Tag Archives: Brosnahan

John and Hanorah Brosnahan ~ Tombstone Tuesday

If you have relatives that lived in the Timaru, South Canterbury area, it is well worth taking a look at the Timaru District Council Cemetery Database, which includes the following cemeteries: Arundel, Geraldine, Pleasant Point, Temuka, Paeroa West, and Timaru. They have most, if not all, their burial records online, and many have accompanying gravestone images. Another bonus are their cemetery maps – many of the plots have surnames included, making it so much easier to find the one you’re looking for!

On searching for my John Brosnahan, I found a likely looking plot in Temuka Cemetery1. From his marriage certificate, I knew he was born around 1841, so a death in 1926 at the age of 85 years seemed a pretty good match. And then, there was the fact that a Hanorah Brosnahan was also buried in the same plot, with a corresponding matching age. Bingo!

Gravestone, John & Hanorah Brosnahan, Temuka Cemetery, South Canterbury, NZ

Gravestone, John & Hanorah Brosnahan, Temuka Cemetery, South Canterbury, NZ ~ January 2012

In Loving Memory

John Joseph
Who Died March 2nd 1900
aged 15 Years


Also John
Beloved Husband of
Hanorah Brosnahan
Who Died Aug 24th 1926,
Aged 85 Years
Also His Beloved Wife
Who Died Nov 22nd 1928
Aged 86 Years

Also Leo Brosnahan Beloved Son of
Patrick & Nora Brosnahan
Died June 16th 1917
Aged 17 Years

Annie Kleim

The gravestone gave me lots of leads to follow up. The first thing I did was to try and find John’s death entry on the NZ Birth, Deaths & Marriages site so I could order a printout of his death registration.  (New Zealand death certificates post 1875 are a mine of information, usually including parents’ names, birthplace, spouse, date of marriage, ages of living children, etc.) Except I couldn’t find him in the index, even with trying several spelling variants. And then, after asking for help on the TradeMe genealogy forum, someone suggested looking at a probate file they’d found referenced on the Archives NZ site, Archway.

There was a probate file listed for John Brosnahan, Farmer, Temuka, dated 1926, held at the Archives NZ Christchurch office. As there had been access problems following the earthquakes there, I wasn’t too hopeful of getting a copy of the file, but I contacted the archive staff with my fingers crossed.

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. Timaru District Council, “TDC Cemetery Database”, database, Timaru District Council (http://www.timaru.govt.nz/cemetery-database2.html : accessed 2011), database entries for John Brosnahan, Farmer, Temuka (ref 18404, row 233, plot 213, buried 26 Aug 1926) and Hanorah Brosnahan, Temuka (ref 13209, row 233, plot 213, buried 24 Nov 1928).

The Brosnahans (no, not those ones, these ones)

My great great grandmother Margaret Brosnahan (1844 – 1927) arrived in New Zealand at Timaru on December 16, 1862 aboard the Echunga, which had left London on September 10.  Travelling with her was her brother, John.1

John Brosnahan

Caption in family album: John Brosnahan, brother of Mrs Margaret Gaffaney, Belper Farm, Temuka

There are a heap of Brosnahans in early South Canterbury, many (most?) descending from a Hugh Brosnahan and Deborah Butler, from County Kerry, Ireland. Their family settled in the area known as Kerrytown.2   (A descendent, Seán Brosnahan, has published a history of the family, The Kerrytown Brosnahans, which I’d love to find a copy of.)  As far as I know, we’re not related to that lot, but it’s a bit hard to sort the wheat from the chaff with so many Brosnahans knocking around the area. (Er, no offence intended to you other Brosnahans!)

Anyway, I wanted to know what happened to my great great great uncle John.  Part of my reason for following up John’s family was that my grandfather had a cousin, Jim Brosnahan, who was at high school at the same time.  Later, as Fr Jim S.M., he married my grandfather and grandmother – it was the first wedding ceremony he conducted.  But, I couldn’t figure out how he fitted into the family – was he related by blood or marriage?

From information my father had, it appeared John had married a Hanorah O’Driscoll.  I found a likely entry in the online NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages  and so ordered a printout of the marriage registration.

John Brosnahan, 23, Labourer, and Hannah Driscole [sic], 21, Servant, were married in the Catholic church in Christchurch on March 31st, 1865.3  No parents’ information was given – customary for marriages registered in New Zealand before 1880 (very frustrating!).  The witnesses were Matthew Driscole, Labourer, Christchurch, and Mary Brosnahan, Servant, Christchurch.

Searching the BDM indexes for possible children of John and Hanorah proved fruitless – none seem to be listed, even after checking variant spellings.  How could I find them?

  1. South Canterbury GenWeb, “The Echunga Arrives”, transcription (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nzlscant/echunga.htm), from Lyttelton Times, December 24, 1862.
  2. Michael Brosnahan,”Family Tree”, (http://www.thebrosies.org/our-family-tree.php : accessed 2011).
  3. New Zealand, marriage certificate for John Brosnahan and Hannah Driscole [O’Driscoll],31 Mar 1865, Catholic Church, Christchurch, 1865/7579, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.

The old homestead, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury (late 1800s)

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury (late 1800s)

This is the original home of Michael Gaffaney and Margaret Brosnahan, and I’ve posted this photo in an earlier post.  I’m not sure when it was taken, but at the recent family gathering in Temuka, the photo was displayed with the following note:

Michael and Margaret Gaffaney with, probably, their five eldest daughters, Susan, Annie, Margaret, Ellen, Kate and their eldest son, Thomas.

Their son Thomas died in 1900 at the age of 28, and if it is indeed him on the horse, he looks considerably younger, so I’m guessing this photo is at least a decade earlier than that.  (Where is Jayne Shrimpton when you need her??)

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, c.1915

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, c.1915

I have a copy of this photo, but was never sure who the children were, or when it was taken.  At the Temuka gathering, it was displayed with the following caption:

Belpher [sic] House approx 1915-16
Tom Gaffaney, Peggy Barron, Albert Halley


"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, 1989

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, 1989

This is a photo my father took in 1989, possibly just before the house left family ownership.

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, January 2012

"Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ, January 2012

This is what the house looks like today – a bit run down and unloved. (And yes, I should have moved a bit closer, so that darn post was not in the way.)  Apparently many of the character features of the house are long gone, and it’s in need of serious repair.  That didn’t stop me asking my cousin to let me know if it ever goes up for sale!

Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ ~ Those Places Thursday


I finally got to visit this very special place last month.

My grandfather’s cousin was celebrating 50 years of life as a nun, having a jubilee Mass and lunch afterwards, with many family members invited.  I was pretty keen to attend, despite having to travel halfway round the world, and when I found out it was to be held in Temuka, I started booking my flights immediately.

Near Temuka, in Arowhenua,  is where my great great grandfather, Michael Gaffaney,  bought his first piece of land in New Zealand, after immigrating from England in 1858.  And it’s where he and his wife, Margaret Brosnahan, brought up their 14 children.  Their original house still stands, though it’s no longer owned by family.  The farm, however, is still in family hands, run with pride and passion by my cousin (second, once removed), who gave us a tour with marvellous commentary.  Who knew farming was so scientific nowadays?  (Not this townie, at any rate.)

Belper Farm, Arowhenua, near Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

Belper Farm, Arowhenua, near Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

The celebration was wonderful, and a great chance to meet many relatives for the first time.   Mass was celebrated at St Joseph’s church, which was built in 1879 at the instigation of Father Louis Fauvel, a French priest.  He baptised my great grandfather, Peter Dominic Gaffaney, on 16th August 1879,  before the new building was completed.  My great great grandmother, Margaret, donated  two of the many beautiful stained glass windows in the church. (The cost was apparently equivalent to a year’s wages, so the farm must have been doing pretty good!)

Blessed Virgin Mary & St Gabriel, windows donated by Mrs M Gaffney, St Joseph's church, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

Blessed Virgin Mary & St Gabriel, windows donated by Mrs M Gaffney, St Joseph's church, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

I can’t wait to visit again!

Those Places Thursday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

My Heritage Pie ~ SNGF

Every Saturday night Randy Seaver sends out a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge at Genea-Musings.  Usually I miss out because of the time difference, but this week I thought I’d just post a day late!

Our mission was to list our 16 great great grandparents, along with their birth, marriage and death dates. Then, determine their birthplaces, and (for extra credit) create a pie chart showing their countries of origin.

My magic 16 are:

Michael GAFFANEY. Born on 31 Oct 1836 in Belper, Derbyshire, England. Michael died in Arowhenua, South Canterbury, New Zealand, on 11 Jul 1911; he was 74. Buried on 13 Jul 1911 in Temuka Cemetery, Temuka, New Zealand. Occupation: Farmer

On 26 Dec 1863 when Michael was 27, he married Margaret BROSNAHAN in the Catholic Chapel, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Margaret BROSNAHAN. Born on 8 Dec 1844 in Co Kerry, Ireland. Margaret died at Belper Farm, Main South Road,Temuka, New Zealand, on 16 Aug 1927; she was 82. Buried on 18 Aug 1927 in Temuka Cemetery, Temuka, New Zealand.

Bartholomew O’ROURKE. Born abt 1844 in Co Kerry, Ireland. Bartholomew died in Station Street, Napier, New Zealand, on 13 Nov 1923; he was 79. Buried on 15 Nov 1923 in Old Napier Cemetery, New Zealand. Occupation: Carter, Miner.

On 2 Sep 1869 when Bartholomew was 25, he married Bridget POWER in the Roman Catholic Church, Charleston, West Coast, New Zealand.

Bridget POWER. Born in 1846 in Clonmel, Tipperary, Ireland. Bridget died in Napier, New Zealand, on 18 Jul 1914; she was 68. Buried on 19 Jul 1914 in Old Napier Cemetery, Napier, New Zealand.

Martin BURKE. Born in 1840 in Co Mayo, Ireland. Martin died in Nazareth House, Sydenham, NZ, on 27 Nov 1918; he was 78. Buried on 28 Nov 1918 in Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, New Zealand. Occupation: Farmer.

On 2 Feb 1861 when Martin was 21, he married Ann PHILP in St John’s Catholic Church, Perth, Scotland.

Ann PHILP. Born in 1840 in Ceres, Fife, Scotland. Ann died in Burnham, NZ on 13 Mar 1895; she was 55. Buried on 15 Mar 1895 in Darfield Churchyard, Canterbury, New Zealand.

John BURTON. Born abt 1826 in Co Tipperary, Ireland. John died in Redwoodtown, Blenheim, New Zealand, on 29 Jun 1897; he was 71. Buried on 30 Jun 1897 in Omaka Cemetery, Marlborough, New Zealand. Occupation: Carter, Labourer.

On 17 Jan 1859 when John was 33, he married Bridget MAHONEY in Galbally, Co Limerick, Ireland.

Bridget MAHONEY. Born abt 1843 in Galbally, Co Limerick, Ireland. Bridget died in Blenheim, New Zealand, on 22 Nov 1900; she was 57. Buried on 24 Nov 1900 in Omaka Cemetery, Marlborough, New Zealand.

Ephraim WRIGHT. Born on 8 Jan 1860 in Polstead, Suffolk, England. Ephraim died in South Eastern Hospital, Deptford, Kent, on 26 Nov 1894; he was 34. Occupation: Labourer, Engine-Fitter.

On 13 Mar 1882 when Ephraim was 22, he married Mary Jane CLARK in St Stephen, Lewisham, Kent, England.

Mary Jane CLARK. Born abt 1856 in Co Monaghan, Ireland. Mary Jane died in Greenwich, Kent, England, on 12 Feb 1932; she was 76. Occupation: Laundress.

Sam NUNNS. Born on 8 Feb 1874 in Rothwell, Yorkshire, England. Sam died in Auckland, New Zealand, on 5 Apr 1945; he was 71. Buried on 4 Oct 1945 in Taruheru Cemetery, Gisborne, New Zealand. Occupation: Borough Employee, Stone Mason (journeyman).

On 11 Jan 1896 when Sam was 21, he married Alice COCKERHAM in Oulton Church, Oulton, Yorkshire, England.

Alice COCKERHAM. Born on 9 Mar 1878 in Oulton, Yorkshire, England. Alice died in Gisborne, New Zealand, on 17 Jul 1954; she was 76. Buried on 19 Jul 1954 in Taruheru Cemetery, Gisborne, New Zealand.

Michael McGONNELL. Born abt 1840 in Newry, Co Down, Northern Ireland. Michael died in Waiongana, Taranaki, New Zealand, on 5 May 1929; he was 89. Buried on 7 May 1929 in Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Occupation: Signalman, Farmer, Boatman.

On 28 May 1888 when Michael was 48, he married Louisa TUNNECLIFFE in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Louisa TUNNECLIFFE. Born abt 1858 in New Plymouth, New Zealand. Louisa died in Waiongana, Taranaki, on 26 Jun 1926; she was 68. Buried on 29 Jun 1926 in Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Henry John Forrest FLOREY. Born on 1 Oct 1862 in Pembroke Place, Chatham, Kent, England. Henry John Forrest died in Te Araroa, East Cape, New Zealand, on 5 Oct 1913; he was 51. Buried on 6 Oct 1913 in Te Araroa, East Cape, New Zealand. Occupation: Cook, Tobacconist, Billard Maker.

On 10 Mar 1885 when Henry John Forrest was 22, he married Ann Elizabeth (Annie) HORNE in Auckland, New Zealand.

Ann Elizabeth (Annie) HORNE. Born abt 1864 in Cape Town, South Africa. Annie died in Newton Road, Auckland, on 9 Mar 1907; she was 43. Buried on 12 Mar 1907 in Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand.

Country of origin
Ireland: 8
England: 5
Scotland: 1
South Africa: 1
New Zealand: 1

My great great grandparents' birthplaces

And as an added bonus for readers, here’s a pie chart showing final resting places.

My great great grandparents' resting places

Note: Source citations available on request.

The Filing Mountain ~ Sorting Saturday

I’ve been filing!  I haven’t done much else, just placed documents, notes, booklets, etc into clear plastic pockets and filed them in the relevant folder.  I still need to process a lot of it, but at least it’s filed away.

And it was interesting to come across a few things I’d completely forgotten about.  Like a photocopy of an old photograph, with some names inscribed.  I posted the photograph for a Wordless Wednesday post a while back, but didn’t know who most of the people were.   On my trip to New Zealand in February, my father gave me the photocopy of it with the names, and I’d squirrelled it away rather than filing it properly.

Michael Gaffaney & Family, "Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, New Zealand

Michael Gaffaney & Family, "Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, New Zealand

Left to right, standing on lawn:  Minnie Gaffaney, Annie Gaffaney, Francis B. Early (Michael & Margaret’s son-in-law), Annie Fitzgerald (friend), Leo Gaffaney, Michael Gaffaney (father), Lucy Gaffaney, Susan Gaffaney.

Left to right, standing on verandah: unknown, Margaret Gaffaney (mother), unknown, Annie Brosnahan (Margaret’s sister).

And then I found this photo my father had copied for me – same family, same house (possibly an earlier date?)

Michael Gaffaney & family, "Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ

Michael Gaffaney & family, "Belper", Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ

What I noticed about the photos, is that my great great grandfather Michael is being poured a drink (of what?) in both!  Was it some kind of family tradition or long-running joke, or maybe just pure coincidence?

Sorting Saturday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

I always knew I had Irish ancestors, but was never quite sure who they were and exactly where they were from.

In the 1990s I spent several years living in Ireland. Oh, when I think of all the research I could have done! But, I was busy studying and working and having fun. Back then, it seemed like every day was St Patrick’s Day, full of craic and lots of Guinness.

I took my family to Ireland for a two week holiday in the summer of 2009. You’d think after living in the place I would have remembered that you don’t go to Ireland for the weather, especially in the summer. The lovely lady at the holiday home company assured me that a heatwave was forecast that year. (Ah, the optimism!) It rained. Well, mostly. Occasionally we saw the sun. One place we visited during a sunny spell was Muckross House, near Killarney in Co. Kerry – with three young kids we declined the 45 minute guided tour around the grand house, and opted to see the Traditional Farms instead, with “three separate working farms (small , medium and large), each complete with animals, poultry and horse drawn farm machinery” as they would have been back in the 1930s and 1940, “a period before the widespread use of electricity”.

Dwelling house, medium-sized farm at Muckross

Dwelling house, medium-sized farm at Muckross Traditional Farms

Scones baking on the fire, Muckross

Scones baking on the fire, Muckross Traditional Farms

Living area of house, Muckross

Living area of house, Muckross Traditional Farms

Since that trip, I’ve not only discovered the names of my Irish forebears and the counties they hailed from, I’ve also recently found a great great great grandfather’s farm in Co. Kerry. Perhaps it was a little like the one we saw at Muckross?

To the Gaffaneys, the O’Rourkes, the Burkes, the Brosnahans, the Burtons, the Powers, and the McGonnells, to you who journeyed across the seas to make new homes in New Zealand, I raise my glass on this day, and thank you for your pioneering spirit and courage.

Matching & Hatching ~ Michael Gaffaney & Margaret Brosnahan

Michael and Margaret Gaffaney (date unknown)1

Michael and Margaret Gaffaney (date unknown)

My great great grandparents, Michael Gaffaney and Margaret Brosnahan, married on December 26th, 1863 at the Catholic Chapel in Christchurch.   Michael gave his age as 23, and occupation labourer.  Margaret’s age was listed as “full”, and her occupation servant.2 According to Margaret’s obituary:

…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.

They lived at their farm “Belper” in Arowhenua, South Canterbury, named after Michael’s birthplace in Derbyshire, England. Michael and Margaret had fifteen children, with one being stillborn. They were:3 4

  • Susan GAFFANEY (1865 – 1954)
  • Annie GAFFANEY (1866 – 1937)
    • m. 1906 Robert John McCALLUM5
  • Margaret GAFFANEY (1868 – 1946)
    • m. 1900 William James HALLEY5
  • Ellen GAFFANEY (1870 – 1889)
  • Thomas John GAFFANEY (1872 – 1900)
  • Kate GAFFANEY (1874 – 1947)
    • m. 1897 Francis Buckland EARLY5
  • Michael Francis GAFFANEY (1876 – 1915)
    • m. 1905 Julia Agatha COUGHLAN5
  • James GAFFANEY (1877 – 1967)
    • m. 1910 Bridget LEARY
  • Peter Dominic GAFFANEY (1879 – 1954)
    • m. 1909 Margaret Monica O’ROURKE6
  • Mary Teresa Frances GAFFANEY (1882 – 1939)
    • m. 1906 Andrew BARRON5
  • Lucy Josephine GAFFANEY (1884 – 1952)
  • Joseph Arowhenua GAFFANEY (1886 – 1946)
  • Beatrice GAFFANEY (1888 – 1888)
  • Leo GAFFANEY (1890 – 1963)
    • m. 1922 Frances Mary HAILES5
  1. Gaffaney, Michael & Margaret (Brosnahan) photograph, date unknown; 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 couple.
  2. New Zealand, marriage certificate for Michael Gaffaney and Margaret Brosnahan; 26 Dec 1863, Christchurch; citing 1863/927, Birth, Deaths & Marriages, New Zealand.
  3. [NAME FOR PRIVATE USE], Gaffaney Family Tree, GEDCOM file supplied to [NAME FOR PRIVATE USE], New Zealand, c.2002.
  4. NZ Dept of Internal Affairs, “Death Search,” database, Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical Records (https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/search/ : accessed 2010), entries for Susan Gaffaney (1954/26926), Annie McCallum (1937/27027), Margaret Halley (1946/29610), Ellen Gaffney (1889/5177), Thomas Gaffaney (1900/1426), Kate Early (1947/31561), Michael Gaffaney (1915/6780), James Gaffaney (1967/45590), Peter Gaffaney (1954/32898), Mary Barron (1939/15425), Lucy Gaffaney (1952/26370), Joseph Gaffaney 1946/33165), [Beatrice] Theresa Gaffney (1888/4557), Leo Gaffaney (1963/32342).
  5. NZ Dept of Internal Affairs, “Marriage Search”, database, Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical Records (https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/search/ : accessed 2010), entries for McCallum-Gaffaney (1906/5299), Halley-Gaffaney (1900/5738), Early-Gaffaney (1892/3565), Gaffaney-Coughlan (1905/6513), Gaffaney-Leary (1910/5144), Barron-Gaffaney (1906/5298), Gaffaney-Hailes (1922/3983).
  6. New Zealand, marriage certificate for Peter Gaffaney and Margaret O’Rourke; 09 Nov 1909, Napier; citing 1909/7835, Birth, Deaths & Marriages, New Zealand.

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.