The Neva sailed from Cork on 8 January 1835, destined for the prisons of Botany Bay. There were 240 people on board, most of them either female convicts or the wives of already deported convicts, and their children. On 13 May 1835 the ship hit a reef just north of Kings Island in Australia and sank with the loss of 224 lives - one of the worst shipwrecks in maritime history.
The authors have comprehensively researched sources in Ireland, Australia and the UK to reconstruct in fascinating detail the stories of these women. Most perished beneath the ocean waves, but for others the journey from their poverty stricken and criminal pasts continued towards hope of freedom and prosperity on the far side of the world.
At a time when Australia is once again becoming a new home for a generation of migrating Irish, it is appropriate that the formative historical links between the two countries be remembered.