Irish Protestants in Australia–a supplement to “my tribe: the Protestant Ascendancy and Empire Loyalism”

See this post.

I was fascinated watching an interview of US author Joe Bageant on ABC1 on Sunday afternoon. 

Joe Bageant is a renowned commentator on the politics of class in the US. His previous novel, "Deer Hunting with Jesus", was turned into a play and an upcoming tv series. His regular online columns have made him a cult hero among political progressives and gonzo-journalism junkies.

Bageant’s latest book "Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir" is a coming-of-age story set in post-World War II America in the small white tribes of West Virginia, where a massive social and economic shift from agrarian to urbanisation has resulted in the loss of meaningful work and community.

Representing the ‘hillbilly’ class as a minority, Bageant laments ‘the piece of the rainbow pie’ promised to his working class forefathers, which never materialised. He praises the ‘white trash’ trucker heroes, who stood up to corporate oppressors by unionising, helping to form a middle class, and finally affording an education for their children.

In this way, Bageant upholds Malcolm X’s teaching of ’embracing the slander’, stating "I’m so damn average that what I write resonates with people". However, he reasons that with the ‘corporatisation’ of the United States, Middle-America has become so politically disillusioned that it is now voting against its own economic self-interest…

Joe’s “Rednecks” have as  their core culture their Irish/Scots Protestantism, the same background as my own family. In fact some time ago on my family history page there appeared this request:

I’m researching my Whitfield lineage and came across your site. Please note that I live in the States, and I am just beginning my research. My ancestor Jacob Whitfield, according to family records, is the son of Jacob Whitfield and Mary Gowrie. He immigrated to the States sometime around 1830 with an unknown uncle. He married Margarget Miller in Alabama on July 18, 1841. Jacob died in the Mexican War between 1846-1848 according to his son’s military pension records. I’m looking for any information which could prove/disprove this theory. Sincerely,
Debbie Carrier

Possibly a connection. You see the coincidence on this document concerning my convict ancestor:

There were very many Protestant Irish among Australia’s settlers and convicts, but not being as distinctive as the Catholic Irish their story is comparatively unknown. Yet their numbers included the Wentworth family and many another prominent name. Some “forgot” any Irish connection – my own family did – let alone convict connections.

Kiama, south of Wollongong, was heavily populated by Protestant Irish.



My father told me once that the area from his birthplace (Shellharbour) down to Kiama and Gerringong was a hotbed of pro New Guard conspiracy during the Lang Crisis in NSW. A connection with this strand of the culture, I would think.

The US branch of the tribe seems to have developed differently from NSW, to judge from what Joe Bageant said. Different circumstances, different places.


One thought on “Irish Protestants in Australia–a supplement to “my tribe: the Protestant Ascendancy and Empire Loyalism”

  1. Dear Sir, just reading the above regarding Joe Bageants books. I have read ”Deer Hunting With Jesus ” a few times. The theme of the rednecks is of interest to me.
    Vidia Naipauls book ” A Turn in the South” is also quite sympathetic to rednecks. As you know from Bageants books they have many qualities, among them, they strongly identify with the country they are in. They have no sense of victimhood. They tend to have a strong sense of right and wrong, and they are judgemental.
    At the time of George Bush’s reelection there was an article in the Economist which reported on findings of a study in United States on who voted for George Bush. Of interest was the high numbers of poor white voters in North Carolina, Virginia and the South in general, who obviously, to socialists, liberals, and Joe Bageant as well , were voting against their interests. Joe Bageant also writes about this.
    It singled out Scots Irish to be the ones to vote for Bush, even though they were the poorest in the states. They also highlighted that the descendents of the Scots Irish, yeah wait for it , were the most violent people, hardest drinking and the most untrusting of governments. They said that in the states where the Scots Irish were present had the highest number of bar brawls, and family fewds in the United States, not gun violence, not robbery nor burglary. They then drew a line back to Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and you know what, the folk there behave exactly the same as their cousins in the USA. The Economist article did say that this was genetic, not society.
    The protestant Irish, Scots Irish, hard working, non deferential, honest, argumentative ,may have disappeared in Australia and the USA, ( and the United Kingdom ) as an definable ethnic group, but maybe they didn’t.

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