Local historian, Hugh McShane will give a talk at Newry and Mourne Museum on the plight of 35 female orphan girls who left Newry Workhouse to travel to Australia during the 1800s.

‘Australia Bound - The Female Orphans of Newry Workhouse 1848-50’, will take place on Thursday 8 June in the Museum and leads on from an exhibition of the same name by Huge McShane that was displayed in Newry library throughout April.

The afternoon will be an insight into what life was like for the girls in the workhouse at the time and how conditions worsened as the famine in Ireland deepened.  They were then given the opportunity to travel to Australia under the Earl Grey Scheme, which provided them with free passage, a travel box containing the essentials for the journey and the prospect of a job on arrival in Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Michael Savage said, “This fascinating story tells how the young girls left Newry in search of a new life away from the famine that was raging in Ireland. I would encourage everyone of all ages to take some time out to hear how our ancestors became nation-builders, leaving a legacy of hard work, enduring determination, and hope for a future outside their troubled homeland.”

Over the two years of the scheme, more than four thousand girls from Irish workhouses were persuaded to make the journey, to help balance the population of New South Wales, where men outnumbered women by 8:1, and where there was a need for female domestic and farm servants.

The lecture will commence at 2.30pm and there will be an entrance fee of £2.18 per person.

If you wish to book or require more information, please email Declan.Carroll@nmandd.org.