Past Talks

2017

FEBRUARY

After the Annual General Meeting Tony Earls gave a talk entitled “Hollywood’s Irish mother: An Irish Australian Tragedy” in which he discussed the life and career of one of Ireland’s finest actresses, Sara Allgood (1879-1950), who appeared in numerous Hollywood movies and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1941.

 MARCH

The Aisling St Patrick’s Day Dinner was held on 24 March 2017 at Parliament House, Sydney. The guest speaker was His Excellency Breandan Ó Caollaí, Ambassador of Ireland to Australia.

Ambassador Breandan Ó Caollaí (centre) at St Patrick’s Day Dinner [Photo: Greg Hurst]

 April

Aisling member and Irish Air Corps veteran Myles Mooney gave a talk entitled “Missionaries, Mercenaries and Musicians: Africa the Irish Connection” in which he looked at the history of Ireland’s contact with the continent, including the role of Irish peacekeepers in the Congo in the 1960s, and spoke of his personal experiences there.

May

Aisling Hon. Secretary Jeff Kildea spoke about his latest book, Hugh Mahon: Patriot, Pressman, Politician, the first volume of a two-volume biography of controversial Irish-Australian politician Hugh Mahon, who in 1920 was expelled from the Commonwealth parliament for his criticism of British rule in Ireland.

June

Chloe Haywood-Anderson, winner of the Macquarie University Aisling Society prize for 2016, gave a talk entitled “From Home Rule to Republicanism: ‘Striking for Freedom’ in Easter 1916”

July

At the Mid-Year Lunch in the Grand Dining Room at the former St Patrick’s Seminary, Manly (now International College of Management, Sydney), Mark Tedeschi AM QC, NSW Senior Crown Prosecutor, spoke about his latest book Murder at Myall Creek which gives a detailed account of the murder of 28 Aboriginal men, women and children at Myall Creek in 1838 and the prosecution of the perpetrators by Irish-born Attorney-General John Hubert Plunkett.

2016

February

After the Annual General Meeting Tony Earls spoke about the Society’s plans for a program of events on Easter Monday this year. There will first be a reading of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, on the steps of the GPO in Martin Place, followed by a screening in the State Library of three films – two archival and one more recent – about aspects of the Rising and its aftermath.

 MARCH

At the St Patrick’s Day dinner at Parliament House, Sydney on 4 March Professor Ronan McDonald gave a fascinating talk on Yeats’ poetry, including expositions of “Easter 1916” and “An Irish Airman Foresees his Death”.

Professor Ronan McDonald speaking on Yeats' poetry

April

Noel Leggett of the Irish National Association (INA) spoke on the founder of the INA in a talk entitled “The World of Albert Dryer, Australian-born Irish Patriot”.

May

Professor Jonathan Wooding the Sir Warwick Fairfax Professor of Celtic Studies at the University of Sydney gave a talk entitled “Abstaining from the heroic: the character of the Otherworld traveller in early Irish literature”

June

Rebekah Poole spoke on “Teaching Irish history in Australian schools through the use of political murals”.

July

The annual Mid-year Luncheon was held in the Grand Dining Room at the former St Patrick’s Seminary, Manly (now International College of Management, Sydney). His Excellency Noel White, Ireland’s Ambassador to Australia, spoke about his time in Australia as his term comes to an end.

Ambassador Noel White addresses Aisling Society

Ambassador Noel White addresses Aisling Society

August

In a talk entitled “An Olympic Vignette: Ireland’s First Gold Medallist”, Kevin O’Connor AM spoke on Dr Pat O’Callaghan, from Kanturk, County Cork, a gold medallist at the 1928 and 1932 Olympic Games, the first athlete from post-independence Ireland to win an Olympic medal.

 September

Dr Anne Jamison, Lecturer in English at Western Sydney University, spoke on “‘The enjoyment of a good story’: Irish school readers and children’s literature in nineteenth-century Australia”.

October

Dr Perry McIntyre gave a talk entitled “Building a Memorial and sustaining the rage” in which she examined the history and legacy of the Monument to the Great Irish Famine, which was unveiled at the Hyde Park Barracks in August 1999 and explored questions such as whether in a modern technical world a physical presence is necessary and whether we need to gather and remember past victories and tragedies?

2015

FEBRUARY

After the Annual General Meeting Dr Jeff Kildea, spoke on his time as Keith Cameron professor of Australian History at University College Dublin in 2014.

 March

At the St Patrick’s Day Dinner at Parliament House on 20 March Billy Cantwell spoke about his experiences publishing The Irish Echo for more than a quarter century.

April

In a talk entitled “Embodied emotion and The Hibernian Father” Professor Peter Kuch gave an audio/visual presentation on the stage play The Hibernian Father, which opened on 6 May 1844 at the Royal Victoria Theatre. It was the first play written by an Irish convict to be performed on the colonial Sydney stage.

 May

Irish author John Connell, in a talk entitled “Writing The Ghost Estate”, spoke about his recently published novel of that name. The novel deals with the impact of the GFC on Ireland, from the perspective of those at the pit-face of the busted building industry. He  also spoke about the craft of writing, and about how a 28-year-old Irish novelist found himself living in Australia.

Claire Dunne and John Connell

Claire Dunne and John Connell

June

Dr Matthew McGuire, a senior lecturer at the University of Western Sydney, spoke on  “Literature in the wake of the Northern Irish Troubles”.

Peter Gray and Matt McGuire

Peter Gray and Matt McGuire

 July

The annual Mid-year Luncheon was held in the Grand Dining Room at the former St Patrick’s Seminary, Manly (now International College of Management, Sydney). Anne Stevens gave a wonderful talk in which she reflected on the 60th anniversary of the Aisling Society.

August

Dr Eddie Jackson gave a very stimulating talk on the social policy mechanisms that have been attempted over the past few decades in order to address sectarian divisions in Northern Ireland.

Dr Eddie Jackson

Dr Eddie Jackson on Northern Ireland

 SEPTEMBER

Dr Jeff Kildea, , Adjunct Professor of Irish Studies at UNSW and a vice-president of the Society, gave a talk entitled “The Irish at Gallipoli” in which he outlined the part played by Irish soldiers during the Gallipoli campaign, often alongside the Anzacs.

October

Susannah Fullerton spoke about the life and works of Oscar Wilde in a fascinating talk entitled “The Importance of Being Oscar”.

2014

FEBRUARY

After the Annual General Meeting Dr Jeff Kildea, spoke on the Keith Cameron Chair of Australian History at University College Dublin, to which he has recently been appointed.

MARCH

The Society celebrated St Patrick’s Day with its annual dinner. The guest speaker was Professor Jonathan Wooding, who recently succeeded Professor Anders Ahlqvist as the occupant of Sydney University’s Sir Warwick Fairfax Chair of Celtic Studies. Professor Wooding highlighted Patrick’s importance as a unique voice from fifth century Britain and Ireland. He reflected on how Patrick’s own self-perception as a holy man formed in the wilderness, sent to bring the gospel to the last nations, informs recent understanding of the saint. He took listeners on a journey through the world of late antique ideas: explaining how ordinary Romans could perceive their lives in monastic terms, how archaeology is beginning to shed light on the Romano-British context in which he was raised, and how his, as well as his hagiographers’, perceptions of Ireland’s place at the ‘world’s edge’ inspired ideas of Ireland as a ‘nation’. In response, Professor Ronán McDonald, Director of the Global Irish Studies Centre at University of New South Wales, on behalf of the Aisling Society, thanked Professor Wooding warmly for his address. He highlighted the good fortune for Sydney in having the two programmes, at Sydney and UNSW respectively, that gave Sydney such resources in both early and modern Irish studies.

April

Gerard Windsor gave a talk entitled “On Pilgrimage with the Irish:  From Bathurst St to Santiago de Compostela” about his book on the Camino de Santiago published late last year, Angels Before Me: The Road to Santiago.

 May

Dr Anne Cunningham spoke about her latest book The Price of a Wife – The Priest and the Divorce Trial in a talk entitled “Following the Money Trail and Newspaper reaction to the Coningham-O’Haran Divorce Trials of 1900-1901”.

June

Consul-General Caitriona Ingoldsby, whose term ends in August, spoke to the Society about her time in Sydney. in her last occasion she will . Members expressed their warm gratitude to Caitriona for the support she has given the Society and to the Irish-Australian community and wished her well for the future.

July

This year’s mid-year luncheon was held at P.J.O’Brien’s Irish Pub in the city and members were entertained with Irish music from Kelly’s Heroes. Irish Ambassador Noel White was in attendance and he made a point of getting around to talk to everyone, much to the members’ delight.
2014-07-26 Aisling Kelly's Heroes
Kelly’s Heroes
2014-07-26 Aisling Arlene Noel White
Ambassador Noel White and Arlene Tansey

August

Dr Gemma Clark spoke about local community violence associated with the 1922-3 conflict in Ireland over the Treaty, which is the theme of her book Everyday Violence in the Irish Civil War.

 September

Barra Boydell gave a talk on “The Politics Of Irish Music in 18th and 19th Century Art”

October

Babette Smith spoke on her new book The Luck of the Irish.

2013

February

After the Annual General Meeting Kerry Casey gave us a talk “A Hidden History: the Diggers and the ‘old’ IRA”, in which he spoke about Australian soldiers of the First World War who fought for the IRA.

March

At our annual St Patrick’s Day dinner the guest speaker was HE Noel Whilte the Irish Ambassador to Australia who spoke on the current situation in Ireland.

April

Dr Jeff Kildea gave a talk entitled “Hugh Mahon: Irish-Australian Patriot”, which covered the life and times of this remarkable Irish-Australian.

May

Timoth Causbrook gave a talk entitled “Norse Loanwords and the Dating of Early Irish Texts” in which he discussed early influences on the Irish language.

June

In August 2013 Sydney will host the International Irish Famine Commemoration. Dr Perry McIntyre, chair of the Australian commemoration committee, spoke on the famine and its impact on Australia with particular reference to the more than 4000 famine orphans brought out to the colonies to start a new life here. Dr McIntyre’s talk stimulated an animated discussion of the famine with many members recounting their childhood experiences in Ireland where social memory of the famine was still strong.

 July

The Society’s mid-year luncheon was held at The Gardens on Forest, 764 Forest Road, Peakhurst, European Union Ambassador David Daly delivered the 19th Joan Ward Memorial Address.

August

Acclaimed Irish novelist and short story writer Evelyn Conlon talked about her latest novel Not the Same Sky, which had been inspired by the experience of the orphan girls sent to Australia during the Great Irish Famine.

 

 September

In a talk entitled “Clonakilla, Lisdoonvarna, Sean Ó Riada and Clonakilla”, John Kirk spoke about his memories ranging from an Irish rural life experienced on his grandfather’s farm, Clonakilla in West Clare to his planting of Canberra District’s first vineyard at Murrumbateman near Yass in 1971

October

Kevin Fitzpatrick spoke on Irish Antarctic Explorer Ernest Shackleton and the extraordinary tale of how he led his men in a daring escape from the frozen continent.

 November

At the Christmas Party at Sancta Sophia College Maurice Whelan led a series of poetry readings by members of the society in a tribute to the late Seamus Heaney.

Whelan

2012

February

After the Annual General Meeting Mike Bailey gave us a talk “Weathering Life”, in which he reminiscenced of his life in the media.

 

March

At our annual St Patrick’s Day dinner the guest speaker was NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC who spoke and sang of his association with Ireland.

April

Rosamund Burton’s talk “Walking St Declan’s Way” was a delightful exposition of the pilgrimage route from Ardmore in County Waterford to Cashel in County Tipperary.

May

Dr Liam Weeks in a talk entitled“De minimis non curat praetor: voting system design in Ireland and Australia” gave a comparative analysis of the voting systems of Australia and Ireland

June

Dr Des O’Malley in “The Secret Language of James Joyce” gave an interesting perspective on the writings of Ireland’s leading novelist.

July

Mid-year luncheon: Dr Val Noone delivered the 18th Annual Joan Ward Memorial Address on “Hidden Ireland in Australia” which looked at the way Irish language and culture has influenced Australia.

August

Professor Barra Boydell in a talk entitled “Handel in Dublin 1741-1742” gave a fascinating insight into the background to the premiere performance of Handel’s Messiah in Dublin.

September

Steve Carey in “The GAA: A National Heritage” explained the history of the GAA in Ireland

October

In “Irish Harps in Time – Mythic, Cultural, Historic” Claire Dunne explained with words and music the significance of the harp in Ireland.

 Claire Dunne

2011

FEBRUARY

Our Ordinary Meeting followed on from the Annual General Meeting, and featured a charming talk by Kate Guilfoyle about Irish mythology.

MARCH

Our St Patrick’s Day dinner was held at Parliament House in Macquarie Street, and our after dinner speaker was Dr Richard Reid, Senior Curator at the National Museum of Canberra, and responsible for the magnificnet ‘Not Just Ned’ Exhibition, ‘A True History of the Irish in Australia. Richard spoke to us about some of the exhibits and the ideas and work that had gone into putting the exhibition together.

APRIL

Peter Moore, archivist, legal consultant, mulitcultural publisher and editor, teacher and tour guide, navigated the strange history to the statue of Queen Victoria which now stands outside the QVB building, near Sydney Town Hall. his merticulously researched and illustrated talk was entitled ‘Queen Victoria’s Irish Statue in Sydney: Ireland’s other gift to Australia.’

MAY

We welcomed the Reverend Edward Vaughan, Rector of St John’s Anglican Church, Darlinghurst, who had recently returned from six years as the Church of Ireland Rector of Crinken, near Bray, south of Dublin. Ed spoke to us on ‘Faith and society in modern Ireland: some personal reflections.’

JUNE

Siobhan McHugh, generous giver of many talks over the years, gave us an enthralling evening with ‘Marrying Out: mixed marriage, family conflict and religious bigotry between Catholics and Protestants in Australia 1920s-1970s’.

JULY

Our Mid-Year Lunchoen was held at the Sydney Rowing Club. Professor Justin  O’Brien, Director of the Centre for Law, Markets and Regulation at UNSW spoke most engagingly about the economic, social and ethical crisis facing Ireland (and other EU countries) in the throes of the current financial crisis.

AUGUST

Aisling member, psychoanalyst and writer. Maurice Whelan, read to us from two of his recently puiblished volumes of poetry, The Lilac Bow (2009) and Excalibur’s Return (2011) and reflected on the writing process.

SEPTEMBER

Irish-born Ber Carroll writes Irish-Australian novels about modern day women, their relationships, family dynamics and ambitions. Her delightful talk was entitled ‘Writing Irish fiction in Australia.’

OCTOBER

Aisling member, psychoanalyst and writer. Maurice Whelan, read to us from two of his recently puiblished volumes of poetry, The Lilac Bow (2009) and Excalibur’s Return (2011) and reflected on the writing process.

NOVEMBER

Irish-born Ber Carroll writes Irish-Australian novels about modern day women, their relationships, family dynamics and ambitions. Her delightful talk was entitled ‘Writing Irish fiction in Australia.

For talks from 2006 to 2010 see Annual Reports on the About Us page

Click here for a list of Aisling Audiotapes 1974-2005