The 2006 Australian Census reports Irish ancestry as being the third highest in Australia after Australian and English. The Irish Embassy in Canberra claims that 30% of Australians can claim some degree of Irish ancestry.

The South Australian figures mirror these: the 2006 Census showed Irish ancestry ranked third after Australian and English. For all that, little has been recorded of the Irish contribution to South Australia. Being a smaller component of the nationwide Irish diaspora may account for some of this neglect, but how do we explain the omission of the Irish from studies that include ethnic groups with smaller populations?

In the face of this silence about the Irish in early South Australia, how do we explain place names such as Cavan, Clare and Kilkenny? Why were these places named as such? What can this naming tell us about the people involved?  These place names tell an important story of pioneer Irish people who chose South Australia as their
New Erin in the South Seas.


  • Dymphna Lonergan
  • Katie Hannan