The genetic links of one of Australia’s most notorious and controversial outlaws - Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly - was the focus of the Kelly Clan gathering in County Tipperary. Two hundred Kellys from Australia, Britain, America, Ireland and even an eleventh generation Kelly from Guatemala attended the event in Dundrum House Hotel. Guests included Junior Minister, Alan Kelly and former GAA President, Sean Kelly, MEP.
Ned Kelly, was born in Australia around 1854 and earned the reputation as both a cold-blooded murderer as well as a freedom-fighting folk hero. He was captured and hanged in Melbourne in 1880 for his crimes.
Ned’s father was Irish convict, John ‘Red’ Kelly, who came from Moyglass near Killenaule, and was transported to Van Diemens Land (now Tasmania) in 1841 for a series of local crimes.
Key speaker at the gathering was Australian, Aidan Kelly, the Clan’s chief recorder on genetic genealogy, who presented the latest analysis of the Kelly ‘Y-DNA Study’ (the genetic links of the male line). He also referred to recent studies on the DNA of Ned Kelly’s bones (tracing the maternal line) and how this work could help
identify male family relatives in the Tipperary area.
Mary Kelly, one of the event organisers and a spokesperson for the Kelly Clan Association says: “While there is no denying that Ned Kelly was a notorious criminal to some he was considered a hero who was fighting oppression. But the purpose of our event was not to condone his reputation but to share the importance of genetics in tracing
family connections and enable Kelly family members from across the world to meet and discuss their common ancestry.”
The three-day gathering included a tour of the Moyglass area, including visits to the site of the home of John ‘Red’ Kelly, the ancient site of the Church where he was baptised and the prison and police station where
he was held.
Meanwhile, Mary told the “Tipperary Star” that Alan Kelly gave a most interesting talk during the day on his own family history and life in the local area, while Seán entertained at the Gala Dinner with accounts of life in Belgium and the GAA. One amusing anecdote Seán recalled was a tale at a recent function, when he he didn’t realise he was quite so well-known and respected, until he discovered that he had been mistaken for Seán Kelly the Olympic Cyclist!
The Gathering also received a charming personal message from the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, expressing every good wish for the weekend. Enda’s wife, Fiona, is a Kelly, hence the connection.
There was a bumper turnout for the weekend with many locals attending, rubbing shoulders with international cousins from all over the world. One of the highlights was a re-enactment of a highway hold up performed by a local historical group. One of the highwaymen herded the bus tour passengers off at “gunpoint” while on a stop at
Moyglass, Fethard. Everyone was taken by surprise at this, including the organisers who thought there was just going to be a short cameo taking place in the local pub!
Ned Kelly then expertly rode in on horseback to rescue all and many photos were taken to record the event.
Mary says: “The weekend was a resounding success with numbers far exceeding those anticipated. We have to thank the local people for all their support and especially John Kelly of Cappawhite who took on the mammoth task of on the ground organising.”
Further information can be found on the Kelly Clan Website www.kellyclanireland.com