Since 2014, Lyn Stewart has visited Ireland three times to discover more about five Murphy sisters, who left Cahir (Caher) for Australia in 1841.
Here Lyn talks about her family history search for her great great grandmother, Margaret Murphy, connecting with local the local IrelandXO volunteer network and visiting ancestral homesteads in County Tipperary.
When I first started researching I knew almost nothing about my great great grandmother Margaret Walker née Murphy. Her death certificate said she was 81 in January 1884 when she died. She was from Tipperary and her parents were James Murphy, a hotelkeeper, and Elizabeth Murphy. She had been in the colony (New South Wales) for 43 years and she had one daughter, Jane. A break-through came when I heard from a cousin that she had brought a document with her from Ireland. It turned out to be the legal agreement for the marriage of her own parents. It was an 1801 document written in English on vellum (calf skin).
Picture: Joe Walsh and The Cahir Historical Association with Lyn in 2014
Margaret Murphy had arrived in New South Wales in January 1841 accompanied by four of her sisters. They were single women migrating to Australia under a subsidized fare known as the Bounty immigration scheme. The immigration records showed the Murphy sisters had come from Cahir in County Tipperary. The marriage document told me the names of the bride’s uncle and two brothers, and the groom’s parents who ran a hotel in the town square.
That information brought me to Ireland 2014 in search of my Cahir Murphys. I met a local Cahir historian, Joe Walsh. He was the first person to give me information about the family and their hotel business. I gave a copy of the marriage document to Joe and others in the Cahir historical association. It was a very special occasion for me.
Joe Walsh suggested I go and see some of the Murphy houses over near Cashel. I had been spending time in the Thurles local studies library reading about 18th and 19th century Tipperary but I was running out of time when I saw the Murphy houses at Ballymore, Woodford and Ballinamona. I knew I had to come back to find out more.
In 2016 I returned to Ireland again. By then I had made contact with IrelandXO and volunteer Tom Hussey. Meeting Tom was the next big step forward in my search for the Murphys. Tom took me on a personal tour of Cahir and we chatted all day about the history of this ancient town, the Earl of Glengall as landlord, the cavalry barracks on the edge of town, etc. Tom was brought up in Cahir and his local knowledge and generosity towards my quest was of enormously encouragement and assistance. Towards the end of my 2016 visit I was fortunate to visit the house at Ballinamona and see some of the Murphy collection of documents and photographs held there—a treasure trove of information about my Murphy family. The owners decided to donate the collection to the Tipperary archives at the Thurles Library and I knew that once again I would have to come back to examine the collection in detail.
Picture: Tom Hussey, Ireland Reaching Out volunteer.
So for the third time I came back to Ireland, this time in early 2018. Again Tom Hussey was a help to me when he checked the draft I had written on the background history relevant to my Murphy family. By the time I had spent a whole week at the archives I knew I had evidence about the family that nobody had previously written. Together with what I had gathered about what happened to the five Murphy sisters in Australia, I knew I had an interesting saga to tell. And so, finally, in June 2019, I have self-published a family history. Two thirds of the book is about the Murphys in Ireland and one third traces the lives of Margaret Murphy, her sisters Catherine, Dorcas, Joanna and Jane, and their brother James who also came to Australia a few years afterwards.
The result is a 271 page book, Searching for Margaret Murphy, from Tipperary to New South Wales, a Murphy family history.
Lyn is returning to Ireland in September and will be donating a copy of her book to the Thurles local studies library. She would be happy to hear from any Murphy family and Cahir researchers and share her knowledge. Click here if you would like to contact Lyn Stewart about this article.
Are you inspired by Lyn's story and would like to connect with your place of origin in Ireland? You can – with a little help from IrelandXO! A simple post on our Message Board may be all you need to get started on your journey.