Ex-pat John Higgins has sent this intriguing dispatch from the shores of Gulf St Vincent in South Australia of an old sailing ship, which someone believed may have been the last prison ship to leave these shores for a more famed antipodean destination - Botany Bay - at the turn of the 20th Century.
John, who now lives in the Adelaide exurb of Morphett Vale, South Australia, told the Sentinel his brother recently sent him a series of old photographs and that he’s been dying to get to the bottom of this one ever since.
He told the paper: “My name is John Higgins and at present living in Morphett Vale, South Australia. Recently, my brother sent me old photos of L/Derry. Among the paper work was a copy of what looks like an old sailing ship in the process of being de-rigged and it was in the Sentinel (not sure when) but on the back was stuck a note, which reads, ‘Sentinel HB10,’ and on the bottom right hand corner someone wrote, ‘The last prison ship to leave L/Derry heading for Botany Bay 1901.’
“After all that my query is: please, would it be possible for you to pass on its name and or any other information you have on it. PS. Have you any info on the ship ‘Osseo,’ built by Charles Biggers shipyard 1889.”
The Sentinel has nothing to go on other than the photo itself. Whilst transportation officially ended in the 1860s there may have been opportunities to make an exception of Ireland.
Yet around the time this photograph is purported to have been taken there was a lull in seditious activity in Ireland - falling between the two stools of the Fenian uprising and the Invincibles and the violent events of a century ago. If anyone has any information or any clues about the Osseo or the ship pictured (right)contact the Sentinel or John directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org