Archbishop James Duhig and the Queensland Irish Association, 1898-1920: exploring connections.
James Duhig's long life (1871-1965) was intertwined with the history of Queensland's Irish community, which accounted for a quarter of the colony's population in the late nineteenth century. James was born in County Limerick and arrived in Queensland in 1885 at the age of fifteen, with his widowed mother and an older brother and younger sister. Three of his older siblings had preceded them and saved enough to pay their fares to Brisbane. Amid the throes of making his way into a new society James mixed clerical work with the acquisition of a Catholic secondary education. He was a prominent contributor to his Wooloowin parish, in Brisbane's inner north. He became an altar boy and a member of his church's literary and debating group, the Holy Cross Guild. A diligent self-improver, he studied classics at night under the supervision of South Brisbane's Father J. McKiernan. Like many other upwardly mobile young Irishmen he joined the Queensland Irish Volunteers (QIV), an ethnic military unit. When John Dillon, a militant Irish nationalist and parliamentarian, campaigned in Brisbane in 1889, Duhig collected funds for the Home Rule cause. The young man's zeal and presence attracted the patronage of Brisbane Archbishop Robert Dunne who fostered his vocation for the priesthood. The Duhig family willingly sacrificed James' significant contribution to its finances when he left to study for the priesthood at the Irish College in Rome in 1891. He was ordained in 1896, a great comfort to the Duhigs as they struggled through the depression and the industrial and other upheavals of the 1890s. (2)
For the Irish in Brisbane these upheavals included a resurgence of anti-Catholic sectarianism, which meant, in Jeff Kildea's words, 'the anti-Catholic bigotry and injustice of the Protestant majority'. (3) In the twenty-first century the pervasive power of Australian sectarianism, well into the 1960s, has been largely forgotten, an unlamented casualty of the decline in religious affiliation and the rise of multiculturalism. To revisit sectarian Australia requires historical imagination and acceptance of the dictum that the past is, indeed, a foreign country. In Australia from the 1890s to the 1920s anti-Irish bigotry was intertwined with anti-Catholicism, subjecting Irish Catholics to what Patrick O'Farrell termed 'double jeopardy', a hazard which led to the dissolution of the Queensland Irish Volunteers. (4)
The disbandment of the Queensland Irish Volunteers was the culmination of a campaign by Queensland Defence Force (QDF) headquarters to eliminate its volunteer branch, with the Irish unit a particular target. In 1897, the year Father James returned from Rome to serve as assistant priest in Ipswich, just west of Brisbane, his former QIV colleagues were forbidden by QDF commander colonel Howel Gunter, on penalty of court-martial, to march in Brisbane's St Patrick's Day
Parade. This was a humiliating blow to the Irish volunteers who traditionally led the march, resplendent in their distinctive green and gold braided uniforms. The order was countermanded after the Catholic attorney-general, Thomas Joseph (TJ.) Byrnes, intervened. But the reprieve was temporary. With Byrnes about to leave for overseas, Gunter appointed a non-Irish, non-Catholic professional officer to take charge of the QIV. Rather than accept what they regarded as a demeaning slur, the Irish volunteers disbanded. They regrouped as the Queensland Irish Association (QIA), a non-political, non-sectarian body founded in March 1898. Its sole qualification for membership, besides good character, was 'Irish birth or descent.' Though its membership was predominantly Irish Catholic, it included a significant Protestant minority, with its foundation president, the crown prosecutor John Kingsbury, a well-known Brisbane Methodist. (5)
The genesis of the QIA was a wake for the QIV held at John Brosnan's Exhibition Hotel, a meeting place for Irish Catholics, in late 1897. That gathering determined to perpetuate the 'bon camaraderie and ...friendships' which had developed among the volunteers, Catholic and Protestant. Many of the Irish Catholics were Hibernians and would remain connected; but Irish Protestant volunteers, unable to join the exclusively Catholic Hibernian society, were in danger of being cast adrift. This motive helps explain the emphasis on non-sectarianism in the Association's constitution. Similarly, the non-political nature of the new organisation sought to avoid another potential source of conflict. On the positive side, the QIA sought to safeguard the interests of the Irish in Queensland and encourage the study of Irish history and literature. There was also a focus on learning about eminent Irish and Irish-Australian achievers. Self-improvement was to be encouraged through hosting distinguished visitors and the cultivation of discussion and public speaking skills. (6)
At the same time James Duhig was forging friendships with an emerging Irish-Australian elite in Ipswich, his first posting as a curate, and in Brisbane, many of them founders or influential early members of the QIA. By the early 1900s his courtly bearing, eloquence and pastoral skills had drawn him into the leading Irish Catholic circles of southeast Queensland. His friends included the Ipswich-based O'Sullivan clan, one of whom, Thomas, a future member of the Legislative Council and judge, was to be QIA president from 1900 to 1903. Thomas's nephew, Neil O'Sullivan, a future QIA official and Queensland senator, became the archbishop's lawyer. By March 1905 it was clear the thirty-three year old was destined for church leadership. He was promoted to administrator of Brisbane's St Stephen's Cathedral. In the same month he accompanied the prominent Irish National Party (INP) parliamentarian in the House of Commons, William Redmond, then on an Australian tour, from Brisbane to Toowoomba. Redmond's Queensland visit was at the QIA's invitation. Duhig was a regular visitor to the household and office of Peter McDermott, a gregarious litterateur and founding member of Brisbane's Johnsonian Club. Under-secretary of the premier's department since 1904, McDermott was the first Irish Catholic to head Queensland's public service. He was QIA president from 1910 until his death in 1922. McDermott and Duhig shared enthusiasms for Irish history and politics and a love of literature and language. After McDermott died, Duhig bought his library of 2000 books for St Leo's, a Catholic residential College at the University of Queensland. When James left Brisbane to become Bishop of Rockhampton in late 1905 his Christian Brothers' Old Boys' farewell included a number of influential Association figures including foundation members Henry Neylan, Thomas Lehane and Timothy (T.J.) O'Shea, a prominent Brisbane lawyer-businessman and QIA president from 1903 to 1909. A few days later two QIA notables, businessmen Thomas Charles (T.C.) Beirne and Patrick Walsh (P.W.) Crowe, travelled north to Rockhampton to be at Duhig's installation as the centre's fourth bishop. (7)
Catholicism and family solidarity accompanied the Duhigs on their journey to Australia. James also brought with him a love of Ireland and a conviction that it had suffered injustice at the hands of England. Anger at England's treatment of Ireland was balanced by his pride in belonging to the British Empire. Duhig's sense of Irish history was personal and intertwined with memories of his mother, Margaret, who died in 1902. In 1906, as Bishop of Rockhampton he recalled himself as a small boy, fearfully huddled against her on an Irish hillside, watching soldiers with fixed bayonets evicting tenants. Another enduring boyhood memory was an image of one of his Irish political heroes, John Dillon, languishing in a prison cell. He attributed Ireland's doleful condition - depopulation, impoverishment and landlordism - in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century to British maladministration. The solution was Home Rule instead of direct rule from London. For Duhig, Home Rule meant Ireland achieving the same degree of self-government as Queensland. His sense of grievance over the consequences of British colonialism in Ireland coexisted, at times uneasily, with admiration for the British Empire and satisfaction that 'Ireland had always shed her blood on the battlefield for Britain'. The lack of Irish self-government, he declared in Rockhampton in 1911, was a 'festering sore' James Duhig's complicated, even contradictory, views on Ireland and Empire were shared widely among Queensland's Irish community. They were given their most consistent expression by the Queensland Irish Association one of the most impressive secular Irish organisations in Australia. After almost 120 years of existence it still plays a significant role in Brisbane's social and cultural life. Its St Patrick's Eve banquet, inaugurated in 1905, is, in the twenty-first century, still a major event on Brisbane's social calendar, attracting city, state and national political leaders. The Association's heritage-listed premises, Tara House, in Elizabeth Street near the city's heart, were purchased in 1919 and extensively remodelled in the late 1920s. The building preserves a distinctive - and increasingly scarce - example of Brisbane's notable late nineteenth century architecture and streetscape. For many decades James Duhig was a presence at the QIA, and, when he was in the city, rarely missed its St Patrick's Eve banquet. (9)
The QIA claimed that its influence was not confined to Brisbane, that Queensland's dispersed Irish community allowed it to throw its tentacles into every nook and cranny of the vast state when occasion demanded. This was no idle boast as the QIA-orchestrated tours of Queensland by Irish National Party envoys in 1906 and 1911 demonstrated. The envoys sought to raise funds and garner public support for their Home Rule campaign. The Central Queensland component of these exercises was energetically supervised by James Duhig. In 1906 he threw his ecclesiastic weight behind the Central Queensland leg of the fund raising tour by the Irish National Party delegates Joseph Devlin and John (J.T.) Donovan. Prior to their arrival Duhig revealed the extent of his own identification with Ireland's bid to win a place in the Empire at least equivalent to that of an Australian state. He advised the local reception committee that they must take advantage of the opportunity to show respect for their Irish ancestors and solidarity in the Irish cause:
We owe a great deal to the land of our fathers, and it would ill-become us to let pass the present opportunity of honouring her envoys, of aiding her in her glorious struggle for self-government --a struggle unparalleled in the history of nations--and of testifying our abiding interest in everything that concerns her welfare.
This was more than lip service. The delegates were his guests while they were based in Rockhampton. Moreover, he joined them on public meeting platforms and accompanied them on their visit to the mining centre of Mt Morgan. He took the envoys to the convent where the pupils presented them with a bouquet of flowers and a purse of sovereigns for the Home Rule fund. The visit concluded with the Bishop having the children give three hearty cheers for Home Rule; he rewarded them with a day's holiday. The children's sovereigns were part of the 350 [pounds sterling] collected in the Rockhampton-Mt Morgan area for the Irish cause. (10)
In 1911 the QIA hosted another Home Rule delegation from Ireland, this time consisting of William Redmond, John Donovan and Richard Hazleton. They were in Rockhampton and Mt Morgan in August and again benefitted from Duhig's sponsorship and presence with them on the platform at public meetings. The Bishop's speeches highlighted one of the wellsprings of his commitment to Home Rule for Ireland, the link between conditions in Ireland and the wellbeing of Irish Australians. He depicted the withholding of self-government as a 'hall mark of inferiority' stamped upon the whole Irish race. Queensland's Irish community was not immune from the consequences of Ireland's subordinate status within the Empire. The 1911 tour was imbued with a sense of optimism stemming from the belief--and the envoys' assurances--that that the British government was on the verge of conceding self-government to Ireland. At a public meeting in Mt Morgan Duhig anticipated the imminent removal of the 'cloud over Ireland' and emphasised that this was not just a matter for Ireland but an issue for the whole diaspora. 'When the day of Irish liberty did arrive', he told the crowd, 'no people in the world except the Irish people themselves would rejoice more than the people of the free-governed Australian Commonwealth'. After the departure of the envoys Duhig wrote to John Redmond M.P., leader of the Irish Party in the House of Commons--and William's father - that the tour had been a great success. With typical Duhig eloquence he assured Redmond senior 'that we are with you, heart, soul and pocket, and that our interest in the long battle, now, we trust, drawing to a close is as keen as if we were still living on Irish soil'. (11)
In February 1912, James Duhig was back in Brisbane as archbishop. In his absence the QIA had flourished, the Catholic Press describing it in 1910 as 'a grand club, taking the lead in all Irish movements in Queensland', a judgement vindicated by its organisation of the Queensland leg of visits to Australia by Irish envoys. It was the gathering place in Brisbane for leading Irishmen and their descendants. Peter McDermott, a Duhig confidante, was QIA president, strengthening the bookish, intellectual and oratorical culture of the Association. Described as 'the soul of the association', he was determined to preserve the founders' ideal of a nonpolitical, non-sectarian organisation for Queenslanders of Irish birth or descent. Its inclusiveness was not only a QIV legacy but also a defensive response to the endemic sectarianism which plagued Queensland society until the 1960s. (12)
The genius of the Irish Association in its early decades was that it simultaneously practised inclusiveness and elitism, a combination that appealed to James Duhig. There is no evidence that he ever became a member, perhaps avoiding the formality because of the Association's non-sectarian charter, but he was, nevertheless, a ubiquitous presence at major QIA functions when he was in Brisbane. The Archbishop attended Governor William Macgregor's last public appearance in Queensland in mid-1914, a farewell at the Irish Association. At the QIA's 1915 St Patrick's Eve banquet, chaired by Peter McDermott, Duhig looked proudly around the 280 guests, taking in the new governor, Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, the premier Digby Denham and past QIA presidents, attorney-general Thomas O'Sullivan and fellow-Legislative Councillor Timothy O'Shea. Denham, O'Sullivan and O'Shea were Liberals. Also present were QIA notables from the Labor side of politics including Michael Kirwan and Frank McDonnell. Unavoidably absent was the most significant Labor QIA member at this time, T. J. (Thomas Joseph) Ryan, the leader of the parliamentary Labor Party and soon to be premier. The gathering modelled what Duhig desired for Queensland, Irish achievement amid ecumenical concord; in his speech he emphasized the occasion's harmony, relishing the presence of 'Irishmen of all denominations'. The 1915 banquet celebrated Irish accomplishment in Queensland, symbolised by the attendance of Goold-Adams, the day after his arrival in Queensland. The governor applied to join the Association and was given an honorary life membership. The Irish--including Irish Catholics--had made their way to the summit of Brisbane society. (13)
Initially it appeared that World War One would consummate the full integration of Irish Catholics into Queensland society. As armed conflict between Germany and Britain loomed in the first half of 1914, the QIA helped organise Empire Day celebrations in Brisbane. James Duhig, speaking as an Irish-Australian, proclaimed that Britain 'would find her Catholic and Irish-Australian sons loyal to her cause'. Australia's entry into the war in August provided further opportunities to demonstrate that the Irish were an integral and loyal part of Queensland society, just as Ireland was of the Empire. Duhig blamed German philosophers for the war. The Association's Home Rule campaign was suspended on the assumption that a willing Irish contribution to the British cause would be speedily rewarded with Home Rule. Indeed, a number of prominent members were already planning visits to Ireland to coincide with the opening of a new Irish parliament. Within weeks of the outbreak of war, the Association donated 100 [pounds sterling] to a Patriotic Fund. In January, 1915, the QIA announced that many of its members had volunteered for service in the Australian Expeditionary Forces and some were already deployed in Egypt. A year later the Association was noted for its 'virile patriotism'; it described the war as a 'most arduous and gigantic struggle which the British Empire is waging against the foes of righteousness'. Special mention was made of an Anglican member of the Association, Colonel Spencer Browne, 'who had 'passed through the inferno of Gallipoli'. (14)
The Easter 1916 Rising in Dublin took most people by surprise - certainly members of the Irish Nationalist Party--who spent most of their time in London. It was also unexpected by the officials of Queensland Irish Association and Archbishop Duhig, all of whom relied on the INP as their principal source of information about Ireland. When McDermott, who was mid-ocean en route to England on an official visit with Premier TJ. Ryan heard the news, he feared, correctly, that 'a fatal blow had been dealt to Home Rule'. He also assumed that the Rising was instigated by Germany and lamented that 'very seldom has misguided fanatism [sic] produced greater visible evils'. Among Ryan's tasks in London was the delivery of a QIA message to John Redmond expressing the confidence of Queensland's Irish community in his leadership of the INP, particularly his decision to join the Empire in its war against Germany with the expectation that a British victory would result in Home Rule. The QIA followed suit and on 27 April cabled INP leader John Redmond and British prime minister Herbert Asquith to 'deplore disturbances in Ireland', reaffirm their confidence in the INP and emphasise the loyalty and valour of Irish soldiers fighting for the Empire. James Duhig, when he heard news of the outbreak, was dismissive, belittling its significance and attributing it to 'malcontents'. But Duhig was relying on INP and QIA informants; the INP had lost touch with its Irish electorate as their stunned reaction to the Easter Rising showed. Ryan reported after meeting Redmond in London that he was greatly depressed. After discussions in the House of Commons with INP members, McDermott wrote to his wife that 'All of them are greatly cut up by the recent outbreak in Dublin'. (15)
British reprisals in Ireland for the Dublin Rising were disproportionately brutal. Duhig condemned 'the wholesale death sentences on Irish leaders' and contrasted their harshness with clemency shown elsewhere in the Empire including to mutinous British army officers in Ulster in 1914. McDermott brought back firsthand accounts of ruins and human misery in Dublin. The uneasy balance between Empire and Ireland tilted toward the latter in Brisbane as the Dublin Relief Fund was set up in August 1916, despite claims emanating from London that all was well in Ireland. The Fund, chaired by Archbishop Duhig, with two QIA stalwarts, Frank McDonnell and Patrick Stephens as, respectively, treasurer and secretary, raised over 5000 [pounds sterling] for distribution in Ireland. The intensified British-Irish conflict could not be quarantined in the northern hemisphere; it made its way to Brisbane and into the Queensland Irish Association. It surfaced at a meeting of the Association on Saturday 2 September 1916. (16)
The special general meeting had been requested by over fifty of the QIA's nine hundred members. The purpose was to authorise the donation of Association funds to relieve distress in Ireland following 'the unfortunate rebellious rising'. In the course of the debate Jack (John Arthur) Fihelly, the volatile assistant minister for justice in the Ryan government, attacked John Redmond as 'useless', England as 'the home of cant, humbug and hypocrisy' and British policy in Ireland as 'the mailed fisted policy of Prussianism'. He went further, entering the conscription debate then underway in Australia by declaring 'The opinion is held by many young Australians that every Irish Australian recruit means another British soldier to harass the people of Ireland'. He found support, of a kind, from another Ryan government minister, William Lennon, who said the points he raised 'were worthy of consideration'. Then Lennon became emotional and confessed to shedding tears over reports of British atrocities in Ireland and declared that 'Ireland certainly always had special-that is specially bad-treatment accorded to her... [and that] the Irish should let England know they were tired of it'. These speeches were a disaster for McDermott, who was in the chair at the meeting, and, as head of the premier's department, had to listen to two ministers make statements which he would have deemed extreme, indiscreet and grossly unfair to John Redmond. They were also at odds with the much publicised messages sent to Redmond by the QIA and premier Ryan earlier in the year. (17)
The speeches were published in full in Brisbane and reported all over Australia. From Sydney the Catholic Press reported that the 'Fihelly episode.has put all other incidents in the shade'. The speeches, labelled 'disloyal utterances', became a cause celebre and ignited, or at least fuelled, a sectarian explosion in Brisbane. A spate of letters in the Brisbane Courier hit out indiscriminately at Irish Catholics, the QIA, Fihelly, Lennon, McDermott and Duhig, 'the chief shepherd of these erring men'. The Legislative Council censured Fihelly for public disloyalty and conveyed its disquiet to the governor, Hamilton Goold-Adams who boycotted Fihelly in the Executive Council; a potential constitutional crisis was averted only when Premier Ryan extracted a public admission from Fihelly that his QIA speech reflected neither the views of the government nor the Labor Party. While Ryan and Goold-Adams maintained their cordial relationship, the Protestant clergy were not so easily appeased. Not untypically, the Rev. A.C. Plane in Kangaroo Point's Wesley Church denounced Irish Catholics as a disloyal minority who had seized control of Queensland by dominating the Labor Party and cabinet which, he falsely claimed, supported Fihelly and Lennon. He lamented that Archbishop Duhig had not repudiated Fihelly's statements and called for 'a few Cromwells', to restore power to the majority in Queensland. While such sentiments were not uncommon among the Nonconformist denominations in Brisbane, particularly from clergy active in Orange Lodges, what set the Fihelly-Lennon episode apart was that the Anglican leaders in Brisbane, Archbishop St Clair Donaldson and Bishop Henry Le Fanu, joined the attacks on Irish Catholics and their institutions. Their specific targets included James Duhig and the Queensland Irish Association, the latter branded with 'Fihellyism', a pejorative term connoting disloyalty, Irish unruliness, and, in some cases, working class truculence. Fihelly bore the heavier assault because of his overt anti-England sentiments and opposition to conscription. Lennon had been less confrontational; he also became a far less amenable subject for disloyalty allegations after his youngest son, Austin, won the Military Cross for distinguished gallantry in the brutal battle for Pozieres in October 1916. (18)
With a philosopher's precision Duhig demolished Donaldson's allegations that Catholics in Queensland were acting as a conspiratorial bloc in politics, business and in the 'imperial and patriotic sphere'. He took full advantage of the lack of specificity in Donaldson's charges and his use of anonymous informants. He could have gone further and challenged Donaldson's conflation of 'Irish' and 'Roman Catholics', citing the religious and political diversity cultivated by the QIA. Particularly galling for the Irish Association was Archbishop Donaldson's description of the QIA meeting, at which the controversial speeches were made, as 'a Roman Catholic gathering'. This ignored the QIA's long non-sectarian, indeed non-denominational, history. Archbishop Duhig was in a delicate position when faced with calls to repudiate Fihelly and Lennon's 'disloyal utterances'. There is little doubt he would have disagreed with much of the substance of Fihelly's speech, certainly his condemnation of John Redmond and outright opposition to conscription. On the other hand, like many QIA members, he would have admired Fihelly's courage if not his discretion. There was a further consideration; Fihelly was the son-in-law of Peter Murphy MLC, a foundation member of the QIA. Murphy was also an hotelier, company director and one of Brisbane's wealthiest Irish Catholics. He staunchly defended Fihelly in the Legislative Council, arguing that opposition to conscription, which he shared with his son-in-law, did not constitute disloyalty. Murphy was an important layman in the Brisbane diocese and illustrates the wisdom of Duhig's refusal to condemn Fihelly or Lennon. Like the QIA, Duhig had to be inclusive, finding room in his flock for anti-conscriptionists, such as Fihelly and Murphy, alongside other equally prominent QIA members who were conscriptionists, such as the lawyer Andrew Thynne MLC and the prominent Fortitude Valley merchant T.C. (Thomas Charles) Beirne. The QIA weathered the embarrassment of the Fihelly-Lennon indiscretions and honoured the perpetrators. Both were subsequently made life members, Fihelly in 1922 and Lennon in 1928. (19)
Duhig's refusal to repudiate Fihelly and Lennon to appease Protestant rage says something of his strength of character. It also paid later dividends. Much to the horror of loyalists, Lennon was acting governor of Queensland from March to December 1920. Perhaps the most significant public event in the state in 1920 was the mid-year visit of the Prince of Wales, the heir to the British throne. The royal guest arrived in an interregnum between two governors and in the absence of Labor premier Edward Theodore overseas. Who should be His Royal Highness's hosts but acting governor William Lennon and acting premier Jack Fihelly. The two pariahs of 1916 now bestrode Queensland's vice-regal and political establishments. Still heading the premier's department and hence the bureaucracy was QIA president and Duhig confidante Peter McDermott. Duhig used his influence with the Irish triumvirate to organise a Parliament House meeting between himself, the apostolic delegate to Australia, Archbishop Bartholomew Cattaneo and the Prince of Wales. Duhig had outflanked the Protestant clergymen and their purported privileged relationship with the British crown. According to his biographer T.P. Boland the archbishop regarded the meeting between Cattaneo and the prince as 'historic ... the royal seal of approval on the Roman Catholic community and the end of disharmony'. (20)
The QIA also emerged from the post-1916 sectarian turmoil strengthened, if not entirely unscarred. It was criticised from within the Irish community for its lack of Irishness, its ambivalence on the 1916 Rising and subservience to the Empire. The Irish National Association (INA) emerged as a competitor for leadership of the Irish cause in Brisbane. It commemorated the Irish victims of the 1916 Rising as 'our martyred dead' and much preferred Archbishop Mannix's outspoken militancy to Duhig's more measured style. Photos of Archbishop Daniel Mannix sold briskly at a Brisbane INA concert in 1918. But it was Duhig and returned Irish Catholic soldiers who drew the most applause from the crowd watching the Brisbane St Patrick's Day parade in 1919. In like manner, despite its critics inside and outside the Irish community, the QIA prospered in adversity. Its membership increased sharply from 822 in 1916 to over 1,300 in 1920, the year in which it moved into its own two-storey city premises. (21)
Between 1898 and 1920 the fortunes of Archbishop Duhig and the Queensland Irish Association were intertwined. They both represented aspects of one of the most significant, if often overlooked, historical phenomena in Queensland history during this period--the rise and consolidation of an Irish Catholic middle class. It owed its emergence and coherence, to a considerable degree, not only to the determination of immigrants to succeed in their new setting but also to ethnic and religious networks, the QIA being the secular exemplar. Duhig and the Association held the Irish community together, spoke up for Ireland, and defended the substantial gains Irish Catholics had made in Queensland since the 1860s. Both the Association and Duhig had to weather sectarian fire, the like of which had not been seen in Queensland since early 1896 when TJ. Byrnes, a Catholic of Irish descent, failed to win the Legislative Assembly seat of North Brisbane after an outbreak of religious bigotry. The sectarian conflict of 1916-1920 owes something to the indiscretions of Jack Fihelly and William Lennon at the Irish Association in September 1916. But it owes much more to a long tradition of anti-Catholic and anti-Irish bigotry at the core of British nationalism which, as Judith Brett suggests, might help explain why so many academics overlooked the rise of an Irish Catholic middle class in Australia. The content of the sectarian allegations levelled against Irish Catholics in Queensland between 1916 and 1920 was often false or even bizarre, as shown by Duhig's easy demolition of Donaldson's charges. Nevertheless, such allegations enjoyed inter-generational currency among Queensland Protestants, demonstrating Michael Hogan's point in The Sectarian Strand that in disputes of this nature, it is not so much the truth or falsity of allegations that matters, but whether people believe them. (22)
Neither Duhig nor the QIA was doctrinaire, but both shared some non-negotiable positions including dominion status for Ireland in the Empire and equality of opportunity and status for the Irish in Queensland. There were over 500 men at the QIA's 1920 St Patrick's Eve banquet in Brisbane. Archbishop Duhig and lieutenant-governor William Lennon were seated to the right of the chairman Peter McDermott. On the other side of McDermott was the acting premier Jack Fihelly. The speakers included Duhig, TJ. Ryan, recently elected a New South Wales Labor member in the House of Representatives, Lennon and Fihelly. The non-Labor side of politics was represented by barrister Neil Macgroarty, a future QIA president (1924-1932) and attorney-general in the Country and Progressive National Party government in Queensland (1929-1932). Fihelly spoke at length on the right of Ireland to self-determination. The archbishop left the contemporary politics of Ireland to Fihelly and spoke warmly of the Irish people and of their contribution over the centuries to western civilization. When he turned to the present he remarked how difficult it was to understand Ireland from an Australian vantage point. His most telling words concerned the value and uniqueness of the QIA because 'It was the only association that opened its door to Irishmen of every creed'. (23)
The authors thank Lyndon Megarrity for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.
(1) The Age (Brisbane), 4 November 1905, p. 3
(2) T. P. Boland, James Duhig, St Lucia Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1986, pp. 2643; T. P Boland, 'Duhig, Sir James, (1871-1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 8 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1981), pp. 356-359; James Duhig, Crowded Years, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1947, p. 130; Catholic Press, 30 April 1914, p. 24; Brian Doyle, 'The Irish lad who became a legend', Catholic Leader (Brisbane), 15 April, 1965, supplement, p. 2
(3) Jeff Kildea, Tearing the fabric, sectarianism in Australia, 1910-1925, Sydney: Citadel Books, 2002, p. ii.
Sectarianism is an underexplored subject in Australian history, perhaps more particularly in Queensland history. Solid foundations for further research have been laid by Kildea and Michael Hogan (The Sectarian Strand: Religion in Australian History, Ringwood, Vic: Penguin, 1987). See also Brian Costar, 'For the love of Christ Mick, Don't Hit Him', in Brian Costar, Peter Love & Paul Strangio eds., The Great Labor Schism: A Retrospective, Melbourne: Scribe Publications, 2005, pp. 59-75; Ross Fitzgerald, Lyndon Megarrity, David Symons, Made in Queensland: A New History, UQP, St Lucia Qld, 2009, pp. 105-6 and Siobhan McHugh, 'Not In Front of the Altar': Mixed marriages and sectarian tensions between Catholics and Protestants in pre-multicultural Australia', History Australia, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2009, pp. 42.1-42.22
(4) Patrick O'Farrell, 'Double Jeopardy: Catholic and Irish', Humanities Research, Vol. xii, No. 1, 2005, pp. 7-12
(5) Rodney Sullivan and Robin Sullivan, 'Brisbane's Most Brilliant Club'? The Queensland Irish Association, 1898-1928, paper delivered to the 'The Ends of Ireland' conference of the Irish Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Friday, 6 December, 2013
(6) Catholic Press, 1 October 1908, p. 6; 22 April 1915, p. 19; 25 February 1926, p. 32
(7) James Duhig, Crowded Years, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1947, pp. 7, 131; William Redmond, Through the New Commonwealth, Sealy, Byers and Walker, Dublin, 1906, pp. 101, 111; Brisbane Courier, 21 January 1905, p. 4; 6 December 1905, p. 3; 16 March 1923, p. 7; Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), 11 December 1905, p. 5 Catholic Press, 5 December 1918, p. 20; Sr. Mary Claver, 'Veteran nun has long memories of Archbishop Duhig', Catholic Leader (Brisbane), 15 April 1965, Archbishop Duhig memorial supplement, p. 6
(8) Catholic Press, 13 September 1906, p. 19; Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), 22 August 1911, p. 5
(9) Rodney Sullivan and Robin Sullivan, 'Brisbane's Most Brilliant Club'
(10) Catholic Press, 30 August 1906, p. 4; Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), 8 September 1906, p. 11; Capricornian (Rockhampton), 15 September 1906, pp. 42-44
(11) Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), 23 August 1911, p. 6; Catholic Press, 30 November 1911, p. 4
(12) Catholic Press, 7 January 1904, p. 25; 27 January 1910, p. 39; Catholic Press, 18 December 1913, p. 23; Worker, 16 November 1922, p. 10; J. J. Leahy, 'Address: The Late P J McDermott, President, Queensland Irish Association', Brisbane: Queensland Irish Association, 1923;
(13) Catholic Press, 16 July 1914, p. 25; Brisbane Courier, 17 March 1915, p. 6; 31 May 1915, p. 9
(14) Catholic Press, 3 September 1914, p. 24; 10 September 1914, p. 24; 12 August 1915, p. 26; Brisbane Courier, 21 May 1914, p. 8; 3 August 1914, p. 7; 23 January 1915, p. 6; Catholic Advocate, 3 February 1916, p. 12; Freeman's Journal, 1 April 1915, p. 9; Rodney Sullivan and Robin Sullivan, 'Brisbane's Most Brilliant Club'
(15) P J McDermott to his wife, London, 2 May 1916; 23 May 1916; 12 June 1916; Peter Joseph McDermott Papers, OM75-01, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Australia; Argus (Melbourne), 19 April 1916, p. 9; Queensland Times, 29 April 1916, p. 9; Queenslander, 6 May 1916, p. 12; Daily Mail (Brisbane), 28 August, 1916, p. 6
(16) Duhig was referring to the 1914 'Curragh Mutiny' when anti-Home Rule Anglo-Irish army officers in Ulster challenged the authority of the British government. See F.S. L. Lyons, 'The developing crisis, 1907-14' in W.E. Vaughan (ed.) A New History of Ireland, Vol. 6, Ireland Under the Union, 1870-1921, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 140-1; Brisbane Courier, 11 May 1916, p. 7; Catholic Press, 14 September 1916, p. 20; 21 September 1916, p. 23; 6 May 1920, p. 41
(17) William Gall, Diary, 7 September 1916, Cutting from Catholic Advocate, 7 September 1916, William Gall Collection, UQFL43, Fryer Library, University of Queensland
(18) For the reception of the speeches in Brisbane see for example; QPD (Council), 27 September 1916, pp. 851-868; William Gall, Diary, 13 October 1916, William Gall Collection, UQFL43, Fryer Library, University of Queensland; Goold-Adams to Secretary of State for Colonies, Secret and Confidential Outward Despatches and Telegrams 1914-1921, 2, 17 December 1917, Series 12764, Item 17637, QSA; Daily Mail, 25 September 1916 p. 6; Brisbane Courier, 26 September 1916, p. 4; 27 February 1917, p. 6; 7 May 1917, p. 6; Catholic Press, 28 September 1916, p. 25; Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), 20 October 1916, pp. 5, 6; Daily Mail, 19 September 1916, pp. 6, 8; 8 January 1917, p. 7; Queenslander, 14 April 1917, p. 40; Rodney Sullivan and Robin Sullivan, 'The Queensland Irish Association, 1898-1922: Symbols, Stresses and Successes', paper delivered to the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics History Seminars, University of Queensland, 28 September 2013
(19) Brisbane Courier, 27 February 1917, p. 6; 3 March 1917, p. 6; QPD (Council), 27 September 1916, pp. 864-5; Catholic Press, 5 March 1925, p. 9; Rodney Sullivan and Robin Sullivan, 'The Queensland Irish Association, 1898-1922'
(20) T.P Boland, James Duhig, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia Qld, 1986, pp. 153, 174; Rodney Sullivan, 'William Lennon (1849-1938): a North Queenslander of 'perpetual contradictions'?', Sir Robert Philp Lecture Series, Number 4, Townsville: Townsville City Council, 2009, pp. 53-4; Brisbane Courier, 19 February 1920, p. 7; 17 March 1920, p. 7; 31 July 1920, p. 5; Queenslander (Brisbane), 21 August 1920, p. 42
(21) Catholic Advocate, 3 February 1916, p. 12; Catholic Press, 7 March 1918, p. 16; 18 April 1918, p. 16; 8 April 1920, p. 13; Daily Mail (Brisbane), 18 March 1919, p. 7; Rodney Sullivan and Robin Sullivan, 'The Queensland Irish Association, 18981922'. Father Denis Martin has argued the case for Mannix's 'powerful influence' in Queensland up until the 1950s in DW Martin, 'Irish Queenslanders and Dr Mannix', Queensland History Journal, Vol. 21, No. 4, February 2011, pp. 276-282
(22) Rodney Sullivan and Robin Sullivan, 'The Queensland Irish Association, 1898-1922'; Judith Brett, 'Class, religion and the Foundation of the Australian Party System: A Revisionist Interpretation, Australian Journal of Politics and History, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2002, pp. 43, 52; Hogan, The Sectarian Strand, p. 199
(23) The Age (Brisbane), 27 March 1920, p. 6
Rodney Sullivan, Robin Sullivan *
* Rodney and Robin Sullivan are honorary research associate professors in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, University of Queensland. They are engaged in the Queensland Speaks history project at the University of Queensland's Centre for the Government of Queensland. They are also researching the history of Queensland's Irish community. Rodney was formerly an Associate Professor in the Department of History & Politics at James Cook University, Townsville. He has published in the fields of Australian and Philippine-American history. Robin was Queensland's second Commissioner for Children and Young People and a Director-General in the Queensland public service. This article is refereed.
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|Author:||Sullivan, Rodney; Sullivan, Robin|
|Publication:||Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2013|
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