This page details the migration of the O’Shaughnessy’s from County Clare in Ireland to Western Victoria (Port Fairy and thereabouts). Note that there are many variations on the names, such as Shaughnessy, O’Shaugnessy, O’Shannessy, O’Shannassy, and O’Shanasy. Our ancestors changed from O’Shaughnessy in Ireland to O’Shannessy in Australia.
O’Shaughnessy’s in County Clare, Ireland
The earliest recorded O’Shaugnessy we have is Daniel O’SHAUGHNESSY (b. abt 1789) from Clonlara, County Clare, Ireland. His parents were Lawrence and Johanna O’MAHONEY (dates unknown). He married Judith Haydon (from Lough Derg, Limerick, Ireland) in 1809. They had five children; James (b. 1809), William (b. 1810), John (b. 1825), Catherine (b. 1828), and Daniel (b. 1830).
The family home at this time was in Shravokee, County Clare. This is just over the river (north) from Limerick City, Co. Limerick. See these places at Google maps.
James married Mary MADDEN on 21 Nov 1837 in Limerick. They had seven children; Roger (b. 1838), Joanna/Johanna (b. 1840), Bridget Agnes (b. 1842), James (b. 1844), Daniel (b. 1846), Catherine (b. 1848) and Mary (b. 1850). The family was also living in Shravokee, but I don’t know if they were sharing a house/property with their parents and siblings. There were three blocks of land in Shravokee listed as being owned by Shaughnessy’s at the 1855 valuations (after the families had left).
More information on the families in this area can be found at “THE LANE FAMILY. From Shravokee County Clare – Ireland“. It also refers to a Griffiths Valuation map from 1855 showing various families in the area, including the three Shaughnessy plots.
Emigration from Ireland
Probably as a result of the Great Famine, James (snr) and Mary decided to leave Ireland for the US. Much of the emigration is detailed in The Diary of James O’Shannessy.I don’t know how accurate the details in the diary are; my uncle has a similar transcription with slightly different details.
James’ brother John sailed “from Plymouth about the 3rd March, 1849 for Australia“, at age 24. His other brother Daniel “left for New South Wales on the 14th March, 1851 but did not sail from Plymouth until the 28th of May“, at age 21.
James (snr), his wife Mary, and their four daughters (Joanna – 11yrs, Bridget – 10yrs, Catherine – 3yrs, and Mary – 1yr) left home for USA on 1st May 1852. There is no record of who the boys (Roger – 12yrs, James – 8yrs and Daniel – 6yrs) stayed with after their parents and sisters left.
The Norden sailed from Limerick on 7th May and then Portsmouth on 28th May. It seems to have stopped at a number of ports on the tip. The trip onboard was rough with his diary talking about storms and most of the 179 passengers getting seasick. Joanna got sick, possibly fever. Mary died onboard at 2am on 29th May 1852. “To me, that was the most sensitive calamity that could befall me. However on reflection, I have and hope I shall lean to the will of God.“.
James and his four daughters arrived in New York 14th June 1852; approximately six weeks onboard.The immigration records show a family of five under the surname Shaugnesty from Limerick; James – mechanic 40, Johanna – child 12, Bridgit – child 10, Catherine – child 3, and Mary – infant 9months.
The next day they headed north to East Troy, by mistake, then Albany, NY. They stayed there for almost two months and then moved to Chicago (arriving 26th Aug). They were in Chicago for almost two years when James “received a remittance from my Brothers to enable me to go with my children to the Colony of Victoria.”
Apparently there wasn’t enough money to pay for James and all four girls. He decided to leave Joanna (then aged 14) in the US “but strongly cautioned her to return to Ireland as soon as possible to her grandfather and that I would have her with me again if possible.“. There is no record of her ever getting to Australia or joining her family.
James and the three other girls left New York on 15th Jul 1854 on the clipper ship “Wings of the Morning” and arrived in Melbourne on 22nd October, a journey of approximately three months. On arrival they stayed with James’ brother John and his other brother Dan came to town. The children stayed with John whilst Dan and James tried their luck at the Forrest Creek goldfields (now Castlemaine) in Nov 1854. “We sought our fortunes there and elsewhere for some twelve months.“.
Dan was able to get enough money together to bring James’ three sons from Ireland. The boys (Daniel – 9yrs, James – 11yrs, and Roger – 16yrs) arrived on the Blanche Moore in June 1855. The family was now together, except for Joanna left in Chicago.
Settling in the Parish of Codrington (Yambuk)
After returning from the goldfields, Dan went to Belfast (Port Fairy) and bought land for himself and John; 77 acres in the Parish of Codrington. The families moved there sometime in 1856/1857. James rented some land north of his brothers’ property for 10 years from 15th April 1857 where his family lived.
The marriages of James’ children were:
- On 14 April 1863, Bridget married William CROWE, the Crowes having come from the same area in Ireland.
- On 1st December 1866, Roger married Maria MALONE, “the youngest daughter of Michael Malone of Yambuk“
- On 14th April 1868, James (jnr) married Ellen COLEMAN (or GORMAN)
- In 1874, Catherine married William Henry BATHER
James (snr) spent his last days between his son James’ property “Tyrendarra” and with his daughter Bridget and William Crowe. He died on 13 March 1890 at age 81. He. along with many of the O’Shannessy’s (and other spellings) are buried in the Yambuk Cemetery or the cemetery in nearby Port Fairy.
James (jnr) and Ellen had twelve children in Yambuk; Michael (b. 1869), Frances (b. 1869), James (b. 1872), Mary (b. 1874), Katherine or Catherine (b. 1876), Ellen (b. 1878), John (b. 1880), Bridget (b. 1882), William (b. 1884), Sarah (b. 1886), Peter Joseph (b. 1889) and Daniel (?).
Michael O’Shannessy married Bridget Catherine MALONEY in 1896. Bridget’s father Thomas had emigrated from Ireland in 1857 on the ship Mindoro with his brothers Edmond, James, and Michael (and another Michael who may have been related). I haven’t been able to trace Catherine MALONEY (nee RYAN).
Michael and Bridget had seven children in Yambuk; Thomas Patrick (b. 1897), Ellen (b. 1900), Michael (Mick) Peter (b. 1906), Bridget Minnie (b. 1908), Mary, Katherine and James (Jim) with DOB’s currently unknown.
Ellen O’Shannessy was my maternal grandmother. She spent much of her early life around Yambuk. She was the publican at the Yambuk Inn (aka. Commercial Hotel) for a few years in the 1930′s. She started going out with George GALLAGHER 1936/1937. The Gallaghers were staunch Protestants and the O’Shannessys Catholic, so when this was discovered by George’s family, Ellen wasn’t allowed into the house. Despite this they were married on 6th April 1937 (age 36) in Ballarat and moved to Melbourne soon after.
They had two children; Brian (b. 1938) and Elizabeth Mary (b. 1940), my mother. Ellen, or Nellie as she was known, lived for many years with George at Orrong Rd, East St Kilda. She passed away on 20th November 1989, a day short of her 89th birthday. She is buried with George and many of her relatives in the Port Fairy cemetery.