Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Patrick A. McCarthy

Second Committee Member

Brenna Munro

Third Committee Member

Renee A. Fox

Fourth Committee Member

Hester Blum


This dissertation explores the ways that Irish convicts transported to Australia in the nineteenth century influenced Australian nationalism and national culture. Using the principle of oceanic studies that the material conditions of sea travel are shaping influences, I look in the first chapter at journals as well as a manuscript newspaper written by Irish Fenian political prisoners on board the convict ship Hougoumont. The restrictions and conditions of the ship encouraged these Fenians to practice a subtle, personal, and metaphoric form of nationalism, carried out through telling stories of themselves and the Irish experience. The second and third chapters turn to contemporary Australian representations of Irish convicts which connect such personal storytelling to national identity. Chapter two looks at Christopher Koch’s Out of Ireland, which rewrites the story of Irish transportation as a story of the development of Australian culture, and highlights the experience of the convict ship as integral in shaping that development. Chapter three looks at Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang and Roger McDonald’s The Ballad of Desmond Kale which explore the way Irish convicts, particularly Irish bushrangers, helped establish Australian national culture, as well as the ways that national myths and histories collude to form a unified sense of nationality.


Irish nationalism; Australian nationalism; Fenians; oceanic studies; convicts; Peter Carey