Cobh to Celebrate ‘Straya’ Day on Friday 27th

By Seamus Whelehan

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Cobh Tourism will be pulling out all the stops to welcome the almost 2,000 passengers on board the cruiser liner Dawn Princess when it arrives in the harbour next Friday ( 27 July).

Of the 2,000 passengers on board, over 1,500 are Australians and 300 are Kiwis enjoying a 107 night World cruise.

For almost a decade the Great Island has had a fair go at celebrating all things Australian, and their links with the town 'down under'.

In a recent census 2.4 million Australians identified themselves as being of Irish extraction, though many have never made it to Ireland.

While Australia Day is officially celebrated on the 26 January, the first ever official National Day was held on 30 July 1915 to raise funds for the World War 1 effort, and remained so until 1935.

The day is much more than cold beer and throwing a shrimp on the barbie- it’s the anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet of 11 convict ships sent from Britain.

Today, the day has evolved into a celebration of Australia’s diverse society and its national history.

While Cobh’s Commemoration intentionally coincides with the arrival of the Sea Princess from Sydney, It seems appropriate that festivities are held next week, marking the centenary of the ending of World War 1.

From early morning residents of the seaside town will say Bonza Mate, as the 49 bell Carillion of St Colman’s Cathedral will ring out over the harbour.

From 11:00am there will be an eclectic mix of music and song on the promenade bandstand with a lunch time Irish dancing display.

There will be great tucker available in the farmers market with an abundance of arts and craft stalls, and much more to see and do throughout the town.

At 6pm the event will culminate with the Blessing of the Bonnets, a ceremony remembering the 25,000 convict women transported from Cobh to Australia between 1788 and 1853. Their crimes were ones that required pity more than punishment.

The Commemoration Ceremony evolved from a Memorial project created by artist, Christina Henri.
The project entitled ‘Roses From The Heart’ saw the creation of 25,566 bonnets — one for every woman sentenced to transportation.

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