Thousands of young Irish women were sent from overcrowded workhouses in Ireland to Australia under the “Earl Grey Scheme” which lasted from 1848 to 1850. It was initially proposed to aid both men and women from the workhouses to emigrate. In reality, the scheme had a tendency to favour young women (aged fourteen years and above) rather than young men. The scheme included girls from Leitrim. There is evidence of 60 girls from Carrick-on-Shannon and 45 from Mohill.
The maneuver was named after the son of the famous tea merchant who as secretary of state for the new British colonies designed the scheme to correct the gender imbalance caused by the transportation of convicts.
List of names is available from St George’s Heritage and Visitor Centre