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Record number of Irish immigrants to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Australia

One in three Aussies claim Irish ancestry

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day and to welcome almost 22,000[i] new Irish immigrants to Australia in the past year,, Australia’s number one[ii] family history website, has added two new record sets to The Irish Collection - the definitive online collection of 19th century historical Irish records. These new collections will make it easier for the nearly six million Aussies[iii] who claim Irish ancestry to explore their heritage this St Patrick’s Day.

In total, there are now more than 35 million[iv] historical Irish records on, including two million comprehensive upgraded records from critical periods prior to, and following the first arrival of Irish convicts and the Irish Potato Famine, the single most significant event to drive 19th century global Irish diaspora.

According to the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), record numbers of people from Ireland are now living and working in Australia. The number of Irish citizens who received an Australian visa in the past year has increased by 50 per cent to 21,784. The new visa figures come as overall Irish emigration levels rise to the highest since the 19th century with an estimated 76,400[v] people immigrating to Australia last year.

The record numbers of Irish people moving to Australia last year is comparable to other significant periods of mass Irish immigration. Most notably, the Irish Potato famine (1845-1851) when millions of Irish fled, the Australian Gold Rush (1851-1861) which saw Australia’s population treble to 1.2 million with a third coming from Britain and Ireland, and more recently during the 1989 stock market crash when 44,000 people left Ireland.

The additions to The Irish Collection provide a unique insight into these periods of mass immigration and will be a vital source not just for the six million Australians who claim Irish ancestry, but also for the estimated 80 million people worldwide who claim Irish heritage. Content Director Brad Argent comments: “With Ireland struggling to recover from the death of the Celtic Tiger, Irish citizens are following in their ancestors’ footsteps, seeking a better life in Australia. It is only when we start to explore our heritage that we begin to realise just how many Aussies actually have origins in the Emerald Isles.

The Irish Collection is a ‘pot of gold’ for anyone wanting to uncover their Irish family stories.”

Famous celebrities with Irish ancestry revealed by, include:

  • Bindi Irwindaughter of national Aussie treasure the late Steve Irwin, has an abundance of Irish ancestry on her father’s side. Steve’s 2nd  great- grandfather on his father’s side, Joseph Irwin, was a carpenter, born in Dublin, who immigrated to Australia in 1876 and his 2nd great- grandmother on his mother’s side, Theresa Byrne, was born in Dublin, but married in Melbourne in 1862.
  • Nicole Kidman - she played an aristocratic Irishwoman in Far and Away, but Kidman’s 3x great- grandparents Bridget and James Callachar, who arrived in Sydney in January 1842, were among thousands of farmhands who emigrated from Ireland ahead of the great famine.
  • Tim Cahill - known for his high scoring skills on the pitch, this soccer player was born in Sydney to a Samoan mother and an English father. Cahill’s paternal grandfather was of Irish decent.


The Irish Collection is available to UK Heritage Plus and World Heritage members. Those wishing to discover or learn more about their Irish ancestors can do so with a 14-day free access available at:

You can share your Irish story with us on Twitter at #Irishheritage.

Figures from Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) relate to the 12 months between June 2010 and June 2011

[ii]comScore, 2011, based on genealogy related websites selected from the Family and Parenting sub-category under the Community category

[iii]29 per cent of respondents said they had Irish ancestry in a Pure Profile nationally representativesurvey  of 1000 Australiansaged 18 and over. The six million figure relates to 29 per cent of the Australian population which stands at 22,328,800 (ABS 2011)

[iv]’s historical Irish record collection is comprised of historical collections and also Irish photographs and stories contributed by our members

[v]According to the Central Statistics Office of Ireland 76,400 citizens emigrated in the year to April 2011