Hugh Karunanayake: A Pioneer for Ecumenical Ceylonese Studies in the Sydney Circuit

Our First Chairman” being the lead essay in the latest CEYLANKAN published in 2020

Hugh Karunanayake was elected Chairman of our Society at the public meeting held on 28th February 1998. It was Hugh together with his friend Chris Puttock who took the original initiative to form the Society. The foundation meeting held in the evening of 30th August 1997, was at his residence and it led to the eventual formation of the Society.

Hugh has had a long and abiding interest in antiquarian matters relating to Sri Lanka. His interest also covers a wide variety of subjects from art and architecture, natural history, and antiquities, to the study of  the Portuguese,Dutch and British periods of occupation. He owns an unique and extensive library of antiquarian books on Sri Lanka including a substantial collection of maps, prints, and old postcards. For him the acquisition of knowledge or ephemera on Sri Lanka has never been from a purely acquisitive angle. He is ever ready to share his knowledge and the interests he has as a collector. As all of us know, Hugh has always been willing to give of his time, effort and knowledge, in discussing or researching any aspect of Sri Lanka. It is fitting therefore that the task of guiding our Society through its formative years, has been entrusted to him.

Hugh has a B.A. in Sociology from Peradeniya University. He worked in both the public and private sectors in Sri Lanka, lastly as the Deputy Director, Save the Children (U.S.A,) in Sri Lanka. He presently works as Manager, Community Services, Hornsby Shire Council and lives in Wahroonga and lives with his wife Tulsi, sons Harsha and Sunimal and daughter Dilukshi.

typically busy as he was we can only serve up a back view of HUGH at one of the Ceylon Society’s functions

ADDENDUM: A Note from Michael Roberts

Hugh was one of the first  if not THE first to secure an external degree in Sociology from Peradeniya University in the 1960s. I got t o know Hugh when he and Marina Fernando were in executive positions in Save the Children in Colombo and I was researching the Kirulapona shanty area in 1980.

More recently I enjoyed the hospitality of Hugh and Tulsi at thiir house in Sydney and can vouch for his amazing collection of Books on Sri Lanka  –a veritable treasure trove of Ceyloniana. It is this stock that has supported the many articles on a wide range of fields — many intriguing domains –which Hugh has produced for THE CEYLANKAN as well as other outlets in Sri Lankan and elsewhere. The list below is only a small tithe of his his productions and I suggest that the Ceylon Society should produce an annotated Bibliography of his works.







Filed under Australian culture, British colonialism, citizen journalism, communal relations, cultural transmission, education, European history, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, modernity & modernization, patriotism, politIcal discourse, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, travelogue, world events & processes

3 responses to “Hugh Karunanayake: A Pioneer for Ecumenical Ceylonese Studies in the Sydney Circuit

  1. Gary Ellis

    A wonderful Man a True Gentleman

  2. Gary Ellis

    Very ,Very,True

  3. Dickie Bird

    Simple unassuming couple. Got to know them in the 60s through Tulsi’s brother Yasa.
    Bless them with many more years……….

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