23/08/2013:Minister Deenihan meets descendants from Kerry Orphan Girls in Sydney, Australia
FRIDAY 23 August 2013: Jimmy Deenihan T.D, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will attend the International Famine Commemoration event at Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney, Australia this Sunday.
The event will take place at a monument which was designed to commemorate the arrival in Australia of over 4,000 single young women, many of whom were teenaged orphans. They arrived under a special emigration scheme designed to resettle destitute girls from the workhouses of Ireland during the Great Famine. While there the Minister will meet a number of people who were descendants of these orphan girls from Kerry.
In total, 117 girls aged between 14 and 20 years, left Kerry between 28 October 1849 and 8 April 1850 from workhouses in Dingle, Kenmare, Killarney and Listowel. They travelled to Cork or Dublin and were taken by ship to Plymouth where they boarded ships for Australia.
The girls from Dingle, Listowel and Kenmare were sent to Sydney and were mainly placed with employers in New South Wales. Some of the girls from Listowel were sent to Moreton Bay (now Brisbane) and the girls from Killarney were sent to Adelaide.
Speaking today Minister Deenihan said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet the descendants of these brave girls who left Kerry and of course other towns and villages across Ireland to escape the horror of the Great Irish Famine and to make new lives for themselves in Australia. We can only imagine how difficult the journey was for those who left Ireland at that time and we must admire their courage as they left behind their homeland, family, culture and traditions to seek a new future in Australia. However, these girls so far from home survived against the odds and integrated into Australian society. Many prospered and went on to have families of their own. They took their place amongst the communities in the areas they moved to, playing their part and contributing to the vibrant society that makes up Australia today”
The event is part of a week long programme of events commemorating the famine in Sydney including the launch in Australia of the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine and a seminar on the famine attended by leading historians.