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Information from Who's Who 2003


  • MA (NZ), PhD (ANU), FAHA; Emeritus Scientia Professor of History, School of History, University of New South Wales, since 1990

Son of P V O'Farrell born Sept. 17th, 1933, Greymouth, New Zealand, settled in Australia 1956
Married December 29th 1956 to Deirdre, daughter of P M MacShane. 3 sons & 2 daughters
Recreation - reading thrillers, odd jobs ...

Education - Marist Bros High School, University of Canterbury (New Zealand), Australian National University


  • Professor of History UNSW 1972-99
  • Director of the Community History Program 1986-92
  • Visiting Professor at University College and Trinity College (Dublin) 1972-73, 1965-66
  • Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales 1959-72

2003 Recipient of the Centenary Medal, University of New South Wales Scientia Professor 1998, New South Wales Premier's Literary Award 1987

2004 Recipient of The Order of Australia, General Division To the Late Emeritus Scientia Professor Patrick James O'Farrell, For service to education as an academic, researcher and administrator, particularly in the field of Irish history and its contribution to Australian society and culture.


  • Harry Holland: Militant Socialist 1964
  • The Catholic Church in Australia: A Short History 1788-1967 (1968)
  • Documents in Australian Catholic History 1788-1968 (1969)
  • Ireland's English Question: Anglo-Irish Relations 1534-1970 (1971)
  • England and Ireland since 1800 (1975)
  • The Catholic Church and Community in Australia: A History 1977
  • Letters from Irish Australia 1825-1929 (1984)
  • The Catholic Church and Community: An Australian History 1985, (3rd ed, w, Afterword), 1992
  • The Irish in Australia 1986 (rev. 3rd ed.) 2001
  • Vanished Kingdoms: Irish in Australia and New Zealand 1990
  • Through Irish Eyes: Australian and New Zealand Images of the Irish 1788-1948 (1994)
  • UNSW: a Portrait 1999

Information from Curriculum Vitae


Greymouth, New Zealand, 17th September, 1933


  • Marist Brothers High School, Greymouth.
  • University of Canterbury, Christchurch N.Z.
  • BA 1954
  • MA 1956 (Honours in History).
  • Thesis: The Workers in Grey District Politics, 1865-1913.
  • Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
  • PhD 1961
  • Thesis: H.E. Holland and the Labour Movement in Australia and New Zealand.

Academic Career:

  • Since 1972, Professor of History, University of New South Wales.
  • 1956-9: Research Scholar, Australian National University.
  • 1959 Lecturer in History, University of New South Wales.
  • 1964: Senior Lecturer in History, University of New South Wales.
  • 1969: Associate Professor, University of New South Wales.
  • 1972: Professor of History (Personal Chair) University of New South Wales.
  • 1972-3: Visiting Professor of History, University College, and Visiting Professor of History, Trinity College, Dublin.
  • 1976: Elected Fellow of Australian Academy of the Humanities.
  • 1982: Seconded for six months to Royal Australian Navy, HMAS Creswell, Jervis Bay, subsequently UNSW/Navy representative on visits to Faculty of Military Studies, Duntroon.
  • 1985: Visits to Ireland and American Irish cities (San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston, meeting American-Irish historians) under auspices of Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.
  • 1986: Founding Director of Local History Project, University of New South Wales, the Director of Community History Project Unit until 1994, entailing visits and organising conferences in numerous NSW country areas.
  • 1989: Visiting Scholar, Humanities Research Centre, ANU.
  • 1991: ARC Grant for Research Assistance: "The Irish Immigrant Mind".
  • 1992: September. Guest of British Foreign Office, Northern Ireland Government (Stormont) Personal Tour of Belfast, meetings with officials, politicians, and community leaders.
  • 1993: Visiting Professof of History, First Session, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • 1994: Appointed by Vice-Chancellor as sole author of the official history of UNSW 1949-1999.
  • 1996: Visit to Launch in Belfast, Northern Ireland, of my Through Irish Eyes under auspices of Ulster-New Zealand Historical Trust. Historical Tour of Belfast and environs organised by Ulster Genealogical Foundation.

Television Experience

With Deirdre O'Farrell, several documentary television treatments, most notable being Echo of A Distant Drum. The Irish In Australia (Australian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio Telefis Eirean, 1988), three one hour programs for Orana Films Sydney, available on video.

Radio Experience

Frequent commentator, Australian, Irish and Northern Irish radio; presenter, radio features e.g. The Hunger Strikers (ABC, 1981), three one hour programs, pioneering ABC treatment of Irish subjects.

Personal Chair

Appointed to personal chair in History UNSW in 1972, when aged 38, after consultation by the University of all History professors then in Australia.

Academy of the Humanities

Elected in 1976. Active membership particularly in 1988 in the Academy's contribution to the Australian Bicentenary 'Terra Australia's Project. Contribution included devising and organising the project, and contributing a major paper to its proceedings published (ed J Hardy) in 1988. I gave another major paper on Famine and Peasant Unrest, to the Academy's 1981 Conference.

Learned Societies

I have been an organiser/participant in a wide variety of learned projects including The New History of Ireland (from 1972) Conference of Irish historians, the Irish World Wide project, Irish-Australian Conferences, Australian Cultural History, Religious History Conferences, as well as a range of Irish-American historical organisations and the usual Australian historical societies.

Archives and Library Activities

Since 1963 I have initiated major organisation and acquisitions in relation to three main areas. First, St Mary's Cathedral Archives, its basic initial organising in Sydney, plus important microfilm arrangement which I made personally in Dublin and Rome to copy Australian materials. The co-operation since 1965, with the UNSW library, to build up a collection of books in modern Irish history so that it has become, with about 4,000 titles, probably the largest library of books on Ireland in Australia. Work in conjunction with the National Library of Australia in Canberra from 1968 to substantially add to their collection of Irish-Australian manuscripts and pamphlets. This has included my acting as an agent of the Library to acquire materials held by individuals and libraries, most recently, in this year, of 32 boxes of research items from my own personal collection.

Liaisons with Embassies

Since 1963 I have had strong links with the Irish Embassy in Canberra, and have received close support from all the Irish Ambassadors to Australia during that time. This has provided me with the assistance of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs Dublin, Irish Ambassadors and their staff in the major American cities, and other diplomatic dimensions. Thus, in 1996, the Irish Ambassador in London held a dinner in my honour to which he invited all the historians of Ireland in Britain. This kind of facilitation has been of enormous benefit to my work, as has been the continuing help of the Australian embassy in Dublin. Embassy support has made my research work easier, and provided entry to sources and people of major importance.

Local/Community History

Initially with John Ingleson, from 1987, as joint directors, the Local History Co-ordination Project demanded a large amount of time, energy, and professional expertise. Designed as a UNSW contribution to the 1988 Bicentenary, the project sought to bring professional expertise and standards to the wider community, especially NSW country areas. It succeeded beyond any expectation, producing a journal (still published) and several books. Patrick O'Farrell and John Ingleson (eds) Locating Australia's Past: A Practical Guide to Writing Local History was so successful in its first private edition as to go to commercial publishing in 1988. Patrick O'Farrell and Louella McCarthy (eds) Community in Australia was published in 1994. Directorship of this project entailed a major investment of judgement, diplomatic skills, and professional time: it is now a thriving University Centre in part supported by the State Government.


  • The Irish in Australia (1987) won the NSW Premier's Literary Award for non-fiction, and the Ernest Scott Prize of the University of Melbourne for Australasian history 1986-7, and was short listed for several other awards including the Order of Australia Prize in 1990. Vanished Kingdoms was short listed for the Australian National Book Council's non-fiction award in 1991.
  • Centenary Medal For services to Australian society and the humanities in the study of Australian-Irish relations Date Received: 01 January 2001
  • Member of the Order of Australia (AM) For service to education as an academic, researcher and administrator, particularly in the field of Irish history and its contribution to Australian society and culture. Date Received: 14 June 2004

Teaching Experience

At the University of New South Wales I have taught at all levels from first to fourth year, and have been guest lecturers at most other Australian universities. In Ireland I taught full courses in Russian and Irish history at both University College and Trinity College, Dublin. While I currently teach Historiography and Irish History, and assist in Australian history, I cannot think of a historical area in which I have not lectured at one time or another.


  • Editorial Board, Irish Studies Review, Britain, since 1992.
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Religious History since 1971.
  • Editorial Board, Australasian Catholic Record since 1976.
  • Editor St Mary's Cathedral Sydney 1821-1971, Devonshire Press. Sydney, 1971, pp.271. To commemorate 150th anniversary.
  • Editor (with John Ingleson) Locating Australia's Past. UNSW Press, 1988, PP.267.
  • Editor (with Louella McCarthy) Community in Australia. UNSW Press, Sydney, pp.127.
  • Editor, Manna. A Journal of Catholic Culture, 1960-1969, annual publication with academic contributors, approx 100 pp. per issue.

Some Public University Positions

  • Honorary Governor, Celtic Studies Foundation, University of Sydney 1987.
  • University Representative on National Cultural Heritage Committee 1990.
  • Member NSW Modern History Syllabus Committee 1963-1980.
  • Member Student Assistance Review Tribunal, Commonwealth Dept of Education, 1975-8. Honorary Life
  • Member Irish National Association Sydney 1965-2003.
  • Honorary Life Member Aisling Society Sydney, 1987-2003.
  • Honorary Life Member Ulster Genealogical and Historical Guild, 1985-2003.
  • Member NSW Catholic Education Board, 1966-69.

Who's Who

From 1974 listed in Australian Who's Who.From 1991 listed in British, European and American International Who's Who.

Research Grants

  • 1985: Irish Government Foreign Affairs Dept for research on the Irish in Australia, $15,000.
  • 1987: NSW Bicentennial Authority for research in NSW local history, $280,000.
  • 1991: Australian Research Grants Committee for research on the Irish Immigrant Mind, $220,000.
  • 1994: University of NSW for research on history of the University, $270,000.
  • Total $785,000, plus small grants.

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