## The following information came from Michael Lynch, the Kerry County Archivist, in 2008.
The Listowel Workhouse took in its first admissions on 13 February 1845. The former building is now a part of the local Listowel District Hospital. There are no admissions registers surviving for the Listowel Workhouse. However, the records of the governing body (The Board of Guardians of Listowel Poor Law Union) do survive for much of the relevant period. There is a gap from November 1845 to November 1848, but the Minutes for the 1850s are substantially complete.
The Board met weekly, and discussed the administration of the Poor Law area more so than individual cases. These records are held in Tralee in the Archives Department of the County Library.
There are (5) references from Listowel BG Records relevant for Bridget Ryan:
1. Ref: BG/112/A/2, 11 September 1849: "Lieut. Henry (Local Poor Law Inspector?) this day examined the several orphan girls in the Workhouse and selected the following for emigration to Australia".
The appended list of 19 names included Catherine Ryan (Tarbert), Mary Ryan (Listowel) and Biddy (sic) Ryan (Listowel).
Also on this date: "Ordered that the requisite outfits etc. for the girls be at once provided".
2. Ref: BG/112/A/3 (p.20), 29 September 1849: "Ralph Brown's proposal - he was declared contractor for the supply of 38 pairs of shoes for the orphan girls about being sent to Australia. Prices - 2s. 10d. per pair for shoes and 1s. 3d. for pumps"
3. Ref: BG/112/A/3 (p.36), 11 October 1849: "Letter 64829 (10 October) The Workhouse orphan girls emigrating to Australia to be in Dublin before the 20th Instant".
4. Ref: BG/112/A3 (p.37), 11 October 1849 "Ordered that a cheque be drawn in favour of Daniel Griffin for twenty pounds to defray the expenses of Emigrants to Dublin".
5. Ref: BG/112/A/3 (p.56), 25 October 1849: "Letter from Lieut. Henry 20th October informing Guardians of the arrangements made for the maintenance of one of the Emigrant girls taken ill of fever in Dublin".
This is as much as exists in the Minute Books, but at least it confirms that Bridget (Biddy) was among those sent at that time.
Bridget arrived in Sydney, Australia on 3 February 1850. According to the Thomas Arbuthnot passenger list from New South Wales State Records we know the following details:
Age 16 (Comment from Julie Evans: Bridget’s age is given as 16 but if we accept that her family knew her age at time of death then we accept her birth year of 1835, meaning that she would have been barely 15 when she arrived in Australia.)
Native Place and County: Bruff, Limerick
Parents names and if alive their residence: Anthony and Johanna, Father living in Sydney
Religion: Church of Rome
Read and write: Both
Relations in Colony: Father in Sydney
State of health, strength and probable usefulness: Poor
Any complaints respecting treatment on board the ship: None
Remarks by Immigration Board: From Listowel Union See below ##
It is interesting to note that despite being described officially as “orphans”, one third of the girls on the Thomas Arbuthnot did not fit the modern definition of that word. In many cases their parents were unable to look after them and, according to research in the book A decent set of girls: the Irish famine orphans of the Thomas Arbuthnot 1849-1850 by Richard Reid and Cheryl Mongan, the girls who came out on the Thomas Arbuthnot had a higher than average percentage of living parents. Bridget was one of these girls though we have no record of any family reunion between Bridget and her father, Anthony, said to be in the army in Australia when Bridget left Ireland.
On their arrival in Sydney, Bridget and the other girls were housed in Hyde Park Barracks (http://www.hht.net.au/museums/hyde_park_barracks_museum). Bridget remained there for only ten days before going to work for D MacKellar. There was only one D MacKellar living in Balmain, a suburb of Sydney, at this time and it was Captain Duncan MacKellar who was renting a home called Waterview House. Captain MacKellar was a Master Mariner and was originally from Elgin in Scotland.
It is not clear how Bridget met James Murray. He had arrived in 1848 from Scotland, part of a large family and another long story! Some family lore suggests he was working in Sydney at the time though his brothers were farming in the Manning River area of New South Wales. Family records say they were married in Sydney in December 1850 though I cannot locate a copy of their marriage certificate. By December 1851 James and Bridget had had the first of their thirteen children (one did not survive infancy). They were living north of Sydney on the Manning River.
What a great story!
Now for something completely different
A small snippet of Listowel Church Choir at the recent funeral mass for Mons. Leahy R.I.P.