Famine orphan girls shipped to Australia faced anti-Irish sentiment and abuse

Top stories from Irish Abroad this week

According to 1848 records of the Lady Kennaway, the complement of 191 Irish orphan girls were well behaved and in excellent health, enjoying the benefit of a full allowance of rations on the 85-day voyage. Although few could read and almost none could write, they were given a prayer book and testament from their poorhouses. Image: Wikicommons

According to 1848 records of the Lady Kennaway, the complement of 191 Irish orphan girls were well behaved and in excellent health, enjoying the benefit of a full allowance of rations on the 85-day voyage. Although few could read and almost none could write, they were given a prayer book and testament from their poorhouses. Image: Wikicommons

 

A look back to the past caught the attention of our readers this week. Our most popular story was about the Irish Famine Orphan girls shipped to Australia. Most of the 4,000 teenagers faced anti-Irish sentiment, discrimination and abuse, but were a resilient group and many flourished. A commemoration event is being held in Melbourne for them next week.

Pioneering broadcaster Gay Byrne, former host of RTÉ’s The Late Late Show and Radio One's The Gay Byrne Show, died at his home on Howth, Co Dublin last Monday. Readers paid tribute to the late broadcaster here.

Also in the most-read this week was an article from regular Abroad contributor Philip Lynch. He wrote about growing up on a small farm in Co Westmeath with nine siblings and there being little idyllic about rural impoverishment. “Economic despair in early 1980s Ireland left little room for any optimism,” he said. “Like so many of my generation, anywhere abroad was beckoning like some kind of enticing beacon.”

Another popular article this week was a story from wine writer Mary-Therese Blair, originally from Co Wicklow and now living in Auckland. Mary-Theresa left Ireland in 2007 in search of adventure and fell in love with wine in New Zealand: "I know the rest of the world mostly knows us for our Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, but the Chardonnay grown here is some of the best in the world," she said.  “The Kiwis are an irreverent, fun, and kind people who, much like the Irish, if they say ‘come and stay in my house when you visit NZ,’ they mean it." Over in the US, it was announced an Irish American will be the next New York police commissioner. Dermot Shea will become the fourth consecutive Irish-American to lead the NYPD. We have a what to know about the new police commissioner here.

Finally, Liz Golden, who was born and reared in Mallow, Co Cork, has written about deciding to change her life as she approached 40-years-old and now living in Palma, Majorca.

If you would like to contribute by writing your own story, answering a Working Abroad Q&A or sharing your insider’s guide to the city where you live for the Welcome To My Place column, you can contact abroad@irishtimes.com.

You’ll find plenty more stories by and about the Irish diaspora on irishtimes.com/abroad.

To receive this digest to your inbox each week, you can join the free Irish Times Abroad Network here.

Thank you for reading.

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