McCarthy, Cal & Todd, Kevin  

The Wreck of the Neva


The women whose stories are told here vanished from Irish and Australian history almost two centuries ago. This book reclaims their long-forgotten history.

ISBN: 9781856359818 Categories: , ,


The Neva sailed from Cork on 8 January 1835, destined for the prisons of Botany Bay. There were 240 people on board, most of them either female convicts or the wives of already deported convicts, and their children. On 13 May 1835 the ship hit a reef just north of King's Island in Australia and sank with the loss of 224 lives - one of the worst shipwrecks in maritime history.

The authors have comprehensively researched sources in Ireland, Australia and the UK to reconstruct in fascinating detail the stories of these women. Most perished beneath the ocean waves, but for others the journey from their poverty stricken and criminal pasts continued towards hope of freedom and prosperity on the far side of the world.

At a time when Australia is once again becoming a new home for a generation of migrating Irish, it is appropriate that the formative historical links between the two countries be remembered.




Listen below to the author Cal McCarthy talking on Dublin City FM's Looking Back programme.



ISBN 9781856359818

About The Author

Cal McCarthy is the author of ‘Cumann na mBan and the Irish Revolution’ (2007) and ‘Green, Blue and Grey: The Irish in the American Civil War’ (2009). He lives in Carrigadrohid, Co. Cork. In 2005 he received his MPhil for a thesis entitled: ‘The 1918 General Election – The swing to Sinn Féin’.Cal currently works for the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaelteacht.

Kevin Todd is an Irish artist/designer and a Senior Lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Originally from Cork city, he moved to Australia in 1981. Kevin has exhibited internationally and has completed large-scale public art projects. He has also undertaken residencies in Australia, Malaysia, Ireland and England, and was a visiting scholar at New York University in 2008.


'Some of the individual stories of the Neva disaster would not look out of place in a Hollywood movie'

- Evening Echo

'The authors have comprehensively researched sources in both Ireland and Australia to reconstruct in fascinating detail the stories of these women'

- Ireland's Own


'This book shows all the hallmarks of meticulous research. It is one of the most interesting and informative publications I have read for many years and my wish is that as many people as possible have the opportunity and good fortune to enjoy it as much as I did. It has many echoes for us today'

- Irish Catholic

'This is a meticulously-researched account which should strike a chord with readers, especially in the current climate'

- Sunday Business Post


'The Neva met the most tragic end of all the convict ships that left Ireland. Here (in Ireland) her name and fate is is that of her passengers. But now, for the first time, their stories are painstakingly detailed'

- Irish Independent

'As well as being a fascinating and compelling narrative, the book on the tragedy is meticulously researched and provides an overview of life for the passengers and crew of the Irish convict ships of the early 19th century'

- Evening Echo