No Irish need apply

After recalling the old stories about 1950s London when boarding houses and shops had signs in their windows that No Irish Need Apply, I thought I might have a little trawl through the nineteenth century South Australian newspapers on Trove. To be perfectly honest, I was quite astounded when lots of search results were returned.

The earliest ad I found in South Australia was from 1852 where Mrs Nelson of Franklin Street, Adelaide promised good wages to a servant of all work, but no Irish need apply. The same story continued through to the 1900s for general servants, nursemaids, plain cooks and respectable girls – all in demand as long as they weren’t Irish.

Wanted, a servant. No Irish need apply.

Wanted, a servant. No Irish need apply

In 1855, Mrs Edmund Wright (wife of the architect, perhaps) advertised for a nursemaid at Palmer Place, North Adelaide, with the proviso that no Irish need apply. This time, there was a quick response – from E McEllister three days later who posted his own advert to Irishmen in South Australia, drawing their attention to Mrs Wright’s stipulation.

A nursemaid (not Irish) is sought. The Irish are alerted through a subtle response.

A nursemaid (not Irish) is sought. The Irish are alerted through a subtle advert response

The 1880s and 1890s saw three ads in the Matrimonial section of the paper forbidding Irish application. In each instance, two respectable young gentlemen from various country towns were seeking to correspond with two young ladies (not Irish of course) who must be good looking, fond of home and children, musically inclined, well-educated, all with a view to matrimony.

A view to matrimony, as long as you're not Irish.

A view to matrimony, as long as you’re not Irish

And this not so subtle racism continued in humorous newspaper articles, such as the example below where an Irish man in search of work attempts to subvert his origins by saying “Shure an’ couldn’t ye persave by me accint that it’s Frinch I am”.

And what about the French?

And what about the French?

Comments welcome, because I’m still speechless!

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4 Responses to No Irish need apply

  1. The dislike of the Irish is historical and well documented in oral history, especially by post WW2 Ceribbean people, who remember similar signs outside boarding houses in London (i.e. No dogs, blacks or Irish). Perhaps this created a bond between the two groups (my mother is part Irish and my father, Caribbean).

    • sarthure says:

      Thanks for your comment Tessa. Interesting thought about the bond between the two groups – that would be good to investigate more.

  2. Mike says:

    Still happening, not just here in Adelaide but around the nation an article in the Adelaide Advertiser in 2012 titled “Australian embassy condemns ‘no Irish’ ad on website” relates to an ad in Gumtree Perth WA, and reads, in part; The ad posted on website Gumtree stated: “Bricklayer needed ASAP. $250 a day, no part-time workers and NO IRISH”

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