Irish Famine Orphans Commemoration Day

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Famine Rock Celebration

A great deal continues to happen in the Irish Famine Orphan (IFO) and Irish history realms.  It is surprising – but true – that ‘colonials’ sometimes have more information on emigrants who left Ireland and Scotland, than that available in the ‘home’ countries of such migrants. This is especially true when people left due to the devastation and trauma of Ireland’s Great Famine decades.  It could be said that the Irish in those days had much in common with refugees today, with about the same level of past and present Governmental compassion!

Famine Rock Commemoration Day The Great Famine and Arrival of Irish Famine Orphan Girls, Burgoyne Reserve, The Strand, cnr Stevedore St, Williamstown 2.30 p.m. SUNDAY, 23rd NOVEMBER 2014

The honoured guest speaker is Roses from the Heart conceptual artist, Dr Christina Henri, Christina Henri 2014.pdf who will speak about Irish Famine Orphan stories with Expectations of Hope, Anticipation of Love?  Dr Val Noone is our MC, and we should have a special Welcome to Country. IFO INVITATION Christina Henri 2014

Every year since 1998 we pay tribute in sacred ceremony at Williamstown’s Standing Stone Famine Rock to the Great Famine and those once youthful great-grandmothers who sailed into Hobsons Bay from 1848 – 1850 on the Lady Kennaway, Pemberton, New Liverpool, Diadem, Derwent and Eliza Caroline.There is a surprising wealth of information in local and world history in the reminiscences of this event and how the struggles and displacement of these women pioneers, the refugees of their day, mirror life today.

Musicians include Cora Browne, Taisce, a traditional Irish band, and performers such as young Jake Gallagher.  Dr Liz Rushen and Dr Perry McIntyre from the Australian Irish Famine Orphan Memorial, will be manning the book stall, including their own books on Australian female migration.

Come and enjoy the afternoon with us, and see how the Irish Famine Orphan Bay Trail Marker, installed in 2013, is weathering the seasons of Williamstown’s seashore – the sunshine, the Pink Moons and the storms. There have been some wonderful books published on the Irish Famine Orphans this year.  You can read Dr Val Noone’s review of the latest, including Kay Moloney Caball’s The Kerry Girls, at Tinteán on line magazine. (Subscription is free and it is the best current affairs and heritage journal for all things Australian-Irish!)

This year, the 11th year, the International Famine Commemoration was held 6 – 9 November in New Orleans. Queries into Ireland’s reverse genealogy program, Ireland XO, are adding to the knowledge of the stories of the Diaspora.  It is an exciting initiative by the Irish Government, connecting the Irish Diaspora through family and local history.  Not only is it possible to make connections through local and genealogical historians to long-lost kin, or find exactly where your Irish ancestors hailed from, the stories can help heal the deep scars about those who disappeared. Amongst its many forums, for example, are experts and locals from all counties, ready to help you. There are leads to DNA programs, and perhaps even a local representative to meet you when you travel back to your Irish homelands, to guide you to ancestors’ very haunts and houses.

Personally and generally I have had some great help and plenty of leads regarding the IFOs. Hobsons Bay City Council continues to be an ever-present help to this community group, as does Wade Noonan’s office, which is where our printed invitations come from, ready for you to pick up at the Louis Joel Centre in Altona, Williamstown Visitors’ Information, the Australian Irish Support Resources Bureau, etc. You can look also look out for Irish Famine Orphan Commemoration Day articles in the Irish Echo & local paper Star Weekly. Hobsons Bay City Council  Your interest, involvement and company for these special heritage and living history days, and of course the ongoing exploration of ancestry is always welcome.

Please send your email addresses for addition to the mailing list to Debra Vaughan: debonairdv@iinet.net.au Should you seek any further information or wish to share your stories or developments with us, I am always glad to speak with you and help your quest.

Debra Vaughan

Debra Vaughan, Irish Famine great-great-grand-daughter, has run the Great Famine Commemoration Day for the last five years, growing the interest from its strong beginnings in 1998. Her interests are steeped in history and she is a published writer and speaker on local and genealogical topics. It is all about the personal stories, especially those of the pioneer women.

Debra Vaughan
Irish Famine Orphan Heritage
Great Famine Memorial
Williamstown (03) 9397 6619

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