Australia’s newly-appointed Governor-General has traced his Irish roots to a Cork village.
Governor-General David Hurley was able to uncover his family history through the work of dedicated genealogical volunteers.
“I’ve discovered that Murtagh Hurley was transported from County Cork to New South Wales in 1827 for theft…he settled near Cooma,” General Hurley said.
Murtagh is thought to have come from Ballinspittle, the village famed for the first sighting in a string of moving statue phenomena in Ireland over 30 years ago.
“Interestingly, I’ve since discovered that the pub in Ballinspittle is called Hurley’s,” General Hurley said.
“We hope to visit one day!”
The Governor-General acknowledged that the formative links forged in his ancestors’ time continued to influence the bond between Australia and Ireland that exists today, with more than two million Australians claiming Irish heritage.
“Today, our historical links are the foundation of an exceptionally close and ongoing friendship between our nations, with bonds ranging from the sporting field, to trade and education.”
General Hurley personally experienced this affiliation early in his career in the Royal Australian Regiment, going on exchange to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.
The former Governor of NSW recalled the achievements of esteemed Irishmen, from the “transformational” work of his predecessor, Dublin-born Sir Richard Bourke who held the role from 1831 to 1837, to the skill of a more unlikely hero.
“More recently, and on a totally different tack, as a rugby fan I always admired Keith Wood, even if I wasn’t such a big fan when he was facing the Wallabies!”
Ireland Reaching Out’s Laura Colleran said the Consul General of Ireland in Sydney Owen Feeney contacted the organisation to find out more about the Governor-General’s lineage.
“Ireland Reaching Out connects people of Irish origin, living all over the world, with their ancestors place of origin...It is a non-profit organisation funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Heritage Council,” Ms Colleran said.
“We have a volunteer network of over 300 people all over Ireland, and an active group in County Cork.”
Ms Colleran described uncovering the roots of the Hurley name as one of the highlights of the year for volunteers.
Irish-Australians have embraced the opportunity to reconnect with both their place of origin and family members still living in Ireland, with 87 groups of Australians returning to their ancestral lands with the help of Ireland Reaching out in 2019.