Margaret and the others from Killadysart, as well as young women from Scarriff, Tulla and Corofin, would have travelled by horse and cart to Limerick railway station in early July 1851. The train journey ended in Dublin, from where a steamer took them across the Irish Sea to Plymouth. Here they stayed in the Government Emigration Depot on the Baltic Wharf, being joined by 30 more who had sailed directly from Cork.
The Calcutta left Plymouth on 15 July. Also aboard were 7 married couples and 8 children. All 173 were sailing on an assisted passage.
The Immigration Board Records (TAHO CB7/11) contain the words of the surgeon-superintendent, Dr. Church, who described the ship as “not suitable for emigration”. Nevertheless, the passengers remained healthy for the most part, with only three cases of acute inflammation of the eyes. Dr. Church was evidently impressed by the girls:
Their conduct has been good and it will be the fault of their employers if many of them do not make good servants. They know little or nothing but are apt and quick if instructed with kindness.
Margaret arrived in Hobart on 4 November 1851. Another ship, the Beulah, had delivered a similar consignment to Hobart on 29 August 1851. The Tasmanian Female Immigration Association, an organization based in Hobart, had been a driving force behind the venture. Young women were desperately needed to act as servants and to balance the sexes.
Early in 1852, the Honorary Secretary of the Tasmanian Female Immigration Association wrote to Tasmania’s Immigration Agent in London:
Since their entry into service I have, with very few exceptions, received the most gratifying accounts of their character and conduct…experience has now proved that very many of these girls are likely to make most valuable servants…their aptitude for and quickness at learning how to perform the services required of them is, in many instances that have come under my notice, surprising”.
The Secretary evidently did not have high expectations of the girls, because they were Irish Roman Catholics with little knowledge of domestic service.