Mark O'Brien of the Irish Prison Service and Michael Blanch and the Chair of the Commemoration Committee for Irish Famine Victims came up with the idea of replica of a famine times travel box and are made by prisoners in Arbour Hill. The box is one of several that have been made by Irish prisoners and which have been placed throughout Ireland, the US and Australia as reminders of the desperate plight of so many in the dark years during and after the famine.
On receiving a Travel Box, The President of Ireland Mr Michael D Higgins said, “Their workmanship was of an exceptionally high standard and what was created is a beautiful and poignant reminder of the stark choices faced by young women”. The first of the Irish women were sent to New South Wales under the Earl Grey Scheme. It was in 1853 that Western Australia received young girls from Irish workhouses because of the shortage of women in the state.
The President added, “The found themselves orphaned, dependent on the workhouse for survival and with very few options in life. These boxes remind us of those calamitous times and the desperate plight of these women and millions of others like them. I would like to commend the men who made this chest for their act of solidarity with these women, and for their understanding that the story of these women should be remembered. The chest I was presented with will go on display in here in Aras an Uachtarain”.