Convict gem for Freo

TRANSPORTED to the Swan River Colony in 1868, Irish Fenians John Boyle O’Reilly and John Flood published seven editions of a newspaper, The Wild Goose, during the long voyage.

After months of negotiations with the NSW state library the original editions will go on free public display at Fremantle Prison during the inaugural Fenians Fremantle and Freedom Festival in January next year.

The festival marks the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the last convict ship to Australia, the Hougoumont.

• The original copies of The Wild Goose.

“Only those who have stood within the bars, and heard the din of devils and the appalling sounds of despair blended in a diapason that made every hatch mouth a vent of hell, can imagine the horrors of the hold of a convict ship,” O’Reilly later wrote in his novel Moondyne.

O’Reilly was one of 62 Fenians on board. With as may twists as a Hollywood blockbuster, O’Reilly escaped to America, where he became editor of the Boston Pilot and crowdfunded the rescue if six Fenians still locked up at Freo.

The 10-day festival has something for everyone, with kites at Bathers Beach and a festival hub outside Kidogo Art House. It runs Friday January 5 to Sunday January 14.


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