Friday, 9 May 2014

Invitation and Background to the Opening of Famine Orphan Girls' Memorial


 Invitation and Background to the Opening of Famine Orphan Girls' Memorial

Venue: Ballyshannon Workhouse

Date and Time: Sunday 18th May 2014 at 5 p.m.

On Sunday 18 May at 5 p.m. a memorial to 19 orphan girls shipped to Sydney Australia during the Great Famine will be opened in Ballyshannon. 
Everyone in the area is most welcome to attend and refreshments will be served
Book cover shows the new Famine Orphan Girls’ Memorial in Ballyshannon Co. Donegal. A limited edition book costing a nominal five euro with lots of photographs describes how they survived in Australia and how their descendants have reconnected with Ballyshannon.
The girls were from Belleek, Mulleek, Kinlough and the Ballyshannon areas.
This memorial and book has received substantial funding from Ballyshannon Town Council along with generous donations from home and abroad. The book will be available on the day or in the Novel Idea Ballyshannon and Ballyshannon and District Museum. I will also have copies which can also be posted. Postage details from


From 1848-1850 a government scheme sent 4,000 orphan girls from Irish workhouses to Australia, where they were short of females for domestic work and ultimately for marriage. This resulted in 19 girls from Ballyshannon workhouse being shipped to Australia. How the girls were selected and the journey via Plymouth to Sydney in Australia is recounted in the publication “From Ballyshannon to Australia. Memories of Famine Orphans.” How the girls felt at being separated from siblings and going “down under” is discussed. Original research over the past 30 years has resulted in many contacts with their descendants in Australia and most orphans’ stories from first landing in Sydney are revealed. Not all of them had happy endings. Nevertheless their descendants are proud of the resilience of the 19 girls who all settled in Australia and indeed one great- great grandchild of an orphan girl will be visiting the memorial in Ballyshannon in September. We hope to mark the occasion and you are all most welcome to attend. Other descendants plan to visit as circumstances permit.
This project would not have been possible but for the support of Ballyshannon Town Council and its Town Clerk Mary Daly. Their funding made the memorial possible and also the publishing of the girls’ stories. In the book acknowledgement is given to other generous sponsors in Ireland, U.S.A, Australia and elsewhere. All who assisted in any way with the construction work etc. are recorded in the book. There are lots of photographs from Ballyshannon and Australia in the book as well as rare images from inside the workhouse and of descendants of the orphan girls.

Spread the word:  Please tell people in Mulleek, Belleek, Kinlough, Glenade and Loughside and the areas in and around Ballyshannon that this event and book are happening. Who knows we may be able to create direct links for the orphans in their homeland. Ballyshannon workhouse served Bundoran and Tullaghan, out as far as Rossnowlagh, Ballintra, Cashelard, Garrison, Devenish and other areas in Fermanagh as far as Churchill. Some of the orphans roots are there.

You are most welcome to attend the event and in a sense show solidarity with these orphan girls who left Ireland through circumstances completely outside their control. They were survivors.