Julie Matheson

CFP Business Specialist | Local Government Expert | Community Advocate

Subiaco Irish Famine Memorial

A new memorial in memory of the Irish women who came to Western Australia has been jointly commissioned by Subiaco Council and the Western Australian Irish Famine Commemoration Committee Inc chaired by Fred Rea.

Not long after Western Australia was settled by Europeans in 1829, shiploads of young Irish women left destitute by the Great Irish Famine were transported to the colonies where men outnumbered women by 10 to 1 in the outback (ref. Tintean 2014).

The Great Irish Famine known in Ireland as An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger) occurred between 1845 and 1848 as a result of the potato blight disease which devastated crops that up to a third of the Irish population depended upon as a staple food.  The potato crop failure left one million dead and two million emigrating to England, Scotland, the United States, Canada and Australia over the following two decades.

During the Great Famine over 4,000 young orphan girls were carefully selected and transported as free migrants on what became known as the Famine Bride Ships.  These girls and women became mothers and matriarchs to generations of Western Australian families.

Subiaco is a natural location for the memorial.  It is the spiritual home of the Irish Community with St Joseph’s church, a place to celebrate St Patrick’s Day at Subiaco Oval in past decades from 1910 to 1950s, and home to the Irish Club of Western Australia.  Many streets of Subiaco are named after Irish settlers and missionaries – McCabe Lane, Cashel Lane, Catherine Street, Charles Street, Clare Lane, Dublin Close, Edenderry Terrace, Hackett Drive, Robinson Street, Bridget Road, Tipperary Mews, Townshend Road, Peel Street, and Wexford Street.

The memorial will put Subiaco on par with Melbourne and Sydney and be part of a global network of Famine Memorial sites including New York, Boston, Toronto and around Ireland.

Great Irish Famine memorial

Designer and Sculptor:  Smith Sculptors, Aisling Studios,  www.smithsculptors.com

3 comments on “Subiaco Irish Famine Memorial

  1. bigjulie
    June 6, 2017

    Wonderful concept, fabulous sculpture…. how the Smith artworks have enriched our lives! Well done.

  2. Reg Kelly
    June 7, 2017


    Some years ago I visited the Irish Women’s Famine Memorial in Sydney. I must say I was disappointed, it is a glass wall with names of the victims on it. I think the proposed Subiaco Memorial is a far better way to go. Political correctness would appear to have buried the horrific manner in which hundreds of the young women died. I asked a women Doctor friend for details, she gave me an explicit description of death by Gangrene which still haunts me, I won’t burden you with it.

    Is the Memorial fully funded or will you be calling for donations?



    • Julie Matheson
      June 7, 2017

      The memorial is partly funded by Subiaco Council of $25,000. The balance will come from the Committee and donations.

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