Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

Calling those of Irish descent


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 irish@ancestors.co.za

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