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Blessing the bonnets on 'Australia Day'

MORE than a century and a half after the last ship bound for Australia set sail from Cobh, hundreds of residents took to the Co Cork town's quayside yesterday to celebrate 'Australia Day'.

Kate Lawlor (front) and Eva Collins, pictured by Patrick Hogan, were among the participants celebrating the town's annual 'Blessing of the Bonnets' ceremony.

They were each wearing one of 132 bonnets made to commemorate the 25,566 female convicts who were deported from Ireland and the UK to Australia between 1788 and 1853.

Other events included traditional music and dancing, a barbecue, arts and craft displays and an air and sea rescue display -- as well as welcoming a cruise liner from Sydney.

The event is not to be confused with the annual Australia Day celebrated worldwide on January 26, which is an official national holiday Down Under.

Irish Independent