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Saturday, April 28, 2012

O'Brien's in Ireland to Australia, and onto California - Part 5

In my review of information that I have at hand, I have gathered that life for Edmond and Ann O'Brien in Australia was a struggle financially.  The specific reason why they fled Ireland eludes me.  While the potato famine in Ireland hit the West Coast including County Clare and the surrounding area much harder than the East Coast of Ireland, the food supply issues were all but over by 1850.  However, there were uprisings and many West Coasters chose to leave Ireland for better lands.

Sometimes I wonder if the O'Brien's did leave Ireland for the "Gold Rush Down Under".  I know that is why two Flanagan brothers went there in 1857.  I find O'Brien to be a fairly common surname for immigration during the 1850s to Australia.  I have also found that it took about 102 days to traverse the sea from the United Kingdom to Melbourne, Australia.   Now that is a long trip.

Kate O'Brien was eleven years old by the time she arrived in 1854 Australia.  She spent the next 16 years living in the land "Down Under".   She met her husband, Patrick Flanagan, in Australia at some point between 1865 and 1868 as my best guess for now.  I have had a difficult time pinpointing Patrick's travel around Australia and New Zealand to different mining camps during this time frame but it would appear that Kate stayed put with her parents waiting for him.  I will need to try and piece together where Patrick was during this time based on location names.  That will come in another post. 

Not much is really known for sure....yet.....there are those letters...............

One of Patrick's letters to his brother on 6 Dec 1867 from Grahamstown, New Zealand, mentions Kate and also indicates his desire to go to California.  He indicates the high fare to to get to California and he has not "accertained when any vessels will leave for S. Francisco".  He indicates that he has been writing to Kate during this time also.

By at least 1870, the letters indicated that Pat and Kate are in California.  They were, in fact, married in San Francisco, California on August 15, 1870.

So, is that it for Kate?   I might be able to glean a bit more from the letters at hand................

My review of those letters,  has produced additional insight into Kate.  One letter in particular was written by her niece to the Flanagan's in Ireland.  The letter is dated 19 September 1908.  It says, "Her brother arrived from Australia on a visit to her a little while after I came away.  Just think, it is nearly forty years since she saw him before!"


I am not sure which of Kate's brothers visited from Australia.  There aren't any additional details of his trip.

I also might be able to do a little more digging.  My research seems to have a giant hole when it comes to where the O'Brien's were in Australia.  Others indicating they are Kate's relatives, seem to know more.  I hope to be able to make a true connection with them soon and will review their notes again.

To be continued...................................





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