TYEREELORE -- A SONG FOR THE 'ISLAND WOMEN' 1-08-2022
This week, we release the fourth single from 'Banjo's Last Ride'. This is a very important song for me.
As you know, I have travelled the world finding stories to turn into songs. To date, I have released four albums with tales from Ireland to India, England to Estonia, France to Vietnam, and plenty of places in between.
But it was only a few years ago that I spent some time in my own backyard and visited Tasmania for the first time. Familiar with the island’s dark history centred upon the atrocious treatment of our First Nations people, I was staggered to come across the little-known fact that Australia had its very own slave trade, in Van Diemen’s Land, every bit as horrific as that which has occurred throughout the centuries in other parts of the world.
In the early 19th century, the islands of Bass Strait were inhabited by sealers, tough, uneducated men, mainly ex-convicts. Driven by lust and a dwindling seal population, the sealers took to raiding the northern regions of Tasmania, killing Aboriginal men and stealing the women and female children from the northern tribes. So began a slave trade in every sense of the term, as the sealers exploited and abused these women, swapping them for goods amongst themselves.
When emancipation finally occurred later that century, most of the female population of the northern tribes had been decimated. A shameful episode in Australia’s short history.
The enslaved were called ‘Tyereelore’, which means ‘island women’. These shocking events inspired me to write this song dedicated to them. All of the characters named in the song are real. This is their story.