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FIRST WAVE: Patrick's Temper

FIRST WAVE: Emigrant Ships to Port Phillip 1839-1845

Chapter Nine:  PATRICK'S TEMPER

A major charge, perhaps the major charge, raised against Irish emigrants was their 'national' reputation for violence. The Irish people, it was alleged, were 'by nature' volatile and violent. Their reputation for violence was reinforced in the colonial environment by frequent newspaper reports of public disorder and political murders in Ireland during the last decades before the Famine.

At the outset of this chapter, it is important to separate the anti-social violence then prevalent in Ireland into two categories. The first type was practised on a large scale, part 'recreation' and part 'settling the score'. This will be discussed under the heading "Riots and Affrays". The second was practised on a smaller scale and was more lethal and calculated. This will be examined later in the chapter under the heading "Targeted Assassinations".

Both forms of v…

FIRST WAVE: 'Bog' Irish

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FIRST WAVE: Emigrant Ships to Port Phillip 1839-1845

Chapter Eight: 'BOG' IRISH

Among the many epithets of abuse hurled at Irish emigrants were allegations of their 'ignorance' and 'uselessness' as employees. These views were so generally held as to be considered universal in the colony. In 1842 the Port Phillip Patriot called bounty emigrants "from the South of Ireland" a "corps of bogtrotters", and "as utterly useless for any supposable species of farm labour as can well be imagined".(1) In the same year, District Superintendent La Trobe was similarly scathing in a letter to his superior, Governor Gipps in Sydney. La Trobe described emigrants from "the south and southwest of Ireland" as "so-called labourers" and "exceeding indifferent, if not worthless hands".(2)

Melbourne Immigration Board members Dr Patterson and Lieut. Patterson were no less critical in an earlier report to La Trobe. "A large pr…