Call­ing those of Ir­ish de­scent

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - VIVIEN HORLER

IF YOU be­lieve in the “wear­ing of the green”, a group from the Ir­ish South African As­so­ci­a­tion want you to get in touch.

They are the South African con­tin­gent who will at­tend the first Global Ir­ish Di­as­pora Con­fer­ence in Dublin in Au­gust and they are look­ing for lo­cals of Ir­ish de­scent who can prove their an­ces­try.

Much has been doc­u­mented about the Ir­ish di­as­pora and their de­scen­dants across the world, in­clud­ing Ar­gentina, Chile, West Indies and of course the US, Canada, Aus­tralia, New Zealand and Eng­land.

How­ever very lit­tle in­for­ma­tion is avail­able about the Ir­ish di­as­pora of the West­ern Cape, es­pe­cially sec­ond, third and fourth gen­er­a­tions.

Pro­fes­sor Donal McCracken of the Univer­sity of Natal has re­searched the Ir­ish di­as­pora in KwaZulu- Natal and some other parts of South Africa, but not specif­i­cally the group lo­cal Ir­ish de­scen­dants are look­ing at.

The aim is to re­search and pro­pose fu­ture pub­li­ca­tions on the Ir­ish of the West­ern Cape, specif­i­cally those from mixed unions, ie be­tween Ir­ish­born set­tlers and lo­cal groups such as the Khoi-San, Afrikan­ers, slaves and other in­dige­nous peo­ples.

Ir­ish groups ar­rived in South Africa from the mid-18th cen­tury to the 20th cen­tury.

Due to lo­cal gov­ern­ment poli­cies at the time, Ir­ish im­mi­grants were not en­cour­aged, in fact dis­cour­aged, from cel­e­brat­ing their her­itage and pass­ing this on to their prog­eny.

Among th­ese Ir­ish immi- grant groups were the Clan­william group, the Ken­n­away girls, The Robben Is­land work­ers who es­tab­lished “Ir­ish Town” on the is­land and the “brew­ery work­ers” group who es­tab­lished “Ir­ish Town” in New­lands.

Ge­neal­o­gist Heather MacAlis­ter, one of the del­e­ga­tion go­ing to Dublin, said they were look­ing for peo­ple who could prove in some way or other they were of Ir­ish de­scent.

“We are look­ing for fam­ily trees, in­ter­est­ing bi­ogra­phies, sto­ries, doc­u­ments, let­ters, pho­tographs or any­thing that shows your Ir­ish an­ces­try.”

She said the in­for­ma­tion would be pre­sented at the Di­as­pora Congress and also used for doc­toral pur­poses, fur­ther re­search and study of Ir­ish im­mi­grants to South Africa.

In­for­ma­tion can be sent to ir­[email protected]­ces­tors.co.za

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