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A Letter Home to Ireland

Isabella Wyly was one Irish migrant to Australia during the goldrushes. She was one of a group of 44 single women, classified in shipping records as ‘domestic servants’ who came to Australia from Ireland in 1851 aboard the Navarino after being selected by the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners.

Wyly arrived in Adelaide at the age of 18, an orphan. The letters she wrote home to her family are, as David Fitzpatrick observes, ‘redolent of reduced gentility’. In one letter, she discusses the experiences of her Uncle Alexander and his family, who also travelled from Ireland to Australia, and decided to try their luck at the goldfields of Victoria. This letter was written by Isabella Wyly from Adelaide on 2 July 1856

2 July 1856
Published Source
Fitzpatrick, David, Oceans of consolation: personal accounts of Irish migration to Australia, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 1994. Details


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I soppose you have herd of the Gold fields. It drove many from the comfortable homes some for the better as others for the worse. Uncle Alaxander went but did not suckseed in getting a fortion as many thought the would. He got very bad helth and would not stop to give it a very fair trial, for it was a missrable Place to be sure. A great many came from Ireland on heering the news of the Gold fields, but nowon we new but Mr O Gorman arrived in Melburne. We have not seen him yet. I should think Ireland was nearly cleared of the Poor People, for these has been so many Emigrants Ships arrived here with Miserable Irash. I expect it is very much improved for the better. Oh I should like to see, dear old Ireland once more be before I die. I hope I shall.