Monday 8 October 2012

On the Trail of Red Kelly (Part 2)

In the previous post, I described my 2011 journey to the tiny Irish village of Moyglass, courtesy of Tourism Ireland. Moyglass was once the home of John "Red" Kelly, father of bushranger Ned Kelly, before Red was transported to Australia in 1841.

Arriving at the closed Ned Kelly Village Inn, we were pleasantly surprised to encounter the pub's owner. He ushered us inside to have a look, and this is what we saw...

First up, a fine snug. For those unfamiliar with the term, a snug is a separate space within a pub which allows a certain amount of privacy. This one looked very comfortable - and, as you can see, was plastered with information about Ned Kelly and his dramatic life:

Here's a closer view of one wall, with part of the Kelly Gang's story and a facsimile of the reward notice for their capture:

On another wall was a framed photo of Kelly's armour:

And nearby was this little gem - a Ned Kelly Moyglass clock. Lucky I'm not kleptomaniacally inclined, that's all I can say:

Moving on, Terry guided us to the green paddock where Red Kelly's humble house once stood. Beyond it, he pointed out the gently sloping Slievenamon, "Mountain of the Women". According to Terry, in legend this was where warrior Fionn Mac Cumhaill (known in English as Finn McCool) decided he would marry the fastest woman to run to its peak:

Another legend was remembered by this sign at the edge of the field:

After this Terry took us to other places which were part of John Kelly's life, including the police station where he was charged. Meandering along the narrow lanes, it was interesting to notice how often the more familiar sounding English locations were mispronunciations of the original Irish placenames:

Finally, we arrived at the Ballysheehan house where John Kelly stole the inauspicious pigs which led to his involuntary Australian residence:

Perched above a broad modern motorway, it's amazing this place survives. But that's Ireland for you - littered with fascinating fragments of the past.

(If you're planning to visit Ireland and are interested in following the Kelly trail, Terry Cunningham's tour is available by prior arrangement, fee negotiable; email him at

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