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.
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.
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.
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”.
Comments welcome, because I’m still speechless!