My husband’s Uncle Ron and Aunty Betty live on the other side of the world in Moonta, South Australia. Over the Christmas holidays we found out that his town is known as Australia’s Little Cornwall.  Did you know that over 250,000 Cornish people emigrated between 1861 and 1901 and many made Australia their new home?  Miners made up most of the numbers and they were attracted by opportunities created by the Copper Rush in South Australia’s Copper Triangle.   In 1865 nearly half of all immigrants in Uncle Ron’s town were from Cornwall!  How strange that we should now live in Cornwall, on the edge of the tin mining district of St. Agnes and some of our family live in an area that owes its importance as a copper region to Cornish mining expertise.  It’s a cliché but it really is a small world!

Being Irish, the idea of emigration is not new to me. Almost 80 million people worldwide claim to be of Irish descent and in 1890 40% of people born in Ireland were living abroad.  Emigration is part of our heritage but I never knew it was also part of Cornwall’s history.  Heartlands, in Redruth (15 minutes from The Old Cornstore) is an excellent visitor attraction at the centre of a UNESCO World Heritage site and when we visited, I was moved by the stories of the Cornish Diaspora and their impact on the countries where they settled.

There is a saying in Cornwall that ‘a mine is a hole anywhere in the world that has at least one Cornishman at the bottom of it’. Cornish people emigrated to all corners of the globe.  Cornishmen mined copper in Australia and America, gold in Brazil and South Africa and silver in Mexico.  They introduced pasties and Rugby Union to many parts of the world.  The largest Cornish festival (Kernewek Lowender) in the world is held every two years in South Australia and attracts 30,000  visitors.  And there is a city in Nevada that still holds annual Cornish Christmas and St. Piran’s Day celebrations.

In a world where a sense of community is disappearing, isn’t it comforting to know that there is an invisible thread that runs from St. Agnes to Moonta Mines and on around the world? So, wherever you go in the world look out for a Cornishman and a pasty.  Failing that you will always find an Irishman and a pint of Guinness!!

www.heartlandscornwall.com

www.cornish-mining.org.uk