In October last year, the President of Ireland, His Excellency Michael D Higgins visited Subiaco to unveil a memorial artwork which honours the suffering of the Irish people during the Great Famine.
As a follow up, the WA Irish Famine Commemoration Committee has donated a replica Famine Travel Box to the City of Subiaco. The box tells the story of an Irish girl who came to Australia because of the Irish Famine of 1845 to 1848.
The Irish Famine was a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland as a result of a potato blight disease which devastated crops. As a direct consequence of the famine, the Irish population fell by approximately 25 per cent, with the death of up to one million people, and emigration of another two million.
During the famine, women and young girls, some as young as ten or eleven, were encouraged to emigrate to Australia to seek new opportunities. The girls were provided with items of clothing to assist them succeed in their new country. The travel box contained all of their worldly possessions, and would ensure they arrived at their destinations in good order, and with enough clothing to start anew.
The replica box was created especially for Subiaco by prisoners from Arbour Hill Prison in Dublin, Ireland. The city hosted a civic event on Friday 10 August where the box was presented to Mayor Taylor from the Governor of Arbour Hill Prison.
The replica Irish Famine Travel Box is now on display at Subiaco Library.