A film made around events to commemorate 137 orphan girls sent to Australia from Mayo during the Great Hunger of 1848-50 will be aired on iMayo TV worldwide on Sky channel 192 (formerly 455) on Thursday Jan 17 at 7pm, with repeats on Saturday 19 at 8pm, and Tuesday 22nd at 12.30pm. The Mayo Famine Girls Memorial events were held during a week-long memorial in Ballina in October 2018, when a statue donated by business man Frank Kerins, was unveiled on the main street, and a commemorative quilt produced by Ballina Costume Company and descendants of the girls, bearing all the their names was displayed in the Jackie Clarke Collection, where it remains.
The programme also features interviews and songs by singers and musicians from St. Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina, who enjoyed viral success with their haunting rendition of Brendan Graham’s ‘Orphan Girl’. Foxford Brass and Reed Band, who participated in the event also feature.
The series of events, which was designed to ensure that the Mayo girls’ memory was preserved in their native county, was organised by local historian Terry Reilly and the Mayo Forgotten Famine Girls Memorial Committee. In attendance was Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD. Also present were representatives from Arbour Hill prison; a beautiful replica of a travel box – a representation of the wooden travel box in which the orphan girls carried their possessions to Australia – hand-crafted by the men in Arbour Hill was presented on the day. The Australian Ambassador, who was regrettably unable to attend due to illness was also represented throughout the week’s events.
The Mayo Famine Girls Memorial commemorations attracted a huge attendance in the North Mayo capital, and formed part of a series of events designed to commemorate the Great Hunger in the region in recent months.
A short video, filmed by the pupils of local school Behy NS and will be uploaded to YouTube in the coming weeks, in a bid to encourage Australian descendants of the orphan girls to visit Co. Mayo in the future and learn more about their roots.