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.

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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.


Paddy on the railroad

 No blacks, some dogs, lots of Irish:

Review of An Irish Navvy, Donall MacAhmlaigh, translated by Valentin Iremonger



In the preface to The Making of the English Working Class, E. P. Thompson apologizes to the Scots and the Welsh for limiting his book to the English, but includes Irish immigrants, devoting twelve pages of the book to `The Irish’, and noting Irish immigration throughout the book. Thompson claims that it is `arguable’ that France lost Europe when it failed to invade Britain in 1797 when Ireland was on the point of rebellion: `the invasion, when it came, was of a different order; it was the invasion of England and Scotland by the Irish poor.’

Donall MacAmhlaigh’s 1964 book, originally published in Irish as Dialann Deorai(Diary of an exile), is one of the minor classics of a later phase of this invasion. MacAmlaigh (`MacOULig’) came from County Galway, a largely Irish speaking county in the West of Ireland, moved to Kilkenny in the South East at fourteen, and later joined the First Battalion of the Irish Army, the Irish-speaking unit stationed in County Galway. After three years of the army, he emigrated to England. An Irish Navvy is his account of six years labouring in the South and midlands. He later settled in Northampton, where he died in 1989 after a lifetime writing and working the sites.

The Irish labour which came to help rebuild Britain after the war was absorbed into, and expanded, an existing culture (take a look at the Guardian’s ethnic map of London to see what I mean), mainly in the areas where the A5, the main road from Holyhead, hits North London. Even now, as you leave Camden Town tube station, you will see a sign for the Irish Centre. The workers brought their regional loyalties with them. Early in the book, MacAmhlaigh describes a fight between a Leitrim man and one Ginger Folan from the Gaelteacht (Irish speaking area) which had been transplanted into County Meath. The Meath man was nervous about the resentment borne by the natives of the county towards the Irish speakers who had been awarded land there.

At the time, MacAmhlaigh was a hospital orderly in Northampton, in the early days of the NHS. On arrival, he learns to get on with Lithuanians, Ukrainians and Italians, discovering that they also have their regional rivalries, finds ale unimpressive, it not standing up well in comparison to porter and considers `devilish stuff called spam’ little better. He is assigned his National Insurance number and a ration book, noting how `wonderfully pleasant’ the staff were, unlike their Irish equivalents.

Eventually, MacAmhlaigh leaves the hospital to take up navvying with Mike Ned, a Curran from Cornomona. They mount the wagon of the contractor and go to Towcester in search of a start. The work is got and our men set to breaking the ground with picks. Things go as well as could be expected until the ganger puts them on the mixer (`Come all you pincher laddies and you long distance men//Don’t ever work for Wimpey, for McAlpine or John Laing.//For they’ll chain you to the mixer and they’ll set you shovelling sand,//And they’ll say good on you Paddy, with your passport in your hand.’). Tricked into carrying the bags of cement, MacAmhlaigh cannot straighten his back the next morning, but fortunately finds himself digging a hole for the day for his three shillings an hour plus bonus.

The book is a collection of stories of work sought and found in hotels, in fields, and on building sites for railways and a US Air Force base at Brize Norton, where our man is sorry to learn that the Texan with whom he has a chat behind a hangar `knows nothing at all about Cowboys or Red Indians’. The work, hard as it is, is still better than staying in Ireland (for comparison, an Irish labourer digging a Tube line in the fifties could make about as much in a night as he would make in a week in Ireland) and MacAmhlaigh and many of his compatriots stay in their huts on remote sites, saving money for a return to Ireland which most of them never make.

Much of the money ends up on the outside walls of the pubs and dancehalls in provincial towns or in the Irish areas of London, Kilburn and Camden, where the youth of whole villages have been transplanted and Irish is as widely spoken as English. The world is that of Patrick Hamilton seen through the bleary gaze of Brendan Behan. Men lodge with, and labour under, gangers by the name of the Bruiser Joyce or Horse Face Toole, sending money home to a small town or a village in rural Ireland. The only Dubliners in the book are those MacAmhlaigh meets on his way through Dublin ferry port: the Irish world in London is a rural one, dependent, like many emigrant communities, on the remittances of migrants. For the children of farms or small towns, London is as far away as Dublin, for practical purposes, and the chances of well-paid work are better. The life, in so far as people can manage it, is small-town life. They attend Mass on a Sunday (even if it means rising early to make work in the railway tunnel), and make a point of fasting on Good Friday. Pleasure is a few pints in the evening and, for MacAmhlaigh, the library: Goodbye, Mr Chips is a favorite.

MacAmhlaigh has an acute eye for detail: compressors in a railway tunnel near Rugby are `as big as ass-carts back home’; when a Teddy Boy singer pours a bottle of milk (yes, milk, not only Ireland has changed in the last fifty years) over his own head, he remembers a woman nearby saying `’e ain’t half being sent’ and records the contempt of his compatriot for the latchico on stage. He finds the English well-dressed compared to the people `back home’; they are tall `and you’d never think from them that they hadn’t had enough to eat for years’, but he will never agree with their view that the drink is an excuse for darts and cribbage where the Irish know `that the drink and the conversation’ were the point.

The worlds MacAmhlaigh describes are long gone for the Irish: even the youngest people he worked with are old now and the Ryanair flight to Knock resembles the Holyhead cattle boat only in its consideration for the comfort of passengers. Where emigrants, Irish or Polish, can now fly home for a weekend, they would once have spent years in England without knowing their younger siblings. The world of the start and the ganger is now the world of the Portugese agricultural labourer, the Chinese cocklepicker and the Filipino nurse. The Irish will soon be back to join them. The signs no longer say `No blacks, no dogs, no Irish’, but they might as well in some places.

  • MacAmhlaigh, Donall, An Irish navvy, 978-1-903464-36-6

Irish Slaves

Tá sé sin ait, ní fheictear mar Gaeil sibh –

That’s funny, you guys don’t look Irish

Irish Slavery in America

One of the topics of interest to a number of our people is the Irish language in America. This is intimately related with the subject of indentured servitude and slavery in America. Gerry Kelly has contributed the following information, as a sample of the research he and others do on this subject.

The following website is an excellent overview of slave revolts although, unfortunately, the author doesn’t mention Irish slaves or the mixed Irish/African slave populations: Enslaved African Resistance and Revolts

Please note in particular:

“First serious enslaved African conspiracy in Colonial America, Sept. 13. Servant betrayed plot of White servants and enslaved Africans in Gloucester County, Va.” I haven’t done any research on this rising but given that it’s in 1663, these “White servants” were probably Irish slaves captured and sold during the heyday of the Irish slave trade (1649-1657) under Cromwell. The Cromwellian (i.e., Puritan) government in Ireland gave the slave monopolies to good Puritan merchants who then sold on to other good Puritan merchants in the Caribbean, Virginia, and New England. (The Royalists/Anglicans got nearly nothing out of the Irish slave trade.) The first witch killed (1688) in the famous Massachusetts witch trials was an old Irish slavewoman (Anne Glover) who had been captured by Cromwellian forces and sold as a slave in the 1650s. She could recite the Lord’s Prayer in Irish and Latin, but didn’t speak English. So Cotton Mather and the boys hung her. Cotton Mather was quite proud of his visiting the poor woman in jail and interviewing her (tormenting her) at length on the nature of religion and her ‘sins’ through an interpreter. He wrote a book about it (Memorable Providences, which you can find at COTTON MATHER, MEMORABLE PROVIDENCES, RELATING TO WITCHCRAFTS AND POSSESSIONS The book included detailed descriptions of the torments witches can inflict on their victims. It became a best seller in Old and New England, was read in the home of the teenage girls who started the Salem witch-trials, and is now put forward as one of the likely sources of inspiration for their fantastic accusations. Talk about the crimes of a people coming back to haunt them.
“Series of suspicious fires and reports of enslaved Africans conspiracy led to general hysteria in New York City, March and April. Thirty-one enslaved Africans and five Whites were executed.” I’ve seen some documents on this before. It’s called the “1741 Negro Conspiracy” or “New York Slave Conspiracy of 1741.” The 5 whites were Irish indentured servants of the “Teague” sort. Teagues were Irish-speaking papists. You’ll note that ‘Teague’ is still British Army slang for an Irish Catholic in Northern Ireland today.
(Another nice reference to “Teagues” is found in the trial transcripts related to the Boston Massacre which killed Crispus Attucks (African-American), Samuel Gray, James Coldwell, Samuel Maverick, and Patrick Carr (Irish-American?). John Adams, representing the accused British soldiers, blamed the initial stone-throwing, abuse, and rabble-rousing which started the incident on Teagues in the crowd, which was no doubt accurate. Teagues were noted throughout the American colonies for their trouble-making and hatred of British authority. From Newfoundland to Barbados, the British felt they could always trust a Teague to be at the bottom of any political trouble.)
“The Berbice enslaved Africans Rebellion breaks out (at the time when Berbice was a separate Dutch colony). It begins on one estate, but soon spreads to others along the Berbice River. The revolt is the result of the cruelty with which the Dutch plantation owners have been treating the enslaved Africans, and it was led by a an enslaved African named Coffy.” Although this is a Dutch colony, it’s interesting to note that Coffy is an Irish Gaelic surname. Was he (or an ancestor) sold from a British colony to the Dutch?
“The Irish presence in Montserrat dates back to the 1630s, when the first pioneers — Roman Catholics — sailed over from St. Kitts because of friction with British Protestant settlers there. The Irish planters brought Enslaved Africans to work their sugar cane fields. Soon the enslaved Africans outnumbered them 3-to-1 and began rebelling. In 1768, the enslaved Africans planned an island-wide attack on St. Patrick’s Day, when the planters would be celebrating…. But someone leaked the plan…. Local authorities punished the enslaved Africans severely, hanging nine. Today people mix their annual celebration of shamrocks and green beer with memories of an aborted enslaved African revolt against Irish planters. The result is a Caribbean amalgam of colonial culture and African pride — a week long fete with islanders dancing Irish jigs one night, then mocking their one-time masters the next by cracking whips and masquerading in tall hats like bishops’ miters. “We are celebrating the rise of the African freedom fighters said historian Howard Fergus.”

Unfortunately, the author does not note here that Montserratans know and accept that they descend from both Irish and African slaves. In fact, the shamrocks, jigs, mitres, and whips reflect a combination of pride, sorrow, and memory of both lineages. English planters soon followed Irish planters onto the island, and both groups owned Irish and African slaves. I’ll bet if we researched this we’d find out that the 9 hung were Gaelic-speakers of mixed Irish/African ancestry, like most other Montserratans of the time. Most Montserratans spoke Irish Gaelic until about 1900.

About 100 years after the 1768 rebellion, a ship crewed by Irish-speaking Corkmen dropped anchor at Montserrat. At the dock, they were amazed to hear black Montserratans speaking Irish. As cordial conversation went forward between the two groups in formal Gaelic fashion, the Montserratans referred to Cork as “Corcaigh na gCuan” (Cork of the Harbors), a poetical term for Cork used by the filí (hereditary prophet-poets of the Irish nobility) which had not been in common use in Ireland since the destruction of the Gaelic social system in the 17th century. Eventually, as things loosened up a bit, it’s said the Montserratans also informed the Corkmen with good humor and a straight face “Tá sé sin ait, ní fheictear mar Gaeil sibh” – “That’s funny, you guys don’t look Irish.” This was a great hit with the Corkmen and reported widely enough among Irish speakers that eventually even I read about it.

Now the icing on the cake which I have first-hand from Eileen Zurrell, an Irish teacher and friend of ours on Long Island who used to teach at the Gerry Tobin Irish Language School until about 6-7 years ago. About 20 years ago now, a little black girl walked up to Eileen, confirmed that Eileen was an Irish teacher, and then recited a Gaelic poem taught to her by her Montserratan grandmother. Creidim uaim é, níl mé ag súgradh / Believe me, I’m not kidding.

Source :

The Irish Slave Trade

Caribbean Map

The early slave trade in the 1600s is well documented with misery inflicted upon possibly up to 11 million people torn forcibly from West Africa to labour in appalling conditions in the the United States and the Caribbean.

History Journal has uncovered fascinating research into the role of Irish people exposed to the same suffering in the early

slave trade with Irish deportees and indentured servants sent to the same dreadful conditions initially in Antigua and Monserrat and later in Barbados and the United States.


From the early 1600s to 1800 many 1000s of irish people were sent to slave conditions in the carribean and US as part of the trade in human labour that marked the start of the slave trade.

Irish and african people suffered under dreadful conditions in Barbados, Antigua, the southern states of the US and Brazil. The legacy of this trade in Irish people still remains today with a strong Irish mark left on the culture of the Carribean.

Indentured Servants

Although there are records of Irish people being transported to South America as early as 1612, the earliest confirmed records of indentured servitude date from 1636.

Cromwell’s Deportations

Cromwell had a devastating effect on the population of Ireland in the 1600s, reducing it by 500,000 just 1.1 million from 1641 onwards. During his reign, more than 50,000 Irish people, mostly women and children, were forcibly deported to Barbados to work on sugar plantations.

Redlegs in Barbados and Antigua

The Irish in Bardados earned the pejorative term ‘Redlegs’ as they struggled in the extreme heat and sun on sugar plantations. Their legacy remains to this day.



Africans and Irish in Barbados

During the 1600’s, African slaves and Irish natives shared a common fate on the island of Barbados. Slaves first arrived on the island in the 1620’s with the first white settlers and continued to be brought there as the need for labor created a new market for the international slave trade. By 1645, the black population on the island was 5680, and by 1667, there were over 40,000 slaves on the island. In the early years of the colony’s growth, Barbados also became a destination for military prisoners and Irish natives. Oliver Cromwell “barbadosed” Irish who refused to clear off their land and allowed other Irish to be kidnaped from the streets of Ireland and transported to Barbados. Those who were barbadosed were sold as slaves or indentured servants, to British planters. They lived in slave conditions and had no control over the number of years they had to serve. The number of Barbadosed Irish in not known and estimates very widely, from a high of 60,000 to a low of 12,000.

Both groups suffered in harsh conditions and joined together to revolt against British settlers.

The colony had its own set of problems, including raids by Spanish and French pirates, and turbulent weather that decimated crops and precipitated African and Irish slave revolts. Slave revolts often coincided with raids or uncontrollable weather when slave owners were distracted and sent slaves to other settlers or towns for help. The ability to move about gave slaves an opportunity to pass on information to other rebels. The rebellions increased the fear of white slave owners and added to the image of Irish natives as wild savages.

The enslavement of Africans in Barbados continued until 1834 when slaves were emancipated, and then apprenticed for a period of four years. By then the kidnaped Irish had disappeared into history and the census of the 1880’s did not identify any Barbadians as Irish. What did remain was a small population of poor whites, often called ‘redlegs’, who may be the descendants of the Barbadosed Irish.




For related information, see the following Subject Headings:


For further reading:


Akenson,D. If the Irish Ran the World. Montserrat 1630 -1730. The McGill-Queens University Press. 1997.Handler, J. “Unshackled Spaces: Fugitives from Slavery and Maroon Communities in America.” Yale University: The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition,12/6-7/ 2002. Linebaugh, P. and Rediker, M. The Many Headed Hydra. Beacon Press.2000.McCafferty, K. Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl. Viking Press. 2002.

O’Callaghan, S. To Hell or Barbados. Brandon Books Pub. Ltd., 2001

Vaughan,A. Roots of American Racism. Oxford University Press. 1995.


The Pouges , Live in Paris

A comment from


difference between an irish and an English , well of course everyone is the same and generality leads to a certain racism.But, to me with my observation of the two kind , i would say that if you are looking for fight , you ll get it straight away with an irish guy, . English on the other hand is more like  coward generally, he would make big noise to attract attention and likely the police to save him, if it s in a deserted area, he ll just disappear and if he re appear it be with friends to be sure he beat you and he ll have no mercy , they can punch even if you faint or if u dead, irish don t do that but they know how to deal with English for they know them for a long time , they just shove a knife iinto them , end of the story 😉
i listen to the pogues by accident, i wasinto punk music from lou reed to pil, the exploited that kind of stuff and i heard the pogues and thougt that voice was great full of violence so i thought t was punk but it s old irish folk song with maybe  a bit of punk but it came natually like if punk was already in the irish blood lik whiskey is in their coffee.
Enjoy the music

The Black Irish of the Caribbean

Irish accents in the Caribbean

Irish-Jamaican. The master race has been created

Montserrat is known as the “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”.

A Radharc report from 1976 about the Black Irish of Montserrat. Irish people exiled by Cromwell and African slaves arrived on Montserrat at about the same time.

Jamaican poeple playing Irish music mqdefault[1]

In NY Subway



Jamaican Paddys

A Short History of the Irish in Jamaica

“I only wish the poor Irish were half as well off”


p016m58d[1]“When Irish eyes are smiling, sure It’s like the morning spring, in the lilt of Irish laughter, you can hear the angels sing; when Irish hearts are happy all the world seems bright and gay, and when Irish eyes are smiling, sure they’ll steal your heart away.”

In this short article l attempt to answer a puzzle that has bothered and intrigued me from I first set foot in Jamaica 20 years ago. What is it about this small island and it’s people, six thousand miles away from Ireland, and with a population that originated mainly from a different continent, that made me feel so at home, that caused me, and many like me to make it our home, and to cause many to ask if “I man born ya?”.
That I was not the first Irishman to set foot on these shores was blatantly obvious from the Irish place names that abound in Jamaica. Irish Town and Dublin Castle in the cool hills of St. Andrew ; Irish Pen and Sligoville in St. Catherine; Athenry and Bangor Ridge in Portland; Clonmel and Kildare in St. Mary; Belfast and Middleton in St. Thomas; Ulster Spring in Trelawny and Leinster road, Leitrim road, Waterford, Longford Road, Killarney Avenue, Sackville Road and Kinsale Avenue all in Kingston and St. Andrew. There are two St. Patrick’s churches and in typical Irish fashion, the church on Windward Road is Protestant and the one in Waterhouse is Catholic!

And then there were the obviously Irish surnames, with the less than obvious features to go with them: The Burkes, The Collins, The Lynches, The Murphys , The Maddens, The Mullings, The Lanigans, The Walshes, The McCarthys, McCormacks, McDermotts, McDonnoughs, McGanns, McLaughlins, and McMorris’s. The O’Briens, O’Connors, O’Reilleys, O’Haras and O’Meallys – the list is almost endless.

Two of my personal favourites, and I might add, two of my good friends have names any self respecting Irishman would be proud of – O’Brien Kennedy and Daniel O’Reilly Kelly!!

To understand the history and background of the Irish in Jamaica one has to go right back to the year 1655, when Admiral Penn and General Venables, having failed miserably at taking Santo Domingo in Hispaniola, and not wanting to return home empty handed, turned their attention to Jamaica, where the Spanish settlers could put up only a token resistance. Having quickly captured Santiago De la Vega, the modern day Spanish Town, they sent to Barbados and the Leeward Islands for fresh blood to populate this latest acquisition.

Records show that the vast majority of the first wave were in fact Irish men and women, some of whom were indentured labourers, but the majority of whom were slaves.

And how did they reach Barbados? For that we have to thank Oliver Cromwell who in 1648 put down a rebellion in Ireland with such savagery and cruelty that his name is still burned into the Irish psyche today. In his own words, after the siege of Drogheda —

“The officers were knocked on the head, every tenth man of the soldiers killed and the rest shipped to Barbados.”

Cromwell drove Irish men and women from their home counties into the relatively barren and inhospitable province of Connaught. The soldiers and the intelligentsia, mainly Catholic Priests, teachers and Gaelic Bards, posed a real threat to a new government, and his solution was to institute a system of forced labour, which would provide British planters in the Caribbean with a massive influx of white indentured labourers. In Thurloe’s State papers, it was ‘a measure beneficial to Ireland, which was thus relieved of a population that might trouble the planters, and of great benefit to the sugar planters who desired the men and boys for their bondsmen and women and Irish girls in a country where they had only Maroon women and Negresses to solace them.’ Speaking from my own personal experience I would say that the planters came off the worst in that deal!!! Cromwell’s son, Henry was made Major General in command of his forces in Ireland and it was under his reign that hundreds of thousands of Irish men and women were shipped to the West Indies.
From 1648 – 1655 over 12,000 Irish political prisoners were shipped to Barbados. Although indentured servants (Irish included) have been coming to Barbados since 1627, this new wave of arrivals were the first to come involuntarily. The Irish prisoners made up for a serious labour shortage caused by English Planters, lack of access to African slaves. The Dutch and Portuguese dominated the slave trade in the early 17th century, and most white land owners in Barbados and the neighbouring islands were unable to purchase slaves of African origin.

A Jesuit priest Father J.J. Williams , in his 1932 book ‘ The Black Irish of Jamaica’ details chapter and verse the subsequent shipments from Barbados and direct from ‘The Auld Sod’ . The last shipment appears to have been in 1841 from Limerick , aboard the “SS Robert Kerr”, a voyage that took seven weeks. The “Kingston Gleaner” noted that “they landed in Kingston wearing their best clothes and temperance medals”..meaning, believe it or not, that they did not drink alcohol!

We thus have records spanning a period of approximately two hundred years and many thousands of mainly teenage boys and girls. Barbados, which received the majority of ‘deportees’ from Ireland still has a small population of ‘red shanks’ or ‘red legs’ – descendants of Irish slaves and indentured labourers, much the same as Jamaicans of German ancestry in Seaford Town in St. James.

The Jesuit order have had a big impact on the Archdiocese of Kingston, and included many Irish Americans – one being the Reverend Thomas Addis Emmet, a direct descendant of a famous Irish patriot, Robert Emmet.

Montserrat under Sir Thomas Warner was populated almost entirely by Irish. To this day it is known as ‘The Emerald Isle’. They stamp your passport with a shamrock and celebrate their Independence Day on March 17th. – St. Patrick’s Day. A tribute not to their Irish roots, but to the fact that on that day the African slaves rose in rebellion, knowing that their Irish masters would be well and truly drunk in the Great House celebrating St.Paddy’s Day!!! There is a shamrock carved over the door of the Governor’s house, and their stamps are printed with an Irish harp on them. Montserrat is currently under dire threat from the eruption of its volcano, and will be devastated if the ‘Galway wall’ collapses. Other areas under threat include Cork, Kinsale, and Sweeney’s Well. A high percentage of Calypsonians are from Montserrat, a reflection of their Irish heritage in singing.

St. Kitts is currently building a monument to Irish slavery in commemoration of the 25,000 Irish men and women who were shipped there as slaves. In one particularly gruelling story, over 150 Irish slaves were caught practising Catholicism, and were shipped to the tiny uninhabitable Crab Island, where they were left to die of starvation. Of the Irish who managed to stay alive under these drastic conditions, and their descendants, many were eventually shipped from the West Indies sugar plantations to the new English settlements in South Carolina.

Lest I be accused of a one-sided view of history, let me hasten to add that there were other Irish, or more correctly Anglo-Irish who had an influence on Jamaica.

Both Lord and Lady Nugent had Irish ancestry, and George Nugent served as Adjutant General in Ireland. His signature is on the death warrant for Robert Emmet, a patriot who was executed in 1803, and whose speech from the dock contained the immortal phrase:

“Let no man write my epitaph …when my country takes her place among the nations of the earth then and not till then let my epitaph be written.”

Lady Nugent in her journal of her residence in Jamaica, from 1801-1805, had the following to say in relation to her African slaves:

“We treated them with beef and punch, and never was there a happier set of people. All day they have been singing old songs, only interrupted by peals of laughter; and indeed I must say they have every reason to be content, for they have many comforts and enjoyments. I only wish the poor Irish were half as well off.”

William O’Brien the second Earl of Inchiquin, was made governor of Jamaica in 1690.

Howe Peter Browne the Marquess of Sligo, was Governor of Jamaica at the time of emancipation from slavery in 1834. It is in his honour that Sligoville, the first freed slave village, is named. Thomas Lynch from Galway, also known as Buckra Lynch, came over as part of Venables army, became chief justice and eventually Governor of Jamaica, after the notorious pirate and Buccaneer, Sir Henry Morgan. He is also supposed to be the man who designed and built Flat Bridge over the Rio Cobre, which makes sense as the bridge has no sides to it, and is at right angles to the main road! This bridge spans the Bog Walk Gorge, and as the Irish (or at least the part I come from were often referred to as Bog trotters, I have no doubt we had a hand in naming that too.)

Various Irish Regiments such as the Earl of Ulsters, the Royal Leinsters, The Royal Inniskillings were all billeted at New Castle, and Irish Town and the Cooperage are all testimony to Coopers brought over to make the wooden barrels for the export of Rum and Coffee. Between Irish Town and New Castle, is the quaint district known as “Red Light” where Irish colleens gave soldiers instructions on the finer art of knitting and embroidery. The Jamaican Constabulary was patterned on the Royal Irish Constabulary, down to the red stripes on the side of their pants.

My personal all time favourite Irish personality is a woman: Anne Bonney, the illegitimate daughter of an Irish attorney from Co. Cork. He emigrated to Carolina, where Annie married a sailor called John Bonney. They sailed to New Providence in the Bahamas, where Annie fell in love with a dashing, handsome free booter named Calico Jack Rackham. Jack paid off Annie’s husband, but when the Governor of the Island heard this he would have none of it, ordering that Annie be publicly flogged and that Jack wield the lash!

The couple’s response was to put together a crew of ex-pirates, steal a sloop, and for several years they were the bane of ships in the Caribbean, using Jamaica as their base. Annie, always in disguise in men’s clothing, took a liking to another young sailor, who to her amazement turned out to be another woman. This was Mary Reid, an English girl who sought adventure as a foot soldier in Flanders and on board a British man-o-war. En-route to the Dutch West Indies, her ship was captured by Calico Jack, who was so impressed by her sword play, he offered her a berth on his ship. History does not record what she thought of his sword play!

In 1720 Rackham was surprised at Negril and surrendered without a fight. On the morning of his execution he was visited by Anne Bonnie, who proclaimed,

“I am sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man, you would not now be hanged like a dog!”

He was hanged at Gallows point in Palisadoes, and his body billeted at a place now known as Rackham’s reef on the way to Lime Cay. Annie and Mary, though both found guilty of piracy and sentenced to death, escaped the hangman’s noose by “pleading their belly” ie they were both pregnant for Calico Jack. Annie returned to Carolina, but Mary died of yellow fever, and is buried in St. Catherine.

Right down to the present day, the Irish and their descendants are still making their mark upon Jamaica. Sir Alexander Bustamante, national hero, founder of the JLP and one of Jamaica’s best loved and colourful political figures, used to boast that he was 50% Irish, 50% Jamaican and 10% Arawak. If that’s not Irish I don’t know what is! The father of Norman Washington Manley, married the Post Mistress at Porus in Manchester. She was the daughter of a man named Shearer, the son of an immigrant from Northern Ireland. Her mother was previously married to Clarke for whom Alexander Clarke, or Bustamante, was the eldest son. Both Bustamante and Norman Manley’s were cousins and both went on to found Jamaica’s two great political parties. If ever a man could have been said to have kissed the Blarney stone and to have “the gift of the gab” it was the Rt. Hon. Michael Manley!! Claude McKay, that great Jamaican radical poet, also of Irish descent, wrote at the height of the Black and Tan war,

“I suffer with the Irish. I think I understand the Irish. My belonging to a subject race entitles me to some understanding of them.”

The late John Hearne, writer extraordinaire, was also proud of his Gaelic ancestry.

The Browne’s of Busha Browne fame, are alive and kicking at YS Farms and still breeding great horses. The McConnels of Bog Walk and United Estates, have worked the land for over 300 years in sugar, rum and citrus.

There are still some Irish priests, nuns and teachers, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on coral reefs and Prof. Of Zoology at UWI is Prof. Ivan Goodbody from Dublin. That Jamaica did not only receive “Saints and scholars” can be seen from this report from The Gleaner in 1842, complaining that the Irish who settled in Jamaica in March, 1841 are

“repeatedly intoxicated…. Drink excessively…. Are seen emerging from grog shops very dissolute, and abandoned… and are of very intemperate habits” !

The leading trainer in the sport of kings is Phillip Feanny, whose mother Molly is from Co. Cork, and who learned his craft from Vincent O’Brien in Tipperary and at the Irish National Stud in Kildare. Neil McCann and Fruit Importers of Ireland, owners of Fyffes, are share holders in Eastern and Victoria Banana Estates, and distribute a significant amount of Jamaican produce in the UK. Guinness – PLC which had its origins in Dublin, now owns Red Stripe / D.&G. Digicel is very much an Irish owned company, and there are strong bonds between JAMPRO and the IDA in Dublin.

Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, who helped to put Bob Marley on the map and the Irish rock group U-2, was born in Jamaica of an Irish father. Sir Phillip Sherlock, former Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, and Jamaica’s greatest historian, is also descended from an Irish family who arrived in Jamaica in 1691.

You see there is much more to us than Irish potatoes, or spuds as we both call them, or ganzies for t-shirts, or Kerry Gold butter, or Irish moss, which we use a tonic, and you use….. well let’s not get into that.

There is more of the Irish in you than perhaps you realize, and more of the Jamaican in us than we care to admit. It’s there in our accent, the love of laughter, of wine, women and song, our love affair of the turf and horses, and the gambling that goes with it; the shared fondness for Arthur Guinness and John Barleycorn; of living for the moment and letting tomorrow look after itself – these are the traits that others readily identify in both nations and why at home and abroad we are “bredren”!