"Mindful of her St Columbas and Gaels": Ireland, Empire and Australian Anglicanism'

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Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, South America, New Zealand and the United States. A lacuna in the existing literature, however, is a detailed study of Irish clergy in the Australian colonies. The purpose of this chapter, therefore, is to examine the backgrounds and influence of Irish clergy in colonial Australian Anglicanism before 1850. Irish clergymen, as we shall see, made up nearly a quarter of Australian Anglican clergymen during this period. Moreover, they adapted well to colonial conditions and exerted influence out of all proportion to their numbers, in the Anglican Church and in colonial Australia's fledgling cultural, intellectual and political life. Contemporary observers identified their Irishness in their confident reformism, national pride, combativeness and their enhanced Protestant identity. In turn, this green hue in the complexion of Australian Anglicanism casts doubt on monolithic ideas of Anglican clergy as agents of Englishness. Additionally, the Irish clergy's complex and sometimes adversarial relationship with colonial and imperial projects challenges notions of clergy as tools of an imperial Anglican design. Historians have only recently begun to reassess the place of religion in the nineteenth-century British world. In a growing body of scholarship it is possible to discern a new and definite shift in scholarly emphasis away from missionaries and empire towards what Hilary Carey has labelled the colonial missionary movement. An important debate within this burgeoning field concerns the national character and mission of Anglicanism, by far the largest contributor to the colonial missionary movement. Anglican clergy, in particular, have been seen as key agents of colonial expansion and English national identity, a High Church-Tory intellectual elite, charged with the responsibility of transmitting both English and Anglican culture to the colonies. Scholars such as C.A. Bayly have also characterized Anglican Church and clergy as tools of empire, or part of what he calls an imperial 'Anglican design. In the Australian context there has likewise been a longstanding popular and scholarly view that Australian Anglicanism was quintessentially English, particularly during its formative phase up to 1850. In terms of churchmanship, recent scholarship has also foregrounded the High Church character of Anglicanism over a predominantly evangelical character. These views have been questioned more recently, however, by recognition of the significant numbers of Irish Anglican clergy who were recruited for the English-speaking settler colonies. Many of these Anglican clergymen were actually Irish - or worse (in the opinion of some contemporaries): Irish evangelicals. A key contention of this volume is that there existed during the period of the Second British Empire a 'Greater Ireland, akin to the old concept of Greater Britain, in which the Irish transformed into a global people, actively participating in British imperial expansion and colonial nation building in.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligion and greater Ireland
Subtitle of host publicationChristianity and Irish global networks, 1750-1950
EditorsColin Barr, Hilarey M Carey
Place of PublicationMontreal, Canada
PublisherMcGill Queens University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780773597358
ISBN (Print)9780773545700
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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