Divided loyalties


My name is Phillip Moore and my family background is predominantly from my father’s side, which is Irish and my mother’s side which is both Irish and Cornish.

My father was Irish Catholic and my mother was Protestant.

My parents would invite many people around to our house. Priests and neighbours and friends, who were all sorts of religions but we all had great times together.

And they helped to break down those divisions between the Catholics and the Protestants because they were very open-minded and very loving.

On going to school, you’d often hear this jibe; ‘Catholic dogs, stink like frogs, in and out of the water,’ and it would go on.

One way I wanted to get back to them was we organised a football match and the idea was to beat them and show them we were better than them. And we won!

But later on in life when I was down here in Melbourne and researching our family history back to Ireland, I discovered that our family were involved in the Eureka Stockade.

That immediately opened up a whole Pandora’s box of research for me. The end result of that was I became the president of Eureka’s Children, who are the descendants of the Eureka Stockade.

And there is much to know, to identify, to present and celebrate in terms of our Australian-Irish history in this country, and that’s what I’m on about.

I run Australian-Irish cultural heritage tours and what I do in all those tours is I unravel the layers of Australian history through Irish eyes and that gives me a particular common interest in coming together with the Irish community.

To discover myself as an Australian I need to understand what my heritage is because that’s from which we come. And so that’s the reason why I’ve gone back and studied our Australian-Irish history.

But in the meantime I’m gradually learning the history of Ireland: what their struggles have been and what have made them such an energetic, egalitarian type of society that are always interested in a ‘fair go!’

About this Video

Phillip Moore reflects on Catholic Protestant sectarianism and what being Irish-Australian means to him.
Length: 2:06