The other night as I lay in bed, unable to sleep, I was reflecting on how much our name defines us. One thought led to another as my mind followed the genetic path of my ancestry: each family, their names, occupations and religious affiliations. Their successes and failures, what made each generation unique.
I may have carried the Cass name for many decades, since I was a young adult, but I am not a Cass in my bones and nor will I ever be. My own inheritance is different and is not to be denied. I’ve tried to capture that essence here.
Generations of Kunkels
Bavarian and Queenslander
From Laufach and Dorfprozelten
To Ipswich and the Fifteen Mile
Innkeepers and pork butchers
Railway workers and farmers
O’Briens from eastern County Clare
Townlands of Ballykelly and Killaderry
Famine survivors and emigrants to the
Faraway land Down Under
Ipswich and Murphys Creek
Farmer, wife and mother
Keepers of the Faith.
From Ballymore, Kildare and Dublin’s slums
Bullock driver in Queensland’s west to
Dalby, Toowoomba and Crows Nest
Gardener in Queensland’s garden town
Grandparents to war heroes
Garrulous yet obscure
Catholic to the core.
Centuries of Kents
Through the villages of Hertfordshire
Publicans, farmers, and labourers
Anglican workers in Sandon
Methodist despite the pubs
Emigration as a family
To Pre-Separation Queensland
Their Ipswich lives hidden by time.
One solitary Partridge
Founder of a large Aussie family
Born London but from the Forest of Dean
Groomsman, carpenter and builder
Worker of colonial timbers
Occasional undertaker or publican
But regularly insolvent
Pre-Separation pioneer of Ipswich.
Hibernian Sherrys of unknown counties
Sherry, McSharry or McSherry
To Tullamore, Wicklow and Wexford
Builders of railways in Ireland and in Queensland
Tracks follow their family lines
Through the furthest reaches of their new home
Yet ever loyal to an independent Ireland
Melvins from the docks of Leith
Generations of seamen
Dollops of confectioners
Entrepreneurs and businessmen
Proud Scots, Presbyterian and Methodist
Ipswich, ChartersTowers, and Sydney
Back in the soil of England.
McCorquodale or McCorkindale
Embedded in Argyll but displaced to Glasgow
Emigration of the family to Brisbane Queensland
One son a builder of Canberra
Pipers and highland dancers
Judging or scooping the prizes
Proud Scots through and through.
The female line through my genes
The Sims at Backrow, Bothkennar
Fisherman Callaghans in Wexford
Murphys from Davidstown, Wicklow
A railway line of Sherrys
Farmer Furlongs from Tullamore
North Shields merchant seaman Gilhespy
The Reeds, miners in Northumberland and Durham.
Each and every one of these genetic lines has contributed to who I am. As I look at these photos it’s easy to see why I am tall: George Kunkel, the McSherrys, Mary Callaghan McSherry and William Partridge.