The luck of the Irish was chronic bad luck, as their sad history attests.
That’s how it looked for 250 Irish convicts when their ship, the Hive, sank 
ignominiously off the NSW coast in 1835. Miraculously all survived, guided to 
safety by local Aboriginal people.

They landed at a time when the so-called slave colony was at its height, ruled by the 
lash and the chain gang. Yet as Babette Smith tracked the lives of the people aboard 
the Hive, she discovered a very different story. Most were assigned to work on farms 
or in businesses, building a better life than they possibly could have experienced 
in Ireland. Surprisingly, in the workforce they found power, which gave rise to the 
characteristic Australian culture later described by DH Lawrence: ‘Nobody felt better 
than anybody else, or higher’.

The Luck of the Irish is a fascinating portrait of colonial life in the mid-19th
which reveals how the Irish helped lay the foundations of the Australia we know 

Read the full Tintean review written by Felicity Allen here.


What they said

It's Babette Smith's best. Deeply researched and vividly written, it's a terrific new and 
up-to-date account of the convict experience, mainly from the bottom up. There's 
balance and judgment and an easy grasp of a penal system which was very complex 
and continuously changing. I’m impressed.’
Emeritus Professor Alan Atkinson FAHA, University of Sydney

Brings the convict era to life through personal stories and insightful analysis.’ 
Lindsay Tanner

This vivid book opens with a shipload of convict men, sailors and
soldiers driven ashore at Wreck Bay south of Sydney. How had their lives in> Ireland 
brought them to this place? How did they make their ways in Australia afterwards? 
In following them down the years Babette Smith presents us with a bracing set of 
conclusions about Australia --- and about Ireland.
Barrie Dyster, University of New South Wales

A fascinating interpretation of the many roles that the Irish played in
Australia's development in the 19th Century. Rigorously researched, this
story covers the many facets of the early growth of New South Wales in which Irish 
immigrants, from convicts to Governor, played a shaping role. Their impact is with us 
Robert O'Neill, former Chichele Professor of the History of War, All Souls 
College, University of Oxford