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TOPIC: News from Mountbellew -Palestine project in Galway

News from Mountbellew -Palestine project in Galway 23 Jul 2017 06:48 #1689

  • Jenni Ibrahim
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Great news from Galway. Paula Kennedy is involved in the project to link Australian descendants whose ancestors came to WA on the Palestine or the Travancore in 1853 with living cousins in Ireland. (As mentioned at the July meeting of ISIG)

If you are a descendant and have done a DNA test they want to hear from you - so they can try to link you up with living cousins in Galway! Contact Martin Curley or Paula Kennedy. E This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or W www.facebook.com/SoghainGenes or E This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



<Message starts>
Hi Jenni (and Bill)

We have made two connections this week through the use of DNA.

One story so far.......

A wonderful story which starts with Ellen Hansberry stepping forward as one of 33 young women picked to get assisted passage to Australia from Mountbellew Workhouse in 1852 and culminates 165 years later when her great grandson Ken Larbalestier replied to a message about an Ancestry DNA match with Nuala Healy of Clonkeenabbert, Abbeyknockmoy whose gran was a Hansberry

Their DNA connection ended the separation of family since Ellen's departure Hopefully in the near future one of her Australian kin will arrive back to the Hansberry homeplace in Ballinaruane to bring the circle to a full completion

Have a read and a listen to a radio interview on GalwayBay FM this morning (starts at 10:00 in the link below)

galwaybayfm.ie/podcast-keith-finnegan-sh...sday-june-14th-2017/

Nuala's gedmatch is A507968 and Ken's sister's is A190327

If you match either and you have East Galway roots then please join

www.facebook.com/groups/1853158198270382/

Here is the story

Nuala’s DNA leads to family connection to Mountbellew Workhouse bride ship

‘But now they are all departed, sorry I am to say:
For any leisure hour I had with them I used to play.
So now their loving parents their loss they do deplore; For its far away in America are the boys of Carrowmore’
The boys of Carrowmore c 1862

When Nuala Healy was growing up in Cloonkeenabbert, Abbeyknockmoy she was fascinated by stories of her family told by her father especially the stories surrounding the infamous evictions in Carrowmore, Ryehill in the early 1860s recorded in the ballad ‘The boys of Carrowmore’. In 1861-1862 all the families in the village were evicted and their houses demolished in order to turn the townland into a grazing farm. Some like Nuala’s ancestor, Thomas Healy, were given lower quality land in nearby Clonkeenabbert while others left the area. She knew that soon after the evictions by Blakeney of Abbert, several of her father’s family also took the emigrant boat. However contact had been lost in intervening century and a half and trying to trace a Healy who emigrated to the US in the 1860s was a proverbial needle in a haystack.

In recent years advances in technology has meant that DNA tests which had been prohibitively expensive have decreased substantially in price. And the needle could at last be found if the right person in the Diaspora had also submitted a test. Gifted an Ancestry DNA kit Nuala was eager to see if it would indeed be a help to find her long lost granduncles and trace their families. When the results came back sure enough there in the matches showing as 2nd and 3rd cousins were people in Philadelphia who could trace their ancestry to a Timothy Healy of Ireland. This was Timothy, her father’s uncle, born in Ryehill in 1853 and who died in Philadelphia in 1910.

Delighted with this Nuala was even more thrilled when told by genealogist Martin Curley who was administering her test of another discovery. This one was another generation back and on her grandmother’s Hansberry side. It was a story that started in the darkest days of An Gorta Mor, the Great ‘Famine’, close to where Nuala’s Hansberrys originated in Ballinaruane, Menlough and involved a family broken apart through hunger and poverty. It was a DNA match with a distant cousin Ken Larbalestier who had an Ellen Hansberry as his great grandmother that unfolded the story of poverty and exile in East Galway which would eventually a century and a half later lead to prosperity, power and a good life for the descendants of a Workhouse orphan on the other side of the world.

Ellen Hansberry’s last view of Ireland was by from a ship as she joined 32 other Workhouse women and girls from Mountbellew in the autumn of 1852 on a trek first to Plymouth, England and then to Australia as part of an assisted passage scheme. This scheme was designed both to alleviate the Workhouses and provide domestic support for (and it was hoped domestic comfort to) the man impoverished colony in Australia. She was destitute, unable to read or write, aged 22 according to the passenger register of the ship Palestine, but yet according to her descendant Ken Larbalestier in Sydney, NSW had “the courage to walk up a gang plank on 29th November 1852, and board the ship to one of the most remote British colonies at the time, Fremantle, Western Australia.”

This bride ship, the Palestine, is the subject of a Homecoming project led by Paula Kennedy which is researching the 33 girls who left and trying to trace their descendants. Paula is assisted by Kathleen Connolly, Mary McLoughlin and Martin Curley and further information can be found on the Facebook page:
facebook.com/ Mountbellew-Workhouse-Cemetery-Restoration

The Galway that Ellen left behind in 1852 was ravaged as a result of ‘An Gorta Mor’, The Great Hunger of 1845-53, which still cast a dark and fatal shadow over her home place as she prepared to go. Many villages in the surrounding parishes suffered population losses of 30% and more in the decade previously and the haemorrhage continued for well over another century. The mass graves were not enough to bury all the dead, men, women, children and babies and stories of people who were buried where they fell at the side of roads or in their own cabins were still were being told in hushed voices 80 years later. Such was the place that she left and while we don’t have her spoken account of that time it is no doubt that she left with a heavy heart but also with some hope that she could find a better future in the far distant continent of Australia.

With the expectation of work and marriage, it wasn’t until ten years after disembarking in Fremantle, that Ellen Hansberry, by then aged 32 years, married on the 9th October 1862, to Martin Daly, a Private in the 12th Regiment of Foot. He had enlisted in Dublin on the 1st March 1853 and had been shipped to Australia. Soon after arriving he had been with a detachment of the 12th Regiment that had fought against gold miners at the Eureka Stockade rebellion in Victoria in 1854, a seminal moment in Australian history.

Ellen’s first child was Maria, born on the 10th October 1862 in Perth. It is not certain whether Maria was actually born the day after her parents’ marriage or whether her birth was merely registered on that day. However, because of the shortage of priests and ministers in the new Colony, it was not unusual for couples to be living as man and wife for some time before the relationship was solemnized.

Upon Martin Daly being re-posted in 1864, the family moved to Sydney, NSW, and then Ellen and her daughter had to fend for themselves alone while her husband left Sydney to fight in the New Zealand Land wars. Upon Martin Daly’s discharge from the Army in 1865, the family moved north from Sydney to the prosperous farming town of Maitland, NSW, where Martin Daly was employed as a warder in the notoriously harsh Maitland prison.

However, by 1871, Martin had left the jail and was in and out of casual employment. Ellen had five more children (all sons) to Martin Daly. However, by 1876, he had become an alcoholic and a vagrant on the streets of East Maitland and a regular visitor to the local Police court. Ellen struggled to maintain her family and even had to take in washing for income. She lived in a small weather board cottage in 24 Park Street, East Maitland, NSW where she died from chronic bronchitis on the 8th February 1917, aged 80 according to the records but likely somewhat older.

Through all the hardship, Ellen had become a highly respected woman in her local community, and at the time of her death, she left a family of six children and twenty grandchildren. Today in 2017, Ellen can count a former Australian ambassador and a pioneering heart surgeon among her many descendants.
Her great grandson, John Lander, served as the first Australian Ambassador to the Islamic republic of Iran after diplomatic relations were restored following the 1979 Revolution. This meant a crash course in Farsi so that he would be familiar with the language of the country. He also served as Permanent Delegate of Australia to UNESCO in Paris in 1990-1991. His mother Madeline Daly was Ellen’s granddaughter.
John’s cousin Robert Larbalestier, Ken’s brother, established Western Australia’s heart lung transplant unit at Royal Perth Hospital in November 1994 and did the first heart transplant in January 1995. He started lung transplantation in November 2004 and they have done over 250 transplants.

Little did Nuala realise when she took her DNA test how it would connect her family story to one so different on the other side of the world. Among the many cousins that Ken, John, Robert, and their family have still in Galway are many that share the Hansberry surname and still live in Ballinaruane and next door Windfield. Another cousin is HRC Mountbellew Principal Maureen Walsh, whose great grandfather Patrick Hansberry was possibly a first cousin to Ellen. When the Australian visitors arrive in time to meet their long lost family it will hopefully be a full house to greet them.

On the other side of the world are the descendants of Julia Ann Hansberry 1860-1933 whose family emigrated to Anaconda, Montana, USA. Her great grandson is also DNA matching Ken and Nuala showing that the Hansberry connections are also still there after several generations.

Julia Ann had a hard life in her new homeland. She married a Hungarian emigrant, Mike Huber, and had 4 children but marital problems saw him leave the family home. She ended up raising 4 small children by herself, taking in laundry to get by. She was listed as a widow, as was the custom when the husband left, but he had moved to Eastern Washington State and lived there for many years.

Julia had 2 brothers that came to Montana with her so contact with her native place was not lost. A brother Thomas stayed in Ballinruane and married a local woman Margaret Naughton. Their daughters Julia and Margaret came in their turn to Montana to continue the family chain emigration. Thus a small Ballinaruane community was recreated in America’s mid west. In spite of the difficulties for the Hansberry emigrants initially their descendants today thrive in all spheres of life while keeping their connection to Galway’s stone walls and green fields alive in memories and stories.

DNA is fast becoming a must have family gift and especially with the advance in digitisation of records it is easier than ever to try and solve the family mysteries that Nuala had tried for years with much effort but sadly without success.
Martin Curley, through his work in schools and with individuals, as well as his own research, has established a large database of many families in East Galway and traced their connections throughout the Diaspora. In the past 2 years he has seen the phenomenal growth in people in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia use DNA as a ways to try and find their roots. Many have emigrant stories similar to Ellen and through DNA have been able to find the place where their ancestors last stepped out from their native hearth on a journey of thousands of miles.
He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or www.facebook.com/SoghainGenes and Paula can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . There are more connections to be made to the other 32 Workhouse girls within the area and hopefully by May 2018 when a Gathering is planned many more will turn up to greet their Aussie cousins Some words from Ken whose DNA connection and information made this possible: ‘Thank you Ellen for coming and making a life here in Australia. It is estimated that 10% of Australians have an Irish heritage. So please get your DNA analysed and connect with one of your many Australian cousins. Who knows, you might just be related to me.’ Ken Larbalestier, Sydney, Australia.
For those who have thought of DNA testing, the 2 main companies, Ancestry.com and Family Tree DNA have sales throughout the year which brings the price to about € 80 incl shipping and handling. Results can take up to 6-8 weeks to process and then the fun begins in tracing long lost family. Like Nuala you may have been wishing for years to find out what happened to the emigrants from your family home – with DNA you may now be just a message away.

‘While life lasts within my breast those thoughts shall ever dwell With gratitude I’ll count them o’er and all their music tell All of them were so dear, their absence I deplore, May Heaven bless and save them all, the boys of Carrowmore’
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