One of my ten Irish forebears to come to Australia was Patrick Ryan who migrated some time around 1862.
Two pieces of information are consistent across at least four official Australian documents for Patrick: he was born in Co. Kilkenny, his year of birth was 1840. He was married in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia on 12 August 1869 to Ellen Heffernan from Co. Carlow. He died in Rockhampton 3 November 1912. Almost certainly he was illiterate, as was Ellen - all records are signed with an “X”. He is recorded variously as being a labourer and dairyman.
Patrick’s father is recorded as James Ryan, b. abt 1801, farmer and labourer, who came to Australia five yers before his death in 1871. James’s death record lists his children as “Patrick, 2 dead males, 1 dead female”. Patrick's mother’s first name is recorded as Catherine or Kate but her last name is recorded variously as Purcell, Lurell and Lurill. The latter names appear not to occur in Ireland and are possibly the result of an Australian or English clerk trying to interpret a name provided by an illiterate Irishman. Purcell would seem to be a strong contender. Luttrell or variants are possibilities that cannot be ruled out but seem unlikely; I have been able to find no records of the name in Kilkenny in 19th or early 20th century.
Given that the information on Patrick’s birth year as 1840 and place Co Kilkenny appears credible, I searched for “Patrick Ryan b 1840±2, father’s surname: Ryan, mother’s surname: Purcell”. Roots Ireland revealed two: first born of Patrick Ryan and Catherine Purcel of Cloneen, baptised 31/1/1840 and fourth born of James Ryan and Elleanor Purcel of Cloneen, baptised 2/10/1840. It appears the elder Patrick and James were brothers. Patrick and Catherine, married 11/11/1839, had nine children. I have not found any data on the marriage of James and Ellen but presumably ≤1833 since their first child was baptised in April 1834; they had 11 children. Six of the children’s names were common to both families.
Griffiths Valuation shows a Patrick Ryan rented house and land in No 18a (1 acre 0 roods 8 perches) in Cloneen while a James Ryan rented house and land in adjacent Nos 18b and 19 (2 acres 3 roods 14 perches), the lessor for both being Mrs Gert. D. Keating.
I think I’m fairly confident that one of the junior Patricks was my great great grandfather, though I could not be certain given the inconsistencies. While the story of the Patricks and their families is almost certainly lost, I would like to know more about the social conditions that prevailed around Cloneen at that time. The combined area of the land the brothes rented was very small at under 4 acres. Most of the Ryan/Purcell offspring were either born or were young children during the Great Hunger but there is little to indicate how they fared apart from three names given twice.
There are only official records to chart Patrick’s life in Australia. He and Ellen had eight children, all but one living into adulthood. In old age he describes his occupation as “gentleman”, a description suggesting a contentment with the life he and Ellen forged togther.
|Date of Birth||1840 (circa)|
|Date of Death||3rd Nov 1912|
|Names of Children||Married Rockhampton, Qld, Australia 12 Aug 1869. Children: Catherine (Minnie, 1870-1946); Mary (Myra 1872-1949); James (1873-1905); Helena (Lena 1878-1940); Patrick (1880-1952); Andrew (John 1885-1960); Joseph (1887-89); Victor (1891-1940).|