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Diary - M.P. O'Shea, Clipper Ship 'Eastern City', Liverpool-Melbourne, 1857 Object Reg. No: HT 15834

Diary kept by male Irish Catholic immigrant M.P. O'Shea, recording his voyage from Castlecomer, Ireland to Melbourne via Dublin and Liverpool, on the Black Ball Line clipper ship 'Eastern City'. He departed Castlecomer in County Kilkenny south west of Dublin on 5 May 1857. A list of personal items under the heading 'Dublin May 6/8th suggests he stopped in Dublin and then departed for Liverpool arriving on 8 May 1857. He departed for Melbourne on the 'Eastern City' on 9 May 1857 and arrived at Sandridge Pier on 10 August 1857. The diary also records his first couple of weeks in Melbourne, and lists his fellow passengers as: Anne O'Shea (sister], James Ladden and Mrs Ladden.

The 'Eastern City' was a clipper style sailing ship of 1,368 tons register, built at Boston, U.S.A. and operated by James Bairnes & Co.'s Black Ball Line of Liverpool on the Australian immigrant route. On this voyage it was captained by D.H. Johnstone, who O'Shea records as having got married the day before the ship left Liverpool. In August the following year, the 'Eastern City' met the unfortuante and unsual fate of being destroyed by fire at sea in the South Atlantic to the west of the Cape of Good Hope. Through the heroic efforts of the captain, crew and passengers all but one person were rescued and captain Johnstone was later awarded a gold medal by the Shipwreck & Humane Society of Liverpool in recognition of his actions and calmness.

The diary tells the story of a voyage of adversity, describing illness, drunken passengers, and scarcity of provisions, as well as early struggles in the new colony. It focuses on shipboard conditions, including poor and insufficient food, drunken assaults on female passengers, seasickness and subsequent summary justice, as well as attempts by O'Shea to gain compensation after the voyage.

O'Shea lodged at Butler's Castle Inn in Collingwood, unwell and desperately seeking work, aided by a local priest, Father Hoyne. He describes his court case against the ship captain for insufficient shipboard provisions but that he only received one pound in compensation. The diary concludes with O'Shea consenting to his sister's marriage and expressing his relief at having secured employment in Geelong with the priest's assistance.
Small pocketbook with a marbled cover and a sewn binding. Approximately 60 pages, with closely written entries in pencil.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 120 mm (Height), 65 mm (Width)
Dimension Comment: Book closed

More information

Tagged with: immigration, immigrant voyages, settlement, religions roman catholic, immigrant shipping, diaries, travel, irish communities, irish immigration, journal writing
Themes this item is part of: Migration Collection, Transport Collection
Primary Classification: MIGRATION
Secondary Classification: Travel - Shipboard Life
Tertiary Classification: diaries
Inscriptions: Extensive hand written text.
Author: M. O'Shea, Australia, 1857
Place Named: Castlecomen, Ireland, 05 May 1857
Place Named: Liverpool, England, Great Britain, 08 May 1857 - 09 May 1857
Place Named: Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 10 Aug 1857
Place Named: Collingwood, Victoria, Australia, Aug 1857
References: The Argus, 4 Sept 1857, p.4, 'Shipping Intelligence',, accessed 16/06/2013.

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