Mayo’s Forgotten Famine Girls

A series of famine commemoration events took place in Ballina between 16-19th October, 2018. On Friday 19th, a bronze statue of a young woman on a granite plinth was unveiled on the street outside the library in the town, donated by local businessman Frank Kerins. This statue commemorates the 138 girls who were sent from Mayo to Australia from workhouses in Ballina, Ballinrobe, Castlebar and Westport between 1848-1850 under the Earl Grey Scheme. Their stories are told in Terry Reilly’s ‘Mayo’s Forgotten Famine Girls’. For details see

The pathos of the occasion was echoed in the poignant rendition of Brendan Graham’s song Orphan Girl by St. Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina. The soft rain that fell, a reminder of the tears of separation and heartache experienced during that sad period of Irish history. The poignant music played by the Foxford Brass Band added to the solemnity of the occasion. It was indeed a privilege to be present.

Headford Lace Project is taking part in a project called ‘Irish Roses, Bride Ship Lasses’. Tasmanian artist Christina Henri is remembering all of the women who were given assisted migration from Ireland to Australia. This will be achieved by honouring each woman with a bonnet, on which will be embroidered her name and the ship she was transported on. The Headford Lace Project will undertake to specifically honour needlewomen and lacemakers among this group.

mayo girls01