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New DRI Collection: Rose from the Heart

The Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) is pleased to announce that a new collection – Roses from the Heart – has been published in the Repository through South East Technological University.

Roses from the Heart is an international project, remembering the 25,566 women sentenced to transportation as convicts from Ireland and the United Kingdom to Australia and Tasmania (formerly Van Diemen’s Land) between 1788-1853. The project involves the making of a bonnet, similar to those worn at the time, to commemorate the life and contribution each of the transported women made towards these nations.

Artist and project lead Dr. Christina Henri chose a 1860s style servant’s cloth bonnet as the focal piece to symbolize and remember each of the women who were transported to Australia and Tasmania. Many of these life stories and experiences remain largely forgotten to this day. Indeed, it is important to note that when given opportunities in Tasmania or Australia, these transported women often flourished and contributed to the growth of the emerging nations.

Already 15,000 bonnets have been made and contributed from all parts of the world – with many of these pieces being made by descendants of the original transportees. Of this stunning project and memorial, Dr. Henri said:

“’Roses from the Heart’ has impacted on thousands of people, influencing them to travel and reconnect with family on the other side of the world.

Families living in Great Britain and Ireland are visiting Australia to travel in the footsteps of their convict ancestors. Australians are traveling back home to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to see the land from whence their ancestors came.

In some cases families are meeting for the first time as people learn about relatives across the sea whose existence had previously been unknown.”

Between 1788 and 1853, approximately 300 women from the Waterford area were transported – with many women forced to travel simply because they were poor. To commemorate these women transported to Australia and Tasmania, members of the Waterford Women’s Centre made a series of bonnets that memorialized the names and stories of those who were transported at that time.

In addition to engaging with history and remembering Waterford women, Roses from the Heart also enabled project participants to gain the skills necessary to make a bonnet.

The full collection of bonnets made by the Waterford Women’s Centre have been ingested into the Repository and are available on open-access for all to view. Each set of images includes a short description of the woman being commemorated, as well as the year and location to which she was transported.

Roses of the Heart weaves together Waterford women past and present, who, through the medium of craftwork, have created an intimate and transformative commemoration of women’s history. These beautiful bonnets have now been digitised and ingested in the Repository to ensure long-term digital preservation, meaning that future generations will be able to engage with not only the history of those who were transported, but of the women who in the twenty-first century, wanted to remember and honour them.

“We are thrilled to have ingested the Roses of the Heart collection into the Repository, ensuring these materials will be preserved safely, for the long-term, and viewable to all. As a Waterford native, I am particularly proud that the hidden histories of women who were transported have found a home with DRI. It is vitally important that we remember all facets of women’s experiences across the island and in the diaspora to gain a full understanding of our own histories.”

DRI Director Dr Lisa Griffith

The full collection of Roses from the Heart can now be viewed and downloaded in the DRI Repository. Visit the project website to find out more. You can keep up to date with all of the DRI’s new collections by signing up to our newsletter.

Image caption:  Hearne, Betty. (2024) Mary Moore (1838), Digital Repository of Ireland [Distributor], South East Technological University [Depositing Institution], Mary Moore (1838) | Digital Repository of Ireland