleviate ongoing hostilities among different cultural groups, of the kind that Tsiolkas commented acerbically upon. As Chow also noted, ethnic studies within the academy have perhaps been trapped for too long within a placatory ‘liberalist modus operandi’ (154), within whose aegis difference in itself was thought to offer an opportunity for celebration, whereas a more rigorous analysis of the Irish-Australian literary heritage would bring to light potential ruptures and unsettling dynamics within the Australian national narrative. In this sense, Irish-Australian literature is not necessarily something that can be simply be added on seamlessly to the familiar national narrative. Rather than being merely an ancillary aspect of Australian literature, it might be argued that an Irish-Australian dimension has the capacity to change the subject’s contours more fundamentally.

During the first half of the twentieth century, romantic forms of nationalism had both a popular and a populist appeal, something seen in relation to diasporic Italian and Polish as well as Irish communities in the United States, whose members often retained a nostalgic affiliation with their idealised homeland.3 After 1945 there was, as Werner Sollors noted, ‘a new emphasis on ethnic pluralism and on cultural pluralism in modern democratic societies, which were, after World War II and the Holocaust, defined against the fascist trajectory from racist stereotype to genocide’ (‘Ethnic’ 75). In the wake of the reification of racial identity that had underpinned the disastrous Nazi project, race and ethnicity came to be understood more as voluntary rather than coercive or genetic affiliations, identities to be assumed or discarded as individual or social circumstances might dictate. Éamon de Valera, who had led the Fianna Fail government in Dublin from 1932 to 1948, undertook a world tour after his fall from power in an attempt to raise funds and support for a united Ireland, but his visit to Australia in 1948 was not especially successful, since it seemed at that time only to indicate, in Patrick O’Farrell’s words, ‘that Australians of Irish descent or even Irish birth, could not be roused to any interest whatever in the affairs of Ireland’ (143). Discussing post-war American writers such as Jack Kerouac who had emerged from a Catholic ethnic background (French-Canadian in his case), James T. Fisher commented that while religion tended to be acceptable and ‘even, in some rarefied precincts, surprisingly fashionable’ in the 1950s, ethnicity was, by contrast, ‘virtually taboo’ (209), since its inherent nostalgia appeared backward-looking and out of touch with the more pressing concerns of the modern world. In an era of liberal humanism, existentialism and scientific progress, the idea of ethnic consciousness seemed associated uncomfortably with a nostalgie de la boue, with the result that, in Fisher’s words: ‘Official Catholicism was as uninterested in ethnic diversity during this period as academic social critics’ (210).

This shift in the political status of ethnic affiliation after World War II sheds a revealing light on the fiction of Gerald Murnane, whose early novels – Tamarisk Row (1974) and A Lifetime on Clouds (1976) – obsessively revisit the suburban Melbourne of Murnane’s own youth but choose to emphasise the author’s Catholic inheritance far more than his Irish ethnic milieu. In his subsequent works, Murnane draws extensively upon Catholic theology – A Season on Earth (2019) cites Thomas Aquinas (178), Thomas à Kempis (476) and the American monastic poet Thomas Merton (276) – but he typically reconstitutes these theological doctrines within a secular framework.4 For example, Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain wrote of how the ‘sin of Descartes’ was ‘a sin of angelism’ because ‘he conceived human Thought after the type of angelic Thought’ (54), occluding the human corporeal state and privileging instead an unworldly abstract idealism, and this kind of theological infrastructure informs Murnane’s compulsive indictment of abstractions of every kind. Displacing Catholic theology into demystified modes of quotidian practice, Murnane nevertheless indicts the self-deluding manner in which humanist ambitions attempt to appropriate the perfectionist qualities reserved in Church doctrine for angelic spirits, a design that indicates how Murnane’s Irish-Catholic heritage has continued to manifest itself in aestheticised forms throughout his fiction. There is of course a long tradition in intellectual history that considers ways in which religious orthodoxy of various kinds has been modulated into broader cultural contexts, with Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) being perhaps the most famous example of this genre, and the Catholic idiom carries a similarly residual force in Murnane’s fiction. Just as Weber argued that capitalism involved a secularisation of Protestant theology, so Murnane’s fiction involves a secularisation of Catholic theology, a style that manifests itself in the principled aversion to dualistic, disembodied abstractions running throughout his work.

It is important to recognise, then, that the Irish-Australian literary heritage characteristically operates in oblique ways, and that any effort to explicate the subject merely in relation to specific points of ethnic origin or national identity is doomed to failure. Eschewing self-legitimating notions of ‘ethnic insiderism’ (Beyond 13) or the stereotypical attributes ‘that romanticism dictated a nation ought to have: folk and fairy tales, costumes, the vernacular, people’s superstitions, an epic tradition, and so on’ (‘Introduction’ xiii), Sollors instead justified ethnicity as an important historical rather than a natural construct, one whose significance varied according to changing social circumstances. William Boelhower similarly opposed ‘the dualism of the monocultural and multicultural paradigms’ (10) and argued that everything might be considered ethnic to a greater or lesser degree, preferring the term ‘semiotic kinesis’ (106) as indicative of what he saw as the constant mobility of ethnic discourse: ‘Ethnic fiction . . . is dead’, Boelhower declared: ‘long live ethnic semiosis’ (132).

To classify ‘ethnic discourse’ in ‘the postmodern context’ as always a performative phenomenon – what Boelhower called ‘a pseudo-discourse’ (120) – might seem reductive, and it is important not to imply that such performativity renders ethnicity merely nugatory or inconsequential. Nevertheless, such a clearing out of antiquated essentialisms does offer an opportunity in academic terms to reassess how ethnic formations have operated historically, and how they continue to operate psychologically, in crucial ways. It is by demystifying ethnicity that we are able properly to assess its literary and cultural footprint, just as Michael M. J. Fischer analysed ethnicity through the ‘arts of memory’, linking the phenomenon to dreaming, transference and a ‘return of the repressed in new forms’ (207), often framed by the recuperative language of ‘[i]rony and humor’ (229). In this way, the retrospective mnemonics of Murnane’s fiction might be said to represent a particular style of Irish-Australian literature, one whose aesthetic impact thrives not on empirical mimesis but on transposition and obliquity.


Murnane’s model of compulsive retrospection in relation to his personal history can be expanded conceptually to encompass a broader retrospective account of how Irish affiliations have helped to shape Australian culture more extensively. The Irish were marginalised as an underclass during the nineteenth century, when the stereotype ‘Bridgette’ was used as a derisive term to caricature Irish female servants (Montana 70). Many colonial novels coming out of an English heritage were also scathing about the Irish in Australia, with transported convicts typically appearing as villains in the novels of Henry Kingsley, for example. In The Hillyars and the Burtons (1865), Kingsley’s character Joseph Burton cautions against enfranchising a ‘worthless class’ of emigrants (as opposed to ‘more respectable classes’), and he warns in particular against ‘the Irish rebel’ Dempsey’s ‘craze of independent Irish nationality’ (354). Similarly in Catherine Helen Spence’s Clara Morison (1854), Mr. Campbell’s admiration for the heroine’s staunch Scottish ‘independent spirit’ goes along with his disdain for ‘that batch of Irish orphans who turned out so ill’ (I, 85), having been corrupted by the perils of alcohol. The popular belief in the Irish as anarchic drunkards was elevated everywhere in the nineteenth century to the status of a doctrine underwritten by racial science. In his Statistical Atlas of the United States (1874), the distinguished American statistician Francis A. Walker claimed the ‘Irish have extraordinary mortality from Bright’s disease’, their kidneys having been fatally damaged from drinking too much. Just as the pseudo-science of phrenology attempted at this time to classify racial difference through brain size, so government agents in various countries across the world sought to rationalise psychological characteristics on the basis of ethnic identity. In the nineteenth century, racial difference was generally thought to have an intractable scientific grounding.

Such scientific endeavours were, however, complicated in manifold ways by the cultural crossovers among various ethnic groups that made it difficult to identify them with a single point of origin. As Kiberd noted, the most threatening aspect of Oscar Wilde was not his Irish provenance in itself, but the ways in which he drew upon his mixed heritage to practice his idiosyncratic ‘art of inversion’ (39), thereby threatening to undermine the conventional English belief in their own solid and secure national identity. The venom with which Wilde’s sexuality was attacked in England during the 1890s probably derived from a similar sense that his flamboyant style threatened to bring to light a hidden part of their own domestic culture, one they would have preferred to keep safely repressed. In this sense, the Irish, like the Jews, were cast in Britain during the nineteenth century as what Jonathan Boyardin called ‘internal Others’ (98), groups regarded as ‘other’ even though they lived within the boundaries of the imperial nation-state. As Richard Dellamora has observed, there was an alternative and more liberal line at this time, one running from Edmund Burke through to Matthew Arnold, which sought to leaven phlegmatic Anglo-Saxon power and capacity with Celtic ‘spirit’, in the belief that a combination of these different racial characteristics would benefit both parties (15). In On the Study of Celtic Literature (1867), for example, Arnold prophesied the emergence of a new people who would be blood ‘brothers’ (22), combining the sturdy philistinism of the English with the unmoored imagination of the Irish so as to create a more satisfactory composite model: ‘For all modern purposes’, said Arnold, ‘let us all as soon as possible be one people’ (13). But such a hypothetical symbiosis came up against entrenched hostilities and mutual suspicions going back generations, and during the second half of the nineteenth century the United States and Australia manifested themselves as alternative domains in which the vexed British relationship to Ireland was played out. Irish Americans tended to flourish as a community in a nation that had emancipated itself from British legislative control, whereas the Irish in Australia found themselves still under the yoke of imperial hegemony. There were, nevertheless, significant affiliations between these diasporic groups across different continents, with connections between the Irish emigrant communities in America and Australia being enhanced by the gold rush of the 1850s, when there was a large influx from the old goldfields of San Francisco into the new goldfields of Victoria. As Malcolm Campbell noted (86), these strong links between the Irish in California and the Irish in Australia have often been overlooked by conventional ethnographic scholarship in the United States, which has tended to remain more focused on the Atlantic cities of Boston and New York.

The life and career of John Boyle O’Reilly furnished perhaps the clearest example during the nineteenth century of this triangulation between Ireland, Australia and America. In September 1867, six weeks before penal transportation was scheduled to cease, O’Reilly as a member of the treasonous Irish Republican Brotherhood was dispatched to Fremantle on the last convict ship, the Hougoumont. Though he made the most of his time in Western Australia, where he joined a working party in the bush south of Bunbury and also enjoyed a romance with his gaoler’s daughter, O’Reilly managed to escape from Australia with the assistance of an American whaling fleet, and he arrived triumphantly in Philadelphia in November 1869. Once in the United States, O’Reilly promptly took American citizenship and pursued a distinguished literary career, publishing Songs from the Southern Seas, and Other Poems (1873) and, most famously, the novel Moondyne (1879), a fictionalised account of his experiences in Western Australia. What is particularly interesting about Moondyne, however, is the way it avoids fixed narrative or polemical positions. Though the novel satirises the conceit and incompetence of London colonial and penal administrators, it also derives its humorous impulse from such portraits, just as the narrator expresses affection for the Australian environment in which he has been incarcerated. In part, this is because of the romance with the imprisoned Alice Walmsley as presented here, but it also betokens a larger chameleonic capacity, whereby Moondyne Joe’s multiple personalities – prisoner, bushranger, intellectual – speak to ways in which the ‘majestic individuality’ (103) of Mr. Wyville, Moondyne’s alter ego, is bound paradoxically to the circumstances of a mixed heritage, The fact that Moondyne learns to speak ‘the language of the aborigines’ (29) after he has escaped to the Australian bush reinforces the constitutional hybridity of his world view.

O’Reilly became a well-known public figure during his time in Boston, enjoying acquaintances with such stalwarts of the American literary scene as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Dean Howells, while also striking up a close friendship with the ageing abolitionist, Wendell Phillips. Britain, of course, never forgave O’Reilly: not only were his works banned in Western Australia, but, even as late as 1885, he was denied permission to enter the British jurisdiction of Canada to deliver a St. Patrick’s Day oration in Ottawa. Among the Irish-American community, however, O’Reilly became a pillar of the Establishment: he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Notre Dame in 1880, a eulogy from Cardinal Gibbons at his funeral in 1890, and he was quoted by John F. Kennedy during the latter’s speech to the Irish parliament in 1963. O’Reilly also knew Oscar Wilde personally, attending a performance of Oedipus Tyrannus with him during Wilde’s visit to Boston in 1882. Like Wilde, O’Reilly threatened to subvert Establishment values from within, and this made him rather too close for comfort so far as the British were concerned.5 While Ned Kelly later became a symbol in Australia of what Keith Amos described as ‘Irish national resistance’ to ‘English oppression and mis-government’ (18), relations among England, Ireland and Australia were often more complex than these narratives of Fenian resistance made out. Kelly was of course captured and executed, while O’Reilly escaped and flourished, and the Irish-American interface with Irish Australia offers another angle on this story, one less attached to the politics of subjugation and the romance of martyrdom. O’Reilly was attracted intellectually to the forms of mobility he associated with exile, which he called ‘God’s alchemy’ (Roche 415), and just as James Joyce achieved a different perspective on his native Dublin from Paris, so O’Reilly’s creative work benefitted from his displacement to Australia and then the United States. It is the systematic interactions and exchanges between these heterogeneous cultural formations that are of most interest and significance for Irish-Australian literature, not the primacy or otherwise of any specific national narrative deriving merely from an Irish source.

During the last decade of his life, O’Reilly became friendly with Frederick Douglass, who, in the wake of his own 1884 marriage to the white woman Helen Pitts, contributed an essay to O’Reilly’s journal The Pilot about the ambiguous social politics surrounding mulattoes, with Douglass denying they were inherently superior and calling for racial equality (Betts 249). Douglass was at this time advocating a process of ‘amalgamation’ (516) between white and black, prophesying in his 1886 essay ‘The Future of the Colored Race’ that it was ‘inevitable’ how ‘the negro’ would be ‘absorbed, assimilated’ into ‘the features of a blended race’ (515). The Catholic press in Boston had traditionally been sceptical about Civil Rights issues, but O’Reilly, with his recent experience of British oppression in an Australian prison camp, helped in his editorial role to steer The Pilot in the 1870s more towards a position of sympathy with the oppressed African American community, and this became the basis for the intellectual collaboration between O’Reilly and Douglass in the 1880s. Their collaboration was often tense, and even though O’Reilly published various speeches and letters from Douglass in The Pilot, they quarreled in 1887 over Douglass’s support for Chinese immigration to the United States, which O’Reilly feared would depreciate the Irish position in the labour market (Onkey 50). Nevertheless, they were billed to appear together at a public event on Boston Common in 1888, when a monument was unveiled to the black slave Crispus Attucks and four other heroes of the Boston Massacre in 1770, and though Douglass could not in the end attend, he did subsequently write to O’Reilly congratulating him on the poem ‘Crispus Attucks’ that he read on this occasion.6 All of this has significant implications for our understanding of Douglass as well as O’Reilly, since the celebrated African American public intellectual has been much better known for his abolitionist writings of the antebellum period than for his activist engagement in the 1880s and 1890s, when as a Republican politician he championed the causes of racial intermixture and hybridity. Similarly, O’Reilly in the 1880s argued not only for an end to segregation but even for the prospect of racial intermarriage, then a taboo subject among white Americans (Murphy 33). This association between Douglass and O’Reilly thus opens up different perspectives on racial issues across different continents, and it suggests how an Irish-Australian transnational dynamic helped to integrate Douglass’s radical concepts of racial métissage within a wider global orbit. Most accounts of Douglass’s involvement with Ireland focus on his meeting with Daniel O’Connell during his visit to Ireland in 1845, but the friendship with O’Reilly was just as important during his later years.

Ada Cambridge, who emigrated from Britain to Australia in 1870 after her marriage to an Anglican clergyman and whose work is often (wrongly) stereotyped as irredeemably traditionalist and genteel, also draws on Ireland at a time when its political status was a topic of great public debate to advance her fictional satires of English imperial complacency. In Cambridge’s last novel, The Making of Rachel Rowe (1914), which is shadowed by suffragette politics and many other preoccupations of this modernist period, the intellectual heroine’s mother is said to have been ‘of humbler stock, Irish, expatriated by the potato famine when an infant in arms’ (19). This anticipates Cambridge’s sustained critique from an antipodean perspective of the limits and limitations inherent in British social and political traditions: ‘England was done with now’, thinks Rachel’s father (24). Cambridge had no personal kinship with Ireland, but for her the country becomes an important point of discursive reference, not a nostalgic point of origin, and this reflects how, within the larger matrix of modernism, Ireland frequently operated as a visible node on a transnational axis where imperial designs and local concerns were brought into an often rebarbative alignment. James Joyce was critical of what he saw as the sentimental assumptions underlying the Celtic Revival at the turn of the twentieth century, denying as a matter of principle that any pure form of life could exist and ridiculing the idea of it being found among ‘peasants’ in the West of Ireland (McCourt 26). As Gregory Castle has acutely observed, it is not an idyll of primitivism but rather ‘the tension between the archaic and the modern that characterizes Irish modernism generally’ (207), a tension that is played out in J. M. Synge, W. B. Yeats and many other writers.

Such a categorical rejection of purity also characterises the work of Thomas Keneally, perhaps the contemporary Australian writer who foregrounds his Irish heritage most self-consciously. Keneally’s novel The Cut-Rate Kingdom (1980), which probes ‘the Australian soul’ (v), specifically takes issue with ‘the refining power of Puritan money’ (104), linking this to an American entrepreneur and ‘his Mayflower wife’ (109). The Mayflower was the ship on which the first American Puritans, the Pilgrim Fathers, fled from Europe in 1620, and Keneally’s novel treats ways in which Australia has been shaped culturally by the competing influences of Britain, America and Asia. As someone who studied for the Catholic priesthood in his youth and whose great-uncle was a Fenian organiser transported in 1867 (on the same ship as O’Reilly), Keneally’s instinctive sympathies are clearly with Irish republican ancestry; and in Our Republic (1993), his treatise in support of an Australian republic, he takes issue with the institution of British monarchy, calling it ‘an extraordinary piece of psychic baggage for a supposedly free and equal people to carry around’ (88). He also notes how ‘convictism has never gone away’ (55), and how the ‘deliberate dwarfism’ (191) that he believes to be still inherent in the Australian mindset can be attributed to the manner in which these conventional hierarchies have become internalised and naturalised. Keneally’s own multi-volume history of Australia argues, by contrast, that the country’s past is more properly embodied by stories of convicts and poorer emigrants rather than by the achievements of English colonial governors. Our Republic also suggests this colonial heritage has been responsible for the depredations suffered by Indigenous culture, claiming that Loyalists in Ulster regard Nationalists with the same incomprehension as white Australians regard Aborigines: ‘As little as Loyalists understand Nationalists in Ulster, so little does white Australia seek to understand the Aboriginal world’ (101). This indicates clearly enough the more partisan aspects of Keneally’s Irish-Australian narratives, attesting perhaps to the pertinence of Kiberd’s complaint that the ‘rampant Anglophobia’ among many Irish nationalists has tended to result in an ‘over-emphasis on Catholicism’ rather than Protestantism in Irish Studies scholarship, and ‘the consequent writing of Irish history as a Manichaean morality-tale’ (650).

There is, however, an internal tension, if not quite an outright contradiction, between Keneally’s polemical politics and the distinctive abjuration in his fiction of this ‘Manichaean’ heresy that would dualistically differentiate light from darkness, salvation from damnation. Whereas Protestant theologians such as Reinhold Niebuhr veered closer to a Manichaean sensibility in their stress on a dialectical opposition between ‘grace’ and ‘sin’, the Roman Catholic emphasis on an ‘analogical imagination’, deriving ultimately from Aquinas, has been more willing to embrace pluralism and catholicity, while acknowledging impurity (and liminal ‘purgatorial’ states) as an ontological condition of human existence (Tracy 13). Joyce’s aesthetics were deeply influenced by Aquinas’s scholasticism, and among Australian novelists Keneally is the writer who most explicitly translates Catholic theology into renegade forms of cultural materialism. This leads him to emphasise what distinguished Catholic theologian David Tracy described as ‘similarities-in-difference’ (418) and ‘unity-in-difference’ (414) as part of a systematic universalism beholden to a universal church, in either its metaphysical or secular incarnation, and conversely to remain suspicious of the ‘purging fire’ (417) of a negative dialectics that would seek in more prescriptive fashion to separate sheep from goats, or, by extension, to guard the integrity of a spiritual godhead against the inevitable distortions of worldly language. The Manichaean or Puritan dualism of grace and sin carries rhetorical ramifications in relation to a putative parallel dualism between an inaccessible or transcendent object and its verbal reconstruction, and it is that purported ontological division with which Keneally takes issue, on both religious and linguistic grounds. Such dualism involves the same kind of secularised Calvinism that Herman Melville identified in Hawthorne, but in Keneally’s theology, as well as his literary style, the world is always already corrupt, with his narratives seeking points of paradoxical intercession between matter and spirit.7 This is an idiom of transubstantiation translated into embodied cultural forms, where the word is made flesh. ‘In Christian systematics’, wrote Tracy, ‘there is no theology which is not also an anthropology’ (435), and Keneally’s training for the Catholic priesthood subsequently manifests itself in works of fiction such as The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972), where analogical resemblances are adduced between Irish and Indigenous cultures. Jimmie is specifically described as ‘hybrid’ (17), caught between different racial and ethnic traditions with ambitions to marry a white woman, and as a ‘half-caste aborigine’ (175) he ends up in a convent in Kaluah, looking at the faces of saints on the wall.

John Frow suggested that Keneally’s work ironically indicates a ‘collusion with the implied white reader, a collusion which, in bravely attempting to include blacks in the thematization of Australian society, in fact excludes them and patronizes them’ (299), but this is perhaps to follow the more conventional critical assumption of deep, irreparable divisions between ‘the white world’ and ‘aboriginal culture’ (293). Alison Ravenscroft, in her treatment of disjunctions between White Australia and Indigenous culture in The Postcolonial Eye, draws explicitly on Theodor Adorno’s theory of negative dialectics to adumbrate what she sees as the inherent discrepancies and forms of misrepresentation involved in communication across cultures (18–19), and it is this ascetic idiom of illegibility and rupture that has become more influential in contemporary critical discourse, including those addressing Indigenous narratives. But what Keneally invokes instead is a doctrine of systematic impurity, one beholden to (but not synonymous with) the rubric of Catholic theology. This is a different kind of matrix, one that reorients the Australian national legacy by refracting its genealogies through an Irish Catholic rather than American Puritan or English colonial perspective. Just as his non-fiction narratives treat Australian cultural history from a contrarian point of view, so Keneally’s fiction evokes an alternative model of literary history, one that countermands conventional colonial (and postcolonial) narratives through its heterodox Irish-Australian style.


To reconstruct Australia’s past in a less partitioned manner might be understood as one of the key contributions of an Irish-Australian intellectual tradition. The cultural historian Bernard Smith had an ambivalent relation to the idea of Irish heritage, having been born in Sydney as the illegitimate son of an unmarried Irish Catholic maidservant who had left for Australia in 1914, and most conventional accounts of Smith’s career choose to stress the apparent incompatibility between Irish Catholicism and his subsequent commitment to a radical, secular politics. Nevertheless, though Smith declared he would die ‘an atheist’ (Palmer 334), he also specified for himself a Catholic funeral service, something that his biographer Sheridan Palmer describes as consistent with the ‘double agendas’ that ran through Smith’s life and work. He always found himself almost pathologically at odds with the Protestant Establishment in Australia, which in his eyes tended to adhere sycophantically to the values of king and country, though Palmer mentions that when Smith visited Ireland in 1949 he believed he had ‘found his roots among the Irish peasants’ and consequently ‘felt no exclusion within that clan’. On a more intellectual level, it is possible to trace affinities between Smith’s rejection of Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s and Gerald Murnane’s systematic disavowal of abstract classifications in the name of material embodiment. Both aesthetic positions involve a secularised form of ‘angelism’, the Catholic doctrine that, as we have seen, scorned dualistic abstraction as incommensurate with a human state of corporeal incarnation. This suggests the Irish-Australian heritage should be construed not as a point of impossible origin – trying to define who is ‘really’ Irish – but, rather, as a series of isomorphic resemblances, where shared intellectual affinities mutually illuminate one another. To trace the Irish-Australian literary heritage is not to classify individual authors in narrow boxes, as it were, but to join the dots, so as to recognise how certain patterns develop in contravention of those informing and implicitly justifying the dominant national narrative.

In Smith’s case, he also shares with Keneally an interest in hybridity rather than purity, in what Smith’s 1980 Boyer Lectures published as The Spectre of Truganini called ‘cultural convergence’ (44) and a ‘meeting of the two cultures’ (50). This led him here to celebrate the impact of Indigenous on White Australian culture, with particular reference to the poetry of Les Murray and the music of Peter Sculthorpe. While not overlooking colonial ‘crimes’ (17) and ‘acts of genocide’ (10), Smith’s more expansive agenda involves strategies of transposition, through which both dominant and marginal cultures gain in resonance from being understood in analogical relation (rather than dialectical opposition) to each other. This is basically the same formulation that Smith applies in European Vision and the South Pacific (1960), reworking conventional hierarchies from what Ian McLean described as a ‘reverse perspective’. It could be argued this characteristic structural doubleness is continually informed by power relations between the English Establishment and Irish illegitimacy that morph into what Peter Beilharz described as Smith’s ‘lifelong interest in unequal cultural exchange’ (94), his understanding of antipodes ‘as a relation, not a place’ (xiii).

Hostile on philosophical grounds to any Platonic form of idealism, Smith rejected the notion of any kind of culture as inherently isolated or autonomous, and this led him to approach Indigenous cultures in relation to politics and aesthetics rather than phenomenology or anthropology. He was not so much interested in the metaphysical meaning of Indigenous culture as with ways in which that culture could be represented. Smith’s 1961 essay ‘The Myth of Isolation’, which critiques what he took to be the parochial view that Australian painting emerged in isolation from the Renaissance tradition, is extended in The Spectre of Truganini to an analysis of how White Australian culture benefits by moving away from ‘narrow Europeanism’ (51) towards a recognition of how hybrid interaction with Indigenous cultures mutually enrich different parts of the national tradition. Such an agenda might, of course, be regarded from a more hostile point of view as another kind of imperial appropriation; but its conceptual basis, operating in parallel to a theological conception of catholicity and universalism, provides at least an interesting counternarrative to contemporary considerations of Indigenous issues in Australia, which seem in recent times to have run into a theoretical brick wall. Smith, by contrast, was invested not in mantras of ‘respect’ but in forms of similitude, in the analogical resemblances across different cultures that could creatively destabilise the autonomous identities and separatist illusions of both parties.

In this sense, proper recognition of the Irish-Australian literary tradition potentially offers a different understanding of the Australian body politic more generally. Multiculturalism in its more emollient versions can, as Slavoj Žižek suggested in 1997, too readily accommodate itself to ‘the cultural logic of multinational capitalism’, furnishing a benign corollary to the friction-free ideals of global markets; but for the Irish in Australia, there is a long history of tension and oppression that cannot be so easily reconciled within such a multicultural orbit, and a critical scrutiny of Irish-Australian literary traditions thus provides an intellectual opportunity to consider Australian cultural history with a more quizzical eye. There are many authors with Irish-Australian connections that might be considered within such a rubric. Joseph Furphy, whose parents migrated from Northern Ireland in 1841, is one example, as is Lola Ridge, who was born in Dublin in 1873, immigrated as a child to New Zealand and then studied in Sydney, before moving to the United States in 1907 and establishing herself in New York as a champion of modernist poetics. Ridge always retained what Daniel Tobin called a ‘Celtic imagination’ (167), one that manifested itself in both her political and stylistic radicalism, but this was framed through the metaphors of displacement and antipodean inversion that galvanised her poetic style.

Another Australian writer who appropriated Ireland for intellectual purposes was Rosa Praed, who was born in Queensland to an Anglo-Irish family (her mother came from the county of Tyrone, Northern Ireland), but who, more significantly, explores the question of heredity as a formative phenomenon throughout her fiction. Lady Bridget in the Never-Never Land (1915) features a heroine who prides herself on being ‘not an English girl but a hybrid Celt’ (10), and she believes that her Irish ancestry will shape her destiny. ‘The curse of the O’Haras is upon me’, she says: ‘Almost all of them have gambled with their lives, and most of them have lost’ (211). For Lady Bridget, this Celtic blood is linked to a capacity for ‘second-sight experiences’ (26), and a similar romanticisation of the Celtic strain runs through Praed’s novel Outlaw and Lawmaker (1893), where ‘the typical Australian girl’ (5) Elise Valliant is rendered ‘spellbound’ (172), as if subject to ‘hypnotism’ (173), by the Irish rebel Morres Blake. Blake doubles as both Colonial Secretary and the bushranger known as ‘Moonlight’ who operates in the rural areas of Praed’s Queensland, reconstructed in her imaginative world as ‘Leichhardt’s Land’. Praed’s fictional hero alludes specifically to John Boyle O’Reilly ‘who was tried and sentenced for inciting his regiment to revolt’, telling Elise: ‘My offence was the same, but I was not tried’ (277). Again, the threat of hereditary fate hangs over this narrative, with Blake lamenting how ‘The Coola curse is on me; the curse which dooms one Blake in a generation’ (209), and in other Praed novels this notion of hereditary determinism is explicitly justified through a scientific and genetic rationale. In The Romance of a Châlet (1892), for example, Dr. Carberry declares that ‘[i]nherited tendency is the mysterious law to which all must bow’ (90), with Sir Rupert Keningale, who has ‘gone into the question of heredity’ (54), having ‘a kind of pitiless belief in physical causes being responsible for moral results’ (43). This coalesces with the pattern of spiral recurrence throughout Praed’s fictions, whereby, as the scion of American ‘Puritan ancestry’ (220) Mr. Goldney remarks in Romance of a Châlet: ‘History has a strange way of repeating itself’ (208). Praed herself had met O’Reilly when she visited the United States in 1886 with Justin McCarthy, a staunch advocate of Irish Home Rule who served as a Westminster MP for the Irish Parliamentary Party led by Charles Stewart Parnell. Praed actually collaborated with McCarthy on three novels – The Right Honourable (1886), The Rebel Rose (1888) and The Ladies’ Gallery (1888) – as well as an expensive non-fiction work about the River Thames, The Grey River (1889).8 She also edited a collection of McCarthy’s letters to her under the title Our Book of Memories (1912), writing in the book’s introduction of how she had been at that time ‘in ardent sympathy with the Nationalist ideal. Having been brought up under a colonial system of Home Rule [in Australia], it was difficult for me to understand why Ireland should not have her Parliament and manage her own affairs’ (2–3). Praed went on to acknowledge that she might ‘think a little differently now’ (3), but, during the latter years of the nineteenth century, she was clearly heavily invested in the Irish nationalist cause.

What is particularly interesting and elusive about Praed, however, is not any nationalist affiliation per se but, rather, the ways she constructed and reconstructed Irish identity as a discursive phenomenon for specific aesthetic and political purposes. She noted later how she had ‘never felt either English or Irish though nearly all my life has been spent in the British Isles’, and though her biographer traced this sense of displacement back to the lingering force of her Australian childhood memories, it is equally plausible that Praed also preserved a certain intellectual detachment that rendered her affiliations necessarily chameleonic and contingent (Clarke 1999, 41).9 She knew Oscar Wilde in London and presents a fictionalised portrait of him as Esmé Colquhoun in her novel Affinities (1886), and in a broader sense Praed’s fiction is shaped in compelling ways by the Aesthetic movement’s projection of race and religion as anthropomorphic entities. In her novel Fugitive Anne (1902), race emerges as a performative entity, with the narrator commenting on how ‘Kombo, like all Australian black boys, revelled in playing a part’ (35), just as the heroine Anne Bedo fluctuates here between alternate identities, first in her role as the conventional domestic wife of Elias Bedo, then as a fugitive bush girl – where she has ‘to play the part of Cloud-Daughter, Sister of the Pleiades’ (120) – and, ultimately, in an Establishment charade where she assumes the role of ‘Baroness Marley, in the peerage of England’. The novel represents identity performatively in relation to gender as well as race – Anne at one point dresses as ‘Billy, the black boy’ (45) – and it also casts Aboriginal mythology in theatrical terms, using its fictional portrait of Eric Hansen, a distinguished Danish anthropologist, to achieve an outsider’s perspective on Indigenous legends of Tortoise Mountain in the heart of Australia. Though Praed converted in 1891 to Catholicism, a fashionable religion in London at that time, her more enduring otherworldly interests lay in metempsychosis and reincarnation; but Fugitive Anne (and many of her other works) are interesting precisely because they blend ideas taken from theosophy and Eastern religions with the Indigenous spiritual beliefs with which she became acquainted during her Queensland youth. In this sense, the eclecticism inherent in Praed’s comparative mythologies can be aligned with her principled investment in racial hybridity rather than purity. Her novel Madame Izàn (1899), for instance, raises what was then the daring subject of inter-racial marriage, commenting on how marriage between a Japanese man and an Irish woman is facilitated by the civilised ‘simplicity’ (349) of legal procedures designed to clear the way for divorce in Japan, where ‘[i]t would appear that conjugal unions and separations are not hedged around with all the difficulties and restrictions of a Western civilisation’ (348).

It would be unhelpful (and inappropriate) to categorise Praed just as an Irish-Australian writer, but it is easier to recognise how her points of stress and emphasis are consistent with an Irish-Australian literary sensibility, one that preserves an ironic distance from colonial manners and templates while reformulating the interaction between settler and Indigenous cultures in a more heterodox fashion. Andrew McCann described Praed as an ‘unjustly neglected’ (28) figure within the wider world of literary studies, suggesting that her textual imbroglios of bohemian and commercial interests should be of broader concern to scholars of aestheticism as well as ‘to the field of queer literary studies’ (145), and perhaps part of the difficulty with Praed’s subsequent reputation has been that her work is not easy to classify within an Australian literary tradition as its parameters have traditionally, and much too narrowly, been defined. Miles Franklin characteristically dismissed Praed as hopelessly self-indulgent and deracinated – ‘one of the privileged English who moved between England the French Riviera, Italy and other resorts of the foot-free and opulent’ – but even critics more sympathetic to her various forms of mutability have not always been able to recognise her work as anything other than a singular eccentricity. But by relating her decathected, mobile version of ethnicity and her universalist temper to the Irish heritage that she self-consciously appropriates and internalises, it becomes possible to understand her work not just as a bizarre anomaly, but as part of an important (if generally neglected) aesthetic trajectory and tradition within Australian culture.


In tracing the arc of Irish-Australian literature, it is thus crucial to be aware not so much of heritage, in the way such a blunt formation has tended to be commandeered for political or marketing purposes, but of transposition and indirection. The value of identifying literary traditions lies in a recognition of their cumulative force, the ways in which an illumination of a series of thematic preoccupations or stylistic homologies across texts from different periods helps to clarify the thread of ideological forces by which these narratives are shaped, along with the systems to which their aesthetic or political impulses are affiliated, even if implicitly or obliquely. Literary traditions are not, primarily, about establishing canons, nor are they predicated on either impossible models of encyclopedic completeness or coercive agendas of inclusion or exclusion. More fundamentally, their intellectual usefulness involves an elucidation of intertextual linkages through which it becomes easier to recognise distinct cultural formations, and thus the necessary partiality of any hegemonic design that purports to be all-encompassing. Just as (for example) the identification of traditions of gay literature has effectively deconstructed authoritative claims on the part of English literary history to represent a ‘natural’ world, where representation was silently conflated with heteronormativity, so the invocation of an Irish-Australian literary heritage deconstructs the proprietary claims of Australian Literature as an academic field to belong exclusively to the national formation of Australia.10

Writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the historian of Irish-American literature, Charles Fanning, complained that Fitzgerald chose to ignore ‘the possibilities for fiction of the ethnic dimension’ (73), despite his mother being the eldest daughter of an Irish immigrant and Fitzgerald himself having been brought up Catholic.11 But this was not how it appeared to Fitzgerald himself, who wrote in a 1933 letter to John O’Hara:

I am half black Irish and half old American stock with the usual exaggerated ancestral pretensions. The black Irish half of the family had the money and looked down upon the Maryland side of the family who had, and really had, that certain series of reticences and obligations that go under the poor old shattered word ‘breeding’ . . . so, being born in that atmosphere of crack, wisecrack and countercrack I developed a two-cylinder inferiority complex. So if I were elected King of Scotland tomorrow after graduating, Magdalene to Guards, with an embryonic history which tied me to the Plantagonets [sic ], I would still be a parvenu. I spent my youth in alternately crawling in front of kitchen maids and insulting the great. (Bruccoli 233)

Ernest Hemingway once remarked scornfully on Fitzgerald’s ‘cheap Irish love of defeat’ (Le Vot 300), but more interesting from an analytical point of view is the self-conscious critique of transcendental idealism that runs all the way through Fitzgerald’s fiction.12 This manifests itself for example in The Great Gatsby (1925), when narrator Nick Carraway says of Gatsby’s mansion: ‘There was nothing to look at from under the tree except Gatsby’s enormous house, so I stared at it, like Kant at his church steeple, for half an hour’ (69). Kant was the bête noire of Catholic theologians and philosophers in the nineteenth century because of the way he disregarded Aquinas’s emphasis on the substantiality of natural objects and instead related knowledge solely to the faculty of the human mind. In Fitzgerald’s novel, though, there is a sustained critique of the limitations involved in any human capacity to remodel the world in one individual’s own image, and this suggests how a quarrel with the cultural spirit of American Transcendentalism, predicated as it was upon the elevation of self-reliance to a metaphysical imperative, is always implicit within Fitzgerald’s narrative. Like Murnane rejecting abstraction through his transposition of Catholic theology into literary style, Fitzgerald draws on his Irish heritage to adumbrate an intellectual and artistic circumference that is related to ethnicity but never simply reducible to it. Irish-Australian literature needs to accommodate some of this spirit of multidimensionality and indirection, acknowledging how ethnic formations manifest themselves not just in empirical or descriptive scenes, but also in formal reflexes and more circuitous aesthetic pathways.

In Uncanny Australia (1998), Ken Gelder and Jane Jacobs argued for disrupting the more mundane notion of Australia as a ‘modern, secularised nation state’ by introducing more amorphous formations of ‘Aboriginal sacredness’ (1). My argument here, in some ways complementary but in other ways antithetical, is that sacred formations can be reconfigured as secular entities, with theology being recast as anthropology and ethnic traditions reconvened in worldly terms, so as to illuminate the different intellectual and artistic traditions that have always jostled for legitimacy in Australia. Irish-Australian literature is an inherently relational rather than identitarian term, one that has no purchase on exhausted notions of exceptionalism and must be understood in terms of its long and fractious relationship to English colonial culture. It is also a tradition that can only be recognised conceptually by joining the dots, not by positive forms of classification. But as a way of elucidating Australia’s cultural past and present, the invocation of an Irish-Australian tradition as an integral part of Australian Literature is long overdue.


  1. On the politics of place from a southern perspective, see for example Connell and Malpas.

  2. For secular versions of catholicity in O’Hara and McCarthy, see Giles, American Catholic 443–63.

  3. On this issue, see Jacobson.

  4. A Season on Earth is the original, restored version of A Lifetime on Clouds. Murnane reluctantly cut his original manuscript in half to fit in with editorial requirements.

  5. For a more extensive discussion of O’Reilly, see Giles, Antipodean 266–74.

  6. On the Boston Common event, see Betts 256–57 and Onkey 56, 198.

  7. Many other American writers influenced by Calvinist and other Puritan traditions, from Edward Taylor through to Emily Dickinson, were suspicious of the distortions involved in literary language. On this issue, see Rowe.

  8. On the relationship between Praed and McCarthy, see Clarke 2001, 120–23. The Rebel Rose was first published anonymously, though reprinted in 1890 under the authors’ names with a new title, The Rival Princess: A London Romance of To-day.

  9. This comment was extracted by Clarke from Praed’s unpublished papers in the National Library of Australia.

  10. On the uses of ‘tradition’ in relation to ‘A History of Gay Literature’, see Woods.

  11. On Fitzgerald’s Irish ethnicity, see Stubbs 17–36.

  12. Hemingway’s comment was made in a February 1933 letter to literary editor, Max Perkins.

Published 30 September 2021 in Special Issue: The Uses of Irish-Australian Literature . Subjects: American (USA) literature & writers, Australian literature - Comparisons with overseas literature, Ethnic groups, Multiculturalism, Rosa Praed, Catholicism, Gerald Murnane, Ghosts of History, Irish-Australian Literature, Thomas Keneally, Frederick Douglass, Oscar Wilde, John Boyle O'Reilly.

Cite as: Giles, Paul. ‘Irish-Australian Literature: Ghosts, Genealogy, Tradition.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 36, no. 2, 2021, doi: 10.20314/als.cb1be7642a.