Family celebrates a little bit of Limerick in Australia

The arrival of a Knocklong family to New South Wales, Australia 150 years ago this month was celebrated by their ancestors.

Thomas Moloney of Bridge House, Knocklong, ran a bar in Main Street, Hospital, before he and Ellen and four of their five children left for Australia.

The Moloneys arrived on the ship Australia which sailed from Plymouth in England on February 27, 1853.

Thomas eventually bought 40 acres of Land which is still held by his ancestors, and opened an accommodation house called the Limerick Hotel.

Jack Rafferty from New South Wales, a direct descendent of Thomas and Ellen Moloney, and Vic Senior from Hospital whose wife Maureen is a relative, and David Moloney from Limerick Junction, also a relative, have produced a research article on the family’s life in Australia.

“Their descendants have always kept in touch with Knocklong, otherwise this article would never have been written. The data for the article has come from a family history by John E Rafferty, a direct descendant,” said Mr Senior, Castlefarme, Hospital.

“A recent letter from Mr Rafferty states that as this year is the Feast of Pentecost, they hope to celebrate the Moloney ancestors’ arrival in Australia with great joy,” said Mr Senior.

When the family arrived in Australia, they had to wait in Sydney until Ellen junior arrived. She had remained in Ireland to seek treatment for an eye problem. She lost the sight of one eye and was sent out by her uncle Daniel of Bridge House, Knocklong, to join her waiting family.

“The family spent some years searching for a place to settle but eventually decided on the area of Bumble near Moree, NSW, a small town on the vast north west plains, located, 400 miles from Sydney.

“To get there they had to cross the mountains of the great dividing range, presumably on foot and wagon-train with all their personal belongings. On arrival however, they found some of the best sheep and cattle grazing lands in the world and the town of Moree (today’s population 10,000) was being developed,” according to the co-written account.

In 1861, Mr Moloney paid £40 for the land on which he built The Limerick Hotel and became the postmaster. The mail-coach route developed considerably after 1871 and the Limerick Hotel flourished.
“In time to come, in the Moree area, the Moloney’s were destined to meet a family called the Fingletons. Thomas Fingleton was an ex-convict, a political prisioner.”

Thomas Fingleton from Laois was sentenced to transportation for life when he was found guilty of taking part in a raid in 1830 on an habitation, possibly a Protestant church.

After his death in 1877 when he was lost in the bush while carrying out his duties as a shepherd, his widow, Catherine, and their children moved to the Moree area and there they came into contact with the Moloney family.

“In 1882, three Moloneys - two sons and one daughter - married three Fingletons, thus establishing a close inward looking extended family which expanded greatly through the years.”
Thomas Moloney saw just one of his children married as he died in 1875 aged 69 and Ellen died five years later at the same age.

The Moloney children ran the family property jointly and by the early 1890s it extended to over 5,000 acres of grazing land.

The Limerick Hotel continued to prosper until 1896 when it was shut down because the Moree Licensing Court refused a renewal of the licence.

“The railway had taken a different route and the days of stage coach accommodation inns were over. By this time, however, the Moloneys and the Fingletons had consolidated themselves in huge areas in the vicinity of Moree which to this day they have retained in the family,” according to the account.
The Fingleton name no longer appears among the holders of properties in the neighbourhood, but many descendants remain and the name Moloney still features among the property holders of the area.

of Deirdre McGrath and the Limerick Leader