Mountbellew Orphan Girls Park - 'bringing them home'
Creating a new public space and Memorial for our 'Famine Orphan Girls'
Help us bring our 'Orphan Girls' back home 15,000 km and 170 years to Mountbellew - donate €5 per km to make it happen
History: In 1852 30 young girls, including Mary Flanagan, pictured, were selected to leave Mountbellew Workhouse in Co Galway and to journey to Australia, as part of an assisted emigration scheme during An Gorta Mor, the Great Hunger.
Cut off from family and the familiar surrounds of their childhood its hard to imagine what they felt like travelling across a country devastated by hunger and disease. Boarding a steamboat for Plymouth their last view of Ireland in a dark November day would possibly be of the Wicklow hills, a contrast to their familiar previous surrounds of the flat plains of east Galway. They realised that their sacrifice would lead to a totally new way of life, but at least it would be a life. Nobody could know if they would survive in the hungry fields of their own home place.
Arriving in April 28 1853 the news soon spread as their voyage was beset by storms and heavy seas and the ship had been feared lost. They soon started to get work and satisfied the Governor with their conduct and demeanour. A new life, new work and new family quickly occupied their days, but no doubt the loneliness of their separation from their childhood kin and way of life was keenly felt until the end of their days.
Today their descendants number in the thousands and through DNA we have been starting to help them reconnect with their maternal ancestral roots.
Background: In 2017 a Memorial sculpture, Uaigneas, was installed in the girls' new home of Western Australia by the WA Irish Famine Committee. In May 2020 they invited Mountebellew Heritage and Tourism Network to install a duplicate in Mountbellew as a ways to bring the spirit of the girls back home and so help reunite their descendants with long lost family here in Co Galway.
What we want to do : The money raised will be used to create a new public space the 'Orphan Girls Park' which will have as its centrepiece that wonderful sculpture 'Uaigneas' created by artists Joan and Charlie Smith. The WA Irish Famine Committee have been generous in sponsoring shipping and we need to cover material and foundry costs as well as groundwork here. The money raised will also be used to help support educational resources to tell the story of the girls and the times that they lived in.
Help !!! We are hoping to raise the money in order for the sculpture to be started by November 1st 2020. That will leave enough time for it to be installed in time for National Famine Commemoration Day in May 2021
We are asking that you help 'bring the girls home' the 15,000 km distance by sponsoring €5 per km of their journey
Final Thought: By remembering their story of resilience, courage and tenacity we are hoping that it will be an inspiration for all of us journeying into the unknown waters of a post Covid19 world