Ireland – Irish Tnings


Should they be allowed to interbreed ?

Here again some wisdom from Lynn Doyle :

an extract from

The Ballygullion Creamery

Thin Father Connolly comes forward an looks roun’ a minit or so before speakin’.
Most av his own people that catched his eye looked down mighty quick, for they all had an
idea he wouldn’t think much av what had been goin’ on.

But wee Billy braces himself up an’ looks very fierce, as much as to say ” there’ll no
praste ordher me about,” and Tammas looks down at his feet wi’ his teeth set, much as if he meant the same.

” Men an’ wimmin av Ballygullion,” sez Father Connolly he was aye a plain-spoken
wee man “We’re met here to end up the United Cramery Society, and after that we’re
goin’ to start two societies, I hear.

” The sinsible men av Ballygullion sees that it would be altogether absurd an’ ridiculous for Catholics an’ Protestants, Home Rulers an’Unionists, to work together in anything at all. As they say, the two parties is altogether opposed in everything that’s important.

“The wan keeps Patrick’s Day for a holiday, and the other the Twelfth av July ; the colours of the one is green, an’ the colours of the other orange ; the wan wants to send their Mimbers av Parliament to College Green, and the other to Westminster ; an’ there are a lotmore differences just as important as these.

“It’s tiarue,” goes on the Father, “that some ignorant persons says that, after all, the two parties lives in the same counthry, undher the same sky, wi’ the same sun shinin’ on them an’ the same rain wettin’ thim ; and that what’s good for that counthry is good for both parties, an’ what’s bad for it is bad for both ; that they live side by side as eighbours, an’ buy and sell among wan another, an’ that nobody has iver seen that there was twinty-one shillin’s in a Catholic pound, an’ nineteen in a Protestant pound, or the other way about ; an’ that,although they go about it in different ways,they worship the same God, the God that made both av thim ; but I needn’t tell ye that these are only a few silly bodies, an’ don’t riprisint the opinion av the counthry.

A good many people in the hall was lookin’ foolish enough by this time, an’ iverybody was
waitin’ to hear the Father tell them to make it up, an’ most av them willin’ enough to do it.
The Major was leanin’ back, looking well satisfied.

I Now,” sez Father Connolly, “after what I’ve said, I needn’t tell ye that I’m av the
opinion av the sinsible men, and I think that by all manes we should have a Catholic cramery,and a Protestant wan.”

The Major sits up wi’ a start, an’ wan looks at the other all over the room.

“The only thing that bothers me,”‘ sez the Father, goin’ on an’ takin’ no notice, ” is the
difficulty av doin’ it. It’s aisy enough to sort out the Catholic farmers from the Protestant ;but what about the cattle ? ” sez he.

” If a man rears up a calf till it becomes a cow, there’s no doubb that cow must be Nationalist or Orange. She couldn’t help it, livin’ in this country. Now what are you
going to do when a Nationalist buys an Orange cow ? Tammas McGorrian bought a cow from
wee Billy there last month that Billy bred an reared himself. Do ye mane to tell me that’s
a Nationalist cow ? 1 tell ye what it is, boys,”
sez the Father, wi’ his eyes twinklin’, ” wan can av that cow’s milk in a Nationalist
cramery would turn the butther as yellow as shutters av the Orange Hall.”

By this time there was a smudge av a laugh on iverybody’s face, an’ even Tammas an’ wee
Billy couldn’t help crackin’ a smile.

” Now,” sez Father Connolly, ” afther all its aisy enough in the case of Tammas’s cow.
There’s no denyin’ she’s an orange cow, an’ either Tammas may go to the Orange cramery
or give the cow back to Billy.”

Tammas sits up a bit at that.

” But, thin, there’s a lot of mighty curious cases. There’s my own wee Kerry. Ivery-
body knows I bred her myself; but, thin, there’s no denyin’ that her father if that’s the
right way to spake av a bull belonged to Major Donaldson here, an’ was called of Prince
of Orange.’ Now be the law a child follows its father in these matters, an’ I’m bound be it to send the wee Kerry’s milk to the Orange cramery, although I’ll maintain she’s as good a Nationalist as ever stepped didn’t she thramp down ivery Orange lily in Billy Black’s garden only last Monday ?

“So, boys, whin ye think the matther out, ye’ll see it’s no aisy matther this separatin’ av Orange an’ Green in the cramery. For if ye do it right an’ I’m for no half-measures ye’ll have to get the pedigree av ivery bull, cow, and calf in the counthry, an’ then ye’ll be little further on, for there’s a lot av bastes come in every year from Americay that’s little betther than haythin.

” But, if ye take my advice, those av ye that isn’t sure av your cows’ll just go on quietly together in the manetime, an’ let thim that has got a rale thrue-blue baste av either persuasion just keep her milk to themselves, and skim it in the ould-fashioned way wi’ a spoon.”

There was a good dale av sniggerin’ whin the Father was spakin’ ; but ye should have
heard the roar av a laugh there was whin he sat down. An’ just as it was dyin’ away, the
Major rises up, wipin’ his eyes :

” Boys,” sez he. ” if it’s the will av the prisint company that the Ballygullion Cramery Society go on, will ye rise an’ give three cheers for Father Pether Connolly ?”

Ivery man, woman, an’ child Protestant and Catholic was on their feet in a minit ; an’ if
the Ballygullion Market-house roof didn’t rise that night, it’s safe till etarnity.

From that night on there was niver another word av windin’ up or splittin’ either. An’ if
iver ye come across a print av butther wi a wreath of shamrocks an’ orange-lilies on it, ye’ll know it come from the Ballygullion Cramery Society, Limited.

(Out of copyright)

Ned Kelly

Smart reply from my friend Trevor to the question  from Australian  Immigration

“Do you have a criminal  record ?”
I didn’t know that you still needed a criminal record to enter Australia 

Ned Kelly – John Red Kelly – Story to Date

Written by Matty Tynan in association with Siobhan O’ Neill in Australia.

Stacks Image 930

The story of Ned Kelly, Australia’s last and most famous bushranger, had its real beginnings in Ireland.
His father, John Kelly (nicknamed ‘Red’) was born and reared in the townland of Clongbrogan, just outside Moyglass.

Young John Kelly was baptised in Moyglass Church on 20th February 1820, the same church where his father Thomas was married to Mary Cody on 1st February 1819, when Thomas was just 18 years of age. Thomas Kelly’s parents, John Kelly and Ellen Head, were also married in Moyglass on 16th June 1799.

John Kelly was the eldest of seven siblings, four brothers and two sisters, and all except one (Thomas junior) were to travel to far off Australia; five through emigration and one, John, by other means.

On 4th January 1840, 20 year old John Kelly was convicted of stealing two pigs, “value about six pounds” from a neighbouring farmer named Cooney. He was kept in Mobarnon Police Station until 7th January 1841 when he appeared at Cashel and was sentenced to seven years’ transportation to Australia.


It was 31st July 1841 when John Kelly was finally brought to Dublin port and placed aboard the convict ship the Prince Regent. The ship set sail for Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania, on 7th August with only one stop, in Cape Town, and arrived on 2nd January 1842.

Despite the infamous brutality of the penitentiary at Port Arthur, John Red Kelly proved himself to be a model prisoner and was released in 1848, with six months cut from his sentence for good behaviour. Most convicts released from Port Arthur made their way across Bass Strait to the Port Phillip District (now Victoria). Red Kelly was no exception and, landing in Victoria, he immediately made his way northward to a strong Irish community at Wallan Wallan, north of Melbourne.

Red Kelly, a quiet and unassuming man, was now 31 years of age. He found work as a bush carpenter and, while working at the farm of his neighbour James Quinn, he fell in love with James’ eldest daughter, 18 year old Ellen (Nelly) Quinn. The Quinns had emigrated from Ballymena, County Antrim. The match was not favoured by James Quinn, so the couple eloped on horseback to Melbourne, where they were married on 18th November 1850 in St Francis’ Church by Fr. Gerald Ward. The young couple tried their luck on the goldfields, where they didn’t strike it rich but they did make enough money to buy a farm in Beveridge, a small hamlet not far from Wallan, on the main Melbourne to Sydney road. Their first child, Mary Jane, was born in 1851 but died in infancy. In the following years, they welcomed to the world Annie, Maggie, Edward (Ned) around June 1855 (his birth was not registered), then Jim, Dan and Kate.
John Red Kelly worked his farm and sold provisions to the hopefuls who tramped to the goldfields of central and north east Victoria.

In 1864 the Kellys moved further north to Avenel, where their last child, Grace, was born in 1866; Red Kelly registering her birth at the village store, identifying himself as the father, “John Kelly from Moyglass, Tipperary, Ireland”.
The family were poor, but happy, and the children all did well at school. When Ned was 10 years old, he bravely saved the life of young Richard (Dick) Shelton when the younger boy fell into Hughes Creek and nearly drowned. Dick Shelton’s parents, who owned the Royal Hotel in Avenel, were so appreciative that they presented young Ned with a magnificent emerald green sash with a gold bullion fringe. Ned was found to be wearing it 15 years later at his famous Last Stand in Glenrowan.

In early 1866, a wealthy local farmer reported that a calf was missing. Although it was 13 years since Red Kelly was released and he hadn’t been in any trouble in all that time, the stigma of being an old “lag” was hard to shake and police called on the Kelly home. Finding meat in the cooler and a calf hide tanning outside, they arrested Red Kelly. Protesting that the meat and calf hide were from his own stock, John Red Kelly was nevertheless found guilty and sentenced to six months hard labour.

Ellen, then pregnant with Grace, was unable to raise the 25-Pounds bail, and John served his time but came out of prison a broken man. Diagnosed with dropsy, he died on 27th December 1866 at the age of 46, and was buried in Avenel Cemetery.

Young Ned was just 11 when his father died and he had the onerous task of recording his father’s death at the village store, proudly signing his full name, Edward Kelly, in the register. For the rest of his life, Ned would call himself “Ned Kelly, son of Red Kelly, and a better man never wore boots!” Leaving school, Ned Kelly assumed the role of head of his family, and became his mother’s greatest support.

James Quinn had done well in Australia, and had moved his family to a selection called Glenmore, some 200kms away in North East Victoria. In an effort to be closer to her family, Ellen made the heartbreaking decision to leave Avenel, where they had all been so happy together. Ned helped his mother load-up their wagon and they started on a journey that took several days over rough roads, camping by the road or in fields along the way.

They settled in Greta, where Ellen found work as a domestic, laundress, and seamstress. Ned, a strong youth, quickly found work chopping and carting wood. By 1869 they had saved enough money for Ellen to qualify for a selection of 88 acres on the banks of the Eleven Mile Creek just out of Greta. They supplemented their income by distilling and selling ‘sly grog’ (illegal alcohol), and providing accommodation for passing carriers, hawkers, seasonal workers and travellers.

Although the Quinns had never been in trouble with the law in Ireland, Ellen’s brothers grew into wild men who drank and brawled and were involved in horse and cattle duffing. Two of Ellen’s sister married the Lloyd brothers and theQuinns, Kellys and Lloyds were soon to become the focus of police attention.

When Ned was fourteen years old, his Lloyd cousins suggested to Ellen and Ned that he could make money helping Harry Power; an Irishman who bailed up coaches and travellers with legendary gallantry and joviality. Young Ned had the job of holding Harry’s horse when he was “working”, but a close call in which they were both nearly shot by a wealthy landowner was enough to force Ned to hand-over the reins. Harry Power was arrested by police who crept up on his hideout while he was asleep. Harry Power always blamed Ned Kelly for informing on him, but it was his uncle Thomas Lloyd who actually led police to the old bushranger’s hideout high above the Glenmore property.

In the same year, Ned Kelly was arrested for assault on a Chinese worker, who had called at the Kelly property asking for a drink of water. When Maggie gave him creek water, the man apparently became angry and started yelling and brandishing a stick at her. Ned was working in the field and came to his sister’s assistance, taking the stick from the man and chasing him from the property. The case was dismissed.

However, in 1870, Ned was charged with assault on a local hawker named McCormick. Ned claims that when he returned McCormick’s horse, after finding it broken loose and wandering near the Kelly farm, McCormick accused Ned Kelly of using his horse to pull a rival hawker from a bog. Ned Kelly claimed the hawker threatened to thrash him, so the 15 year old obliged and started to dismount from his horse. Mrs. McCormick, realising her husband would not get the better of a round, jumped to stop them and Ned Kelly’s horse spooked, leaping forward and knocking McCormick to the ground. He received a sentence of three months.

Ned was only out of prison three weeks when a friend of the family, Isaiah “Wild” Wright visited and put his horse in the Kelly paddock. When the horse broke out, Wright borrowed the horse of Alec Gunn, a young Scot who had married Annie Kelly, saying he would collect his horse when he returned. When Ned Kelly found the horse, he openly rode it in and out of Greta and nearby regional town Wangaratta. He had been doing so for a couple of weeks, even giving the pub owners daughters rides up and down the main street, when the local policeman decided to check the horse against the Police register. It appeared as stolen from the postmaster at Mansfield, some 50kms away. He called Ned Kelly to the gaol, on the pretence of signing some papers to do with his release, but jumped on the unsuspecting youth and tried to arrest him. Ned Kelly fought with the policeman and quickly overcame him. Constable Hall called for help from onlookers and eight men were eventually needed to subdue the youth. Once he was restrained, the policeman hit Ned Kelly over the head with his (Hall’s) revolver. Mrs. Kelly and Wild Wright followed the blood trail to the barracks, where a local doctor inserted eight stitches in the 16 year old’s scalp. Ned Kelly, Wild Wright and Alec Gunn were all brought before the court and Wild Wright was sentenced to 18 months with hard labour for stealing a horse.

Although Wright had testified that neither Kelly nor Gunn had known the horse was stolen, both were charged with receiving stolen property and received an astonishing sentence of three years’ hard labour.
Women rider
While Ned Kelly was in prison, a young American named George King came to the Greta area. Having tried his luck on the goldfields in both America and Australia, he asked to do jobs for board. George was 25 and the widow Kelly was 42, but somehow they fell in love and George proposed, but Ellen decided to wait until Ned’s release and, hopefully, approval.

It is unknown what Ned Kelly felt about the union but, always devoted to his mother, her happiness would be paramount, and he appeared as a witness in his 19th year, signing his name in the church register while the bride and groom signed with the common cross-mark of the 19th century’s semi-literate.

Ned Kelly gained work in a local sawmills and quickly rose to the role of overseer. Well paid in his job, he stayed out of trouble for three years. An excellent marksman, horseman and builder (he had built a new home for his mother on the Eleven Mile Creek and a big sandstone house for a farmer in nearby Winton), he was an athletic man, and tall in his time standing at nearly six feet. He also won a gruelling 20-round bare knuckle boxing match against Wild Wright in the goldmining town of Beechworth, making him the unofficial boxing champion of North East Victoria.
When the sawmills closed, Ned made the fateful decision not to follow it to Gippsland where it was opening again. Instead, he invested his savings into gold panning expeditions with George King.

However, when they were unsuccessful, Ned Kelly surrendered to the lucrative trade of what he called “wholesale and retail horse and cattle dealing”; i.e. horse and cattle duffing. Top horseflesh was stolen from wealthy landowners, known as the “squattocracy”; they were squatters who had built great wealth and power.
In 1878, life was to deal another cruel blow to the Kelly family when trooper Alexander Fitzpatrick came to the Kelly home to question Dan about some stolen horses in the nearby town of Chiltern. Dan asked to be allowed to finish his dinner and the policeman agreed. Constable Fitzpatrick had already set an appreciative eye at 14 year old Kate Kelly and, according to the family, when he was inside the hut he pulled young Kate on to his knee. Outraged, her mother ordered him from the home, but Fitzpatrick pulled his gun saying it was his authority to stay. Mrs. Kelly said that if her son Ned were there Fitzpatrick would not be so brave. The sound of approaching footsteps caused the policeman to jump to action and Dan took this opportunity of clapping Heenan’s Hug on the trooper. They struggled and fell, Fitzpatrick denting his helmet when he landed and catching his wrist on a latch. The family say they patched the policeman’s flesh wound and he remained at the house for several more hours. They say Fitzpatrick assured them he was fine and there was no problem, though he advised Dan to “clear into the bush and let it all blow over”.

The policeman’s story, however, was much different. He claims that when he entered the hut, Mrs. Kelly hit him over the head with a shovel (no exact reason ever given) and Ned Kelly came in the door firing three shots at the policeman, only hitting him in the wrist with the third shot. It should be noted that Fitzpatrick disobeyed an order that no police were to go to the Kelly home alone, and he had been seen to stop at drinking houses on the way to and from the Kelly home.
Irrespective, police swooped on the Kelly home and arrested Ellen Kelly, her son-in-law Bill Skillion (who had married Maggie Kelly) and neighbour Bricky Williamson for the attempted murder of a policeman. Ned and Dan Kelly were wanted for questioning.

They appeared before Justice Redmond Barry, the Irish born son of English landed gentry in Cork. A brilliant lawyer, Redmond Barry was known as the Hanging Judge because of his penchant for giving harsh sentences for menial offences. He was feared on the goldfields, where he heard many cases, and was often surrounded by controversy over his private life; never married, he was said to have fathered 16 children. But he worked tirelessly to make Melbourne a place of culture and learning, acquiring thousands of acres to establish the University of Melbourne, State Library, and many other buildings and services promoting the arts. He apparently donated services to aboriginal cases and was so committed to education and learning, that he even opened his own extensive library to members of the public before library services became available.

In October 1878, Ellen Kelly King, with a new baby in her arms, appeared before Justice Barry at Beechworth Court. She was sentenced to three years hard labour for attempting to murder a policeman, while Bill Skillion and Bricky Williamson were each sentenced to six years hard labour. Although Ned and Dan Kelly were only wanted for questioning, Justice Barry told Ellen: “If your son Ned were here I would make an example of him, I would sentence him to 15 years”.

Ned Kelly always denied that he was present at the Fitzpatrick incident, admitting instead that he was horse and cattle stealing interstate at the time. On news of his mother’s imprisonment, he was outraged and wrote:

“Fitzpatrick is the meanest article that ever the sun shone on. The jury thought it impossible for a policeman to swear a lie, but I can assure them it is by that means, and by hiring cads, that they get promoted. He can be thankful I was not at home when he took a revolver and threatened to shoot my mother in her own home. I heard nothing of this transaction until later, as I was over 400 miles away from Greta, when I heard that I was wanted for shooting at a trooper in Victoria. It is not likely that I would fire three shots at Fitzpatrick and miss him at a yard-and-a-half. I don’t think I would use a revolver to shoot a man like him, when I was within a yard-and-a-half of him, or attempt to fire into a house where my mother, brother and sisters were, according to Fitzpatrick statement, ‘all around him’. A man who is such a bad shot as to miss a man three times at a yard-and-a-half would never attempt to fire into a house full of women and children. I would not do so while I had a pair of arms and a bunch of fives at the end of them that never failed to peg-out anything they came into contact with. Fitzpatrick knew the weight of one of them only too well, as it ran against him once in Benalla and cost me two-pound-odd, as he is very subject to fainting”.

Ned Kelly found his brother Dan camped in the dense ranges outside Mansfield. Dan was gold panning and distilling poteen. He’d been joined by his mate Steve Hart from Wangaratta and Ned’s mate Joe Byrne from Beechworth; both were also sons of poor Irish farming families. The Kelly brothers wanted to surrender themselves and ask for the release of their mother and friends,but Joe and Steve persuaded them this was useless. None expected justice.

The Fitzpatrick Incident, as it became known, sparked a vigorous police hunt for the Kelly brothers. In October 1878, a party of four was dispatched from Mansfield to cross the ranges and meet with another party coming from the other direction. The Mansfield party were all Irish-born, led by Sergeant Michael Kennedy of Westmeath, it also comprised constables Michael Scanlon from Kerry, Thomas Lonigan of Sligo and Thomas McIntyre from Belfast. They were dressed as prospectors, but were heavily armed and their horses carried ominous straps generally used for transporting bodies. They camped on the banks of Stringybark Creek, not a mile from the Kelly hideout.

On 26 October 1878, the four youths approached the police camp, where Lonigan and McIntyre had remained while Kennedy and Scanlon went scouting. They were lazing by the fire when a voice suddenly called, “Bail up! Throw up your arms”. McIntyre was unarmed and immediately surrendered, but Lonigan dropped behind the log and, aiming his gun, was shot dead by Ned Kelly.Assured by the gang that no man who surrendered would be shot, McIntyre agreed to ask the other police to surrender when they returned to camp. Later that afternoon, they could be heard approaching and McIntyre approached them saying, “You’d better throw down your arms, we’re surrounded”.
Thinking it a joke they laughed, until Scanlon caught sight of Ned Kelly, slung his rifle and fired. Ned Kelly shot and Scanlon fell dead from his horse. Kennedy jumped on the offside of his horse and ran into the bush for cover. McIntyre took advantage of the confusion to jump on Scanlon’s horse and gallop for help. Ned Kelly pursued Michael Kennedy into the bush and engaged in a gun battle that resulted in the sergeant’s death. In a mark of respect, Ned Kelly covered the policeman’s body with his cloak. McIntyre, racing in hysteria through the dense bush, fell from his horse and, fearing the Kellys might be chasing him, hunkered down for the night. In his diary he wrote: “Ned Kelly, Dan and two others stuck us up while we were unarmed. Lonigan and Scanlon are shot. I am hiding in a wombat hole until dark. The Lord have mercy on me. Scanlon tried to get his gun out”.
Thomas McIntyre reached Mansfield the next day and delivered the shocking news of the massacre. He led a police party the following day to retrieve the bodies of constables Scanlon and Lonigan. Michael Kennedy’s body was not found for several days.

The police were buried with full honours and an impressive monument to their memory was erected in the centre of Mansfield.
Of the Stringybark Creek battle Ned Kelly later wrote:

“I could not help shooting them, or else let them shoot me, which they would have done if their bullets had been directed as they intended. After Kennedy was shot, I put his cloak over him and left him as well as I could. If they had been my own brothers, I could not have been more sorry for them. This cannot be called wilful murder, for I was compelled to shoot them or lie down and let them shoot me. It would not have been wilful murder if they had packed our remains in, shattered into a mess of gore, to Mansfield. They would have got great praise, as well as promotion, but I am reckoned a horrid brute because I was not cowardly enough to lie down for them, under such insults to my people. Certainly their wives and children are to be pitied, but those men came into the bush with the intentions of scattering pieces of me and my brother all over the bush. Yet they know and acknowledge that I have been wronged, and my mother and four or five men lagged innocent. And is my mother and brothers and sisters not to be pitied also?”
The Government immediately instituted an Act of Outlawry and set a reward of 400-Pounds for Edward and Daniel Kelly and two unknowns.
By the end of 1878 they needed money and, in his practical thinking, Ned Kelly decided they must rob a bank. They chose the National Bank at Euroa, a sleepy farming town on the main Melbourne to Sydney road. Arriving at Younghusband’s Faithfull Creek property just out of town, they set-up base and detained workers and anyone who happened along, keeping the men in a large storeroom, while the women had the run of the house.
Just before closing time, they ensured they were the last customers at the bank, when Ned Kelly told the teller they would like to make a withdrawal, and the gang netted 2000-Pounds. Collecting the family of the Bank Manager, Mr. Scott, Ned Kelly apologised for any inconvenience and asked them to accompany them to Faithfull Creek. It showed good politics to appeal to the sensibilities of Mrs. Scott in this matter, who assured there would be no trouble. The family, tellers and two serving girls were loaded into two wagons; one of the serving girls identified Steve Hart, having gone to school with him. On the way to the outlying station they passed a procession of townspeople returning from a funeral. Respectfully, the Kelly entourage tipped their hats, and the unaware townsfolk returned the courtesy.

At Faithfull Creek, one brave man demanded to know what had happened to the women and children. Joe Byrne, who had remained on guard at the property, assured them the women were unattended at the house, to which Dan Kelly joked that he would like to be able to attend them. Said within earshot of his brother the older Kelly, known and loved for his gallantry, reacted angrily and ordered his brother never to speak disrespectfully of women.

Before leaving Euroa, the Kelly Gang (as they were now known) treated their captive audience to an impressive display of trick riding; stretching across horses at full gallop and grabbing a kerchief from the ground in their teeth. Joe Byrne demonstrated his skill at shooting a hole through a sixpence thrown into the air. The gang instructed the captives to wait two hours before raising the alarm, but it was well after midnight (fully three hours later) before they awoke the local constable and delivered news of the daring raid.


In February 1879, the Kelly Gang struck again, this time at the New South Wales town of Jerilderie.

Stopping at Davidson’s pub, outside town, Joe Byrne got chatting the barmaid, who unwittingly told the handsome stranger the town was protected by two policemen, constables Richards and Devine. At midnight, the gang rode to the police station, Ned Kelly rousing the policeman with the ruse that there had been a murder at Davidson’s pub. Rushing to the door, the police found themselves officially bailed up and were safely ensconced in their own lock-up for the night.
Bail up

The next day, Ned Kelly did chores for the pregnant Mrs. Devine and insisted on emptying the bath water, saying it was too heavy for a woman in her condition. On Sunday morning, Dan Kelly helped the policeman’s wife to prepare the local hall for Mass and accompanied her to the service. On Monday they donned police uniforms, posing as reinforcements to protect against the Kelly Gang. Entering the Bank of New South Wales, they bailed up the astonished tellers but were told the keys to the safe were with the manager, Mr. Tarleton. Ned Kelly finally found the bank manager in his bath and patiently waited for him to get dressed so the robbery of 2000-Pounds could be completed. Joe Byrne delighted in taking the papers held over the farms of struggling settlers and burning them in a bonfire out the back. Meanwhile, Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were entertaining townspeople in the hotel next door. When Ned Kelly arrived, a clergyman stepped forward and bravely told the outlaw leader that Steve Hart had stolen his watch, a timepiece of sentimental value. Ned Kelly immediately demanded that Steve return the watch.
The crowd asked Ned Kelly to tell their story and, in the now flowing tones of an experienced orator, he relayed the course that had led them to outlawry, and his concerns about what he felt was the persecution of poor people and the disadvantaged by a police force that, at the time, was rife with corruption and comprised of recruits that included ex convicts. So spellbound was the crowd that they didn’t hear two men enter the hotel. One was a local businessman who was grabbed by Dan Kelly and Steve Hart. The other was the newspaperman, Gill, who jumped the back wall and ran out of town down a dry creek bed. It was a blow for Ned Kelly, who had hoped to have a manuscript published by the newspaper. One of the bank tellers offered to take it and deliver it the publisher later. Ned Kelly agreed. The manuscript didn’t make it to the publisher; the teller gave it to the police instead. Over 7000 words long, it became known as the Jerilderie Letter and one of the most exciting pieces of Australian colonial literature. In it, Ned Kelly recounted their story, made a case for police persecution and corruption, and interjected passionate passages on Irish history. Written by a young man hiding in caves, with a price on his head, it pulsated indignation and dared to challenge the authorities who deemed him a criminal.
For the next year the Kelly Gang easily avoided the clumsy attempts of police to catch them. The price on their heads had risen to a staggering 8000-Pounds, but they had an extensive network of family and sympathisers who warned them of police movements and even helped to lead police parties away from Kelly hideouts. In their outlawry, the Kellys were known to ride in and win many country racing events. Poor people of the district suddenly had money to mend fences and buy provisions, paying in sixpences and three pences, when copper farthings and pennies were more common.
Ned Kelly started the Widows and Orphans Fund of Greta, calling on police to contribute.

But, in June 1880, Ned Kelly had developed a Proclamation of the Republic of North East Victoria and set a deadly plan in motion. Joe Byrne’s childhood friend, Aaron Sherritt, who had also been engaged to Joe’s sister was rumored to have turned police informer. But it was not until Mrs. Byrne stumbled upon a hidden police camp watching her home, and saw Aaron in the middle of the troops, that the proof was irrefutable. Some historians say the Kellys knew that Aaron was acting as a double-agent, but a blazing row with Mrs. Byrne after the police camp incident indicates this may not have been the case. Kate Byrne also broke-off their engagement. Whatever the case, Aaron was indeed an agent the police code named Moses and they were concerned enough about him to install a four-party protection squad in his house outside Beechworth.

On the night of 26 June 1880, Aaron was at home with his new and pregnant wife Rita, her mother Mrs. Barry and the four policemen, when there was a knock at the door. A neighbour’s voice said he had lost his way and Aaron was laughing when he opened the door. But the neighbour had been waylaid by Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly, and Aaron found himself facing his old friend. Joe Byrne shot Aaron Sherritt and called on the police to come out of the hut and fight. They didn’t, literally taking cover under the bed and pulling Rita Sherritt and her mother to its safety, where all stayed until morning.

The outlaws left within an hour and rode to Glenrowan, a railway hamlet near Greta, where they met with Ned Kelly and Steve Hart. Ned Kelly had planned the shooting of Aaron Sherritt would bring a Special Police train from Melbourne and he was now having the tracks lifted to derail the train in an act of ultimate defiance against officialdom.
They took over the Glenrowan Inn, to which they brought key figures from the community such as the policeman, Constable Bracken. They expected the news of Aaron Sherritt’s murder to be reported immediately and the police train to arrive by the early morning. They could never have anticipated that it would be fully mid morning before the police in Sherritt’s hut would venture into town to raise the alarm. Further bungling in Melbourne delayed the train for the best part of another day, so it was 18 hours after the shooting before the train was even dispatched. Meanwhile, the Kellys amassed a total of 62 captives in the small hotel. To keep the crowd happy, a hooley was taking place and everyone engaged in jigs and reels, while the drink flowed freely.

By midnight on Sunday, Ned Kelly had decided to abandon the plan. They had been waiting for two days, without sleep, and constantly on guard. But, just as everyone was starting to file out of the hotel, the sound of the train was carried on the still night air. A little earlier, the school teacher Thomas Curnow had asked Ned Kelly if he might take his wife and sister home, as his wife was not feeling well. Dan Kelly didn’t trust Curnow and advised Ned not to let them leave, but Ned Kelly immediately relented, advising Mrs. Curnow: “Go straight to bed and don’t dream too loud”. Away from the hotel, Curnow abandoned his wife and sister and took a lamp and red scarf down the railway tracks. His warning was spotted by a pilot engine preceding the police train, and both came to halt outside the town. When Curnow told his amazing story, he was allowed to hurry away to safety, and the trains shunted slowly into Glenrowan. Police poured from the train and surrounded the hotel.
It was too late for anyone to leave. Advising the captives to lie on the floor out of harm’s way, the outlaws disappeared into the back rooms, to reappear dressed in armour. They must have made an astonishing sight, clanking to the front veranda to face a barrage of police fire. In the shadow of the veranda, it was not apparent that the outlaws were wearing armour, but an odd clanging sound was
heard with every volley. The armour was visionary in its ability to protect the vital organs of the torso and helmets protected the head. But the arms and legs were unprotected and the heavy armour (95lbs) limited their manoeuvrability. The slits in the helmet also limited the field of sight.
In the first volleys, the police didn’t realise they had hit the outlaws hard. Ned Kelly sustained serious injuries; a bullet passed through the forearm of his left arm and, as the arm was bent holding a rifle, exited the bicep, another bullet shattered his left elbow, one lodged at the base of his right thumb, and another entered the big toe of his right foot and exited at the heel. Joe Byrne was shot in the leg.
During the night, Ned Kelly left the inn several times, undetected by the police. He was gauging the movements of police, releasing the horses before they were shot by police and, in his last foray, he went to warn over 30 sympathisers waiting to join the uprising. Telling them the plan had gone wrong and it was now the Kellys fight, Ned Kelly ordered them to return to their homes, then went back to the inn alone to try and save his brother and mates.

Inside the inn, the publican’s 13 year old son was shot by police and later died from his injuries. Her 14 year old daughter suffered a grazed forehead from a bullet. Two civilians were also shot; one died instantly and the other would die later. Several times the captives tried to leave the inn, but police fire forced them back, their screams and pleas ignored.
Inside the inn, Dan and Steve were becoming despondent. In an effort to cheer them, Joe Byrne poured a drink and toasted, “Here’s to the bold Kelly Gang. Long may they live in the bush”. At that moment, a police bullet thwacked through the wall and hit him in the groin. In his 23rd year, Joe Byrne fell and bled to death on the bar room floor.
On his way back to the inn, Ned Kelly tried to reload his rifle but his left arm was hanging useless and he had to abandon the task. Loss of blood, lack of sleep and the weight of the armour overcame him and he passed out. He awoke to the sound of muffled voices, as two policemen passed within 10 feet of where he was lying. Lurching to his feet, he painfully reloaded his revolver. The green skullcap his sisters had made to protect his head from the helmet fell to the ground, blood soaked. He pulled on his helmet and, with a superhuman effort, he made his way to the hotel, coming on police from behind.
He made an eerie sight as he came through the winter morning mists, brandishing his revolver, his coat flapping in the breeze. At first nobody knew what it was. One newspaper man said it was “like the bunyip descending upon us”. There was an uncertain silence, during which the iron clad figure thumped its chest with a dull ringing sound and taunted, “You can’t hurt me, I’m made of iron”. When the spell was broken, 50 police opened fire. The huge figure staggered under the impact, but continued to advance, firing wildly. At one point, he even sank to one knee, but still nobody rushed him and he regained his footing to lurch forward. It was only after a particularly strong volley that made him stagger and he parted his massive legs to steady himself, that one policeman saw a gap in the armour and fired. Hit in the hip, Ned Kelly toppled like a fallen tree and police converged on the prone figure. One policeman wrenched the revolver from his hand, the muffled voice heard to grumble: “Break my fingers”. Ripping the helmet from his head they gasped to see it was the outlaw leader. One grabbed him by the beard and rammed a revolver in his face, threatening to kill him. Another kicked him in the groin. “Cowardly to kick a man when he’s down,” Kelly said.
Dont Move, picture title
Ned Kelly was taken to the railway shed where a doctor tended his wounds. He was found to have 28 shots, five of them serious. His body was also severely bruised. He was so close to death that a Catholic priest was called to give the prisoner the Last Rites. But, despite his condition, Ned Kelly lucidly answered a barrage of police questions. By now, a crowd had gathered at Glenrowan, including members of the Kelly family. A police cannon had been ordered from Melbourne and troopers were heaping straw against the side of the inn. Police demanded that Ned Kelly ask his brother and mates to surrender, but he refused. The Catholic priest, Fr. Gibney, asked if he could go to the hotel and Ned Kelly told him no. “But surely they wouldn’t shoot a priest?” he said. “They won’t know who you are and they won’t wait to find out,” the outlaw responded.

Outside, his sister Maggie Skillion was told by police to ask her brother to surrender. She refused, but had to be restrained as she tried to run screaming to the hotel when the straw was set alight. Ignoring police orders, Fr. Gibney also ran to the hotel, crucifix aloft, calling: “I’m a Catholic priest, I’ve come to help you”. When he entered the building, it was already well alight and dense smoke made visibility poor. In the bar he found Joe Byrne and realised he was dead. In the kitchen he found mortally wounded civilian Martin Cherry. Hefting the man onto his back, he ran from the hotel, passing a room as he did, he saw Dan Kelly and Steve Hart lying seemingly unconscious. Calling to police there was no threat, Fr. Gibney knew there was time to get all out of the hotel. However, at the last moment, Joe Byrne’s already singed body was pulled from the inferno. Horrified onlookers could only watch as the flames engulfed the building and the blazing roof fell on the prone figures of the young outlaws.

From the ruins, the charred remains were raked from the ashes and placed on bark sheets. Grotesque and unidentifiable, one had the stump of an arm raised as if eerily pointing at something. The Kelly girls were led to the gruesome sight, where newspaper reports say they uttered dirge-like cries and wept bitterly. The bodies of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were taken by family and sympathisers back to the Eleven Mile Creek where an Irish wake was held. Police, realising they shouldn’t have allowed the bodies to be taken, showed up to reclaim them but were told that 100 men mad with grief were heavily armed and prepared to protect their dead. Wisely, the police retreated and 19 year old Dan Kelly and 20 year old Steve Hart were quietly buried in Greta Cemetery the next day.

Joe Byrne’s body was taken to Benalla and kept in the lock-up overnight. The next morning it was strung-up against the cell doors, for morbid sightseers to pose for photographs with the body, before a young woman burst from the crowd and threw her arms around it crying: “Can’t you give Joe Byrne peace at last?” At midnight, Joe Byrne was buried outside the confines of the Benalla Cemetery, as was custom with criminals. Only a policeman and undertaker were in attendance.
Surviving the night, Ned Kelly was also taken to Benalla and transported to Melbourne for convalescence. Returned to Beechworth some months later for a preliminary hearing, unable to stand and having to wear slippers on his wounded feet. He was again transported to Melbourne, where feeling was thought to be less pro-Kelly. In the train he gazed out at his beloved North East, already known as Kelly Country.

At the Melbourne Gaol, he was reunited with his mother who still had a year on her sentence. Stooped and frail from scrubbing flagstones, Ellen had heard little about her sons during her imprisonment. Now she knew that her youngest son was dead and her oldest was awaiting trial for murder. It was a sad and emotional reunion for mother and son, the details of which were never disclosed by the Gaol Governor.

In November, Ned appeared before Justice Redmond Barry at Melbourne Supreme Court. He was formally charged with the murder of Constable Lonigan at Stringybark Creek. The trial, the transcripts today branded a farce by leading Melbourne lawyers, was swift. Most of the witnesses were members of the constabulary. It took just two days for the trial proceedings to be completed and jury deliberated for only 30 minutes before returning a guilty verdict. When Justice Barry started to pass sentence of death, one of the most amazing discourses in Australian legal history began between the Supreme Court Judge and the prisoner at the bar. At its end, Ned Kelly said: “A day will come at a higher court than this when we shall see who is right and who is wrong” before the judge passed the sentence of death by hanging. When he had finished Ned Kelly said: “I will add something to that. I will see you where I am going”.

A petition for clemency was signed by 60,000 people, massive public rallies were held and, at 16, Kate Kelly fell on her knees before the Victorian Governor LaTrobe to beg for her brother’s life. But it was all to no avail.

Ned Kelly wrote his last letter: “I do not pretend I have lived a blameless life … nor that one fault justifies another but the public, judging a case like mine, should remember that even the darkest life may have a bright side.
“After the worse has been said against a man … he may, if he’s heard, tell a story in his own rough way that would lead them to soften their harshest thoughts, and find as many excuses for him as he would find himself.
“I know, from the stories I have been told, that the press has not treated me with the kindness often afforded a man awaiting death…
“Let the hand of the law strike me down if it will. But I ask that my story be heard … people in the cities do not know how the Police in the country abuse their powers … if my lips teach the public that men are made mad by bad treatment, then my life will not entirely have been in vain.”

At 10am on Tuesday 11 November 1880, Ned Kelly was hanged at the Melbourne Gaol, with the immortal last words: “Such is life”. He was just 25 years of age. Two days after Ned Kelly’s execution, Justice Redmond Barry fell ill from complications of diabetes. Despite the best medical care, he died nine days after the outlaw who said: “I will see you where I am going”.

Six months after Ned Kelly’s death, a Royal Commission was held into the actions of the Victorian Police. In testament to Ned Kelly’s accusations of persistent police corruption, especially towards the poor and disadvantaged, over 250 police from the rank of Police Commissioner down were demoted, dismissed or pensioned-off; representing one-quarter of a force numbering only 1100 at the time.
The police of the 1870s were a taxed commodity, made up largely of raw recruits that often included ex convicts. In a misguided effort to keep the peace, they had an official “pounce and put away” policy in which they would target struggling settlers, particularly those with large numbers of youth, and nab them even before they had done anything, with the idea that they’d be too scared to offend. Of course, it didn’t work and the Irish, with their large families, were often the targets. Police, particularly in country areas where they were far from the base of power, were also too often known to get involved in such skullduggery as breaking fences to let stock out, then round it up and take it to the pound so farmers had to pay a fine to retrieve stock that often meant their livelihood. They also had the power to veto settlers who had scraped together the deposit for a land selection that they were entitled to get through the Land Act. It was rife corruption and standover tactics. During the Kelly Outbreak, over 50 men were arrested as suspected sympathisers – some were, some weren’t and some didn’t even know the Kellys. But they were all poor and they were kept imprisoned for three months, without charge. This was at crucial harvest time, so women and children had to try and bring in the crops that could mean the difference between life and death for them, or certainly whether they were able to keep their farms or not. The seriousness of the situation was obvious, given the results of the Royal Commission after Ned Kelly’s death. It may have been hard for them, but the results were ultimately good for the force, getting rid of a lot of the bad seed. It seems Ned Kelly provided a valuable social service to Victoria!
Following his death, Ned Kelly’s head was decapitated so his brain could be examined to see if the brain of a criminal differed from that of an ordinary man. Examined by doctors and students, it is believed that samples of the body are included in every scientific collection at the University of Melbourne. His skull was used as a paperweight by a petty government official and his headless body was buried in an unmarked grave in the prison.

Subsequent building works resulted in the body being moved some 13 or so times and its final resting place was unknown for decades, believed to probably be in the grounds of Pentridge Prison.

In 2011, development of the decommissioned Pentridge Prison unearthed remains, one of which was identified through mitochondrial DNA testing, using a sample from Leigh Olver, a descendant of Ellen Kelly’s daughter Alice King, the infant who had accompanied her mother to jail for the first year of her sentence. In November 2012, the decision was finally made to give the remains to Kelly family descendants for burial in North East Victoria.

Father Joe Walsh O.S.A from our parish, now over eighty years old and living in Villanova College Priory, Coorporoo, Old Australia, sent over paper cuttings with information on the confirmation of Ned Kelly’s remains. He has since sent newspaper clippings of Ned Kelly’ funeral, these will go on display at Ned Kelly’s, The village Inn in Moyglass.

Ned Kelly was survived by his sisters, mother and one brother. His sisters Maggie and Kate would both die young before the end of the century, although Grace Kelly lived to old age. She married

Paddy Griffiths and her descendants still live in Kelly Country, alongside Lloyd cousins. Jim Kelly never married and cared for his mother until her death in 1923. Jim died in 1947.

Ned Kelly will always be a hero to local people in Moyglass as our parents and neighbours always spoke of him as a strong man who stood up for the poor against corruption. We look on him as the Robin Hood of his day. Also the fact that we know descendants, the late Phil Kelly and Mary Fleming (nee Kelly) who were also reared in Clonbrogan makes the story more realistic for locals.

The old church (later a School), the barracks at Mobarnan and Newpark Police Station, site of Red Kelly’s house are all there to be visited and could prove big tourist attractions to Australians and others. Many local people have a good knowledge of the Ned Kelly story and chat about it regularly in the pub.

Many Australians visit the pub where there is a full history and family tree on display. Now we have created a replica of his suit of armour, which is on display in the pub and was worn by Junior Tynan at the Gathering launch at the Rock of Cashel and also in April for TG4, who filmed in Moyglass for a programme to be aired in September 2013.

RTE were in Moyglass filming on a few occasions from October 2012 to January 2013 and a half hour Nationwide programme was aired on January 16th. The identification of Ned Kelly’s remains and the Gathering 2013 initiative prompted the Nationwide programme, which also covered the story of “John Red Kelly” and visited the sites associated with him. The programme on RTE1 was well received by all and provided great publicity for the area. I sent a copy DVD to Siobhan O’ Neill in Australia, who is a close friend of the great granddaughter of John Kelly’s sister Ann. She has shown it to her fiend Dottie and is also going to travel to Kelly country to show it to other relations.

Ned Kelly was finally granted his dying wish when, 132 years after his death he was laid to rest in consecrated grounds. A funeral mass was held at St. Patrick’s church, Wangaratta on January 18th and Ned Kelly was finally laid to rest Sunday January 20th 2013 at Greta cemetery in North East Victoria. He was buried beside his mother, Ellen’s unmarked grave. His brother Dan and fellow gang member Steve Hart are also buried in Greta cemetery ,in the heart of Kelly country, a short drive from his famous last stand at Glenrowan. Monsignor John White, assisted by Fr. John Ryan and Fr. Frank Hart was the chief celebrant. Monsignor White was a fitting choice to preside as he was born in Jerilderie and a past priest at Euroa and still conducts mass at Glenrowan.
Monsignor White in his eulogy said “ This man Ned Kelly has a certain immortality” ,” not just in our hearts but in the hearts of Australia” . I think you could include Ireland and further afield in this quote.

Written by Matty Tynan in association with Siobhan O’ Neill in Australia.

Ned Kelly – John Red Kelly – Story to Date

Paintings by John Hayes –

NED RIDES AGAIN IN KELLY COUNTRYThe annual Ned Kelly Weekend 2013 festival was held over 9-11 August in Beechworth, Australia.Located some 284km (176mi) north east of Melbourne, Beechworth is a beautifully preserved town of the Australian 1850s’ Gold Rush.
The town’s sandstone buildings and wide streets were also a popular haunt of the Kelly Gang in the 1870s.Highlights of the festival include performances recreating key events in the actual place and on almost the same dates as they happened for Australia’s last and most lauded bushranger.

Two major events are the Committal Hearing of Ned Kelly and the Trial of Ellen Kelly in the Beechworth Court House.

Back on 15 April 1978, Ellen Kelly (nee Quinn) appeared in the dock, following the infamous Fitzpatrick Incident that was the catalyst for the Kelly Outbreak.

The Trial of Ellen Kelly recreates those proceedings through a narrator, character performances, and recreated transcript testimonies.

Then on 6-11 August 1880, Ned Kelly appeared in the same dock and, with the exception of a narrator, his Committal Hearing is recreated in meticulous detail,
faithfully following the proceedings as they happened.

Like his mother before him, Ned Kelly’s appearance was before Justice Redmond Barry; Cork-born of landed gentry English parents.

A host of activities also include recreations of Ned Kelly’s transport through the streets of Beechworth to and from the Court House,
and the Raid at Sebastopol centring on the police hunt for the gang; the biggest police hunt in Australian colonial history.

This year also saw the first recreation of the burning of the Glenrowan Inn, where the other members of the gang – Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart
– died and Ned Kelly was captured at his famous Last Stand in June 1880.

Other attractions include demonstrations of colonial crafts, traditional firearms and cannon displays, performances and lectures about the Kellys and their time,
the Burke Museum, walking tours of historic points of interest, and tours of the (now decommissioned) Beechworth Gaol, which ensure there is plenty to interest historians
and tourists alike.

This year, hundreds of visitors again flocked to this picturesque hamlet to celebrate all things Kelly and, while dates for the Ned Kelly Weekend 2014 are still to be set.

Gort: Easy to Miss, Hard to Leave


This quiet town in Galway is surrounded by ancient monastic ruins, dramatic landscapes and countryside that inspired Yeats

ACERTAIN town in the west of Ireland seems at first to offer no reason to linger beyond the time it takes to refuel your car. It has no shop selling Celtic knickknacks, no pub with performances of ditties on the half-hour. Even its name lacks the lyricism found in those of more famous Irish destinations. It is, simply, Gort.

Jonathan Player for The New York Times
Cattle at the ruins of Kilmacduagh monastery, near Gort.

But this town of 1,200 in County Galway is also where my mother spent her childhood — on the outskirts, on a farm — and where family members still live. All my life, my answer to the inevitable “Where are your people from?” has been devoid of poetry but ringing with pride: Gort. Others may think of it as a blur of gray-stone storefronts on the road from Shannon Airport to glamorous Galway City, 22 miles to the north; I remember it as Ireland.

A recent return confirmed my sense that no familial link is needed to appreciate what the town offers. Within a 10-mile radius you can find Coole Park, once Lady Gregory’s sanctuary for the leaders of the Irish literary revival; Thoor Ballylee, the tower of inspiration for William Butler Yeats; Kilmacduagh, a sacred site with some of the finest monastic remnants in Ireland; Kinvara, an inviting fishing village; and the Burren, the dramatic limestone landscape sloping westward into the Atlantic.

Then, of course, there are the people and places of Gort proper. True, the town is a little grimy, a little reluctant to exploit its history. The grounds of the Gort workhouse, once crammed to overflowing with the Great Famine’s dying, are now used to store highway equipment. But those who pay attention will see life in the Irish west as it is, not as it might be imagined.

My wife, Mary, and I, with our 2-year-old daughter, Nora, visited for 10 days, staying most nights with relatives in a nearby farming hamlet with the singular name of Loughtyshaughnessy. But the area offers plenty of bed-and-breakfasts, the venerable Sullivan’s Hotel and the Lady Gregory, a new hotel whose luxurious interior has won the grudging respect of the locals. We spent one night there and found the rooms comfortable and the staff accommodating.

We went first to Coole, less than three miles from town. A century ago, Lady Augusta Gregory, the regally beautiful folklorist and a founder of the Abbey Theatre, began to offer her estate as a haven to Yeats, Sean O’Casey, John Millington Synge and other Irish artists. Although Coole House was demolished in the early 1940’s — a shortsighted act that Irish preservationists bemoan to this day — the government has worked to preserve the pastoral beauty of the setting and to recall the poetic brilliance that once fed off of its air.

The grounds are now a national park and preserve of manicured gardens and paths beneath majestic yews. Down one path is Coole Lake, where Yeats encountered the “nine and fifty swans” of his poem, “The Wild Swans at Coole.” Elsewhere stands the famous copper beech with the carved initials of Yeats, O’Casey and others who paused from artistic pursuits for a moment of whimsy. Coole also has an inviting tearoom in one of the restored buildings.

Along a narrow road some three miles away stands Thoor Ballylee, a Norman tower that Yeats bought cheap in 1917 and restored as a summer home. The tower and its surroundings inspired several of his poems; it was a “blessed place,” he once wrote — a place where he grappled with love, civil war and death. Now a museum, the tower remains remote. Outside, only a small parking lot interrupts the pastoral surroundings of cow pasture and stream, and only a plaque on the ancient structure’s face tells of what once was:

I, the poet William Yeats

With old millboards and sea-green slates

And smithy work from the Gort forge

Restored this tower for my wife George;

And may these characters remain

When all is ruin once again.

My family and I dawdled in Gort, spending time with an aunt and uncle who have retired from farming. Now they feed a stove’s fire with sticks from the field, fix tea every 35 minutes or so, and tell stories — about the dear price of land during the country’s current economic boom, about the sure signs of a good jar of poteen (or moonshine), about the foibles and triumphs of neighbors and clergy. The television was usually off and the radio usually on, tuned to a station that would follow a traditional reel with a greatest hit of the Doors. No matter; it was all background music to “Do you know the house up the boreen?” and “More tea?”

When wanderlust struck, we knew that any outing we took, in any direction, would be memorable. One evening we planned to eat at either the Blackthorn or O’Grady’s — two recommended pubs in Gort — but our daughter fell asleep as soon as we exited the farmhouse gate. So, in an act approaching sacrilege, Mary and I bought cheeseburgers and french fries at Supermac’s — the McDonald’s of Gort — and drove three miles at twilight to the ruins of Kilmacduagh.

Jonathan Player for The New York Times
Thoor Ballylee, the stone tower where Yeats lived.

Founded by St. Colman Mac Duach early in the seventh century, the monastery has been host to prayer and plunder. Vikings raided its treasures in the 9th and 10th centuries, as did various clans in later centuries, but it remained the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop until the 16th century. Now, preserved in the midst of farmland, there are fine remnants of churches and a cathedral as well as a 110-foot-tall round tower that once provided refuge for monks in times of attack. On adjacent land is an ancient cemetery, a place where St. Colman was buried nearly 1,400 years ago, where Celtic crosses angle awkwardly toward the sky.

With our child sleeping and the radio playing wistful music, Mary and I watched the round tower slowly become a silhouette against the night sky. We imagined the secrets it had beheld, and the generations of farmers who looked up from their chores and miseries and drew strength from finding it still standing.

About the only long-distance excursion we made was some 30 miles southwest to the Cliffs of Moher, the spectacular formations of County Clare that signal the abrupt western end of Ireland. With photographs taken and faces stung by the snapping wind, we headed back toward Gort, meandering along the coast road north through the Burren — a long stretch of limestone-exposed hills sloping toward the sea.

Late that afternoon we stopped nine miles short of Gort in the seaport village of Kinvara, where we spent the night at a pleasant, relatively new hotel called the Merriman. Kinvara was fairly quiet. We walked its narrow streets, past pubs and the occasional shop catering to visitors; one sold ceramic “Irish frogs,” another specialized in the packing and shipping of Atlantic Irish salmon. It seemed to us that the village had struck a wonderful balance between tourism and a dedication to preserving its beauty.

Kinvara also provided one of those serene moments destined to linger in memory: sitting at a window seat of the Pier Head restaurant, drinking stout, eating smoked salmon and watching the boats bob in Kinvara Bay.

After a full Irish breakfast at the Merriman the next morning, it was back to bustling Gort, my personal reference point to Irish history. Guaire, the legendary King of Connacht, built a castle here in the seventh century. By the middle of the 19th century, it was a prosperous market town, with the spires of two churches dedicated to St. Colman — one Catholic, one Protestant — piercing the sky.

But the famine devastated the counties of Galway and Clare — and the town of Gort. An English visitor in 1850 described seeing hundreds of women and children shivering in and around the grounds of the Gort workhouse. “What dress they had seemed to be the rags of the red petticoat of the country from below the waist, rags of some black stuff above it,” he wrote. “Some of the infants were nearly naked, and very evidently in a most filthy state.”

The community slowly recovered, and by the early 20th century was playing a role in the revolution and subsequent civil war. Two miles from town, in the Shanaglish cemetery where my grandfather is buried, is a memorial to Patrick and Henry Loughnane, two brothers who were tortured and dragged to their deaths by British agents in 1920. Eighty years later, every schoolchild in town knows the story of the Loughnanes.

Jonathan Player for The New York Times
Pubs along the main street in Gort.

Today, Gort is like so many other Irish communities, striving to be modern while respecting its past. That Protestant church is now a library. The door to the very old Glynn’s Hotel bears a handwritten sign informing Supermac’s customers that yes, thank you, the hamburger shop has its own bathroom. And across from J. J. Coen’s, the tiny clothing store that has dressed farmers for generations, there is a shop selling cellular phones.

Late one Sunday night we went to the Archway, a pub that faces the center square. The men drank stout at the bar while the women sipped drinks at small round tables; their conversations blanketed the room in murmurs. Near the front of the room, a farmer from nearby Peterswell removed an accordion from its heavy case. Beside him was a man holding a flute, and another with a guitar.

As if on cue, men and women, my aunt included, wandered onto the worn wooden floor to take their places. A burst of ceili music shook the room, and they began to dance. Some closed their eyes as they whirled about; others stomped the hardwood in defiant joy. I sat there, watching my daughter clap her hands and my wife tap her feet, and I knew only this: I did not want to leave.

If you go


There are many guest houses and bed-and-breakfasts in and around Gort, as well as Sullivan’s Hotel, (353-91) 631257, fax (353-91) 631916, in the town square.

A luxurious addition is the 48-room Lady Gregory Hotel on the Ennis-Galway Road; (353-91) 632333, fax (353-91) 632332. E-mail, on the Web.

Nearby in Kinvara is the 32-room Merriman Hotel, on the Kinvara Road. (353-91) 638222, fax (353-91) 637686.


Jonathan Player for The New York Times
The famous copper beech at Coole Park.

The grounds of Coole Parkare open year-round. The interpretative center and tearoom are open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Easter to mid-June, daily 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. mid-June through August, and daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in September.

Thoor Ballylee, (353-91) 631436, the castle owned by William Butler Yeats, is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Easter through September. Admission is $4.20; children 12 and older, $1.21.; under 12, 90 cents.

The Kiltartan Gregory Museum, (353-91) 632346, at Kiltartan Cross in Gort, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 1 to Oct. 1. It is largely devoted to the works of Lady Augusta Gregory. Admission: $1.80, children 60 cents.

In Kinvara, Dunguaire Castle, (353-91) 637108, which has loomed over Kinvarra Bay for more than 400 years and is now open to visitors, decorated with furnishings from the various periods when it was occupied. It is open May through October; admission is $3.50, students $2.42. A four-course medieval dinner ($36) is presented, with period entertainment.

There is no fee to visit the ruins at Kilmacduagh.

Sometimes we cry

Sometimes , not always, once in a while

Sometimes We Cry” is a song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and included on his 1997 album, The Healing Game. This version features the backing vocals of Brian Kennedy and Georgie Fame.

It has often been performed as a duet and a version with Morrison and Tom Jones was included on Jones’ Reloadalbum that was released in 1999 and charted at #1 on the U.K. charts in both 1999 and 2000.

Van Morrison’s daughter Shana Morrison has often performed this as a duet with her father when she makes appearances at his concerts and also released it on her 1999 album, 7 Wishes. On this album version, her father joins in at the end of the song with his harmonica playing and vocals on the last verse. Shana said in an interview that she was surprised that her father agreed to over-dub his harmonica solo on the previously recorded studio song:

He usually does things live in one take and is opposed to any over-dubbing. It just came about all of a sudden. I asked him to do it, and he said yes. Maybe he was in a good mood that day.

For the Glory Of Ireland

To My Daughter Betty, The Gift of God

In wiser days, my darling rosebud, blown
To beauty proud as was your mother’s prime,
In that desired, delayed, incredible time,
You’ll ask why I abandoned you, my own,
And the dear heart that was your baby throne,
To dice with death. And oh! they’ll give you rhyme
And reason: some will call the thing sublime,
And some decry it in a knowing tone.
So here, while the mad guns curse overhead,
And tired men sigh with mud for couch and floor,
Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor,—
But for a dream, born in a herdsman’s shed,
And for the secret Scripture of the poor.

T. M. Kettle. 1880–1916



A condensed version of the short story By : Michael McLaverty.

This story risks of degenerating into mere propaganda , but the innocence of its boy narrator and the central symbol of pigeoons help keep the story’s implications universal.

Born  in Monaghan, but as a child moved to the city of  Belfast with his parents. The move from country to city recurs as a theme in his work; he also shows familiarity with life on the rugged coast of Ireland, having spent part of his boyhood on Rathlin Island.


Chapter 1 Pigeons

Our Johnny kept pigeons. Three white ones and a brown one that could tumble in the air like a leaf. They were nice pigeons, but they dirtied the house and made so much noise, so early in the morning that my dad said that someday he would wring their bloody necks. That is long ago now, because we still have the pigeons, but Johnny is dead; he died for Ireland.

Chapter 2 Saturdays

If I think of Johnny, I think of Saturday. Almost every Saturday night he would bring me something. Sweets, toys, a whistle. I would be asleep when he came in and he would shake me and say : “Frankie, Frankie, are you asleep?” I would rub my eyes with my fists. Johnny would be standing beside the bed and I would smile at him. Maybe he would put a sweet in my mouth. He would play games with me and tell me stories about ice-cream shops and pet shops with funny pigeons and mice in the window. He promised me that someday he was going to bring me to town and buy me a black and white mouse and an ice-cream. But he’ll never do it now, because he died for Ireland.

On Saturdays I watched for him at the backdoor, when he was coming from work. He would lift me on to his shoulder and swing me round and round until my head got light. My Mum said he spoiled me. He always gave me pennies on Saturday, two pennies. I bought a sweet with one penny and kept the other for Sunday.

After Johnny had washed himself clean we would get our Saturday dinner, the dinner with the sausages because it was payday. Johnny used to give me some of his sausages, but my Mum would slap me for eating his food. After dinner we went out to the yard to the pigeons.

The pigeon shed was on the roof of the toilet. There was a ladder to get on it, but Johnny wouldn’t let me climb it because he was afraid I would break my neck. But I used to climb up when he wasn’t looking.

The Pigeon Shed
When Johnny opened the door to let the pigeons out, they would fly out in a line, brownie first and the white ones last. We would lie on the ground to watch them fly. Round and round and higher and higher they would fly until we could not see them anymore. Johnny always saw them first. “I can see them, Frankie,” he would say. “There they are. Look! Above the chimney!” He would put his arm around my neck and point with his hand until I saw them too.

All day we would sit, if the weather was good, watching our pigeons flying. When they were tired they would land on the roof and Johnny would throw corn up to them. Saturday was a great day for us and for our pigeons, but is was on Saturday that Johnny died for Ireland.
Chapter 3 That Saturday

We were lying, as usual, in the garden, while the pigeons were let out to fly around. It was a lovely sunny day.
On that day we were laughing about the way brownie was tumbling, when a strange man came near us. Johnny jumped up to meet him. I saw them talking and then the strange man went away. Johnny looked sad and didn’t laugh at brownie any more. He gave me some things and said : “Don’t say anything to Mum. Look after the pigeons, Frankie, until I come back. I won’t be long.” Then he walked away without turning around to wave at me. The rest of the day I watched the pigeons until Mum called me for tea. She asked me about Johnny and I told her it wouldn’t be long until he was back. Then it got late. The pigeons flew into their shed, and still Johnny didn’t come back. When Dad came home from work we were all in the house, except for Johnny. We were all quiet, but Mum was sighing. They forgot all about my bedtime and I stayed up, but my eyes felt full of sand. The rain was falling. We kept waiting. Dad went outside and when he came in Mum asked : “Is there any sign of him?” and my Dad said : “None yet; but he’ll be all right, he’ll be alright. We’ll say the prayers, and he’ll be in before we’re finished.” We were just ready to kneel when a knock came to the back door. “That’s him now,” said Dad, and I saw my mother’s face light up. Daddy went into the back yard and I heard feet shuffling. “Easy now, easy now,” said someone. Then Daddy came in, his face white as a sheet. He said something to Mum. “Mother of God, it isn’t true, it isn’t!” she said. Dad turned to me and sent me up to bed. Up in my room I could see down into the back yard. I saw men with black hats but I couldn’t see Johnny. Then I saw my Dad bending over something. I got scared and went to my sister’s room. They were crying and I cried too. “What’s wrong?” I asked. But they only cried and said I had to go to sleep like a good little boy. My sister laid me in her bed and then I slept.

Chapter 4 For Ireland

The next morning when I woke the house was quiet and strange. I went my room and saw my Mum sitting on a chair. She stretched out her arms and I ran across and knelt beside her, burying my face in her lap. She rubbed my head and said : “you’re the only boy I have now.” And then she cried and I cried and I asked : “What’s wrong, Mammie?” “Nothing, darling: nothing, pet. He died for Ireland.” I turned my head and looked at the bed. Johnny was lying on the white bed in a brown dress. His hands were pale and they were joined around his rosary beads. I cried more and more and then Mum made me put on my clothes and go downstairs for my breakfast. All that day Mum stayed in the room to talk to the people that came to see our Johnny. And all the women shook hands with Mum and they all said the same thing : “I’m sorry for your trouble, but he died for his country.” When my Mum opened the window in the room, we could hear the pigeons cooing and flapping in the shed. It’s well Dad didn’t hear them or he might have wrung their necks. At night the kitchen was filled with people. One man told Daddy to be a proud man, because Johnny had died for the Republic. My Daddy blinked his eyes when he heard this, and he got up and went into the yard for a long time.
Chapter 5 Funeral

The next day was the funeral. Black, shiny horses came into the street and all the boys were playing on the street. But I didn’t play because Johnny was dead and I had on a new, dark suit. There were many policemen in the street. Three men carried together with my Dad the yellow coffin down the stairs. There was a green, white and gold flag over it. But a thin policeman pulled the flag off the coffin when it went into the street.

At the end of the street there were more policemen and every one wore a harp with a crown on his cap. Brother Gabriel at school used to beat us if we drew harps with crowns on them. One day we told him that the police wore them on their caps.

“Huh”, he said, “the police! The police! They don’t love their country. They serve England. England, my boys! The England that chased and starved our people. No, my dear boys, never draw a harp with a crown on it!” And then he made us write :

Next to God, I love thee
Dear Ireland, my native land!

“It’s a glorious thing,” he said, “to die for Ireland, to die for Ireland.”

The road to the cemetery was lined with people and it was nice to see that so many came. Outside the gates of the graveyard there was an armored car. Inside it was very still and warm with the sun shining. With my Daddy I walked behind the coffin. The crowds of people were quiet. I began to cry when I saw the deep hole in the ground. Daddy had bowed his head and there were tears in his eyes, but they didn’t run down his cheeks like mine did. The priest began to pray and I knew that I would never see Johnny again, never, never, until I’d die and go to Heaven if I listened to my Mum and Daddy. But I wouldn’t like my Dad to tell me to give away the pigeons. When the priest was finished a tall man talked about our Johnny being a soldier of the Republic and sometimes he pointed at the grave. As soon as he stopped talking all the people went away. I got a ride back in a black cab with my Daddy and Uncle Pat and Uncle Joe. We stopped at “The Bee Hive”, and they bought lemonade for me. And then we went home.

Chapter 6 Pigeons

I still have the pigeons and big Tom Duffy helps me to clean the shed and let them out to fly. In the evening I give them plenty of corn so that they’ll sleep long and not waken Dad in the morning. Yesterday I was lying on my back watching the pigeons when my Daddy came walking towards me. I tried to show him the pigeons flying through the clouds. He only looked at them for a minute and turned away without speaking, and now I’m hoping he won’t wring their necks.
The End

From : Marloes van Willigen

Ireland – A history of violence

So many years of fighting can’t just stop. Things take time. And maybe someday the “wars” in Ireland will stop and the Irish people can live on. Live on in peace but with a history of violence that will not ever disappear.

“He died for his country.
You should be proud”.
But what proud is there in burying your son?


Death and destruction are not things we have grown up side by side with, but in Ireland this is the merciless truth for many people.
Children growing up seeing their fathers and older brothers dying in battle for Ireland. Children getting killed while playing in the streets by lose bullets from street fights.
People fighting for their country. Dying for their country.
But this battle or war – the battle between Ireland and England, Catholics and Protestants, South and North or perhaps good and evil as some Irishmen would put it – has been going on way too long.
But people still fight like they have been doing it in so many years now. Will we not ever see the end of all this?

But people have always been fighting. For survival. For honour. For leadership. For respect. For power. For justice. For freedom. Why should this be any different. People are still fighting each other like people have been doing in all history of mankind.
But the fights in Ireland are somehow different. This will not stop until England lets go of Ireland and Ireland gets to be completely independent. Until this people will still be fighting.
Fathers will still be burying their sons.
Wives – their husbands.
Parents – their children.
And people will still be saying, “He died for his country. You should be proud”. But what proud is there in burying your son?

Like the story “Pigeons”, by Michael McLaverty, where we are following little Frankie whose big brother, Johnny, goes to fight for Ireland and die. Little Frankie is taking over the pigeons from Johnny and in that way perhaps also the duty of fighting for Ireland.
The whole family is mourning and people are telling them that, “It’s a glorious thing, to die for Ireland, to die for Ireland!”, and that they should be proud. But what is there to be proud about for a father who just lost his oldest son?
But this is or was Ireland. Sons dying for Ireland, fathers dying for Ireland, and people telling the families to be proud.
In the story a priest also says, “The police! The police! They don’t love their country. They serve England. England, my boys! The England that chased our people to live in the damp bogs. The England that starved our ancestors till they had to eat grass and nettles by the roadside.”, which is a good indicator of how the people maybe felt it. Forced to live of nothing because of England.
People hating England and everything about England. And people feeling that the things there was against them, like the police, also were servants of England.

Peace hasn’t been achieved yet. People today still die of terrorist attacks of IRA or in fights between the police and the nationalists.
Ireland is a country with a history of violence. Violence has been and still is a everyday thing and it has affected many lives. Too many lives. This is unfortunately the pure truth of Ireland.
People fighting for dream and dying for a dream. The dream of an independent Ireland. People keep getting killed – and the dream goes on with more hate against England and the people who support England.

So many years of fighting can’t just stop. Things take time. And maybe someday the “wars” in Ireland will stop and the Irish people can live on. Live on in peace but with a history of violence that will not ever disappear.


Baile the Sweet-Spoken, Son of Búan

Baile the Sweet-Spoken, Son of Búan

This magical story of love requited after death attracted W.B.Yeats so much that made it into one of his longer poems, “Baile and Aillinn”.
This 750 word scenario would doubtless have been expanded to ten times the length as an oral narrative.


Baile the Sweet-Spoken, Son of Búan
The three grandsons of Capa, son of Cinga, son of Ros, son of Rudraige, were Monach, and Búan[1] and Fer-Corb, a quibus[2] Dál mBúain and Dál Cuirb, and the Monachs of Arad.[3]

Búan’s only son was Baile; he was the specially beloved of Aillinn, the daughter of Lugaid son of Fergus Fairge[4] (or the daughter of Eogan, the son of Dathi).[5] And he was the specially beloved of every one who saw or heard him, both men and women, on account of his novel stories. And they made an appointment to meet at Ros na Ríg,[6] at Lann Máelduib, on the brink of the Boyne in Brega.

The man[7] came from the north to meet her, from Emain Macha, over Sílab Fúaid,[8] over Muirtheimne[9] to Tráig Baile.[10] Here they unyoked their chariots, sent their horses out to graze, and turned themselves to pleasure and happiness.

While there, they saw a horrible spectral personage coming towards them from the south. Vehement was his step and his rapid progress. The manner in which he sped over the earth might be compared to the darting of a hawk down a cliff; or to wind from off the green sea. His left was towards the land.

‘Let him be met,’ said Baile, ‘to ask him where he goes, and where he comes from, and what is the cause of his haste.’ ‘To Túag Inbir[11] I go back, to the north, now, from Sílab Suide Laigen,[12] and I have no news but of the daughter of Lugaid son of Fergus, who had fallen in love with Baile son of Búan, and was coming to meet him, until the youths of Leinster overtook her, and she was killed by the forcible detention, as it was promised by druids and good prophets for them, and that they would not part for ever after. This is my news.’ And he darted away from them like a blast of wind over the green sea, and they were not able to detain him.

When Baile heard this, he fell dead without life, and his tomb was raised, and his ráth,[13] and his tombstone was set up, and his fair of lamentation was held by the Ultonians. And a yew tree grew up through his grave, and the form and shape of Baile’s head was visible on top of it, hence Tráig Baile.

Afterwards the same man went to the south to where the maiden Aillinn was, and went into the gríanán.[14] ‘Whence comes the man that we do not know?’ said the maiden. ‘From the northern half of Erinn, from Túag Inbir, and past this place to Slíab Suide Laigen.’ ‘Have you news?’ said the maiden. ‘I have no news worth relating now, but that I have seen the Ultonians holding a fair of lamentation, and raising a ráth, and erecting a stone, and writing his name, to Baile son of Búan, the rígdamn[15] of Ulster, by the side of Tráig Baile, [who died] whilst he was coming to meet a favourite and beloved woman to whom he had given love; for it is not destined for them that they should reach each other alive, or that one of them should see the other alive.’ He darted off after telling the evil news. Aillinn fell dead without life, and her tomb was raised, etc. And an apple—tree grew through her grave, and became a great tree at the end of seven years, and the shape of Aillinn’s head upon its top.

At the end of seven years, poets and prophets and visioners cut down the yew which was over the grave of Baile, and they made a poet’s tablet of it, and they wrote the visions and the espousals and the loves and the courtships of Ulster in it. [The apple-tree which grew over Aillinn was also cut down and] in the same way the courtships of Leinster were written in it.

When Samain had arrived, afterwards, and its festival was made by Art the son of Conn, the poets and the professors of every art came to that feast, as it was their custom, and they brought their tablets with them. And these tablets also came there, and Art saw them, and when he saw them he asked for them. And the two tablets were brought, and he held them in his hands face to face. Suddenly the one tablet of them sprang upon the other, and they became united the same as woodbine around a twig, and it was not possible to separate them. And they were preserved like every other jewel in the treasury at Tara, until it was burned by Dúnlang the son of Énna,[16] namely, at the time that he burned the princesses at Tara.

1. MS ‘Baile’ is corrected to ‘Buan’.
2. i.e. ‘from whom are’.
3. All these territories are in County Down.
4. Descended from Núadu Necht, legendary ancestor of most Irish dynasties.
5. An alternative descent; the identity of Eogan and Dashi is uncertain.
6. Rosnaree, a ford on the Boyne, near Slane, County Meath.
7. i.e. Baile.
8. Pews mountains, County Armagh.
9. Muirtheimne Plain, extending from Drogheda to Dundalk, County Louth.
10. In English, ‘Baile’s Strand’, at Dundalk.
11. Estuary of the Benn, County Derry.
12. Mount Leinsscr, in the barony of Ferns, County Wexford.
13. English ‘rash, enclosure’.
14. English ‘sunny chamber’.
15. English ‘royal heir’.
16. An early Leinster king, reputed to have burned thirty princesses with their retinues, on account of which the Bóruma tribute was re-imposed.

SOURCE: O’Curry, Eugene. Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History (Dublin, 1861; rpr. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1995), pp. 472—5.