My Nana Wyllie's grandmother, Mary Ann Howe, was born in South Dublin and most of her young teenage life was spent in a workhouse there. The famine and illness meant the family was destitute. An entry in the workhouse register describes her clothes as 'ragged'. We went to see where she had lived and where the workhouse was and we could walk there because Kevin Street, Cork Street and James Street are all within cooee of the centre of the city. Mary Ann must have known those streets well, and she must have hated being in the workhouse.
In 1848 it was decided to send a number of shiploads of teenage girls to Australia because at that time there were few housemaid/farm servant girls in the colonies. (The gold rush changed things a lot a few years later.) Like Mary Ann, many of the girls selected came from workhouses and the majority were orphans. She was only 16 when she was sent to Melbourne and married John Brown, a shoemaker, several years later. John and Mary Ann lived at Geelong, Camperdown and finally Cobden.