MQ PACE student researcher Amanda Midlam briefly summarises her experience with the Irish Famine Memorial Project and describes her exciting output: a researcher guide for those writing about the lives of Irish Famine orphans.

My work with the Irish Famine Memorial

Two of my passions are women’s history and local history and I was thrilled to combine both with my research and writing of Mary Rattigan’s story. As part of my PACE unit, under the supervision of Dr Tanya Evans and via the AAPHN, I had an internship with the Irish Famine Memorial where I discovered a treasure trove of untold stories.

Over 4000 young women were brought from the nightmarish workhouses of Ireland during the Famine to provide cheap domestic labour and redress the shortage of women in Australia in the mid-nineteenth century. The Irish Famine Memorial project, especially the highly knowledgeable Dr Trevor McClaughlin, had done a great job of providing bare-bones details and my internship involved finding the flesh.

As I love local history, both settler and Aboriginal, it made sense that I write about a famine orphan who settled where I live. An added bonus was that the project connected Macquarie University and the Irish Famine Memorial with historical organisations here on the Far South Coast of New South Wales. As part of the PACE unit, I was supposed to write a reflective piece on the experience and I suggested it would be more useful if I wrote a guide – How To Research and Write the Life Stories of Irish Famine Orphans. This guide has now been published on Dr Trevor McClaughlin’s blog here

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