This is an unusual blog.  Together with an  Australian PhD candidate, Margaret Coffey, I am trying to identify all or some of the Killarney families who were FREE emigrants to Van Diemens Land [Tasmania] in 1837.   These families were not transported there; a number of the men were tradesmen and they obviously left Kerry in the hope of a better life.  Sadly it did not turn out that way for them.   We are hoping that our readers might know of or be related to any of the families below. 

Kerry Evening Post 30 May 1838

While they are noted on the ship’s manifest as from ‘Killarney’, we know from our research to date that a number of them may be from outlying parishes – Kilcummin, Glenflesk, Aghadoe etc.   One couple may have come from as far afield as Killorglin. Our research is a work in progress, we are also trying to find out who promoted this emigration scheme.  We know that it was Government-sponsored and that the majority of the passengers were from County Cork.  The Killarney passengers were the only ones from Kerry.

The families sailed on the ship Bussorah Merchant.   The ship left Cork 27 August 1837 with 235 free migrants and arrived at Hobart 11 December 1837. Sixty-two people  – died on the voyage, most of measles and smallpox.  The ship was quarantined until January 1838. The Maritime Museum of Tasmania cites Bussorah Merchant’s voyage from Ireland to Hobart in 1837 as an example of the general condition of emigrant ships – including cramped conditions, the poor general health of migrants, and ignorance of good hygiene.

Two of the Killarney wives – Julia Moynihan (18) and Deborah Leahy (25) died, as well as five of the children – Hanora & Mary Reardon, Daniel Leahy, Michael Leahy and Mary Horgan.      

Bussorah Merchant dept Cobh 24 Aug 1837