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.

Honora Garvey remained in Ireland throughout her long life. Her husband John pre-deceased her on 4 March 1888. Honora died, aged 76, on 12 January 1917 at Ballydonaghan townland and her son Denis was present at her death. She is buried in the old Bodyke cemetery, County Clare, and is remembered on the far side of the world in the stained glass windows of St Peter’s Church, Surry Hills. The windows were donated by her Australian-based family in her memory.

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.

These stained glass windows in St Peter's Catholic Church, Surry Hills, Sydney commemorate the Garvey and Hogan parents' lives.

These beautiful stained glass windows in St Peter’s Catholic Church, Surry Hills, Sydney commemorate the Garvey (left) and Hogan (right) parents’ lives.

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

101 years ago: Missing Friend Eugene Charles SAMPSON

One hundred and one years ago today, the Sunday Times, Perth advertised for a Broadford man in its Missing Friends column, on page 15S.

Eugene had been farming at Kyneton, which is in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria. That begs the question why they were looking for him in Perth.

This reference was found by searching Trove. Citation reference

Eugene Sampson, Missing Friends. Sunday Times, Perth, 26 January 1913, page 15S

Eugene Sampson, Missing Friends.
Sunday Times, Perth, 26 January 1913, page 15S

Essentially the same advertisement was placed in the Missing Friends column of Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, 11 March 1913, p2, where it also states it’s his sister who is looking for him. (from Papers Past)