18th Annual Gathering at the Great Irish Famine Monument

On 27 August 2017 I had the honour of giving an address at the 18th Annual Gathering at the Great Irish Famine Monument at Sydney’s Hyde Park Barracks. The monument commemorates the more than 4000 girls and young women who between 1848 and 1850 were recruited from workhouses run by the local Poor Law Unions in famine-ravaged Ireland and sent to Australia under a scheme attributed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies Earl Grey. The monument was inaugurated by President Mary McAleese in 1998 and unveiled the following year. Since then descendants of the Irish famine orphans have gathered each year to remember the famine and to commemorate their ancestors brought to Australia under the Earl Grey scheme. For years I have been coming to the annual gathering as a spectator and a supporter, not realising that I too am a descendant of an Irish famine orphan. It was only late last year that I discovered that my great-great grandmother Rosanna Flemming had been recruited from the Athy workhouse in County Kildare in 1849 and brought to Australia on the Lady Peel. In my address to the 18th Annual Gathering I speak of Rosanna’s story in the context of the Earl Grey scheme and the struggle she had in adjusting to life in Australia. Click here for a copy of my address.

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