Phillip Island & District Historical Society

Children recreate story of Winifred Pickersgill

Last updated on 03-Nov-19

The 10 year old children from Behy (Ballina, Co Mayo) National School were inspired by a book about the many orphan girls who had to leave Ireland during the Potato Famine and were brought in groups to Australia. The one they decided to focus on was Winifred Pickersgill. She and her husband Samuel settled on Churchill Island, off the north east tip of Phillip Island, in the 1860s when few people were living in the area. Winifred was illiterate but very resourceful. Unfortunately Samuel was a gambler and lost all the money she had saved to buy Churchill Island in a card game. The children decided to make a short film about Winifred's life. Their principal ran a lunch-time film club to teach them the skills to make the film. They all worked on the script together and had expert camera people do the drone and regular footage. The result is excellent and most impressive. You can watch it on YouTube. Just do a search for "Orphan Girl Behy National School". Unfortunately we do not have any image of Winifred as she was very superstitious and believed that having her image taken would steal her soul.