In 2019, Rosie McDonald and Cliona Molins were approached by the Parramatta Female Factory Friends to write a song to commemorate the bicentenary of the opening of the Parramatta Female Factory . As this was such an interesting topic with so many angles they could take, Cliona and Rosie ended up writing 4 draft songs and presented them to the members of the committee via Zoom and then in Covid safe small concert in the grounds of the Callan Park Rozelle, so they could decide which song to continue to develop. As it happened, they wanted all 4 of the songs! The feedback received enabled them to hone the songs so they had historical validity as well as creative integrity.
By “Female Factory” we don’t mean ‘factory’ in the normal sense of the word. This Greenway-designed building in the early Colony of Sydney was the blueprint for 13 similar buildings in Australia; a prison and marriage bureau; a place of hardship and loss for over 9,000 female convicts. When compared to the male population, many of these women were guilty of crimes of survival or 1st offenders.
The Bicentenary is a highly significant National event given the Factory is the earliest female convict site in Australia. The stories of the women and children go to the heart of the Australian Identity – they are stories of separation and loss and yet stories of hope, resilience and remarkable survival. These songs hope to reveal some of the many hidden and often untold stories of the female convicts from whom an estimated 1 in 7 Australians are descended. http://www.
The stories of convict women of the Female Factory Parramatta, with acknowledgement to their indigenous sisters, became the song suite ‘Mothers of the Nation‘ which was recorded late 2020 with Rosie’s son Bowen Shakallis at the New Church venue Roseville and mastered by Andy Busittil at Blue Mountains sound.
The Mothers of the Nation band aims to rebalance the narrative & feature songs of women’s strength & resilience with original and traditional songs by members of the band.
The Mothers of the Nation band are Rosie McDonald- Vocals – guitar, bodhran, Cliona Molins- Vocals Harp, Bodhran, percussion, Ann Palumbo- Vocals, double bass, mandolin, guitar, Jacqui McPhee- Vocals, fiddle, Nigel Lever- Mandolin, & guest artists