This Project is the work of Bill (RIP) & Lindel, and forms part of the Donegal Genealogy Resources Website

You may link to this page but not copy it


If you would like your email address linked to any passengers sponsored by the Donegal Relief Fund

or would like to add more detail to the lives of those people, please Contact Me

This project contains accounts of an immigration scheme concerning Donegal. The main theme is focused on the Donegal Relief Fund based in Australia, which operated between 1858 and 1862, but there are also references to various side issues such as the distress of the people at that time and evictions. Together with Bill Spillane, our simple, separate research grew into something quite unexpected - it grew into this very nearly grew into an obsession! We have obtained copies of contemporary newspaper accounts, passenger lists for the ships sponsored by the Donegal Relief Fund, and articles related to both the scheme and related topics, all of which can be accessed below.

Much of this information was obtained through Bill's hard work in Sydney, Australia........while searching for immigration information for his ancestors, he came across an article, titled "Five Shiploads: How some of our Irish pioneers came to Australia", written by Bernard Barrett. It was that article which sparked Bill's interest in the Donegal Relief Fund, and mine.

Special Dedication

Bill left us 11:10pm Monday 17 April 2017

He slipped away quietly after a short illness, surrounded by his wife of 63 years, 4 of his 6 daughters, and his son Guy - he was 89 years old

I am grateful to have known him and proud to have called him my friend

Rest in Peace dear Bill


The Donegal Relief Fund (Sydney) and The Donegal Celtic Relief Fund (Melbourne), an excellent article by Bill Spillane

Five Shiploads: How some of our Irish pioneers came to Australia - focuses  on migrants from Donegal in the 1850's and 60's.

Full Passenger and Boards Lists for the eight ships, carrying passengers sponsored by the DRF, to Sydney, NSW, Australia between 1858 & 1864.

Sydney Morning Herald articles from May 1859 in relation to the 'Sapphire', which carried the first installment of the Donegal immigrants.

The Bridge of Sorrows. Text and photographs of the bridge over which almost all of the Donegal Relief Fund passengers to Australia passed.

Subscription lists from the Maitland Mercury 1858, containing the names of the people in the Hunter Valley who made donations to the DRF.


An article by Paul McGeady on the 1861 Derryveagh Evictions. Some of these people were assisted to Australia the following year by the DRF.


An article headed 'Memories of a Donegal Tragedy' which appeared in the Catholic Press 1906.


Summary by Bill Spillane of the ships which may have carried Derryveagh evictees to Australia, together with passenger names.





Lindel Buckley

Donegal Genealogy Resources