Vol. 12: Reece, Bob.

Type: Article

Reece, Bob. ‘Irish Anticipations of Botany Bay’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 12 (1997), pp 116-136..

In 1786, with the need for an alternative to trans-Atlantic transport of convicts from Britain to America, the British government announced plans for the establishment of a convict settlement in Botany Bay, New South Wales. The Dublin newspapers had anticipated the development of a settlement for quite some time, and reports in favour of shipping convicts to Botany Bay appeared in the pages of popular publications such as the Freeman’s Journal and the Hibernian Journal. This article discusses the Dublin press’s initial enthusiasm for the shipment of Irish convicts to Botany Bay. It was asserted that such settlements would not only ease the strain on the city’s gaols, but would also favour British shipping: an arrangement was proposed with the East India Company which would provide that “after unloading their convicts the ships would carry home tea from China at £10 per ton”. The article quotes many of the enthusiastic – and satirical – anticipations of the transportation of Irish felons to Australia. However, enthusiasm for the scheme had evaporated by the time the first Irish convicts finally embarked for Botany Bay at the Cove of Cork 1791, and the event went unnoticed by most newspapers.