Chapter 4: 1879 – 1883 – The Journey to Australia

In mid 1880 – The second son of Hugh and Margery Coyle – Dennis Coyle travelled with his sister, Hanorah Connaghan, and infant nephew (also Dennis) – by cart from Ards Beg, through Falcarragh for a journey of 75-100 kms to reach the port of Derry.


Our kin and their fellow travellers, leaving the west side of Donegal needed to pass over “The Bridge of Sorrows”, taking them past the shadow of the Muckish Mountain.

The name has come down through local Irish folklore and in the Falcarragh area it is known as “The Crying Bridge”; in Irish = Droichead Chaointe (Chaon = to cry). “The Bridge of Sorrows”, is a more recent but acceptable translation for the bridge.

bridgesorrows inscription

“Friends and Relations of the person

who was emigrating would come this far.

Here they separated.

This is the Bridge of Tears”


Dennis and Hanorah, and the baby son of Hugh Connaghan sailed then to Plymouth in England. After a brief waiting period they boarded the Peterborough for their 1st open sea voyage, to their new home.

The Journey of that ship is captured in a report published in the Sydney Morning Herald – on their arrival….


[Extracts from the Sydney Morning Herald  – 28th August 1880]

“The immigrant ship Peterborough, 1680 tons, Captain Gardiner, from London June 2 and Plymouth June 10, was reported off Jervis Bay on Wednesday, and, as the wind came round to the south yesterday, she was expected to enter an appearance, but was not in sight at sunset. The tug-boat Mystery was, however, in search of her, and took her in tow off Coal Cliff.

The Peterborough entered the Heads at 11 o’clock last night, but there having been several cases of measles on board she went into quarantine, but is not likely to have a long detention. The ship has made an excellent passage, being only 77 days from Plymouth.

The passage of the Government immigrant ship Peterborough is an exceptionally speedy one, not withstanding that paltry and foul winds prevailed where good trades were expected. An unusual amount of sickness in the (mild) form of measles has existed on board..

Three deaths have taken place during the voyage, two of which were children, and the other a single girl. None of the deaths were, however, occasioned by contagious diseases. One birth took place.

The immigrants comprise 395, equal to 346 statute adults. There are 32 married couples, 111 single men, 131 single women, and 90 children under age 12 years of age. The trades of the 135 males on board consist of 95 farm labourers.

Those on board appear in the best of spirits and are apparently contented with the voyage, the ship, and those in whose care they have been entrusted. Captain Gardiner informs us that the ship sailed from Plymouth, June 10.

The passage to the equator was prolonged to July 9; passed the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope on July 27 with heavy westerly weather : made the longitude of Cape Leuwin on August 16, where the weather improved, and the ship did some exceedingly good travelling; passed Cape Otway on August 21 at 5.30 a.m.; proceeded through Bass’s Straits, and, when off Cape Howe-  the wind continued adverse up to the day of arrival. The only damage done during the bad weather was off the Leuwin, when a heavy squall, which only lasted 10 minutes, carried away the lower mizen-topsail yard, the sail being reefed at the time.”

The Peterborough made the passage from Plymouth to Sydney in approximately 11 weeks.

The conditions described above generalise broadly for the 395 persons onboard the Peterborough. Hannah Connaghan would have experienced considerable hardship with sea-sickness and caring for an infant child at the same time. She would however have the protection and nuture of a loving brother, to assist her in her discomforts.

Star of India

Bridget Curran – travelled on the Star of India

Consider then the journey to Australia by our Great-Great-Grandmother, Bridget Curran. She travelled here in 1883 in the company of Ellen McPhee. On this ship’s voyage there were a small amount of married couples and children, but more single men and single women, seeking a better life in Australia.

The facilities for women were always sub-standard but in the later 1870’s amenities such as partitioned areas and curtains for privacy, made for much greater comfort.


Sydney Morning Herald extract [SUNDAY, November 16, 1883] – “The barque Star of India arrived from Plymouth today with 359 Government immigrants. She was ordered into quarantine in consequence of there being sickness on-board.”



2 thoughts on “Chapter 4: 1879 – 1883 – The Journey to Australia

  1. Valerie Lacey says:

    Really enjoying these capsules, Jock! Thank you!!

  2. Steve says:

    Interesting read Thanks Jock

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