The Luck of the Irish

How a shipload of convicts survived the wreck of the Hive to make a new life in Australia

Babette Smith
AUD $32.99
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The author of the bestselling Cargo of Women and Australia's Birthstain tracks the lives of Irish convicts who arrived in Australia the mid-1800s, uncovering a long-lasting influence of the Irish convicts on our national character.

The luck of the Irish was chronic bad luck, as their sad history attests. That's how it looked for 250 Irish convicts when their ship, the Hive, sank ignominiously off the New South Wales coast in 1835. Miraculously all survived, guided to safety by local Aboriginal people.

They landed at a time when the so-called slave colony was at its height, ruled by the lash and the chain gang. Yet as Babette Smith tracked the lives of the people aboard the Hive, she discovered a very different story. Most were assigned to work on farms or in businesses, building a better life than they possibly could have experienced in Ireland. Surprisingly, in the workforce they found power, which gave rise to the characteristic Australian culture later described by D.H. Lawrence: 'Nobody felt better than anybody else, or higher.'

The Luck of the Irish is a fascinating portrait of colonial life in the mid-nineteenth century that reveals how the Irish helped lay the foundations of the Australia we know today.

'Deeply researched and vividly written, it's a terrific new and up-to-date account of the convict experience, mainly from the bottom up. I'm impressed.' - Emeritus Professor Alan Atkinson FAHA, University of Sydney

'Brings the convict era to life through personal stories and insightful analysis.' - Lindsay Tanner

Author bio:

Babette Smith is one of Australia's most respected experts on convict history, and author of the bestselling Cargo of Women and Australia's Birthstain.

Category: History
ISBN: 9781742378121
Awards: Short-listed Kay Daniels Award, Australian Historical Society Awards 2016 AU; Winner NSW Premier's History Awards Community and Regional History Prize 2015 AU
Table Of Contents: Map


1 Beached

2 A Capacity for Violence

3 Settling to the Task

4 'The O'Connellite Tail'

5 A Question of Fairness

6 Unnecessary Irritation

7 The Power of Numbers

8 Floating Nurseries

9 Managing Norfolk Island

10 Resisting Ascendancy

11 Catholic Friendly

12 A New Governor

13 'Infested by Bushrangers'

14 Beyond the Penal Colony

15 Creating the Australian Way of Life

16 The Lives of Men


Select Bibliography


Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Pub Date: June 2014
Page Extent: 304
Format: Paperback - C format
Age: 0 - 0
Subject: History