It is with great excitement that I announce the once-in-a-life time chance to participate in an event to be held in Enniscorthy from 14th – 17th June this year.
And, guess what? We are invited! The Aussies are coming!
Anyone who has a Rebel convict in their family transported to Australia on the Rebel Ship “Minerva” arriving at Port Jackson 11 January 1800 and would like to join me at a story-telling /drama event in the Drawing room of the Enniscorthy Castle on the evening of Thursday 14th June is invited to proudly give an oral depiction of the life of their ancestor as an Irish Rebel and later as a convict and first settler in Australia.
At this stage the schedule for the 220 year anniversary is –
Thursday 14 June, 5.30pm Story-telling/drama event Enniscorthy Castle featuring descendants of Rebel convicts transported to Australia on the “Minerva”
Friday 15 June, Launch night.
Saturday 16 June, Re-enactment of Street Battle New Ross.
Sunday 17 June, Re-enactment of Battle of Vinegar Hill, Enniscorthy, with living history camps (in conjunction with All Ireland Farmers Market)
The story-telling event will be held in the drawing room of Enniscorthy Castle. It will feature Irish-Australian descendants of the Rebel ship Minerva convicts who were transported to Australia for their involvement in the 1798 Rebellion.
It would be wonderful if we could, as a group, dress in period costume of the 1798 era and present individual histories of our ancestor with a monologue of the events that led up to their arrest, transportation on board the Minerva to Australia and the life they led after their arrival at Port Jackson on 11 January, 1800.
I have no doubt there will be some wonderful stories to tell and would encourage as many of you as possible to participate. I believe that our stories will be an eye opener to a lot of the people present.
When I was honoured with the wonderful “Welcome Home” Ceremony at Enniscorthy Castle in 2015, even though I was still shaking from my mock “Arrest” I realised as I commenced my oration of the life of John Prendergast, Irish Rebel, that so few people present knew that a whole ship load of Rebels had survived the rebellion and been transported to Australia.
The dignitaries present believed that none of the Rebels had survived because the yeomen prevented the surviving families from claiming the bodies of their loved ones following the battle of Vinegar hill. For three months over the hot summer of 1798 thousands of bodies rotted on Vinegar Hill making them unidentifiable when the time came for families who were allowed to retrieve their loved ones and bury them with dignity.
I can understand why the Irish families did not expect that the Rebels would survive due to the barbaric torture that they had suffered.
The very first book that I read about the prisoners on board the Minerva by John Washington Price “The Minerva Journal” described the barbaric scene he witnessed when the brig “Lively”rafted up to the Minerva in Cobh and he went on board to see them. ‘Tis true they were prisoners, but should be treated as such, and if they deserved death to hang or shoot them, but not to treat them with that unprecedented barbarity which they experienced on board the Lively. I can positively assert, there are many on board this brig, whom it would have been charity to hang prior to their departure from Dublin than to destroy them in this cruel and barbarous manner; the most of them are ill on board and there are many that will never recover from the hardships they have suffered – Indeed I must say I never saw a more unhealthy looking or miserable set of human beings in my life”.
We descendants of those Irish Rebels will be eternally grateful to Dr. John Washington Price for his kind treatment of the Rebels and to Captain Joseph Skelfeld who refused to sail from Cobh until the Rebel convicts had sufficiently recovered from their injuries. Only 3 prisoners died and the other Rebels were transported to Australia where most did recover and realised that they had been given a second chance at life. Even though they never got to see their beloved country of Ireland again, they became upstanding citizens and innovative first settlers of this beautiful country of ours – Australia.