From North to South: Online
The first fleet of convict ships that began the British colonisation of Australia reached Sydney Harbour in New South Wales in January, 1788. It is very probable that there were people of Irish birth among either the convicts or the militia, but the first convicts sent directly from Ireland, 133 men and 22 women, arrived on the 'Queen' on 26 September, 1791. Thus began an association between Ireland and Australia that lasts to this day.
This online exhibition concentrates on those from the North of Ireland (and their descendants) who have contributed to the making of the Commonwealth of Australia. It covers the period 1788 to 1901 and, while an attempt has been made to include the major people and events, the exhibition is not meant to be a definitive history of Australia. Rather, it is to meant to give an indication of the vast range of records held in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) and available for research by members of the public.
Images displayed on the site are taken, in the main, from sources held in PRONI. These include sketches of the gold mines, photographs of magnificent buildings and emigrant letters, most with transcripts, giving fascinating, and in some cases extremely poignant, first hand accounts of the emigrant experience. The common theme is the involvement of the people of Ulster with Australia.
PRONI has probably the largest collection of emigrant letters held in any archive centre in the world. The images displayed in this online exhibition and many more are available to members of the public who wish to research into this absorbing subject.