For those unfamiliar with the term, “Irish Australians”, or Australians who claim to have Irish heritage, were the 3rd largest heritage group at the 2006 Australian census with almost 2 Million people, or just over 9% of the population, falling into the category. That’s quite a large chunk!
Now, the good thing about having Irish heritage is that even in normal times exploring your family history is easier than in most other cultures because of the excellent records that exist all over the world.
That having been said, now’s a pretty good time if you’re in Australia. Below are some reasons why:
The National Museum is currently running an exhibition called “Not Just Ned: A true history of the Irish in Australia”. The “Ned” bit is a reference to famous Australian Bush Ranger Ned Kelly who was of Irish descent. The Museum is also running related sessions.
Word on the street is that this has been one of their most popular exhibitions of late. Then again that’s probably not surprising when almost 1 in 10 people is your target market!
For those with a background from Southeast Galway you're in particular luck. You don’t even have to do any research to discover parts of your heritage thanks to a genealogical tourism program called “Ireland Reaching Out”
This is a really fascinating project based on a simple premise: instead of waiting for those of Irish heritage to trace their roots, Ireland Reaching Out has used local genealogists to identify those who left southeast Galway and track their descendents.
Already a bunch of Australians have been contacted and no doubt they'll find many more.
And for those looking to explore their Irish culture a little more, Finbar Furey, the world-renowned musician and traveling musical ambassador for Ireland is currently touring the country (there’s a great interview with him from the Australian Newspaper here)
For those Irish Australians looking to reach out and explore their past, but who are unable to partake in any of these activities, there’s still hope!
Last year we ran a couple of great blog posts on tracing your Irish ancestry. They’re certainly worth a read.
And of course, there’s MyHeritage and the great tools like MyHeritage.com and our free genealogy software, Family Tree Builder 5.1 that are reconnecting families with Irish heritage, all over the world.
So, what do you think? Is now a great time to be Irish Australian and into Family History research or what?