Delaneys Corner sign at Nirranda, Australia

Ireland in the 1840's

The decade before the Delaneys emmigrated was a time of great upheaval and change in Ireland. The British Government was still intent on keeping the Irish poor, powerless, landless and excluded from education.

Daniel O'Connell, known as the "Great Liberator", is credited as Father of the Catholic Emancipation in the 1820's. By the 1840's, O'Connell was campaigning to repeal the Union between England and Ireland, but in a non-violent way. The "Young Irelanders" organisation, preferring a physical force response, was established.

Tipperary was the best organised as to clubs of the new proposal, the Confederation of Ireland. It was in South and mid-Tipperary that leaders toured to promote the cause and large crowds assembled, ready to do battle; but no sooner did they succeed in doing so that the clergy would use their influence to disperse the gathered force. One can imagine the arguments in the Delaney households, for and against a physical force approach, and the tension between the religious and the political supporters.

It was in Thurles, barely 5 miles from Twomileborris, that the leader Willian Smith O'Brien was arrested, and subsequently sentenced to death, eventually translported to Port Arthur, Van Diemen's Land. Thurles was a significant centre in Ireland, the seat of the Diocese of Cashel and Emily, and the location in 1850 of the first Synod of Irish Bishops, since the 12th century.

Patrick Delaney, our ancestor, the eldest child of John and Bridget, often spoke to his children in Australia of the market days in Thurles, and heated political discussions. It was during this time that his parents finally decided to join the throng of emigrants from Ireland.

Charles Gavan Duffy wrote mournfully of the demise of the Young Ireland Movement:

"Young Ireland was routed and scattered almost to a last man. They bore away with them from Ireland the stigma of a lost cause, and the reproach of an ignominIous failure. To scornful enemies they were pipers of sonnets and pouters of orations, who had mistaken themselves for men of action.

Duffy, himself an Irish Member of the House of Commons, was arrested on many occasions, and eventually he came freely to Australia in 1855, the same year as the Delaneys. Within a year, he was elected to the Upper House of the Victorian Parliament, representing Villiers and Heytesbury in South-West Victoria, where the Delaneys settled. Later he was to become Premier of the State.

During the election campaign Duffy led reform in Victoria in many ways, including the Duffy Land Act of 1862. Under this Act, settlers were able to buy crown land, enabling the Delaneys to take up 320 acres of land at Nirranda. It is poignant to realise that the Delaney dream of owning land, denied in Ireland, came to fruition in Australia because of the Young Irelander Freedom Fighter's efforts as a Minister of the crown in the Victorian Parliament.

Prepared by D.J. Delaney

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Unless otherwise stated all text & images © Maurice Delaney, 2001-2006