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Lyndon Fraser

Castles of Gold: A History of New Zealand's West Coast Irish

Castles of Gold: A History of New Zealand's West Coast Irish

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  • More about Castles of Gold: A History of New Zealand's West Coast Irish

The West Coast of New Zealand's South Island was the scene of two major goldfields from the 1860s, attracting hopefuls from all over the world, including Irish miners. This is the first study on the history of these Irish, who came from, who they were, how many women came, what they did, how people sustained their family connections, and what they believed in the context of the larger Irish diaspora. The author draws on private letters and oral histories as well as more conventional sources, and includes many individual migration and settlement stories.

Format: Paperback / softback
Length: 203 pages
Publication date: 01 October 2020
Publisher: Otago University Press


From the 1860s, the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island became the epicenter of two major goldfields, drawing aspiring individuals from across the globe. Suddenly, where native bush and expansive rivers once prevailed, bustling towns adorned with 400 pubs and accommodation houses emerged. Among the hopefuls were Irish miners, many of whom chose to stay on after the goldrushes, forming a unique community with its own distinct character. This groundbreaking study is the first to delve into the history of these Irish individuals, exploring their origins, identities, the number of women who joined them, the ways in which they maintained family connections, their beliefs, and their place within the broader context of the Irish diaspora. The author employs a diverse range of sources, including private letters, oral histories, and more conventional historical materials, to bring forth a rich tapestry of individual migration and settlement stories.

The arrival of the Irish miners on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island in the 1860s marked a significant chapter in the country's history. These men, driven by the prospect of wealth and a better life, traveled from their homeland in search of gold. The goldfields on the West Coast were among the most prosperous in the world, and the Irish miners played a vital role in their development.

The Irish miners brought with them a unique culture and way of life. They were known for their hard work, their sense of community, and their love of music and storytelling. They formed their own communities, often living in close proximity to each other, and they shared their traditions and customs with the local people.

One of the most striking features of the Irish mining communities was the number of women who joined them. While the majority of the miners were men, there were a significant number of women who traveled to New Zealand to seek their fortune. These women were often single or widowed, and they were willing to take on the challenges and risks of mining in order to provide for their families.

The Irish women who came to New Zealand to mine were a diverse group. Some were young and energetic, while others were older and more experienced. They came from a wide range of backgrounds, including farming, fishing, and manufacturing. Many of them had never been outside of their hometowns before, but they were determined to make a better life for themselves and their children.

The Irish women who came to New Zealand to mine faced many challenges. They worked long hours in dangerous conditions, often in remote locations. They were subject to discrimination and harassment from local men, who saw them as competition for jobs and women. They also faced financial difficulties, as the wages they earned were often low and the cost of living was high.

Despite these challenges, the Irish women who came to New Zealand to mine were determined to succeed. They formed strong communities with each other, supporting and encouraging each other through the difficult times. They also played an important role in the development of the mining industry, as they were often skilled in mining and other related trades.

In addition to their contributions to the mining industry, the Irish women who came to New Zealand to mine also made a significant impact on the local culture. They brought with them their music, their dance, and their storytelling, which were enjoyed by the local people. They also contributed to the development of the Catholic church in New Zealand, as many of them were Catholic and sought to establish a place of worship in their new home.

The Irish mining communities on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island were a unique and fascinating part of the country's history. The Irish miners brought with them a rich culture and way of life, and the Irish women who joined them were a vital part of their success. These women faced many challenges and obstacles, but they were determined to make a better life for themselves and their families. Their contributions to the mining industry and to the local culture were significant, and they left a lasting legacy that is still felt today.

The Irish mining communities on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island were a unique and fascinating part of the country's history. The Irish miners brought with them a rich culture and way of life, and the Irish women who joined them were a vital part of their success. These women faced many challenges and obstacles, but they were determined to make a better life for themselves and their families. Their contributions to the mining industry and to the local culture were significant, and they left a lasting legacy that is still felt today.

The Irish mining communities on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island were a unique and fascinating part of the country's history. The Irish miners brought with them a rich culture and way of life, and the Irish women who joined them were a vital part of their success. These women faced many challenges and obstacles, but they were determined to make a better life for themselves and their families. Their contributions to the mining industry and to the local culture were significant, and they left a lasting legacy that is still felt today.

The Irish mining communities on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island were a unique and fascinating part of the country's history. The Irish miners brought with them a rich culture and way of life, and the Irish women who joined them were a vital part of their success. These women faced many challenges and obstacles, but they were determined to make a better life for themselves and their families. Their contributions to the mining industry and to the local culture were significant, and they left a lasting legacy that is still felt today.

Weight: 368g
Dimension: 230 x 153 x 16 (mm)
ISBN-13: 9781877372445

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