From East to West You Gather a People, by Fr Russell Hardiman

From East to West You Gather a People, by Fr Russell Hardiman

Brian Peachey

FROM EAST TO WEST You Gather a People
Being Catholic in Australia Through Eight Generations From the Convict Era to the New Millennium

by Fr Russell Hardiman

(Hesperian Press, 460pp, hard cover, $88.00 including postage)

Father Russell Hardiman has painted a wide and complex literary canvas in his impressively presented genealogical work, From East to West You Gather a People.

The title, appropriate to the story, stretching across the continent and into three centuries, is from the words of the Third Eucharistic Prayer in the Roman Missal: "From age to age you gather a people to yourself so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made".

The author is a priest of the Bunbury Diocese and a lecturer in Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame Australia in Fremantle, Western Australia, and at St Charles Seminary in the Archdiocese of Perth.

Fr Hardiman weaves a vast human tapestry commencing with the arrival of Charlotte Simpson on the all-female convict ship, Lady Juliana, with the Second Fleet arriving in Port Jackson in 1790 and her incarceration on Norfolk Island. Here she enters into a relationship with Hugh Maginnis, who arrived in 1791 on the Queen, the first ship with an all-Irish contingent of convicts. Charlotte Simpson has five children to Maginnis, which is the beginning of eight generations of an Australian (mainly Catholic) dynasty, numbering in the thousands.

With the discovery of gold in Victoria in 1851 large numbers of "free Irish" flooded into the tapestry weaving the names of Russell, O'Connor, Crennan, O'Sullivan, O'Callaghan, Byrne, Morrissey and Hardiman.

In a sense this very large work is a compendium of individual family histories the research of which will be of inestimable value to the descendants.

Father Hardiman emphasises in his massive work the need for identity and a sense of belonging. One of his guiding beliefs was that the human story would be of interest to people beyond the confines of those listed in a family history.

One dimension of opening up a broader appeal was the illustration of how the Church ministered to families across generations. The involvement of the Catholic Church has been a major part of the lives of the families of this story.

Hesperian Press is to be complimented on a quality publication and the author for his thoroughly documented research. The large number of endnotes are conveniently placed at the end of each chapter. The bibliography is extensive and will aid those who are exploring their family histories.

However, the work would have been enhanced by the inclusion of a genealogical structure, graphically illustrating the thousands who are participants in the story - admittedly a massive task.

The book is available from Pastoral Liturgy Publications, 2/10 Pennlake Drive, Spearwood, WA 6163, tel (08) 9434 0660, email:

Brian Peachey is a Perth Catholic writer and author.

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