A Kiwi in search of her Irish, English & Scottish tribes

Tag: obituary

Bridget (Power) O’Rourke ~ Sunday’s Obituary

Oh my word, it has been a long while since I’ve posted.  I have been busy with IHGS assignments, lots of family history research, and correspondence with distant cousins – hence this blog has been somewhat neglected.

Thanks to a fellow IHGS student, I now have a copy of my great great grandmother’s obituary from the New Zealand Tablet, and as I’ve lately been in contact with a few O’Rourke cousins, I thought it timely to share.

Obituary, Bridget O'Rourke, New Zealand Tablet, 30 Jul 1914

Obituary, Bridget O’Rourke, New Zealand Tablet, 30 Jul 1914



Death has laid its hand very heavily upon Mr
B. O’Rourke, sen., and his family during the last few
days (says the Hawke’s Bay Herald of July 20).  Fol-
lowing the death of the youngest son, Mr. James
O’Rourke, on Friday morning, Mrs O’Rourke, sen.,
passed away on Saturday morning.  The news caused
a profound shock to the community, and feelings of
widespread sympathy for the bereaved family.  The
deceased lady was an old colonist, having arrived in
New Zealand in the early ‘sixties, partaking of the ups
and downs of goldfields life at Charleston, on the West
Coast, where Mr. O’Rourke took a prominent part in
the pioneering work of those stirring times, eventually
coming to Napier, where the family have been well
and popularly connected with its business life since
1875.  Mrs. O’Rourke’s health had been failing for
some time, but her end was doubtless accelerated by
the shock of the death of her son James.  On Sunday the
remains of mother and son were laid to rest in the
Napier Cemetery, the cortege being one of the largest
seen in the city for many years.  A service was first
held at St. Patrick’s Church, and the final rites were
performed by the Rev. Fathers O’Sullivan and O’Con-
nor, the scene at the graveside, when the coffins con-
taining the remains of mother and son were lowered
into the one grave beside that of a son and brother,
who had died only a comparatively short time pre-
viously, being most impressive.  The members of the
H. A. C. B. Society, of which the late Mr. James
O’Rourke was a member, attended in full strength, and
acted as pall-bearers. – R.I.P.

Bridget O’Rourke died on 18 July 1914 in Napier, New Zealand, and is buried at the Old Napier Cemetery in the O’Rourke family plot.  Her cause of death was given as “Pneumonia, Syncope”.

Sunday’s Obituary is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Annie (Collins) Brosnahan ~ Sunday’s Obituary

This entry is part 6 of 18 in the series The Brosnahans of Temuka
Obituary, Mrs Brosnahan, Temuka - New Zealand Tablet, 22 May 1902

Obituary, Mrs Brosnahan, Temuka - New Zealand Tablet, 22 May 1902



Yet another of the fast diminishing numbers of early settlers has passed away in the person of Mrs Brosnahan, relict of the late Mr James Brosnahan, whose death (says the Temuka Leader) at the age of 86 is announced. The deceased lady was a resident of the district for the past 36 years, having settled here on her arrival from the County of Kerry, and was well known and highly respected. During the last 12 months her once familiar figure has not been seen about as frequently as of yore, owing to illness. The late Mrs Brosnahan was the mother of Mr John Brosnahan, of Arowhenua,  Mrs M Gaffaney and Miss Brosnahan (Temuka), Mrs Gaffaney (Dunedin), and Mrs Bryant (Christchurch). She leaves altogether one son, four daughters, 41 grand-children, and 20 great grandchildren. Previous to her illness she was hale and hearty, and was often to be seen walking to or from Mr Brosnahan’s to her own house in Temuka preferring to do so than drive.1

Annie Collins was my 3 x great grandmother.  She was born about 1816 in Co. Kerry, Ireland to Patrick Collins and Ann Seeler(?)2, and married James Brosnahan around 18383. Their son John and daughter Margaret (my great great grandmother) emigrated to New Zealand in 1862, and Annie and James followed a few years after with the rest of their family.

This obituary helped me to follow up the rest of my great great grandmother’s siblings. I knew about Catherine, who had married Francis Gaffaney, the brother of Margaret’s husband, Michael Gaffaney.

This photo is apparently of Catherine and Francis:

Catherine (Brosnahan) and Francis Gaffaney, Dunedin, NZ

Catherine (Brosnahan) and Francis Gaffaney, Dunedin, NZ

They married on April 16th, 1874 in Timaru, South Canterbury, and made their home in Dunedin, Otago.4

From Annie and James’ death certificates, I knew they had one son and four daughters living at the time of their deaths. After going through old photographs with my father, he told me about Annie Brosnahan, Margaret’s sister, who lived next door to the Gaffaneys – she was nicknamed “Queenie” and where she lived was called “The Queen’s Paddock”.

Caption on reverse: The Queen's Paddock, Queenie being Annie, next door to Belper House

Caption on reverse: The Queen's Paddock, Queenie being Annie, next door to Belper House

I wonder who the other woman is in the photo? Taking a closer look:

Annie "Queenie" Brosnahan, second from left

Annie "Queenie" Brosnahan, second from left

I wonder if this could be Annie’s mother, Annie Collins? From what the younger Annie is wearing, I’m guessing maybe the photo was taken early 1890s..? Annie Brosnahan never married, and is buried with her parents in Temuka Cemetery.5

So then I just had one remaining daughter to find: Mrs Bryant.

I found an Ellen Brosnahan who married Daniel Bryant in 18706, and found a few references to them, but haven’t been able to confirm anything so far – that may require ordering a certificate or two.

Sunday’s Obituary is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. “Obituary”, New Zealand Tablet, Vol XXX Issue 21, 22 May 1907, p 20; digital image, Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast : accessed 20 Nov 2010).
  2. New Zealand, death certificate of Annie Brosnahan, 15 May 1902, Temuka; photocopy, citing 1902/5750, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.
  3. New Zealand, death certificate of James Brosnahan, 23 Sep 1890, Temuka; photocopy, citing 1890/4316, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.
  4. Gaffaney Family Tree, compiled by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; GEDCOM supplied to author, 2006.
  5. Timaru District Council, “TDC Cemetery Database”, database, Timaru District Council (http://www.timaru.govt.nz/cemetery-database2.html : accessed 2010), database entry for Annie Brosnan, Timaru  (ref 13936, row 203, plot 203, buried 30 Dec 1944).
  6. NZ Department of Internal Affais, “Marriage Search”, database entry for marriage of Daniel Bryant and Ellen Brosnahan, 1870/8022, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.

Alexander Wright ~ Sunday’s Obituary (and a mystery)

How apt that today I am posting my great grandfather’s obituary – on the 55th anniversary of his death.1

Obituary of Alexander Wright, clipping from unidentified publication, 01 Aug 1956

Obituary of Alexander Wright, clipping from unidentified publication, 01 Aug 1956



A prominent figure in musical and friendly-society circles for many years, Mr Alexander Wright died yesterday at Gisborne and is to be interred at the Taruheru cemetery tomorrow, following a service to be held in Cochrane’s private chapel at 2.30pm.

Mr Wright was born in London and came to New Zealand as a boy, residing first in Christchurch and later coming to Gisborne, where he commenced his working life.  He volunteered for overseas service soon after the outbreak of the First World War and suffered wounds on Gallipoli which resulted in his being invalided back to New Zealand.

Mr Wright took up employment with Ormonds Motors after regaining his health and in 1917 married Miss Elsie Nunns at Gisborne.  He then transferred to Napier and in a residence of about nine years there, became a prominent figure in the entertainment world.2

I wonder if there was more to the obituary? It doesn’t sound like it’s quite finished – unless it was published in a Napier publication, and so only included information pertinent to that locality?

The obituary answers a few questions we had about Alex, though it raises several more!

How did he get to New Zealand “as a boy”? He’s definitely in England in 1901 (with his mother Mary Jane in Deptford), and I have a postcard addressed to him when he was in the Irish Fusiliers based at Aldershot – the postmark looks as though it is dated April 20, 1911.3 (I’m no expert – but it looks similar to those I found online).  If I’m correct about the date, Alex was still in England at 20 years of age.

Postcard addressed to Private A. Wright, from his sister Lavinia

Postcard addressed to Private A. Wright, from his sister Lavinia


Postmark up close:

Postmark detail

On the front of the postcard is a photograph of the sender, his sister Lavinia Wright:

Postcard sent to Private A. Wright, from his sister Lavinia

Postcard sent to Private A. Wright, from his sister Lavinia

I found a possible reference to him in the 1911 census4, with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusliers and correct age and birthplace, but he’s listed as “Alexander Patrick John Wright”, so I’m not entirely convinced this is our Alex. The middle names look as though they’ve been added afterwards, perhaps (and there are another couple of instances of this on the same page).

1911 England census (Alton, Hampshire) - detail (image copyright findmypast.co.uk)

1911 England census (Alton, Hampshire) – detail (image copyright findmypast.co.uk)

I also discovered an A. Wright on several ship crew lists5:

  • S.S. Themistocles, sailed from London  arriving 27 Oct 1912 in Sydney, NSW : A. Wright, born London, 20, Asst Cook
  • Rangatira, sailed from London arriving 20 Mar 1913 in Sydney, NSW : A. Wright, born London, 22, General Seaman
  • Ballarat, sailed from London arriving 11 Aug 1915 in Sydney, NSW : A. Wright, born London, 23, Asst Cook

They could all be the same person, or maybe no. 2 is our Alex?  He was definitely in New Zealand by 1914, when he enlisted with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

Sunday’s Obituary is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. “Online Cemetery Record Search”,  entry for Alexander Wright, burial 02 Aug 1956; database, Gisborne District Council (http://www.gdc.govt.nz/online-cemetery-record-search/ : accessed 21 Oct 2010); MI:  “NZEF, Great War Veteran 10/800 L/Cpl A WRIGHT, Wellington Regt, died 31 July 1956 aged 65”.
  2. “OBITUARY”, obituary of Alexander Wright, clipping from unidentified publication, dated 01 Aug 1956; photocopy, original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], grandson of deceased.
  3. Postcard addressed to Private A. Wright, sent by Lavinia (Wright) Luxton, dated 20 Apr 1911(?); digital image, original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], granddaughter of A. Wright.
  4. 1911 England census, Hampshire, Alton, St Lucia 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, Institution; entry for Alexander Patrick John Wright; digital image, FindMyPast (http://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed 19 Jun 2011)
  5. Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922 [database on-line]; Ancestry.co.uk (http://www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 19 Jun 2011)

Peter Dominic Gaffaney ~ Sunday’s Obituary

Obituary of Peter Gaffaney, The Press, Christchurch, 1954

Obituary of Peter Gaffaney, The Press, Christchurch, 1954

Obituary of Peter Gaffaney, The Press, Christchurch, 1954


A great many Canterbury farmers will regret the death recently of Mr Peter Gaffaney who for more than half a century was a freezing works buyer in different parts of the Province. He was a gifted judge of stock, and among buyers was known as a very hard man to buy against at a sale. He was born at Temuka, and at the age of 19 began buying for the Refrigerating Company at Timaru. The company was then known as the Christchurch Meat Company. He stayed with the company at Timaru and Fairlie for about 22 years, and in 1930 transferred to Borthwick’s and was sent to Fairlie. He went to Rangiora in 1930 and remained as buyer there until his retirement two years ago. In earlier years he bought a great deal at sales, and was sent by his firm to southern centres to buy. A contemporary recalls that about 1925 he bought most of a yarding of 12,000 lambs at Lorneville. His firm sent him for two seasons to Australia, where in the New Zealand off season he bought lambs for the concern’s Victorian works. He never kept a tally of the stock he bought, but reckoned that in his working life he must have accounted for nearly 2,000,000 lambs. He will be remembered by Canterbury farmers as a forthright purchaser who wasted little time in concluding a satisfactory deal, but he will be specially remembered for his unvarying willingness to help farmers wherever he could. There can never be a tally of the number of kindnesses he did in such ways as finding breeding ewes, or additional feed, for clients. He was a member of a famous sporting family, and in his earlier days was prominent as a Rugby forward. In more recent years his interests were in racing and trotting. He was a life member of the Rangiora Trotting Club, and a steward of the North Canterbury Racing Club, and a member of the Metropolitan Trotting Club.1

Some of the details in this obituary seem slightly out – like when he was transferred and to where, doesn’t seem to tally with other information I have. I think it will be helpful to work out a timeline of his life, see how everything fits in.

There’s no mention of any family, or other personal details, which is a bit disappointing.  I’m intrigued by the referral to his “famous sporting family”. What’s that all about? Something else to investigate!

  1. “Mr Peter Gaffaney”, The Press, Christchuch, 1954; digital image, scan from Gaffaney family papers, 2006, supplied by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; original privately held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE].

Margaret (O’Rourke) Gaffaney ~ Sunday’s Obituary

Not long after my great grandparents, Peter and Margaret Gaffaney, moved to Rangiora in North Canterbury, Margaret died “unexpectedly” at the age of 46 (though her death certificate gives her age as 42) on 16th November 1931.  The cause of death was “Perinephritic Abscess, Toxaemia and secondary Haemoerrhage”.1

My grandfather was just 21 when his mother died, and of course my father and his siblings never knew her.  My poor great grandfather spent 23 years a widower.

Obituary, Margaret (O'Rourke) Gaffaney, 1931 (publication unknown)

Obituary, Margaret (O'Rourke) Gaffaney, 1931 (publication unknown)


On November 16, there passed away at Rangiora, Mrs Margaret Monica Gaffaney, wife of Mr. Peter Gaffaney, well-known throughout Canterbury. Death was unexpected, and occurred after an operation necessitated by a sudden illness. Mrs. Gaffaney was the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. B. O’Rourke, of Napier. She was educated at the Sacred Heart Convent, Napier, and upon her marriage took up residence with her husband in the South Island. Mr. and Mrs. Gaffaney resided at Fairlie for ten years, following that at Waimate for eight, and had been living at Rangiora for the past three years. The deceased lady was noted for her genial kindness and brightness of disposition, and her charming personality won for her a very wide circle of friends in the South and elsewhere. During her last illness, Mrs. Gaffaney was attended by Rev. Father Leen, parish priest at Rangiora, a close friend of the sorrowing family. At the Requiem there were present in the sanctuary, besides the celebrant (Rev. Father Leen), Rev. Fathers A. Keane and S. O’Connor, of St Mary’s, Christchurch, and Rev. P. Cahill. The Mass was sung by the children of the convent school in the presence of a crowded congregration of relatives and friends. At the graveside in the Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch, the burial service was conducted by Rev. Father P. Cahill, of Hastings, nephew of the deceased, assisted by Rev. Father Leen. Surviving are Mr. Peter Gaffaney, husband of the deceased, and their son Dominic, as well as brothers and sisters of the deceased. R.I.P.

  1. New Zealand, death certificate for Margaret Gaffaney; 16 Nov 1931, Rangiora; citing 1931/10480 Births, Deaths & Marriages, New Zealand.

Bartholomew O’Rourke ~ Sunday’s Obituary

Bartholomew O'Rourke obituary 1923

Bartholomew O’Rourke obituary, 6 Dec 1923 (publication unknown)




There passed away on the 13th inst., at his home in Napier, in his 80th year, Mr. Bartholomew O’Rourke (writes a correspondent). He was born in the parish of Currens, Co. Kerry, Ireland. When 23 years of age he left the Old Country on board the Blue Jacket. After an uneventful passage of three months he arrived at Lyttleton in 1866. In company with many other adventurous spirits he travelled westwards in search of gold and tried his luck at Hokitika; thence to Charleston where he was married by Monsignor Walshe. Eventually settling down in Napier, he established himself and built up an extensive carrying business. Throughout his long life he was distinguished by his intense faith. No member of St. Patrick’s Church was more assiduous in attending late or early, and none more unbending than he in the rigorous and absolute fulfilment of all the duties of a devout Catholic. In 1877 he followed out the instructions of the late Rev. Father Hennebery; and although he never took the pledge as being derogatory to his character as a man and his independence as a Christian, he became an absolute abstainer. The Rosary beads given him by that extraordinary missioner he cherished till the end. The Rosary he recited every night without fail for 46 years. According to instructions these beads were removed from his hands in death and hung round his neck. Nor was his love for Ireland less remarkable. Her history he knew well; all her efforts for freedom, every fight against oppression only fostered the fond hope he cherished of final and absolute triumph. Thus after a long life of fidelity to God and native land, feelings inherited by all his children, he passed away surrounded by nearly all his surviving sons and daughters, whilst the priest imparted the last blessing, and the good Sisters of the Missions recited the prayers for the dying. The numerous assemblage at the last sad rites bore testimony to the esteem of the public. The Rev. Father Tymons read the absolution, assisted in the sanctuary by the Rev. Fathers J. Goggan (Hastings) J. Schaeffer (Greenmeadows), Heffernan and Clancy. Messrs. T. Barry, J. Leany E. O’Brien, W. Ryan, J. Pearcy, P. Griffin (members of H.A.C.B. Society) acted as pallbearers – R.I.P.

Bartholomew O’Rourke is my great great grandfather, and I am descended from his daughter Margaret.

I think this clipping was a marvellous find, stashed away amongst my father’s family papers. I can’t be certain which newspaper it was published in, but from the style and language, I’m fairly sure it was the New Zealand Tablet, a monthly Catholic newspaper. I hope to check up on this next month.

  1. “Obituary”, 6 Dec 1923 clipping from unidentified newspaper; digital image; scan from Gaffaney family papers, 2006, supplied by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; original privately held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], great grandson of deceased.

Sunday’s Obituary is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Margaret Brosnahan ~ Sunday’s Obituary

Obituary for Margaret Gaffaney - 1927

Obituary for Margaret Gaffaney – 1927


Another of the pioneers of the district, Mrs Margaret Gaffaney, passed away early on Tuesday morning at her residence, “Belper House”, Arowhenua, at the ripe age of 83 years. The deceased lady and her brother left London for New Zealand in the year 1862, travelling in the shop “Achenga” [sic], and landing by the surf boat at Timaru on Anniversary Day, December 16th. She was then Miss Margaret Brosnahan, and her parents, brothers and sisters, arrived about two years later. A year later, Miss Brosnahan married the late Mr Miichael [sic] Gaffney, the young couple having to visit Christchurch to get married. They travelled by coach, and the reason they had to go to Christchurch was that it was only twice a year a clergyman visited South Canterbury. Mr and Mrs Gaffaney then returned to Temuka, and went to reside on the farm which the late Mrs Gaffaney occupied to the time of her death, her husband having predeceased her 16 years ago. There were fourteen children, of whom ten survive: Mr James Gaffaney (Levels), Mr Peter Gaffaney (Waimate), Messrs Joseph and Leo Gaffaney (Arowhenua), Miss Gaffaney and Miss L. Gaffaney (Arowhenua), Mrs W. Hally (Temuka), Mrs Barron (Arowhenua), Mrs Early (England), and Mrs R. McCallum (Timaru). There are 17 grand-children. Miss A. Brosnahan, of Timaru, the late Mrs Gaffaney’s sister, is the last of that Brosnahan family. Mr John Fitzgerald, of Arowhenua, was a shipmate of the deceased lady, and was best man at her wedding 64 years ago.

The funeral took place on Thursday morning at Temuka, and passing the Post Office, the cortege consisted of 34 motor-cars, and 14 horse-drawn vehicles. A good many more swelled the total at St Joseph’s Church, and at the cemetery. The large attendance and the many beautiful wreaths received, formed a striking tribute to one who was a kindly friend and a devoted wife and mother. The Rev. Father Bartley, S.M. and the Rev. Father Spillane, S.M., conducted solemn requiem mass at the short service at the graveside. The pall-bearers were the three sons – James, Peter and Joseph, with Mr W. Hally, Mr T. Brosnahan and Mr M. Dris-

The original newspaper clipping is held by my father, and I have a scanned copy, thanks to my brother. I’m not sure which paper it was from, possibly the Timaru Herald.

Margaret Brosnahan is my great great grandmother, and I am descended from her son Peter Gaffaney.

Sunday’s Obituary is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

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