The theme for the 2018 Livelighter Dardanup Bull & Barrel Festival is: ‘The Great Irish Escape‘  Read on to find out why this theme was chosen.

Bull & Barrel Festival 2018

A Brief History of John Boyle O'Reilly

The Festival theme is ‘The Great Irish Escape’ which commemorates 150 years since the arrival in WA in 1868 of convict John Boyle O’Reilly and then his infamous escape 12 months later from the coast near Belvidere. John Boyle O Reilly was a political prisoner sent to Fremantle from Ireland and ended up near Bunbury working on a road gang where he also worked as a messenger due to his degree of education.

It was thought that during delivering these messages he befriended some Dardanup locals, in particular James Maguire, great grandfather of local Brian Wells and great, great grandfather of Brians sons David and Robert Wells who also live locally. It was James Maguire and Father Patrick McCabe who assisted in the organising of John Boyle O’ Reillys escape on an American whaling ship which picked him up off the coast near Belvidere

Once in the United States and within a few years he became one of Boston’s most prominent political and literary figures, one of the best known Irish immigrants in the United States, and one of the most charismatic individuals of the late nineteenth century. He wrote some of the most popular poetry of the period as well as one obscure but swashbuckling novel, Moondyne (1878), based in part upon the spectacular events of his own life.

James Maguire went on to become Chairman of the Wellington Roads Board and had a life working for his community.

To learn more, click JOHN B. O’REILLY 

The Festival is celebrating The Great Irish Escape with the Perth Irish Rock Band The Healys, Irish dancing, Irish costume comp, Irish theatre based on J. B. O’Reilly and other activities.