Monday, 22 October 2012


We, as family historians, genealogists or researchers, place great value on censuses... 
it is interesting to realise that yet again, Australia is enjoying a large influx of Irish citizens 
immigrating to Australia or at least coming here on working visas. My own Irish connection 
began in 1792, when Bridget Heslin/Eslin from Dublin, was a given a free journey on 
the "Sugar Cane. She was my 5th great grandmother.

In the early 1900's, more of my ancestors, two great uncles, a great aunt and my maternal 
grandmother, made their way to Australia. Only one of my great uncles stayed, the other 
returned home to run the family farm in Co Clare. Sadly the one who stayed, had no choice... 
he was killed while tree felling and unbeknowns to me at the time, was buried less than
30 kms from where I grew up.

Again, less than two years ago, the grandson of my great uncle who had returned to Ireland,
came to Australia in the hope of starting a new life.

Future generations will still be claiming Irish ancestry as so many of us do today. 
The Irish Echo summarises it very well....

Census shines light on Irish Australia

The census has revealed Irish ancestral links in Australia and the country's growing 
Irish-born population.

The 2011 census figures offer a fascinating insight into this country's rich 
and diverse composition and shows that the Irish are here in ever
increasing numbers.

With figures provided exclusively to this newspaper by the Australian 
Bureau of Statistics (ABS), we have learned that there were almost 90,000 
people born in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland in Australian 
on census night, August 9, 2011.

There were substantially more people born in the Republic of Ireland in 
Australia for the 2011 census than its 2006 predecessor.

Some 67,316 people listed the Republic of Ireland as their country of birth, 
up from 50,260 in the 2006 census, marking a rise of 33 per cent in the 
Irish-born population.

Of the 67,36 people from the Republic of Ireland recorded in Australia on 
census night, 36,231 males were recorded as opposed to 31,085 females.
The Celtic Tiger ended during the period between the two most recent 
censuses, while the Australian economy weathered the global financial 
crisis better than almost every other developed nation.

It is little surprise that this boom and bust dichotomy continues to lure 
Irish people to Australia.

The ABS also provided figures on the number of people born in Northern 
Ireland who filled out a 2011 census return, offering a rare insight into the 
numbers and make-up of people from this part of the island of Ireland 
who come to Australia.

Generally, these figures are included within the data for the United 
Kingdom. The extraction of the Northern Irish data offers some nuance. 
A total of 22,595 residents in Australia listed Northern Ireland as their 
country of birth.

The gender split was roughly even, with 11,071 women and 11,524 men. 
Intriguingly, the census reveals that the Northern Irish-born resident of 
Australia have a slightly higher median age (57) than those born in the 
Republic of Ireland (43). It is a statistical nugget that shows we are only 
scratching the surface – one that suggests more people of certain 
generations left their homes in different age clusters.

There is a good thesis in this, for anyone who can extract more from the 
data fields of the ABS. The ancestry question once again provided 
interesting results.

However, questions still linger over its phrasing and reach.
Paul Lowe, head of the population census programme, told the Irish 
Echo prior to census night that ABS consulted with various migrant groups
before phrasing questions 14, 15 and 18.

He also acknowledged that there was increasing pressure for the ABS to 
expand the question on where people's parents were born. Not doing so 
would be an opportunity lost.

That a person can now list their ancestry as 'Australian' is particularly 
perplexing, given that Australia – as it was dubbed when colonized – 
did not exist 250 years ago.

To read more, please go to....

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