Bridget McDonough 1834

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Bridget was born in Ballinrobe 5 November 1834.

She came to Australia as a passenger on the Panama arriving 12 January 1850 as a member of the Earl Grey Scheme for Irish orphans.

She married Thomas Gardiner 15 August 1852. They had 13 children.

She was my great grandmother.

I am a descendant ofBridget. Her mother taught needle work at the Ballinrobe workhouse and I suspect nominated her daughter as an Earl Grey candidate. 

After arriving in Sydney she was sent to work for the Moulders, founders of Orange NSW. Population of 28. All houses were of bark and mud. A gold rush occurred and the town expanded to over 700 men seeking gold. She would have been one of the few single young women in the town. She married Thomas Gardiner , an English man approx 12 yrs her senior. He was known as a capable horseman. The notorious bush ranger, Frank Gardiner named himself after a man in Orange who taught him all he knew about how to break in horses. Given the small population at the time, he may have named himself after Bridget’s husband. Biddy and Thomas moved further west. They worked in transport with horses. Finally ending up in Cunnamulla as publicans. This town is the most western town of Queensland. Hot dry Desert like conditions. On summer days, she must have dreamed of the green cold Irish environment of her youth. One of her grandsons was one of 34 soldiers killed in the 4th division Battle of Beersheba- the last great cavalry charges of WW1. These soldiers were reknown for their great horse skills and their ability to keep their horses alive in extreme desert conditions. 

After the death of her husband, Bridget became a publican licencee in her own right. 

I visited the Irish immigration museum and they gave me the information that my ancestor was from Ballinrobe. I was coincidentally staying st Ashmore Castle, conveniently close to Ballinrobe. It was a thrill to find the building that was previously the workhouse and standing in the same door that Bridget and her mother would have said their last farewells before her voyage to the other side of the world.

Additional Information
Date of Birth 1834 (circa)  
Date of Death 1915 (circa)  
Father (First Name/s and Surname) Michael McDonough. According to shipping records Michael was dead in 1850.  
Mother (First Name/s and Maiden) Mary. Although Bridget came to Australia as an Irish orphan and according to the shipping records her mother was still living in 1850.  




  • Marlene Hart

    looking for Gr.Gr.Grandfather  Thomas Hart. Gr.Grandfather William I Hart was born in Chester County,,Pa. Thomas was born in Ireland came to USA before 1820. thanks for any info.





    Marlene Hart

    Monday 2nd April 2018, 06:06PM
  • Bridget McDonough features with 137 Mayo girls sent to Australia in my book, Mayo's Forgotten Famine Girls, published last October. Plenty of context explaining conditions in Ireland and Australia at that time, see


    Sunday 8th April 2018, 05:48PM

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