Irish

As you may recall my father’s family descended from an Irish convict who arrived in Sydney 10 March 1822, and his son who joined him age 14 as a free settler in 1826. They came from this bit of Ireland, or nearby:

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I am not sure where they would have stood on St Patrick’s Day – which is of course today. See National Museum of Australia.

St Patrick’s Day has always been the day for the Irish in Australia. On 17 March 1795 there were rowdy festivities among the Irish convicts, and the cells were filled with prisoners. Later the occasion gained in respectability, marked by formal dinners attended by the colonial elite, many with no Irish connections.

By the early 20th century, parades were held in capital cities and rural centres. These were demonstrations of connections with an Irish Catholic past, or support for Irish political causes.

Today, St Patrick’s Day in Australia has evolved into a fun day marked by revelry, green beer and comical hats. On that day, some say, there are only two kinds of people — those who are Irish, and those who wish they were.

While “the wearing of the green” apparently commemorates the United Irishmen of the late 18th century, many of whose leaders were Protestants, it is now rather associated with the Catholic majority. My ancestors were not Catholic, presumably descended from the 17th century Plantations. They certainly lived in the Six Counties. The picture above is near Cootehill in County Cavan.

Whatever, I refer you to an item in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

From its humble St James Gate brewery beginnings in Dublin to its position as one of the world’s most recognised beer brands, the black brew with the stark white head can come with some turf wars. Some Guinness enthusiasts may cry “It tastes better in Ireland!”, but the black stuff is now brewed in more than 55 countries and the distinction is best settled from pub to pub.

Sydney’s raft of Irish pubs may lay claim to the best Guinness in town, but it’s sometimes in the spots you least suspect it that the black nectar finds its best expressions. Sydney’s pubs host a wealth of bartenders serious about their Guinness pouring but, in the end, the cream rises to the top.

Surry Hills pub The Porterhouse heads the list. Now that brings back memories!

Sunday lunch was at the Porter House

Posted on December 14, 2008 by Neil

How long have we been coming here, I asked Sirdan. We couldn’t remember for sure, but suspect it may go back to last century… It certainly goes back to 2000 or 2001, as I recall The Rabbit coming here… This is a real Irish Pub with real Irish people, and a great $12 Sunday roast.

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