ittle is heard nowadays of Olivia Knight, who wrote under the pen-name , Thomasine.
She was born at Rathbawn, Castlebar, where a new estate called, Knights Park, is named in her honour.
Olivia's father was Simon Knight, an engineer by profession and author of a work on his native country. On his death at an early age, Olivia was obliged to support the family. She became a teacher and taught for many years at Gainstown, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
The death of her mother and doubtless, the disasters which baffled and retarded the national cause, induced her to think of emigration.
When Dr. James Quinn of Dublin became Bishop of Brisbane he prevailed on Miss Knight to go to Australia and help him found a training college for teachers.
She sailed with her brother in 1860 on the "Erin-go-Brangh", a vessel intended to be the first of a line of emigrant ships from Ireland to Queensland.
The ship made a singularly unsuccessful voyage, which seriously checked the proposed emigration. Dr. Quinn's project failed to materialise for want of sufficient funds and Miss Knight was obliged to accept an appointment from the Board of Education in their State Training College in Brisbane. Though now in secure employment, she had many trying times. Her brother's health was never robust since the disastrous voyage and he died at lpswich in 1864.
Death also claimed her young husband, Mr. Hope Connolly, a journalist who was a fellow-passenger of hers on her voyage to Queensland.
She lost, too, the gifted prelate whose kindly invitation had turned her thoughts to the new world.
Writing to a friend after these cruel verses, she said, "Wherever I go there will be work to be done in the faithful performance of which I must find my only earthly happiness, since God has denied me any more personal object for my affections."
At her own request, Olivia was transferred from famous Darling Downs. Here she continued labouring, if not for her country, at least for her race, which were largely represented in the local population.
When Sir Gavan Duffy was editing her poems in 1883, she was there still serving her first mistress, the Dark Rosaleen of the poets.
She continued to send occasional verses to The Nation, poems imbued with patriotic fervour and an exile's longing for the old land.
Miss Knight had a great admiration for Thomas Davis, which probably inspired her to adopt "Thomasine" as her pen-name. Her first contribution to The Nation over this signature appeared on September 6th, 1851.
Sir Gavan Duffy said of her: When her verses are notional they express with power and feeling the sentiments of her race on transactions which moved them deeply at the time and are of paramount interest. When they appeal to the affections and sympathies, they are sometimes very touching, sometimes playful, and always informed with good sense, which is close kin to philosophy. And nearly everything she has written, for whatever purpose or from whatever impulse, is based on a deep religious sentiment and, like all true poetry, appeals to the spiritual nature and nobler aims of man.