Australian traces 'Famine Orphan' back to Co. Fermanagh

People fled Ireland because of famine in the mid 19th Century and many went to Britain

The great-grandson of a woman who was shipped off to Australia during the Irish famine has finally traced her back to Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.

Catherine Reilly's great-grandson, Kenneth Cooke, from Melbourne, traveled to Enniskillen last week to investigate his heritage.

Reilly was known as as one of the "Famine Orphans" who were sent to Australia from various workhouses throughout Ireland through a scheme called the "Earl Grey Scheme."

Although she may have been lumped into the "Famine Orphan" category, Cooke's research has lead him to believe that his great grandmother's parents were still alive when she was placed in a workhouse.

With the help of a local expert in ancestry, Frankie Roofe, Crooke found out more.

“I feel people here are willing me to find out more about her,” he said, “Everyone has been so helpful to me.”

“It would have been such a great upheaval for them all, of course, but they had no choice.

"It was said that those who died on board the famine ships died of broken hearts.

"When they said goodbye that was it, it was goodbye forever.

"I can fly back to Australia in about 24 hours but for them the journey took 133 days -- three and a half months.

"So most of them would never have come back again, they wouldn’t have wanted to go through that journey again,” said Crooke.

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