January 1, 1835 the “convict” ship “Neva” departed from Cobh harbor for Sydney, Australia. The 241 people on board included 150 female “convicts”, their 33 children, 9 “free” women (probably the wives of convicts) and their 22 children, 27 crew. During the passage three persons died, one child was born. About 5 a.m. on May 13, 1835 the Neva hit a reef northwest of King Island in Bass Strait and broke apart rapidly. Twenty two survivors drifted ashore on two rafts formed by the fore and aft decks of the wrecked ship. Seven women died of exposure the first night ashore. Fifteen, six women and nine crew, were later rescued. No children survived.
Between 1791 and 1853 approximately 26,500 Irish people were forcefully transported to New South Wales. The 25,566 bonnets crafted for this project represent lives of female “convicts”. The slide show are photographs of the exhibit, Cobh Heritage Center, County Cork, Republic of Ireland.
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