Monday, August 26, 2013

Australia: Providing Jobs For The Irish Since 1788

Thanks a million, Australia. So said Ireland's Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan.

The Irish arrive in Australia

He credits the visa system that has helped well over 20,000 Irish men and women move to Australia to find work, what with there being not much of that sort of thing available in Ireland. Sort of like the way things were in the early 1800's, when countless Irish citizens were allowed to move to Australia without needing any sort of visa at all. They called it "transportation" back then, and the Irish who went weren't entirely eager to go.

In a recent speech in which he expressed his thanks to Australia, Mr. Deenihan mentioned the transportation of a large group of Irish women who were in desperate straits at the height of the Famine. Given free passage to Australia, they left all that they knew for the sake of survival, and not because they longed for adventure at the ends of the earth. If anything, they were encouraged to leave, or made to leave, by British authorities who needed women to settle in Australia and become wives and mothers, to further populate the British Empire. Not exactly the stuff of romance, but then, starvation usually is not.

How much better it is these days, when an Irish man or woman can actually choose to go to Australia for a job. In the old days, a man might be put to work in construction and a woman be hired out as a housemaid. Today, men travel to take jobs in construction and women find work as nannies or waitresses. So very different, thanks to the ease of the visa system now in use.

So thank you, Australia, for taking what the English considered human refuse and incorporating them into your society. It's a mark of honor, to claim a convict ancestor if you're tracing your Aussie family tree, and doesn't that show how far the Irish have come?

Thanks for welcoming the excess labor force that Ireland cannot absorb, to be incorporated into modern Australian society. They aren't pioneers, like the original Irish settlers. They know more about the country they are entering than their ancestors before them. And if they stayed in Ireland, they wouldn't have to be stuck in workhouses or left to starve in the boreens.

So thanks, Australia. Thanks for recognizing the benefits the Irish brought to your country, and for recognizing their usefulness today.

No comments: