The Famine Rock at Williamstown was dedicated by the Irish Ambassador, Richard O’Brien who unveiled the Rock on 6 December 1998. Tribute has been paid to these ancestral great grandmothers in a ‘sacred ceremony’ at Williamstown’s Standing Stone for over a decade, in solidarity with all those in the world who still hunger and in a spirit of sorrow and reconciliation for the displacement of the First People. This fellow feeling for others is as relevant today as it always has been.
Of twenty Earl Grey Scheme ships sending over 4000 girls to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, six ships sailed into Hobsons Bay from 1848 to 1850 – Lady Kennaway, Pemberton, New Liverpool, Diadem, Derwent and Eliza Caroline – carrying more than 1700 Irish Famine Orphan Girls.
This year, Dr Perry McIntyre is our honoured guest speaker. She is well known from her books and lectures and as the President of the Irish Famine Sydney Memorial Site. Dr McIntyre is a highly respected authority on Irish genealogy in the Australian context, and is able to cast much light on the larger contexts of colonial migration to Australia. The Irish Famine Sydney Memorial Site includes information on the Earl Grey Scheme for Orphans, based on the seminal reference work, Barefoot and Pregnant?: Irish Famine Orphans in Australia by Trevor McClaughlin,
Dr McIntyre will be accompanied by her co-author and the historian, Dr Liz Rushen. Dr Val Noone will be the Master of Ceremonies. There will be various publications for sale, including copies of Tinteán, Melbourne & the Irish Famine, by Dr Val Noone, Free Passage, by Dr. Liz Rushen and Dr Perry McIntyre, and more.
There will be wonderful musical and historical performances, including songs from Cora Browne and Vince Brophys’ From Famine to Feast, a musical performance about the story of the Orphan Girls journey to Australia in the 19th century. Chairs will be provided and a coffee van with all the usual favourites, plus iced coffee and chocolate and fruit smoothies will also be on site . We are asking participants to bring a plate to share for afternoon tea.
Irish Famine Orphan Girls’ descendants are especially welcome. Attendees may like to lay a floral tribute at the Rock.
Come and share your stories and marvel at the courage and adventures of the women pioneers. Some of them were only little girls, who leaving all behind forged a new life for themselves and subsequently their families here in Australia.
Everyone is most welcome.