James O’Brien and Mary Smith

Not much is known of the early life of James O’Brien’s early life, as there are only small amounts of information contained on his death certificate. The death certificate notes his parents were were Luke O’Brien and Kate Jurett. The certificate also notes his first marriage was to Mary Ann McGorrist (spelling?), took place in “Southern Ireland” and lasted twenty-five years. His second marriage, to Mary Ann Smith (the eldest daughter of farmers, John Smith and Ellen O’Reilly, lasted thirty-four years. Long-time O’Brien researcher, (Gus) Barry O’Brien believes the first five children may have been from the first marriage.

Before coming to Australia, James and his family were living in a small village, Knockerk near Slane, County Meath, Ireland. According to Griffiths Valuation 1851, James was both a landowner and a renter. Griffiths also records a strong connection between James O’Brien and the Willens Family, as does a gravestone inscription listed on the website of the Slane Historical Society.

According to this online reference, James was renting land to Laurence Timmons

In 1855, Laurence Timmons is the occupier of14 acres of land in Knockerk.  Laurence was renting the land from a Mr. James O’Brien. In 1861, the occupancy of this farm passed from Laurence to his son James (29), suggesting Laurence had passed away. Around the same time, James O’Brien sold the land to a Captain Leslie.

It’s difficult to know for sure why they left Ireland to move to Australia, though it was presumably a combination of the economic devastation caused by the potato famine, and that Mary had a brother, Bernard who had moved to Australia in the 1830s. James, Mary and their children travelled to Australia from Liverpool, England, on the clipper ship, “Great Victoria” arriving in Melbourne on September 8, 1864

It is understood James and Mary Ann purchased tickets from Ireland to the Darling Downs, but as the ship “rounded South Australia and approached Port Phillip Bay it was discovered their daughter, Ellen had contracted the disease, Typhus. Undoubtedly conditions on the ship would have contributed to her contracting the disease. She was reportedly put off the ship and sent to the Quarantine Station at Portsea (at the head of Port Phillip Bay)”. They stayed in Melbourne until Ellen recovered.

Several months later they travelled by boat to Eden, NSW and then, by bullock dray to Kameruka, near Candelo (via Bega) on the NSW South Coast, where they settled with Mary’s brother, Bernard Smith at Wollumla. At first, James worked as a Shepherd for John Ritchie. After three or four years James selected 200 acres near Bembooka, naming the property, Slane Park. Over twenty years, he increased the holding to 800 acres and he carried on dairy farming.

As reported in The Bega Gazette and Eden District or Southern Coast Advertiser (NSW : 1865 – 1899), Saturday 24 June 1882, page 2, James, Mary and their son John appeared in court on the following…

TUESDAY, 27th June, 1882. (Before J. Davis. Esq., P.M.)

Arthur Thomas Batfield, Johu Haddigadi, and Johu M’Grath were charged with using obscene language, and were each fined 10s. and 3s. 2d. costs. William Allen, who was remanded last week, on a charge of obtaining goods on false pretences, was again brought up. Senior-Constable Smythe, of Candelo, on being examined, deposed that when he arrested the prisoner on Monday, 12th June, he was going in the wrong direction for O’Brien’s house, which was about 9 miles from Candelo.

L. C. Lynch, assistant to Cook & Co., store keepers of Candelo, tleposed that prisoner came to the store on Monday, 12th June last, and represented that he had been sent by Mr. James O’Brien *to get a pair-of boots find a pound of biscuits; the biscuits were said to be for Miss O’Brien, who was sick, and a riding whip and pair of tweed trousers for John O’Brien, son of James O’Brien, of Tantawanglo. Knew that prisoner was in the employ of O’Brien, as he had previously supplied him with a pair of boots for Miss O’Brien. Gave him the boots on the strength of his representation, and charged them to O’Brien’s account. It was about 1 o’clock when prisoner came to the store I identify the goods now produced by the firm’s private mark. • James O’Brien deposed that he resided at Tantawanglo. Knew the prisoner. He came to me from Sydney about 9 weeks’agb. My wife was in the habit of sending prisoner to Cook’s store for goods, with an order. Prisoner left my employ, on Monday, 12th June, I did not authorise him to get goods in my name. Went to Candelo on that day, and heard something which led me to report to Senior-constable Smythe

The prisoner asked witness if he was sure it was only nine weeks since he came from Sydney. Witness thought it was. [The unfortunate youth then broke down, and the tears fell fast from his eyes in unmistakable drops.]

Mrs. O’Brien, wife of previous witness, knew that prisoner was discharged from her husband’s employ on the 12th June. Used to send him to the store for goods, but did not authorise him to go for the goods produced.

The prisoner asked this witness if she did not authorise him to get the goods ?

Witness: ” No, I did not.”

John O’Brien deposed that he resided at Tantawanglo, sometimes with his father. Did not authorise prisoner to get any goods in his name. Had not seen prisoner for a fortnight.

This closed the case, when the magistate said that the case must go to a jury, as he had not the power to deal with it himself. The prisoner was therefore committed for trial.

.

To date, I haven’t been able to find a report of the trial, so hoping if you have one you might commnt below with details.

In the mid 1880s, James and Mary returned to Ireland, where, reportedly, one or more of her brothers were dying. After staying there for five months, they returned to Bemboka.

Senility afflicted James in the final three years of his life. He died on May 17, 1894 and was buried two days later. After his death, Mary and her daughter moved into Bega where Mary remained until her death on Saturday, December 9, 1911 (13685/1911).

DEATH OF A NONAGENARIAN: On Saturday night there passed peacefully away at her residence, Gipps Street, Mrs James O’Brien at the great age of 93 years. Her illness was only of short duration, the old lady sustaining a fall about a fortnight ago. Prior to that she enjoyed good health, and retained a wonderful memory to the last.

Born in Ireland, she married in County Kavan, at the age of 18 years. Eight children, four boys and four girls were the issue of the union, and the family emigrated to Australia when the youngest was two years old, landing in Melbourne on 26th January, 1865.

After 12 months spent in Victoria they came to NSW, landing at Eden, and travelling to Wolumla by bullock dray. Mr O’Brien settled down at Kameruka, where he was employed as a shepherd by Mr. John Ritchie. After three or four years he selected Slane Park, now Kirby’s.

Almost 27 years ago this property was sold, and Mrs and Mrs O’Brien and their son and daughter, Mary and Jack, made a trip home to Ireland, where Mrs O’Brien (whose maiden name was Smith) had two brother priests. They remained in Ireland (about 12 months) till one of the brothers died, and once more sailed for Australia. They bought a property at Cooper’s Gully, and resided there till Mr O’Brien died 17 years ago. Mrs O’Brien ultimately took up her residence in Bega, and during the latter end of her days, was cared for by her daughter, Mary.

The deceased have lived through the reign of four monarchs of the British Empire. The four sons were Peter (deceased), Luke (resident of Bemboka), John and Patrick (both of Queensland), the daughters being Mrs Brannigan (Victoria), Mrs Bennett (Yourie), Mrs D. Collins (Wyndham) and Mary. Mr J.J. Smith of Wolumla was a nephew of deceased.

The funeral, which took place yesterday afternoon, was largely attended, Rev. J.J. Gunning conducting the burial service.

A further newspaper report of her death Southern Star (Bega) on Wednesday 13 December 1911, page 2 adds some further detail

Death.

A very old and respected resident of the district passed away on Saturday evening, in the person of Mrs. James O’Brien, who bad resided for some time in Gipps-street. Deceased, who was in her 93rd year, had been ailing for some time. She was a native of county Cavan Irelund, and came to Australia with her husband and family of eight in 1865. Alter spending some time in Victoria, they came to this State, landing at Eden, aud travelling to Wolumla per bullock dray, which were the ‘motor cars’ of those times. They went to Katneruka, where Mr. O’Brien was employed shep herding by the late Mr. John Ritchie. Later on, Mr. O’Brien selected Slane Park, now Kirby’s. Some 20 odd years ago they sold this, and paid a visit to their native country, together with a couple of the family. Returning to Australia they bought the property at Cooper’s Gully now known as Neath’s, and there, Mr. O’Brien died some 17 years back, after which Mrs. O’Brien and her daughter Mary came to town to live. She leaves three sons— Messrs Luke, Patrick, and John, and four daughters— Mesdames Brannigan (Victoria), Beunett (Yourie), D. Collins (Wyndham), and Mary. She was attended with a true daughter’s care by the latter during her declining years. Mr J.J Smith, JP Wolumla, was a nephew of deceased. The funeral on Monday was largely attended, and the remains were interred in the R. C. portion of the old cemetery, the Rev. Father Gunning conducting the service. Mr. Pat. O’Brien, who has resided in Queensland for some years, arrived in time to see his mother alive. Mr. John O’Brien, the .third son, only arrived from Queensland yesterday, and was much distressed at being too late to see his mother.

Children

* Peter O’Brien was born in County Meath, Ireland. Aged 18, he left Ireland on September 5, coming to Australia along with his parents and siblings on the “Great Victoria”, arriving in Melbourne on November 29, 1864. Aged 23, he met and married Mary Ann Goward, the daughter of James and Mary Ann. Although she was only fifteen, she soon fell pregnant with their frist, child, James Joseph. At the time of their marriage, on October 2, 1870 (Reference: 1870/2194), James was a “Labourer” at Tantawangalo, while Mary Ann was a “Dairy Maid” at Lithgow Flat. They raised a large family in the Bega district. Peter was reportedly a “noted wrestler in the distrct” according to the newspaper obituary for Mary Ann. After one years illness with Phibesis – possibly relating to heart disease – Peter O’Brien died at Candelo on October 6, 1897, (Death Certificate 1897/11322) and was buried the following day. After a three-year ilnness with Chronic Congestive Heart Disease (Mitral Insufficiency), Mary Ann died, aged 77, on September 22, 1932 at Orchard Farm, Candelo. She was buried the same day in the Church of England section at Wolumla Cemetery.

* Ellen O’Brien was born in 1851 in Meath,Ireland. At “Widgiewa”, she met Thomas Branigan, from Bulla, Victoria. They married in the Catholic Church at Keilor on August 1, 1876. According to information on the website of Hume Shire, Thomas was the son of Thomas Branigan and Mary Anne Stanleke. For many years, Thomas and Ellen lived at St John’s Hill in the Bulla District. At the time of the death of Thomas’ mother, eldest brother Thomas was farming at Strathmerton (on the lower Goulburn, an area not long previously opened for selection),.

His death was reported in The Pambula Voice of May 18, 1894
His death was reported in The Pambula Voice of May 18, 1894

* Edward O’Brien was born on 1 May 1853.

* Luke O’Brien was born in 1853 in Ireland. In 1884 at Bega, Luke married Annie Moran (who was born in 1864 at Eden, NSW). They had the following children : – William Thomas O’Brien (born in 1885 in Bega), Mary Ellen O’Brien (born in 1887 in Bega) who a married Timothy F Collins in 1921; Theresa Ann O’Brien (born in 1888 in Bega) who married Roy J H Ziegler in 1918; James O’Brien (born in 1889 in Lytteton, NSW), John Joseph O’Brien (born in 1890 in Lytteton, NSW) who married married Mary Lillian T Phillips, daughter of Joseph Phillips and Susan Momsen; and Francis Leo O’Brien (born in 1892 in Candelo, NSW). Luke and Annie lived for many years at Moran’s Crossing, near Bega.

In the book, “River Oaks, Green Willows and young Corn (a brief history of the Bega District Jockey Club)” by Ray James and Jim Gordon, there are a number of stories about local trainer, Luke O’Brien,…

Luke O’Brien was fond of a bet, and his daughter, Mrs Roy Ziegler told a story of one of Luke’s gambling adventures. In many stories of this kind, it can be difficult to separate truth from well-intentioned humour. We’ll let you decide this issue. Well, anyway, Luke set off through the bush to go to the Bredbo Cup Meeting. Bredbo was a flourishing gold mining town at this time, and it took Luke a few days to find his way through the bush and through the mountains, and the horse looked a complete wreck when they arrived. However, he had been fit before leaving Moran’s Crossing, and starting at a good price, the horse duly won the Bredbo Cup, and Luke cleaned out the bookmakers well and truly. It had taken him several days to reach Bredbo across country, but Luke returned by road, stopping at every hotel en route, and the return trip took almost a month. With no communication in those days, the family had to go looking for Luke, eventually to find that he had come to no harm. Which just goes to show, that even if racing is a bit of an adventure, there is no need to overdo things.

Luke died July 22, 1932 at North Bondi, NSW (aged 79). His wife, Annie Moran died several months later on December 24, 1932 at Bega, NSW (age 68).

* John O’Brien was born on 5 May 1855.

* Catherine O’Brien was born on 18 Jul 1857. Thanks to researcher, Fran Firth from the Blue Mountains, I have the following information about Catherine and her husband, David Collins.

David Collins married Catherine O’Brien on August 13, 1883 at the Catholic Church in Candelo. David was the eldest child of William Collins and Margaret Keys both of whom were born in Co. Tyrone Ireland. William, who had emigrated to Australia as an 18 year old with his parents and siblings, married Margaret keys in 1852, who had arrived the year earlier from Ireland. David being the oldest son took over the running of the dairy property “Greenmount” near Wyndham, and had 6 daughters and 1 son. Their children were: Mary Collins born July 6, 1885, married George Yates and lived in Randwick, Sydney; Christine Collins born November 9, 1887 married Eugene Grant; Adeline Collins born March 18 1889, who married Andrew Burg; Rachel Collins born April 21 1890 and married Michael O’Rourke; Alice Collins born October 8, 1891 and married Russell Auguston; John Collins born December 23, 1893 and married Alice Reid.

Her funeral notice which appeared in the Bega Standard also gives some information about her life.

Mrs David Collins, of “Greenmount”, “Wyndham” passed away in Pambula District Hospital on Saturday, at the age of 62 years. The late Mrs Collins, who had been ill for a long time, was highly esteemed and had a large circle of friends who will regret her death. She was formerly Miss O’Brien, sister of Mr Luke O’Brien, of Moran’s Crossing. A husband and grown up children are left to mourn their loss. The funeral was held at Wyndham on Sunday and was very largely attended. Rev. Father McNeeve of Pambula conducted the service. Manning and Sons of Bega had charge of the arrangements.

* Mary O’Brien was born on 7 Mar 1860. It appears as if Mary never married, and took care of her mother in her later years. She appears to have died at Bega in 1932 (13543/1932) though I have yet to confirm this is the correct Mary.

* Patrick O’Brien was born on 6 Jul 1862 in Slane. He married Agnes Moran on October 28, 1889 at Bega (4482/1889). The birth records for their children indicate they lived in a number of locations in the Bega District. Annie (Bega 1890), Ruby (Lyttleton 1902), Mary Aileen (1894 Bemboka), Bernard Eugene (Bemboka 1896) Agnes Maud (1900 Bega) and Patrick (1903 Bega). His death was reported in The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933-1954), Wednesday 16 October 1935, page 4, and a photograph of he and his wife’s graves are available online.

The death of Mr P. J O’Brien, of Woodford, occurred yesterday after a short illness. Mr O’Brien started his turf career in the Bega and surrounding districts, where he rode with a good deal of success being associated with the late Teddy and Eueene McGrade and with Tommy O’Keefe about 1876. He and his brother, the late Luke O’Brien, afterwards bred and raced a number of
horses, among them being Sir Ladden, Lemonwood, Desert Queen, and Reform. Mr. P. J. O’Brien about 29 years ago settled in the Woodford district. He bred Little Jewel, Billy Jewel, Retford Cooney, Bega, and All Black. These horses won many races in Brisbane and Sydney. The late Mr. O’Brien was chiefly interested in dairy farming and pig raising, and for a time kept hotels in Woodford and Maryborough. He is survived by his widow, five daughters, and a son, Mr. B. O’Brien, ‘ of Woodford. The funeral will take place at Woodford at 2 o’clock to-day.

* Eliza O’Brien married Alfred Bennett at Petersham in 1882 (2193/1882) and, according to her mother’s death notice, lived at Yourie, near Cobargo. Eliza died at Bega in 1912 (9515/1912).

Notes:

* Details about the first marriage, recorded on James’ death certificate remain unconfirmed. A simple search on Google for the name McGorrist in Louth, Ireland, suggests an alternative spelling of the name “McGorisk” living at Louth in the 1800s, including the names James and Thomas McGorisk. According to the 1842 electoral roll, Thomas lived at Upper Dundalk, part of Louth. There is also a reference to Thomas McGorisk at Drumcashel on the 1855 Ardee Convent Subscription Fund. James McGorisk is listed on the Louth Parish Church Subscription Fund 1890. Since I cannot find the name McGorrist at all, it’s presumably McGorisk that we’re looking for to establish this as fact or not. The name McGorisk also appears at Dundalk Town in Thom’s Directory of Ireland, 1931 appears currently in relation to a number of businesses in Athlone (Westmeath) which, co-incidentally, I visited in 1999. Anyway, can anyone add any light on the story of a first marriage for James in 1831?

Records & Stuff
Great Victoria Shipping Records #1Great Victoria Shipping Records #2

Notes:

* There is a record of a personal diary kept from someone who was on board the Great Victoria when it came to Australia. I have written seeking more information about this diary.

An O’Brien Family Reunion was held at Jamberoo Hall on February 27, 2010.

Sharing Around: Please feel free to copy any of the information on this page which may help you in your own research. My feeling is that family research is hard enough, without the need to constantly re-invent the wheel. It would be great, however, if you’d leave a comment below just to say “hi”.

84 Comments

  1. Hi James, I am not related to the o’Briens, but I think my GGGrandmother was on board the GREAT VICTORIA.

    Do you have the passenger list. Her name was Margaret Clifford married to James Clifford who were on board, but I cannot find the child Ellen Clifford with them.

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers, Kevin

    1. Hi James I am looking for my birth father Michael O’brien or Frank O’brien he was using both names last known living in the area of Wollongong nsw but was living in Eden back in 1959 to 1961 approx im not sure if the O’briens you are researching would be connected?

      Cheers Kathy

  2. Hi,
    O’Brien was my g grandmothers surname she being Mary Anne married to Thomas, My Grandmother was Elizabeth and her brother Bernard was one of a twin and a sister Gertrude. LIz moved to W.A. married a Thomas Russell.
    After Thomas died Mary Anne remarried to someone with the surname of Smith.
    I’m clutching at straws but there is some similar surnames as your history hope you can help.

  3. Hi Jacquie, I’m not sure if I can help, as my interest has been mostly focussed on my own immediate ancestors and getting as much info as possible about them, rather than a broader study of the O’Brien family. A distant relative Barry (from Muswellbrook) has done a lot of O’Brien research and another, Alf (from Shellharbour) put together an O’Brien and Smith book a few years back. From what I can see about the broader family, some of the O’Brien family ended up in Victoria and others in Queensland, but mostly the family were either in the Bega District or the Lismore districts of NSW. I hope this helps in some way. James

  4. Hi James,

    I think my G Grandmother is your Catherine O’Brien (1857) married to David Collins in Candelo. He was from Whydham. I purchased their wedding certificate but unfortunately there were no details about Catherine’s parents or her age. They were married in 1883. Does this look like a match to you?

    regards
    Fran

  5. Hi Fran, lovely to hear from you and it sounds like it might be, as the death notice for Mary refers to her daughter-in-law as Mrs D. Collins from Wyndham. If you have some information about Catherine and David about when they were married, the children they had, where they lived etc it would be great if you could write back so I can fill out more of the details of them for the website. Cheers James

    “The deceased have lived through the reign of four monarchs of the British Empire. The four sons were Peter (deceased), Luke (resident of Bemboka), John and Patrick (both of Queensland), the daughters being Mrs Brannigan (Victoria), Mrs Bennett (Yourie), Mrs D. Collins (Wyndham) and Mary. Mr J.J. Smith of Wolumla was a nephew of deceased.”

  6. Hi James

    Did any of your O’Briens have a brother named William O’Brien, born c1840 in Ireland, married Margaret Moran in Bega in 1865 and was listed as a farmer at Meringo or Meringlo near Bega in 1882. These two are my GGrandparents.
    Thanks for your efforts.

  7. Hi Lorraine, I’ve been struggling with this for the last couple of weeks trying to find out the correct answer. It’s a bit confusing as there was a Luke O’Brien who married Annie Moran, but I’m not sure where a William O’Brien fits into it all. Given the time/dates involved, and the connection I wonder if the William you’ve described is a cousin, maybe one of the as yet unproven step-brothers, or no relation at all? Any further information you have about William who married Margaret would be great to receive. This might add another layer to the story, perhaps? James

    * Luke O’Brien was born in 1853 in Ireland. In 1884 at Bega, Luke married Annie Moran (who was born at 1864 in Eden, NSW). They had the following children : – William Thomas O’Brien (born in 1885 in Bega), Mary Ellen O’Brien (born in 1887 in Bega) Theresa Ann O’Brien (born in 1888 in Bega), James O’Brien (born in 1889 in Lytteton, NSW), John Joseph O’Brien (born in 1890 in Lytteton, NSW). and Francis Leo O’Brien(born in 1892 in Candelo, NSW). Luke and Annie lived for many years at Moran’s Crossing, near Bega.

  8. Hi James

    Just read your response to Lorraine regarding Margaret Moran who married William O’Brien. Margaret Moran was the sister to the following: Thomas Moran who married Ann O’Donohue 21 Jan 1860, Moruya (Annie Moran who married Luke O’Brien is Thomas and Ann’s daughter); Patrick Moran who married Alice Slavin, Ulmarra NSW (who is my ggrandfather – putting the finishing touches to this section of the family and I have been working on Thomas side from Bega); twins Bridget and Ann, James and Mary (have not undertaken an indepth research on last four). Their parents were William and Mary (nee Carey) Moran from Galway. I beleive their was 14 children in the family but still researching.

    Would appreciate if you could put me in contact with Lorraine Palmer (or for her to make contact with me) as it appears we are connected by our great great grandparents William and Mary (nee Carey) Moran. Happy for you to pass my email address to her.

    Regards

    Araleen

    1. Araleen

      You would not credit what I felt when I read your posting. The family legend always said that 2 brothers came out from Ireland – one went north & one south, but I had never found any evidence of that until reading what you wrote. My g grandfather was Thomas the one who went south, & yours seems to have been the northerner. I really hope you can contact me, or James can you help put us in touch?

  9. Hi James
    I wonder if any of your research extends to the family of Bernard Smith. One of my extended branches includes Ellen Darling who married Bernard Smith in 1860 at Wollongong, The first son Edward was reg at Wollongong the following births included Ellen 1864, Catherine 1865,Michael T 1867 and Jane 1869 all at Eden. I think Bernard Smith died 1870 at Eden, parents noted as John and Ellen. Ellen Mary Darling was the daughter of John Darling a convict and Mary Oates. I am a descendant of Mary Oates’ sister Ann Gilham formerly Quirk(e) nee Oates.
    I’m interested to know if the family remained in the Eden district or returned to Sydney and what became of them.
    Regards Viv Callaghan

    1. I am trying to contact Viv Callaghan re a Hughes connection. I had lost Contact with Viv. since moving to Queensland. Would love to be in touch again. Regards Bronwen Hughes

  10. Hi Viv, my own research doesn’t. However, a distant cousin Alf, who lives at Shellharbour has put together a book which includes a lot of information about Bernard Smith and family. I’ll check the book when I get home tonight. Cheers James

  11. Hi Viv, sorry for the delay. I came home from work last night quite exhausted and didn’t have much energy for family history matters.

    Tonight, however, I checked Alf O’Brien’s book which has a lot of information about Bernard Smith and his family…

    A couple of interesting facts contained in the book…

    1/…Bernard’s first marriage was to Ellen McHugh. They married at Ratmond Terrace on April 27, 1843, and had a reasonably large family until Ellen’s death at Berkley on June 21, 1859.

    2/…His second marriage to Ellen Darling was at St Franxis Xavier’s Wollongong on March 18, 1860. They apparently had 5 children together.

    3/…The reason for Bernard’s move from the Illawarra to South Wolumla isn’t known. However, Alf speculated it may have been because of the presence there of his borther in law, Bernard McHugh.

    4/…He died in 1860 after being thrown from his horse in soggy ground.

    I could go on, as there’s a wealth of information in Alf’s book. I haven’t seen Alf for a number of years, but the last time I did he was living at Shellharbour. Failing that, I know there’s a copy in the Mitchell Library at the State Library of NSW.

    I hope this puts you in the right direction for your own research.

    James

  12. Hello
    I came across your story and recognised the names you discuss. Ellen O’Brien married Thomas Branigan from Bulla. Thomas father, also Thomas was born in County Louth and arrived in Australia in 1842. His first wife was Mary Anne Stanlake and they had two sons Richard and Thomas. Thomas senior married again to Johanna Elligot in 1850 and had two sons Michael and Denis. Denis was my great grandfather. Please contact me if you want to discuss anything further.
    Thanks Donna

    1. Hello,
      Like Donna Young, I’m a great-grandchild of Thomas Branigan from his second marriage. I’d be very interested to get in touch with her to discuss the family’s history.

      Could you pass on my email address to her?

      Regards,
      Tony Branigan
      Sydney

  13. Hello.
    My name is Martin O’Rourke, and Catherine O’Brien was my great grandmother.
    My grand parents were Michael O’Rourke and Rachel Collins, a daughter of David Collins and Catherine O’Brien.
    We have kept in touch with the new owners of Greenmount, and still hold a close affinity with Wyndham.
    Regards, Martin.

    1. so that would make us second cousins -I think as my g/grandmother was Mary Collins -she married George Yates.
      Marcia Hatcher

  14. Martin, thanks for being in touch. I’m currently on an extended overseas holiday. I’ll be in touch properly when I return mid-September. James

  15. Hi James,
    My name is Trish O’Brien and I’m trying to find any information whatsoever regarding my portion of the O’Brien clan. Unfortunately not much information has been handed down, only an old family prayer book which says that he’s from Limerick, was a Remittance Man, and married Mary Maher from Balycamis in 1867, coming out to Australia in 1868. They had one child, also called James, and settled in Hay or Young. ‘Young’ James became a pharmacist, married Mary Garry from ‘Garryown Station’ and had 4 children, Florence, Carlene, Alexis Margaret and (another) James who was my father.

    Sorry it’s so little to go on but it’s all I’ve got. I couldn’t find any information regarding the wedding in the Dublin Registrary Office and I think that Balycamis (Tipperary) was one of those villages that was burnt to the ground. If you could point me in the way of finding out more about them I’d really appreciate your efforts.

    Regards,
    Trish

  16. Hi James
    My name is Anne Arnold and my grandparents were Theresa O’Brien and Roy Ziegler. So it was really great when I googled Luke O’Brien and your site came up. So thankyou for the information.
    Regards
    Anne

  17. Hi James,
    The previous writer Anne Arnold is my first cousin and thus like Anne I am one of the great grandchildren of Luke and Annie O’Brien and one of the 29 grandchildren of Theresa Anne O’Brien. I recall visiting Mary Ellen (aunty Sis as we knew her)at the Bondi Beach Surf Club and William – Uncle Bill to us was a regular visitor to our home 36 Carp Street Bega. Each time he came to town he would give my brother and I 2 shillings to carry his tea from the kitchen to lounge room but often he would allow us to watch him juggle the tea cup on the saucer. I thought he was incredibly clever that he never spilt a drop. I know believe that he probably suffered from Parkinson’s Disease.Nanny Zig (Theresa Anne) often told the story of the race horse (and it never changed from the story you have. She told other little tales some of which are contained in Visions for a Valley. Catholic People in the Bega Valley (1985).
    History has a way of repeating itself and my daughter married an Irishman so in December 2006 I visted my son in laws family and toured Ireland extensively. Louth,Cavan and Mead had significant relevance for me. Thank you for the detailed history of the family which I will now pass on to my children and grandchildren.
    Regards Janice Dunning (nee Moody)

  18. Gday James my grand aunties Annie & Agnes Moran married O’Briens as you’ve listed, & quite possibly my great grand aunt Mary, a William O’Brien. Would like to compare notes ..

  19. Hi James,

    My father is Terence Edward O’Connell, son of Terence O’Connell, son of Thomas O’Connell, son of Terrance O’Connell and Mary O’Brien.

    The only evidence we have is the following:

    Thomas ,bachelor aged 30 years, nationality Irish, birthplace Sligo
    marries Anna Petronella Susanna van der Schyff, spinster aged 20 years
    in Wakkerstroom, Transvaal, South Africa in 1866.

    Terrance O’Connell and Mary O’Brien are present at the marriage. The eldest daughter (of Thomas & Anna)is subsequently named Mary Elizabeth; perhaps Mary O’Brien is also Mary Elizabeth.Second son is called Daniel Thomas Petrus (known as Thomas) after Anna Petronella’s father but also after Thomas his father.Their 3rd son is James, possibly after Mary O’Brien’s Father. PLEASE is someone able to help me find my people…I have found all our other lines but my O’Connells appear nowhere. Thomas & Anna name their farm in Potchefstroom,South Africa: SHAMROCK…ever so Irish!
    Greetings from South Africa,

    Lesley O’Connell-Maritz.

    1. Hi Lesley, lovely to hear from you South Africa. I hope someone finds this connection which helps you. I’ll pass on any emails, details that come through. Cheers, James

    2. Hi Lesley,

      My great great grandfather on my mother’s side was Barney James O’Connell, son of Terence O’Connell and brother of Terence Edward O’Connell.

      I have recently started looking back into the family history and found your comment above.

      If you are still looking for more information on the O’Connell family history in South Africa I have found some interesting information on the following website: http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/IGI/family_group_record.asp?familyid=259918298&indi_id=100171871385&lds=1&region=0&frompage=99

      I would love to know if you have managed to trace any more of the family history since you posted this comment?
      Regards
      Tabitha Stone
      Hope you find this helpful

      1. Hi Tabitha,

        I actually placed that information on FamilySearch but have since revised it, as I have obtained further information. I need to systematically enter my information onto my pc but I have been hoping to trace Terrance O’connell further back in Ireland before doing so. Thank you,

        Lesley.

        1. My name is bernard rulach sri lanken born lives in australia mel 30 years . Iam trying to locate jim obrien from bondi beach. I was in sydney in 1964 as a school boy cricketer. Lived in his home with his parents on tour. If sombody can help to locate him. Thank you

  20. Hi James
    i would be grateful if you could pass on my email address to Jacquie, Fran, Lorraine Palmer, Araleen Taylor, Viv Callaghan, Donna Young, Tony Branighan, Martin O’Rourke, Anne Arnold and Janice Dunning. I have been in contact with Pat Edgerton, so thank you for passing my details on to him. I had been planning to travel to the Blue Mountains this past week with my cousin Pat Smith from Ipswich to catch up with Keven Madden, but unfortunately Pat had to defer his trip down south. Hopefully we will make it soon. Keven has a wealth of information, especially on the Smith side of the family.

    Cheers
    Gus

  21. HI My Grandmother was Mary collins who married George Yates .They lived in Randwick and had 2 children-georgena and Leslie .Frances Firth who has an entry earlier is my cousin -Catherine O’Brien is my great grandmother.There is a book published some years ago with the family history-it was published in the late 1970s early 1980s .There rae probably many homes with the photo of the Collins sisters all dressed in their finery for a family photo -they excluded their brother .I have 3 photos of them all together at different ages.I have childhood memories of hearing about Nanas .Marcia Hatcher

  22. James
    Just a small correction re caption for “Great Victoria” and also the obituary for James O’Brien.
    My understanding is the O’Brien family arrived in Melbourne aboard the “Great Victoria” on 29 November 1864, not September 1864 nor January 1865.
    Barry

  23. Hello, James, I was wondering if you could do me the most huge favour and either let me have a copy of the Great Victoria passenger list, or look something up on for me or let me know how to get hold of it myself? I think some ancestors of mine were on it too and I can’t find any info online – heroic people are transcribing passenger lists but it a huge process. I would be extrmely grateful if you could help me – I’m in York, England, by the way!
    Alison

    1. Allison, I don’t have a copy handy except for the bit relating to mine. However, happy to pop down to the library/state records office to grab a copy, and will put online.

  24. Hi, that would be absolutely brilliant! My relatives were called Dowson, if that’s any help. Thank you so much.
    Alison

  25. Hi James,

    I also think my ancestor was on the Great Victoria with your family. His name was Richard Power, of Co. Wexford. A great aunt told me that he travelled to Australia with his cousin called Jim, and there happens to be a James Power on board too! Very grateful for any assistance!

    1. Brownen, my grandmother Ruby Margaret Hughes married my grandfather Herbert Henry Hughes. The Hughes are also related to the Brennans of Dalby Qld. My sister is doing the family tree, has done for the past 25 or more years.

    2. Apologies for mistake it should write that my grandmother Ruby Margaret HUGHES married Herbert Henry CALLAGHAN. Ruby’s mother was Maria Cecilia Hughes (nee Brennan). William Callaghan married Helena Orth (widow) in 1857 Ipswich Qld.

    3. Hi James & Bronwen
      I have tried several times to reach Bronwen, both via this post site and an old Genforum e-mail address.
      If one of you reads this please reply with Bronwen’s e-mail.
      Regards
      Viv Callaghan

  26. Hello James,

    Did you have any luck retrieving the diary kept by Grace Ferrier on board the Great Victoria, 5 September to 29 November 1864.
    If so, would it be possible to get a copy?

    Regards,
    Grieko Enter, Netherlands

      1. Hi James

        I gathered a fair bit of information on the Great Victoria from digital English newspapers. My wife’s grandfather Charles Goodliff left the New Plymouth UK on 11 October 1865 and arrived in Queensland on 5th January 1866. Unfortunately the passengers list seems to have gone missing, funny enough an index and the crew list did survive.

        So the diary might shed some light on the circumstances on the Great Victoria.

        Regards, Grieko

  27. Hello!

    I am trying to track down my ex sister-in-law who was a Patricia o’Brien. Now she’s married and I do not know her new surname. How can I track her down. Is there a South African Irish association I can contact? She now lives in Johannesburg,South Africa.

    I would be thankful if anyone is able to help.

    Thanks!

    Warm regards,
    Miss Winsome Loraine Peter

  28. Hi James,
    I am trying to track the origins of a Jack O’brien who came to the islands of Tuvalu as a resident trader. There is a book that Doug Munro wrote on the resident traders that came to Tuvalu but there is only limited information on Jack O’brien. Apparently he is of Irish-Australian descent and in the book it states that his father was a New South Wales convict. Jack travelled to the islands during the 1950s, he then married one of the locals. I am a descendant of Jack and would very much like to track his ancestry and who his parents were. if you have any information that could assist me in my research it would be greatly appreciated.

    thanks Penny

    1. Hi, I’m Cliff, I am trying to track the origins of Jack O’Brien who came to the island o Tuvalu as a trader in 1850 and married Sarai. My father’s mother is Mele and Mele Father is Tanei who was one of the son of Jack O’Brien. And I also tried to track his ancestry who his parents were. thanks for any information.

  29. Hi James – I have written to you before. I am a descendent of Luke O’Brien born in 1853 in Ireland. I am returning to Ireland early next year and would like to know where he was born (if possible) – do you have any idea?
    I was delighted to see the correction on the arrival of James, Mary & children (29/11/1864) as my birthdate is 29 November.
    I noted that a previous writer was looking for passenger lists – I found the Genealogical Recordfinder at http://www.cobhheritage.com most helpful when last in Ireland – they have both British and Irish ships with passenger lists (but not all) You can also email cobhheritage.com

  30. Hi James, I am trying to contact Grieko Enter. I have contacted him before regarding the Goodliff family in Queensland, but have lost his email address.. Can you supply it? or ask him to contact me?

    1. Hi Ian, apologies for the delay. I’ve been pretty busy over the last few months, and am only catching up on some my genealogy correspondence today. I’ll pass on your email and comment to Greiko. Cheers, James

  31. Hi James, I don’t think I’m related to you but do you think that you can perhaps help me find out about the O’Brien’s that came to South Africa because that’s where I’m from.

    Thank you
    Austin O’Brien, 12

    1. Hi Austin, I’m sorry but I don’t think I can help as I don’t know much about family history resources in South Africa, though I have seen the SA version of “Who Do You Think You Are?”. My advice is to go back generation by generation. When I was about your age, I had a high school project about genealogy, and began by asking my parents and grandparents as much as they knew. It helped, and so I was able to go on from there. So if you can, ask your parents and grandparents and write everything down. Hopefully it will beome easier. James

  32. Hi Austin, one of my relatives moved to South Afica from Ireland, she was known as Annie or Patricia O’Brien, her remaining siblings came to Australia, settling in Victoria and New South Wales. Her father’s name was Patrick. regards, Sonya

  33. Hello James,

    My great great great grand mother was Catherine O’Brien from Co Meath.
    She and her husband lived in Hoardstown, that is to say 8 km from Knockerk.
    I really can’t find anything about her or her family.
    She married an Owen Finnegan (spelt at times Finnigan) and I got her maiden name through the birth certs of her children (Lobinstown parish). None of the sponsors were an O’Brien / Brien.
    The first birth cert I have for her eldest son dates from 1826 (Lobinstown parish). She may have had other children born before but I have no way of finding out. Her husband Owen Finnegan died circa 1871. As for Catherine, she died circa 1876.
    Would you have any information concerning the O’Briens round about the 1800s; late 1700s ? Do you think there are chances that Luke and Catherine were both brothers and sisters?
    Was James O’Brien the eldest son of Luke and Kate O’Brien?
    Owen and Catherine did name one of their sons James. Often in Irish families children bore the name of their grand parents or parents.
    Any information or help would indeed be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you very much,

    Regards,

    Steph Finnegan.

    1. Hi Steph,

      Thank you so much for writing.

      The short answer is – “absolutely no idea if there’s a connection”. Going back beyond James and Mary (and those vague references in their obituaries) has always been in the “too hard basket”.

      However, it would be fascinating to think this through a little further. James, Catherine, Luke are pretty common names, as is O’Brien. But as you say, there was a regularity in the traditional naming patterns amongst the Irish.

      As I’ve seen it written…

      First born son named after his father’s father
      Second born son named after his mother’s father –
      Third born son named after his father
      Fourth born son named after his father’s oldest brother
      Fifth born son named after his father’s 2nd oldest brother or his mother’s oldest brother

      First born daughter named after her mother’s mother
      Second born daughter named after her father’s mother
      Third born daughter named after her mother
      Fourth born daughter named after her mother’s oldest sister
      Fifth born daughter named after her mother’s 2nd oldest sister or her father’s oldest sister

      Using that as a basis, I’ve always been a little confused about the name of the first-born son, Peter. Unless of course, Peter wasn’t actually his first name, but rather a second name?

      I hope we’ll stay in touch as we continue to research. If there’s a connection this could be a big breakthrough for all of us?

      Cheers

      James

  34. Hi, i’ve come across your page and noticed a John O’brien and was wondering if you know anything about a John O’brien who was a trader in the small island of Tuvalu? according to a book I read, he was a son of an Australian man. I am a descendant of John O’brien and am looking for any details about him, where he is from, who are his siblings etc. I’ve noticed a few names that are common in our family, i.e Mary, Elizabeth, James – i’m praying that i’ve struck gold here. looking forward to hearing from you or anyone?

  35. Sorry i should say that I am descendant of Jack O’brien who was a trader in Tuvalu but he was also known as John Obrien.

  36. Hi to all down under and over the pond! My name is Ruthie O’Brien. I fell across your page and noticed Meath, Ireland in your research. My Great Grandfather was William O’Brien was listed on my Grandfather, Charles O’Brien’s naturalization papers as from Westmeath, Ireland. Charles came to Boston Ma in 1896 and states his father is already dead. William was in the Royal Army for the English as a Horse Trainer in India. They say he was born there. Charles has Ellen Canavan listed as his mother on his death certificate. I do not know where Ellen & William were married. Charles told my father that his mother (Ellen) birthed her children in London. Not sure how true it is. We know William had a sister Juila and one other sister. not sure about brothers..none mentioned. Supposedly the sisters either immigrated to Austrailia or America. Charles lost contact with them. If anyone has done any Irish research and has come across any of this info, I’d greatly appreciate it as I am very stuck here in Boston Massachusetts!
    Thanks much!
    Ruthie

  37. any info on family of Marlene O’Brien of Newcastle, previously of Aberdeen. related to Paul O’Brien the muso.

  38. Hi James I have been reseaching my family tree and Iwas wondering if in your research if you have uncovered anything on the O’briens of toowoomba Bell and Dalby regions.My Grandmother was Ellen Bridget Born to Hugh O’brien and Mary Beverick.The Family were farmers around Bell Dalby Cecil Plains .They owned O’Brien Family Mill Later Known as Defiance Flour.I’m curios as to any links you may know of especially as her brothers were Hugh James? Luke Thomas .She was born in 3 dec 1899

    1. Hi Mark

      I’m not directly related, so don’t have a lot of detail.

      HOWEVER, I do know the American broadcaster and journalist, Soledad O’Brien has a connection to the mill people.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soledad_O%27Brien

      I was a fan of hers when she used to present the Today show on NBC, and so was interested to discover her Australian connection.

      According to Wikipedia, “Her father Edward, an Australian (from Toowoomba, Queensland) of Irish descent, was a mechanical engineering professor.”

      I remember doing a bit of research on her Australian connection a few years, and she was definitely descended from this family.

    2. Hello Mark. I’m a direct descendant of the Defiance O’Briens, and Soledad is a first cousin of mine. The O’Briens were never farmers. But their customers did from around Bell, Dalby and Cecil Plains. Ellen O’Brien who was linked to Defiance was in fact born Ellen Fitzgerald. She was born in 1857 in Bantry County Cork and married Patrick O’Brien in 1884. I can’t even place Hugh O’Brien in our very extensive research but I am more than happy if you would like to contact me to discuss it.

      1. Hello Loma

        I am interested in Ellen Fitzgerald from Cork. Do you have any knowledge of her parents names or that of her uncle? I also have Fitzgerald ancestors from Cork. I know it is a common name but worth asking. I have an Ellen Fitzgerald from Cork in 1836, I figure it is a family name.

  39. Hi James

    I’ve been researching my family tree and it traces back to an Irish man from Australia by the name of Jack O’Brien. I am Tuvaluan a, from my researches the O’Brien family is the biggest Tuvaluan family which is scattered all over the pacific (Tuvalu, New Zealand, Fiji and Australia). I was just curious if you had any information on Jack O’Brien???

    Cheers

  40. Thomas O’Brien, came out as 1st settler, from Tyronne, Ireland, marine on the Scarborough.
    He lived for 3 years Sydney Cove as a marine, and transferred as a farmer to Norfolk Island 1791.
    1908 transferred to Glenorchy, Tasmania (O’Briens bridge). He married Susannah Mortimer, and they had 9 children. Namely, James, William, Thomas, Elizabeth, Agnes Therese, Catherine, Mary Ann, Margaret, Susannah.

    Have not been able to locate birth or death certificate for Thomas O’Brien, but beleived to be born 1762-65. Believed died 1819, Tasmania. I note in one of your families, a lot of the above names, are similar to another family, and wondered if any connection. barbara Burdon

  41. Hello James. Martin O’Rourke here. My grandmother was Rachael Collins, daughter of David Collins and Catherine O’Brien. As I am sure you know, Catherine was a daughter of James and Mary O’Brien.
    It is interesting that Rachael married Michael O’Rourke, the son of Patrick O’Rourke and Anne Marie (Nanny) Daly. Both Patrick and Nanny came from close to Culmullin Co. Meath in Ireland. So it intrigues me how close the O’Brien, Smith, O’Rourke and Daly families were. The O’Rourke’s and Daly’s were and are farmers in Ireland.
    Congratulations for your work with this family history.
    Best wishes, Martin.

  42. Hi Marty, it is a great read. I need to put time aside to take this all in. I want to understand all aspects. Already, I find this famiglia in parts and my intetest is amounting. As Dad would have said, this has wet my whistle. Congratulation to all who have taken part in collecting this valuable information. Xxx Maureen.

  43. LOOKING FOR A PATRICIA O’BRIEN who worked at Sigma….Collins Street, Melbourne, late 1950 to 1960″s this enquiry is from a friend who worked with her,CATHY KEENAN who later married MAX BURGIN. Pat you were at her wedding….she would love to make contact……..

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