In November 1852 and July 1853, 80 young women were sent from the Mountbellew Workhouse in County Galway to go to Australia and Canada.
Fast-forward to May 2020, the Western Australia Irish Famine Committee asked the Mountbellew Heritage Group to help bring their girls home with a Memorial. There is already a memorial in Brisbane, Australia. Bringing the ‘Orphan Girls’ home will not just create a new link to Western Australia by uniquely twinning the Memorials but will also be a way to bridge the gap of 170 years and 17,000 km (10,500 Miles) between the girls’ families in Australia and distant cousins in the Mountbellew Poor Law Union area, as well as throughout the world.
It will be a poignant reminder of what Ireland lost and the suffering endured by these young women, many still in their teens, facing an incredible 5-month voyage in rough seas and stormy weather and then arriving in a settlement only 20 years old at the time, which was still trying to find its purpose. Despite all this, many thrived, and some became very successful. For others sadly it was tougher, dying within a few years, or simply vanishing. All stories need to be told and remembered however brief.