April Meeting: Dr Richard Reid

2nd April 2022
By Cheryl Bollard
Dr Richard Reid delivers the Inaugural Father Brian Maher Lecture :"The Irish in Canberra"

 The inaugural Father Brian Maher Lecture will be given at 7 pm on 5 April 2022, at FHACT, in person and via zoom from Cook.

The Lecture, an ACT Heritage Week event, celebrates the achievement in both family and local history of the late Father Brian Maher, who donated a magnificent collection of family history material on local and regional families to our society.

The first Maher lecturer will be Dr Richard Reid who collaborated with Father Maher in developing ways in which to remember and investigate the significance of Irish settlement in 19th century south eastern New South Wales.D

He will be using material from the Father Brian Maher collection to explore the Irish settlement of Canberra. The talk will be informative, entertaining and an homage to  Brian Maher, the historian who passed away in 2021.

Bookings can be made here.

 Irish born and educated, Dr Reid  worked for more than 40 years as a high school teacher, museum educator, historian and museum curator. Thirty of those years were spent in Canberra, in institutions such as the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, the Senate and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2011, he was the Senior Curator for the National Museum's exhibition on the Irish in Australia, 'Not just Ned'.

Among Richard's publications are "A Decent Set of Girls": The Irish Famine Orphans of the Thomas Arbuthnot, 1849-1850 (with Cheryl Mongan), Farewell My Children: Irish Assisted Emigration to Australia, 1848-1870Bomber Command: Australians in World War II and Sinners, Saints and Settlers: A Journey through Irish Australia (with Brendon Kelson).

 The Father Brian Maher Collection was donated to our library by Father Brian Maher, and  is a  unique and valuable manuscript collection, gathered over more than four decades. It consists of written papers and files detailing the lives of over 400 Catholic families and their descendants. Many of these families are linked to the early settlers in the ACT and southern New South Wales, including Irish immigrants, convicts, and free settlers. For each family line, the source documents are wide-ranging. They may include details from parish registers, birth, death and marriage certificates, books, newspaper and journal extracts, immigration and convict records, wills, maps, photographs, and private letters.

The files of 27 local pioneering families and their descendants were indexed and digitized as part of a pilot project made possible by funding made available from the ACT Government under the 2020-21 ACT Heritage Grants Program. More details of the project, including the finding aids and list of names are available on our website. A 2021-22 ACT Heritage Grant was received in September 2022 to continue the project. We aim to have digitised and indexed about half of the collection (224 families) by September 2022.

If you are interested in more information on the project, or would like to become involved as a volunteer, contact us




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