The Kelly Family from County Clare

After the arrival of my O’Toole ancestors in South Australia in 1840, there was a gap of six years before my next ancestors arrived. The gap was due to the fact that assisted emigration ceased for several years when the colony came close to bankruptcy. The economic fortunes of South Australia began to improve with the discovery of major copper deposits at Kapunda in 1842. Mines were opened at Kapunda in 1844 and at Burra in 1846. In 1845 assisted immigration resumed. In 1846 approximately 150 ships arrived in Adelaide. The population of the colony at the census in February 1846 was 22,390.

My great great grandparents Michael Kelly and Winifred Diviny and their six children arrived in Adelaide on Saturday 24 October 1846 on the ship Hooghly.  The Hooghly sailed from Plymouth on 3 July.  The Kelly family probably left Ireland from the port of Cobh, the harbour near Cork and sailed over to Plymouth to join the ship. Over 2.5 million Irish emigrants departed from Cobh (renamed Queenstown in 1849 following a visit from Queen Victoria. It was changed back to Cobh in 1921). It was the single most important port of emigration in Ireland.

October is a lovely time of year in Adelaide. I hope it was a beautiful spring day when they arrived, about to begin a new life in a land of opportunity, far away from the catastrophe of the Great Famine taking place in Ireland.

The Hooghly was described in an advertisement at the time as a ‘fine fast-sailing full-poop ship’ of 466 tons. It carried 240 passengers. The official passenger list from this ship has been lost so it is unknown how many of the passengers were Irish or English. The passenger list published in The Register newspaper is the principal source of information about the ship. Some of the immigrants were from Cornwall, brought out by the English Mining Company to work as labourers on the copper mine at Kapunda.

Hooghly_1840

The ship Hooghly, approx. 1840.

This picture is from the Ship Collection, State Library of South Australia. No known copyright restrictions.

Four ships arrived on the same day and according to The Register (28 October 1846), there was much excitement in Adelaide on the day the ships arrived. “Only once before has the colony been greeted by the arrival of four English ships in a day; but it was a memorable occurrence…..the prospective arrivals will be but as drops in the bucket compared with the almost unlimited demand for labour in town and county.”

What the family did immediately after their arrival is unknown, but land records show they settled in the Adelaide Hills. Michael Kelly bought land in the Hundred of Kanmantoo, County of Sturt. The area where he farmed is close to the township of Nairne, not far from Mount Barker.

Winifred had five more children, one of whom was my great grandmother, Margaret Helena Kelly, who was born in 1853. Winifred died in 1858 at the age of 42. My great grandmother was five years old when her mother died. Michael married again. He and his second wife, Margaret Cronon, had four children.

Michael Kelly was a hard working farmer and died at the age of 62 in 1874 after a lingering illness. He made a lengthy Will a few months before he died and left an estate of £900.

Michael, Winifred and some of their children are buried in the Mount Barker Catholic Cemetery in a picturesque and peaceful setting.

Upper Skilly Rd Watervale

Evening light through the trees, Adelaide Hills

© Ramesh Thakur, September 2016