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A ship will arrive//feature in Süddeutsche Zeitung

"A ship will arrive"

Written by: Johanne Pfund

Article: https://www.sueddeutsche.de/reise/fremantles-erbe-ein-schiff-wird-kommen-1.4730756

Hougoumont. What a name for a boutique hotel in the historic core of the Western Australian port city of Fremantle. An old aboriginal word? A homage to a stranded French? All wrong, as manager Marco Batacchi explains. The house, whose rooms consist of shipping containers, has made an ugly chapter in Australian history its theme.

The Hougoumontwas the ship that last deported convicts from Great Britain to Australia in January 1868. On board were murderers, rapists and thieves as well as members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, so-called Fenians, who revolted against the rule of the English, but were betrayed. Some of them were to be serving decades of imprisonment in Fremantle Prison. Better said, work off, because the convicts were building roads through the bush. The risk of escape: low. Bush on one side, ocean on the other. The chance of returning: very low. Among the Fenians was John Boyle O'Reilly, who would later become famous as a journalist and poet in Boston, Massachusetts. After two years, O'Reilly managed to escape on an American whaler with the help of a priest. It was also he who, together with other Irish people who emigrated to America, organized one of the most spectacular rescue operations in history, the "Catalpa Rescue". Members of the Irish "Clan na Gael" in the USA raised money and bought the whaling shipCatalpa , hired a crew and sent other comrades to Fremantle under false names. After years of preparation, in April 1876 - with the British on their heels - they succeeded in a dramatic action to free the six remaining political prisoners from Fremantle and bring them to the USA on board the catalpa . There they were given a triumphant reception.

The former prison is now a World Heritage Site. And the Hotel Hougoumont is reminiscent of the last convict ship; but care and accommodation are certainly better than they were on the ship.