Workhouse Sydney Tom Power, Jimmy Deenihan, Perry McIntyre

Tom Power Past Chairman, Minister Deenihan, Dr. Perry McIntyre, Chair Great Irish Famine

The International Famine Commemoration,  took place in Sydney last weekend.  This 14th Anniversary Gathering at Hyde Park Barracks was specially important for its emphasis this year on the Earl Grey ‘Orphans’.  Our own Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan  was the Guest of Honour.

Workhouse Descendantsx

Descendants of Kerry Girls meeting Minister Deenihan at Hyde Park Barracks

Jimmy is also the Chair of the Famine Commemoration Committee in Ireland and takes a deep and genuine interest in the history of the period.

I have been updating him on the progress of my forthcoming book on the 117 Kerry girls who were sent to Australia during this time 1849/1850 and he kindly offered to contact the descendants of the Kerry girls, who have been in touch with me.  These girls went on the four month voyage to Sydney and Adelaide  from workhouses in Dingle, Kenmare, Killarney and Listowel.

Workhouse Sydney, Katherine, Julie, Barbara, Minister 2013

Katherine, Julie & Barbara, all Gr Gr Grandchildren of Bridget Ryan (Listowel Workhouse)

The Consulate in Sydney emailed the Kerry descendants on his behalf and the Minister invited them to a special private meeting with him prior to the general ceremony.      The photograph on the right shows some of the group on the the third floor of the same Barracks where the ‘Orphans’ were lodged in Sydney, until they secured apprenticeships.   I have finally settled on a title,  (thank you Mary Cogan!), Kerry Famine Girls, Ancestors of a Generation of Proud Australians (The story of 117 Kerry Girls sent to Australia on the Earl Grey Scheme) and only two more chapters to go

Photos courtesy of Julie Evans