Bridget WIDDUP nee O’BRIEN from Ballykelly.

The Lockhart Review and Oaklands Advertiser Wednesday 22 May 1912, page 2

The Lockhart Review and Oaklands Advertiser Wednesday 22 May 1912, page 2

Today I’m going to focus on a family member, Bridget Widdup, from Urana in southern New South Wales. I made brief mention of Bridget in my introductory post, as she was my Mary O’Brien Kunkel’s sister.

I only came to know of Bridget through oral histories from Mary’s granddaughter, Anne Kunkel, and then distant cousins in Sydney. In this I was enormously lucky, as I was with Bridget’s and Mary’s longevity and their unusual married names. I was able to buy Bridget’s death certificate many years ago and it gave their place of origin as Broadford in County Clare. It also told me that Bridget had spent a year in Queensland confirming another point in the family’s oral history. Other research pinned their townland down to Ballykelly in the hills near Broadford, which belongs to Kilseily parish.

Over the years I’d visited the State Library of New South Wales and looked in newspapers for obituaries or death notices for Bridget, always looking for more clues. None provided anything additional to the other documentary information.

The Catholic Press, 20 June 1912, page 22

The Catholic Press, 20 June 1912, page 22

How fortunate then, that Trove is here to help us and with the on-going digitisation program, more and more newspaper articles are being revealed. It was one such which told me that Bridget had spent her Queensland year in Ipswich. In retrospect that should have been obvious but….You can read the serendipitous migration discovery which arose from that here. I am confident that the advertisement ties the two women together, and that Bridget must somehow have been on the Florentia.

Much of the family’s oral migration story fits together with that discovery. Unfortunately I have been singularly unsuccessful in tying them into the official documents despite trawling the archives. I can only assume that Mary’s advertisement was successful given that she knew her sister’s married name, and they apparently remained in touch.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 12 February 1859, page 1

The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 12 February 1859, page 1

We have no idea why Bridget left Queensland heading for New South Wales. Perhaps she had indeed met her future husband on board ship as I believe he was a sailor and have found a merchant seaman whose details fit. Perhaps her Queensland employer also had property in NSW. Perhaps she just didn’t like the hotter weather in Ipswich.

Whatever the reason, Bridget married her husband John Widdup, apparently in Albury, though repeated searching has been unsuccessful. They had nine children: Amelia, Louisa, John, Michael J, Walter Ireland, Alfred England, Martha, Bridget Ellen and Catherine Agnes.

Wagga Wagga Advertiser (NSW : 1875 - 1910), Thursday 22 August 1901, page 2

Wagga Wagga Advertiser (NSW : 1875 – 1910), Thursday 22 August 1901, page 2

One question, long in my mind, is why both Mary and Bridget each named a daughter Louisa as it’s not a traditional name in their families. One thought was it might have been the name of the ship they were on, but further research eliminated that possibility too.

The Widdup family lived and worked in Urana. Bridget helped establish the Catholic church there and oral history from Irish relatives recalled that she had Mass said in her house. Husband John was heavily involved with establishing the Urana school. He was also poundkeeper and after his early death (not registered) in 1876, Bridget became poundkeeper – another Trove discovery. In 1901 Bridget was accepted for the Old Age Pension, a little surprising given her land-holdings.

Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 - 1954), Tuesday 21 March 1876, page 3

Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 – 1954), Tuesday 21 March 1876, page 3

Photograph of Bridget's grave in the Urana Cemetery. Pauleen Cass c2002.

Photograph of Bridget’s grave in the Urana Cemetery. Pauleen Cass c2002.

Over the years Bridget purchased several plots of land in the Urana area, and seems to have taught herself some basic literacy as her signature is found on her husband’s probate documents.

Bridget and John are buried in separate areas of the Urana cemetery, reflecting their religious differences.

And yes, I’m waiting (im)patiently for an upcoming Trove release from the Wagga Wagga Express which tantalisingly says “Mrs. Bridget Widdup, a colonist of 55 years, who landed in…”. Will Trove pull the cat out of the bag again, and give me another pivotal clue?

I’d also dearly love to make contact with any of Bridget O’Brien Widdup’s descendants. I’s also love to see a photo of Bridget  – I have photos to share of her two closest sisters, Mary and Nora, and lots of the family story in Ireland as well.

James CLANCY of O’Brien’s Bridge and Charters Towers

The Northern Miner  9 September 1890, page 3

The Northern Miner 9 September 1890, page 3.

Today’s emigrant from East Clare to Australia is James Clancy from O’Brien’s Bridge.

The initial “hit” on Trove was a simple death notice on 9 September 1890 published in The Northern Miner, from Charters Towers, far North Queensland:

CLANCY.—On the 30th August, at Charters Towers, James Clancy, of O’Brien’s Bridge, Co. Clare, Ireland, aged 37. [Melbourne and Sydney papers please copy.]

I wonder if the request for interstate papers to copy the notice indicates that James had relatives in either Victoria or New South Wales? Perhaps this is why it mentions his place of birth as well, enabling people to correctly identify him from others of the same name.

The Northern Miner  1 September 1890, page 3

The Northern Miner 1 September 1890, page 3

Somewhat strangely the death notice appears after the obituary in the same paper, which adds weight to my supposition that perhaps there were relations elsewhere.

The obituary makes no mention of James’s place of birth but talks of his place in the community. It’s interesting that they refer to him being a long-standing member of the Charters Towers community when he was only 37. James was the licenced publican for the Park Hotel in Mosman St, Charters Towers although only a couple of years earlier he was advertising that he was licensee of the newly-built Towers Hotel. Plainly he’d been doing quite well in the business, especially for a young man.

The Northern Miner Saturday 25 June 1887, page 1

The Northern Miner Saturday 25 June 1887, page 1.

The emigration which appears to fit for James is one in 8 October 1883, on the La Hogue ex Plymouth on 7 July 1883 to Mackay in North Queensland[i]. The only real detail is that he was 30 years old which matches his age at death, so it’s difficult to be certain this is the correct one. What makes me wonder about this, though, is the paper’s reference to him being an “old resident”.

The Park Hotel, Charters Towers of which James Clancy was licencee.

The Park Hotel, Charters Towers of which James Clancy was licencee.

By cross-referring to the burials for the Charters Towers Pioneer cemetery, using the Australian Cemeteries Index and then looking at the online BDM for Queensland, it becomes clear that James married Susan Fagan in 1883.[ii] Also according to the indexes they had three children: Ann (1884), Mary Jane (1885) and James (1887). However little Ann predeceased her father and is also buried in the Charters Towers Pioneer cemetery.

The Northern Miner  25 September 1890, page 4

The Northern Miner 25 September 1890, page 4.

It is sad to think that this young man’s hopes in Australia were dashed so soon after arrival but also tragic for his wife to be left with two little ones. It seems she remarried in 1892, to Alfred Bowry, as evidenced by the indexes for marriage and also children’s births. Her second husband also pre-deceased her.

James Clancy’s will is available through the Queensland State Archives ( Northern District 1890/34 Item ID 935767 Microfilm Z275).

Queensland may cover a large geographical area, but its population was quite small in those days so it’s quite common to find your family may have overlapped with someone else’s as with my Melvins, the Clancys and Bowrys.

Is this the same Towers Hotel? Image c1906 from John Oxley Library.

Is this the same Towers Hotel? Image c1906 from John Oxley Library.










[ii] Reference C737/1883

Bartholomew MOLONEY aka MALONEY, Truagh, Clare

As I mentioned in the previous post, I went searching for Margaret Moloney’s husband, Bartholomew, who it turned out was also from Clare.

Initially I checked the SRNSW Immigration records.  As his Christian name is unusual, there is only one person with that name in the immigration records. He arrived on the John Temperley in August 1863, a ship with at least 26 passengers from East Clare. The online shipping records indicate he came from Trugh (Truagh), County Clare in the parish of Doonass. He was 22 and a James Maloney, 21, is also listed from the same place, so perhaps his brother?

Next port of call was to check my East Clare database for the John Templerley as I knew this was a ship which had quite a number of East Clare people on it. However he appears to be an omission on my part, probably due to the confusion of the place name -something I need to remedy for the future.

I knew from researching his wife, that Bartholomew had died in 1899, and been buried at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery. Once again I searched Trove and found this obituary. I always find it intriguing how little mention the wives get in this reports.

Death of Mr. Bartholomew , Maloney. (1899, December 23). The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1942), p. 16. Retrieved March 20, 2014, from

Death of Mr. Bartholomew , Maloney. (1899, December 23). The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW : 1895 – 1942), p. 16. Retrieved March 20, 2014, from

I rather like the idea of him being a “thoroughly practical Catholic”. Given he died with “considerable means” it would be interesting to read the documents on his deceased estate at State Records NSW.

MOLONEY B Redfern 14/12/1899 14/06/1900 [19/10209] 3028

His funeral notice also confirms the name of his wife.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Friday 15 December 1899, page 12

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Friday 15 December 1899, page 12

Margaret Moloney, nee Hogan of Killokennedy

Today provides one of those opportunities to link families together, though there frustrating gaps in the information, like what is the name of the sister who lived in Ireland.

Margaret Moloney, nee Hogan, is of interest to me because she comes from Broadford, a specific research focus on mine.

Starting with this obituary what can we learn about Margaret?

  • Married to Bartholomew Moloney
  • No children
  • Sister is Mrs Patrick Bourke (christian name Catherine -more on her in coming days)
  • A sister in Ireland
  • Four sisters (in Australia or Portland?)
  • a brother in Portland, Oregon, USA
  • Parents John and Mary Hogan
  • very young when she emigrated
  • Born circa 1843
  • Bartholomew died circa 1899 or 1900
OBITUARY. (1925, October 1). Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932), p. 31. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from
OBITUARY. (1925, October 1). Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1932), p. 31. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

Margaret’s birth falls just around the time the Broadford RC parish records commence, but her name does not appear there. It’s possible that she is one of the children of John Hogan and Mary Smith of Killokennedy, but further research would be required, and perhaps a copy of the marriage certificate.

I also searched the State Records of NSW Immigration indexes and then the shipping lists. There were three possibilities across the period 1855 to 1868:

  • Margaret (19) in 1863 on the Spitfire, from Ennis (unlikely)
  • Margaret (14) in 1867 on the Sir Robert Sale, from Tulla (more possible)
  • Margaret (21) on the Montmorency arriving 29 November 1864, from Broadford.

From what we knew the latter was the likeliest so I checked my East Clare database and I have her listed. From the Board Immigrant Lists (microfilm 2482, ref 4/4986) I find that this passenger’s details were as follows:

She was a dairymaid, aged 21, could read and write and was Catholic. Her parents were John and Mary Hogan of Killokennedy, and both were alive (there are several listings for John Hogan in Killokennedy parish on the Griffiths Valuations). Margaret also stated that she had sisters in the colony, Honora and Bridget Hogan, living in Campbell St, Sydney.

Using the NSW BDM online index search I found the following marriage:


Using the same option I also found Bartholomew’s death:


I also looked at the Rookwood Catholic Cemetery search facility and found Margaret’s burial through her husband’s (note the different spelling):

Names: Bartholemew Maloney

Service Date:15 Dec 1899 Date of Death:14 Dec 1899

Age:58 Gender:M Register Number:19108 Burial Type:Burial

Location:Section Grave Mortuary 1; Area : A Grave : 555 .5  Interred in this burial site :


Given Name

Service Date





15 Dec 1899





11 Jul 1928



It’s probably not surprising that the details are verifiable from the records, as the information would have come from her sister. I have had a brief look for Margaret’s emigration but haven’t conclusively pinned her down. If she was young when she arrived, it’s likely she arrived as part of the immigration wave of the early 1860s. During this period the local parish priest of Broadford was working quite hard helping the young people to emigrate as Ireland was again in a dire situation, and with America in the throes of a Civil War, it was no longer such an appealing option.

I found it interesting that Margaret’s brother had found his way to the western coast of the USA, but also interesting to reaffirm that emigrants would choose whichever place best suited them, irrespective of whether they had family in another place -or perhaps they chose a favoured sibling to emigrate to/with.

My next step was to try to find out more about sister, Catherine Bourke nee Hogan, and also Margaret’s husband Bartholomew (thank heavens he wasn’t called Michael, Patrick or Thomas!).


Daniel MOLONEY of Shark Creek (and Broadford)

Mr Daniel Moloney’s obituary in the Freeman’s Journal of 26 March 1931 is a genealogy in itself – a veritable gold mine, especially as the Moloney surname is not uncommon in Broadford. It even provides us with the ship he arrived on, the John Temperley. I have a lot of emigration data on this ship including disposal lists and surgeons’ reports from State Records NSW but nary a word of Daniel Moloney, which means I can’t cross-check his parents right now. There are some Maloney and Maloughneys but none are Daniel. There were at least 25 identified East Clare emigrants on the John Temperley but for my own research I now need to do further exploration into the Maloneys who seem to have slipped my net.

NSW BDM show Daniel’s parents as Michael and Bridget Moloney. 


Assuming the aged stated in his obituary is roughly correct he would have been born c1844, making it borderline whether he sneaks in after the Broadford/Kilseily parish records commence in April 1844. I do not have Daniel’s name in my records but I do have the baptisms of siblings Anne and Michael to parents Michael and Bridget Moloney of Fermoyle (in Kilmore townland)- again assuming the information provided to his death certificate was correct. If this was my direct family I would be purchasing the certificate.

I also note there is an entry on the Clare Library Emigration Database for a Delia Moloney who emigrated to Philadelphia and whose father was James Moloney of Fermoyle.

Trove article128789776-3-001

Trove article128789776-3-001

I’m not totally sure what the AHC Guild is, as quoted here, but I suspect it is the Hibernians with their emerald green regalia and gold trimming like my own grandfather wore.

Shark Creek is near the town of Maclean in New South Wales, a very scenic area.

It should be noted this is an overview of this family based on the content of the obituary. There is a great deal more research which could be done especially by family members. I’d welcome contact from anyone who is related to this family, and comments from any readers.

Mary Ann Massy, later Morton, of Grafton NSW

This obituary initially caught my eye because of the links to Broadford and Doonass. Mary Ann Massy, later Morton, is reported as the eldest daughter of Henry Massy, step-brother to one of Clare’s famous land-owners, Sir Hugh Dillon Massy.

COUNTRY NEWS. (1926, February 4). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

COUNTRY NEWS. (1926, February 4). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 12. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

However as I explored further, more information came to light, emphasising the importance of seeking out multiple sources. While there are common threads between most of these obituaries, each adds something new. By the end of the reading we have a more holistic idea of her life. One unusual omission is any reference to children though they are mentioned in the final story, a tale of black-white conflict on the colonial frontier. An interesting connection is her husband’s involvement with the US Army in the Mexican War, another frontier battle.

Mary Ann Massy was 90 when she died. She had been born in Limerick and arrived in 1854 aged 18 according to the reports but the NSW state records reveal she was 19 when she arrived on the Patrician in 1854 (her occupation given as a laundress) with her relative, Mrs Lubling who was in business in Sydney (see her husband’s story here). Mary Ann stated her place of origin as County Clare.

Mary Ann moved to the Clarence in 1856 with Mrs Greaves, the surveyor’s wife, for whom she worked (Brisbane Courier 4 February 1926, page 18).  Mary Ann was married to James Morton in November 1856 by Rev AE Selwyn, later Bishop of Newcastle. The couple lived on the cattle stations of Mr Joseph Sharpe before selecting property at Ramorn(ie) in 1871 before moving to Whiteman Creek and later Grafton. The couple were early settlers in the Clarence area, and Mary Ann lived there for 70 years. James Morton was with the US Army during the Mexican War in 1847. He died two years before Mary Ann, in 1924. His obituaries are particularly interesting so I’ll be including them in a Trove Tuesday post today on my main family history blog.

OBITUARY. (1926, February 13). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939), p. 16. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

OBITUARY. (1926, February 13). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), p. 16. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

PERSONAL NEWS. (1926, February 10). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

PERSONAL NEWS. (1926, February 10). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

MRS. MARY MORTON. (1926, February 12). The Land (Sydney, NSW : 1911 - 1954), p. 18. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

MRS. MARY MORTON. (1926, February 12). The Land (Sydney, NSW : 1911 – 1954), p. 18. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

What’s noticeable is the absence of children mentioned in any of the obituaries, yet the level of detail suggests that information has been obtained from someone close to the family, and they are mentioned in the following list. This list of potential children comes from NSW BDM indexes. Their son, Henry (Frank) McK Morton, listed above appears to be the one who died in 1929 and who also has an interesting obituary. One child has been named for both Mary’s ancestors and also James’s father (William McKeown Morton):


And a child’s death, as well as the two males listed above. The gravestones can be seen on the Australian Cemeteries Index site.


As Mary Ann’s husband, James, is buried in the Grafton Cemetery it seems likely that Mary Ann is as well, and either her name is not on the gravestone or it has eroded over time. It appears these are their death entries:


Mary Ann’s early colonial life was at the interface of the frontier of black-white relationships. I’ve pondered whether to include this story however I think it’s an important part of our colonial history. A similar story was published in Lismore’s Northern Star on 1 February 1926. While the language, and even more the events, are confronting to us in the 21st century it reveals the battle between the races as the British assumed that they had occupied Terra nullius and the Aborigines were fighting for their land, and survival. Probably few of our earliest Australian ancestors were free from these actions or attitudes so perhaps it’s best for our sensitivities that obituaries rarely make mention of them.

THE BLACK RAIDERS. (1926, February 8). The Richmond River Express and Casino Kyogle Advertiser (NSW : 1904 - 1929), p. 5. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

THE BLACK RAIDERS. (1926, February 8). The Richmond River Express and Casino Kyogle Advertiser (NSW : 1904 – 1929), p. 5. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

Obituary Mrs Thomas COUGHLIN of Tulla

This obituary is interesting from a number of points of view.

Firstly it relates to a death in Ireland, and not a famous person, but rather the local blacksmith’s wife. His business may have been extensive but would not normally merit an international obituary.

Secondly it mentions her children living in Australia in some detail, namely, Mrs Matt Molloy of Casino NSW; Mrs William McCarthy of Helidon Qld; Pat Coughlin at Temora, NSW; and William Coughlin at Warwick, Qld.

Thirdly, and really of interest to me, is the dispersal of the family throughout Australia, wityh two in each state and while Warwick and Helidon people might meet up occasionally, it’s a long way between Temora and Casino. Also of interest to me is that Temora (I had to look it up) is not all that far from Urana where Bridget O’Brien Widdup from Broadford settled.

I really believe that the emigrants chose where they wanted to live and set up home. Obviously the pull of family was not necessarily enough to make them move closer. I wonder who the other five children were, and whether they remained in Ireland, or if some moved to the United States etc.

I was also intrigued/amused by dying “in the odour of sanctity”…too much incense perhaps?

The Catholic Press, 2 December 1909, page 29

The Catholic Press, 2 December 1909, page 29

Obituary Mr John HOWARD, formerly of Tulla

After a few days of Broadford records, it’s time for a change of location to nearby Tulla. I “love” how the poor wife misses out on having her name stated in these obituaries even though all the children are listed.

The Catholic Press, 5 October 1939.

The Catholic Press, 5 October 1939.

The Yongala in which he lost his son Thomas, was lost, apparently during a cyclone off the coast of Queensland in April 1911.

The Northern Miner, 31 March 1911, page 5. There is such pathos in reading of the elderly woman whose two sons and a nephew were on board.

The Northern Miner, 31 March 1911, page 5. There is such pathos in reading of the elderly woman whose two sons and a nephew were on board.

From John’s age at death based on the cemetery records below, it should be possible for any family member to find his baptism in the Tulla parish registers by ordering in the microfilm.

Baptisms and marriages, 1819-1880. Family History Library British Film 979693 Item 4

From the Fields of Mars cemetery records available here, we learn that it’s likely (but not certain) his wife’s name was Bridget.

Names: John Howard
Service Date: 28 Jul 1939
Date of Death: 27 Aug 1939
Age: 86
Gender: M
Register Number: 4511
Burial Type: Burial
Location: Section Grave C Grave : 57
Interred in this burial site :
Surname Given Name Service Date Age Location
Howard John 28 Jul 1939 86 SEC*C***57
Howard Bridget 24 Dec 1946 SEC*C***57

Obituary Patrick RYAN, Moree, New South Wales

This Patrick RYAN won’t be easy to find in the records since he arrived “about” 30 years ago. The choices are many! I found this obituary first and then went backwards looking for news of the accident, and his death in the NSW indexes. Very nearly took a mis-step with the BDMs and timeline so I’m going to leave it here, as a thought-provoking example of how not to trip oneself up.

article104999536-3-001 Patrick Ryan Moree

The Catholic Press, 11 February 1915, page 32.

Neither of these entries on the NSW BDMs looked right to me, which is what started me pondering. Moree is in far north New South Wales. Might the funeral which he attended, and the accident have been in Queensland?


I found this news story in a range of papers with essentially the same details:

Patrick RYAN accident Dec 14

Sydney Morning Herald 16 December 1914,

I then went to the Queensland BDM search and found these two entries. Of the two, I think that the first is likely to be “our” man given his December death, and the higher reference number, and the fact that there are no family details. HOWEVER

1914 C3806 Patrick Ryan - - ** born Ireland aged 72 years
1914 C3658 Patrick Ryan James Ryan Martha Siddall

Is it this one, registered in New South Wales? Pertinently it mentions Boomi which is where the news story says he’s from. So perhaps, after all, the accident happened on the NSW side of the border. I tend to think this is the one.


It’s unlikely this ambiguity will be resolved unless a family member “claims” Patrick and can tell us more. Meanwhile, after some tweaking of my search criteria, I found his funeral notice.

Moree Gwydir Examiner and General Advertiser. 18 December 1914.

Moree Gwydir Examiner and General Advertiser. 18 December 1914.

So what have we learned about Mr Ryan in the course of these stories?

1. He came to Australia c1880-1885

2. He was born in Broadford, County Clare.

3. He first settled in Inverell then later in Boomi near Moree.

4. His Boomi property was called “Claremont” (appropriate for a Clare man)

4. He married twice. To his first wife he had two surviving children, one son and one daughter (Mrs Brady). He had another son who was still young enough to be at school in Newcastle (possibly to his second wife, but not certain).

5. His second wife’s maiden name was Welsh, which suggests the following BDM entry is the correct one…but is it? Did the journalist mix up the relationships?

From Moree Gwydir Examiner and General Advertiser, 30 January 1907.

WEDDING.-— On Tuesday afternoon a marriage was solemnised at St. Henry’s by the Rev. Father Lloyd, between Mr. P. Ryan, jnr., son of Mr. P. Ryan, Claremont, and Miss Eva Mary Welsh, fourth daughter of Mr. John Welsh, of Trinkey. The bride entered the church on her father’s arm, and wore a travelling dress of navy-blue silk ailecia, trimmed with guipure and lace; the   skirt had bands at silk and folds; her hat was white, trimmed with pale blue flowers. She also wore a bamboo bangle and gold and turquoise pendent, the gifts ot the bride groom. Her sister, Miss Kate Walsh, acted as bridesmaid, and was tastefully dressed in pink and cream lace, with hat to match ; she wore a brooch, the gift of the bridegroom Mr. Goorge Welsh acted as beat man. Onlyvery near relations of the two families were present. The happy couple left for Sydney by the mail, where the honeymoon is to be spent. We understand that the presents were handsome and numerous.


The Church records for Broadford (parish Kilseily) are available on microfilm (NOT online) through Family History Centres. They need to be ordered online, and will be delivered to your nominated library within about six weeks. The microfilm is 979694 and when you look at it, you will find them in the third section of the film. They cover the following:

Baptisms, January 1844-December 1880; and marriages, February 1844-November 1880. Family History Library British Film 979694 Item 3

Introducing the O’BRIEN family from Ballykelly, Broadford

mary obrienJust to set the scene with this new blog I’d like to introduce you to my East Clare ancestor, Mary O’BRIEN from the townland of Ballykelly, parish of Kilseily, town of Broadford.

You might think that finding “Mary O’Brien from County Clare” would pose a challenge to any researcher but I struck it lucky with a circular letter I posted out, back in 1987, to any relatives I could identify. You see where I was indeed fortunate was that Mary married a Bavarian man, George Mathias KUNKEL, which made name searching so much easier. I suspect I’d have been stymied if she’d married Michael Ryan, for example.

Anyway my circular letter found its way to one of George and Mary’s surviving grandchildren, Anne Kunkel. Anne was an absolute goldmine! Not only was she a grandchild but she had lived with George and Mary on their farm at the Fifteen Mile, near Murphys Creek, Queensland. She obviously knew her grandmother very well and she had so many stories to tell me about their lives, and also the relatives. Anne was that precious person, a reliable witness. All the bare-bones data I had from births, deaths and marriage indexes, which I might add were much more restricted in those days, were confirmed by Anne, with one exception: one child had been born Elizabeth but thereafter known as Louisa. What I did know from both the oral history and the certificates was that the O’Brien parents were Michael O’BRIEN and Catherine REDDAN.

The old kitchen area of the Kunkel farm at the Fifteen Mile.

The old kitchen area of the Kunkel farm at the Fifteen Mile.

The other precious thing Anne gave me was the gateway into the O’Brien ancestry. She could tell me Mary’s parents’ names, her siblings’ names, whether they emigrated and to where, as well as the women’s married names. You can imagine just how important all this was.

Anne told me that Mary emigrated with her sister Bridget O’BRIEN, that they’d been six months at sea and “had a job before ever they got here”.. You can read a recent post about how I may have found her emigration here.

Anne also knew that Bridget had married a man named John WIDDUP and lived in New South Wales.  I was lucky to have another unusual name to pursue and was able to order Bridget WIDDUP’s death certificate on which her son had provided Bridget’s place of birth as Broadford, Co Clare, even though he’d got her mother’s name incorrect. My Bavarian grandfather had only ever provided “County Clare” when asked that question for certificates.

Nora Garvey, photo from her great-granddaughter.

Nora Garvey, photo from her great-granddaughter.

And so the story unfolded. I was given the link to 4th cousins in Sydney, and thanks to work trips there I was able to meet with them. They held a treasure trove of family photographs, funeral cards and anecdotes. Their ancestor, Honora O’Brien, Mary’s sister, had remained in Ireland and married a man name John GARVEY from Ballydonaghan townland, Bodyke. During the 1886 evictions, Honora and John very nearly lost their home. Over the decades that followed a number of Honora’s children emigrated permanently or temporarily to the United States, but several also came to Sydney where their aunt Catherine was living.

Catherine O’Brien, emigrated to Australia and married a man who was also from Broadford (Glenomera), Patrick HOGAN. The Hogan and Garvey families lived close to each other and maintained close family relationships over many decades, retaining knowledge of their kin in Ireland and America.

Meanwhile back in Ireland, sister Margaret O’Brien married William McNAMARA and settled in Killaderry townland in Broadford. Another sister, Ellen O’Brien, married Thomas KINNANE from Hurdleston townland (various spellings), Broadford. This couple, with children Tom, Michael and Mary, reportedly emigrated to New York. I haven’t spent much time trying to find this family but should add it to my research list.

One brother, John O’BRIEN, who was baptised in 1848, remains a mystery. Not only does he not feature in the oral history, I can find no trace of him beyond 1859/60 when he appears in the parish register as a witness to two baptisms. (The Broadford parish register is available on microfilm

The O'Brien land at Ballykelly.

The O’Brien land at Ballykelly.

Mary’s brother Thomas O’BRIEN remained in Ireland and inherited the family farm after his parents’ deaths. In due course it moved out of the family, a fact which can be traced through the Griffith Valuation Revisions. Thanks to the assistance of the local clergy I was put in touch with the man who owned it in 1992, and he generously showed me the land.

It’s easy to see just how important it is to get your message out there, and find a reliable person to share the oral history. And in case this all sounds too idyllic, let me tell you that my grandfather was George and Mary’s eldest grandchild and would have known them well. Although he lived next door to me all my life, I never heard any of this from him because he was disenfranchised from his family, and also I was probably caught up in my own pre-teen world.

The other significant aspect of the story is the importance of chain migration for the Irish, with one person in the family following another, as well as their determination to select which migration option best suited them.

If you would like to share your story here, please let me know. I promise not to harass everyone with requests.

The grave of George and Mary Kunkel at Murphys Creek, Qld

The grave of George and Mary Kunkel at Murphys Creek, Qld