Monday, May 19, 2008


On Saturday 31/August 2002 I travelled to Melbourne, Australia.,with my son Austin. There we stayed in the Ibis Hotel for three days, taking in many of Melbourne's sites. We spent some time with my aunt Nancy Alter, formerly Nancy Sheils from Johnstown Navan. After that we hired a car and travelled around the country putting 6656 miles on the clock. When we returned to Melbourne three weeks later we stayed with Nancy's son Brendan and his wife Irene.

As you can imagine we passed through many towns, including:Kulgera, Woomera, Renner Springs, Adelaide, Tennant's Creek, Darwin, Sidney, Albury, Gunning, Beechworth ( Kelly Country ), Cooper Pedy and those whose names I cant remember. There is however one which sticks in my mind and that is Gundagai in New South Wales.

It was a beautiful morning and we had just left the Hume Highway and crossed over Morley's Creek on our way into Gundagai. As we drove across the small concrete bridge I noticed a park to my left. I stopped the car and went in to stretch my legs. There was a monument in the park with the inscription which read, '' In memory of Yarri Hero of Gundagai . Near this site on the night of 24th June 1852 an Aborigine man named Yarri, rescued 49 people from the flooded Murrumbidgee River''.

I was intrigued by the inscription and wondered how he managed to rescue so many.

We moved further in to the town and stopped at the Cenotaph in Sheridan Street which was erected in memory of those who lost their lives in the Great War. There was a sign close by pointing to the old railway station which is the longest wooden railway station in New South Wales, so we paid it a visit.

On arrival we saw a couple taking photos, they were obviously tourists like ourselves. We parked the car and walked around the station. When we moved out on to the platform, we could see that the rail track was overgrown with weeds. It obviously hadn't been used in years. I strolled around the platform enjoying the scene but all the time Yarry was on my mind, how did he save so many people?.

I came to a window and saw a man sitting inside at a table. When he caught sight of me he immediately leaped from the table with a cup of tea in one hand and a sandwich in the other. He moved so fast that I thought! what the Hell's wrong am I trespassing?. He came out and introduced himself explaining that he was a guide and that he came from Wales 40 years earlier and settled in Australia.

He went on to explain that the line closed down in 1984 and a group of towns people got together and formed a committee. They hoped to get the rail company to run a few trains per year to the town. I commended him on their efforts and said I thought it was a great idea. I told him that I came from Ireland and we both spoke about our respective countries and all the time Yarri was on my mind.

When I got the chance, I said to him, '' when I crossed Morley's Creek at the edge of town, I noticed a monument to the memory of an Aborigine named Yarri, who during the great flood of 1852 saved the lives of 49 people, how did he manage that?. He answered like this, pleasant at first, '' when the official search party pulled out, Yarri who had a canoe of his own continued searching saving 49 people, but! the monument doesn't say anything about the white men who saved his people, if you can prove your grandfather was an Aborigine you'll get concessions!!!

I was dumbfounded by his reaction and fought hard to hold my tongue. I simply looked at the ground, then glanced at Austin and I knew that we were both on the same wavelength. I said a quick good bye and left.

As I drove out of town past Yarry's memorial and drove across the concrete bridge I could see that it was called Yarry's Bridge and I thought, I should have said something, I should have gave him a mouthful, I should have told him the Aborigines didn't come from Wales.

YARRI was later baptised into the Roman Catholic faith, taking the European name, James McDonnell. On his death, he was buried in the Catholic Section of the North Gundagai Cemetery on 25th July 1880, but the precise location of his grave is unknown.

Gundagai Rail Station

Pictures and historical content from the Wikipedia free encyclopedia.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


In the Summer of 2006, AlanO'Hanlon of the Meath VEC nominated me for an ACE Award (Adults Continuing Edication Awards ). I was delighted when I made lt to the short list.

The Awards Ceremony took place in the Westin Hotel Dublin, on the night of the 11th November 2006. I came runner up in the Unique Contribution Section.

Short Listed 2006
Unique Contribution Section
Peggy Murphy and Nancy Mulvey
Tony Geraghty
Bridy Daly
Michael Sheils

Innovative Methods

Catherine O'Brien
James Farrelly
Rodney Hodgins
Li Fan

Breaking Down Barriers to Learning

HSE, West Mayo, General Hospital, Ante Natal Educaters, Francis Burke and Mary Salmon
South Tipperary Adult Literacy Scheme
The Catering Project, HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster
Drama Workshop Group, Kerry Education Service

Expanding Community Participating
St John of God, Carmona Services: Hilary Keppal and Audrey Carroll
St Munchin's Literacy Project
Kerry Deaf Adult Learning Project
Ilac Centre/Dalc Book Club
Learning and Development for Work

FAS Services to Business: Paul Fennelly and Deirdre Mc Garry
SMART Programme, Co. Monaghan VEC

Skills On-Line Project

Moy Park Co LTD
Encouraging Learning at Home
The Pink Group, Our Lady's Traveller Training and Edication Centre
Child Health Information Service Project: Edel Conway
Family Learning Project, Bray Adult Centre
Riverside Senior Traveller Centre.

Photos from the night
Above L/r Josephine Sheils, Maura O'Hanlon, Alan O'Hanlon Michael Sheils and Marie Condon

L/R Alan O'Hanlon Josephine Sheils Joe Duffy(RTE FAME) Maura O'Hanlon Marie Condon and Michael Sheils

Monday, May 5, 2008

Congratulations to Tommy Murray on the publication of his new book " Images of Meath ".
The book features over one hundred old and rare photos of people and places of interest in the county. Anyone with a sense of history will be pleasantly surprised with the book. It will be stocked in Eason's Navan; Antonia's Bookstore Trim and The Post Office Trim.