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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Patrick 'Pat' Cavanagh

Born: 1830; Died: 1914; Married: Mary Logue

The Cavanaghs became synonymous with the Mulligans Flat area, even though they first selected land at One Tree Hill. Patrick's sons, Michael, Clarence and Ernie 'Dookie' Cavanagh, daughters Jane and Mary and grandson Ernest farmed on holdings at 'One Tree Hill' and then at 'Eastview' and 'Strayleaf', Gundaroo Road, Mulligans Flat.

Patrick's father, Thomas Cavanagh (1803-1871), was a 'Whiteboy', an Irish rebel who had been transported to New South Wales on a life sentence in 1832. His mother was Jane Cavanagh (nee Meade). Patrick was their third child and was born in 1830 in Tynagh, Galway. Seventeen years after Thomas was transported to Australia, somehow, Jane managed to join him in the colony with their three (now adult) children on the Panama - Patrick (aged 19) and his two sisters Ann and Hannah(Honor).

In September 1857 at the age of 26, Patrick (known as 'Pat') married Mary Logue of Duntroon, the daughter of Irish immigrants, Brian and Margaret Logue (nee McAlroy; post Margaret Crinigan), at St Gregorys catholic church, Queanbeyan. After Brian's death, Margaret re-married to John Crinigan of 'Stone Hut', Mulligans Flat.

Patrick and Mary Cavanagh first farmed one of eight small farmlets at "Springbank', Canberra, near the site of the Old Parliament House, and their first two children were born here in 1859 and 1862.

An interesting anecdote showed that Patrick was a skilled stockman. "The Anglican Reverend Pierce Galliard Smith and his employee, Peter Shumack, were struggling to round up a heifer that had strayed into Klensendorlffe's station. Shumack made the ineffectual Reverend dismount and asked Patrick to take over the job. His cousin, Samuel Shumack says:

Now Pat was a small man, 5 feet 3 inches tall - the parson was a big man, 6 feet 4 inches, and the horse was sixteen hands. Pat took some time to adjust the stirrups and then went to the house for his whip, which was 16 feet in length. He then mounted [Reverend Smith's] horse and swung the whip, which caused the horse to perform a bit, but Pat was unperturbed and in less than half an hour had yarded the heifer.".

Mary at this time was working as a domestic servant for Reverend Smith at his parsonage in Canberra. She was also apparently a mid-wife around the district and delivered most of her grandchildren later born at Mulligans Flat.

After his wife Jane had drowned in 1857, Thomas had moved to 'Fairview'. Patrick and Thomas also acquired land east of One tree Hill in the mid 1860s, where Patrick and Mary farmed until the late 1890s.

They had a prosperous marriage with twelve children:

The children attended the Ginninderra Provisional School.

Straight after his marriage in 1857, Patrick encountered great tragedy. But through it, we can see his sturdy and loyal character emerge. Samuel Shumack relates the story of his mother's death and the aftermath in which Patrick played an important role.

One evening in the spring of 1857 ... we heard that Mrs Cavanagh had been drowned in the Canberra River. We could see a crowd on the bank and we hurried to the scene and arrived just as her son Patrick took her body from the water. His father, Thomas Cavanagh, was in a state of collapse. My cousin, Peter Shumack, was the last person to see Mrs Cavanagh alive. He spoke to her as she passed him on the way to the river and thought it strange that she did not return his greeting. A sensation was caused when the priest would not allow her to be interred in the Roman Catholic burial ground in Queanbeyan, and after some delay Patrick and a few friends buried her there. The priest had the body removed and buried outside consecrated ground, but Patrick and his friends re-interred the body within the cemetery and mounted an armed guard at the graveside, declaring that they would shoot any person who disturbed it.[Shumack, 1967. p.9]

Eventually, Patrick and his father forced an agreement with the church authorities to have his mother's corpse remain at peace in the cemetery and they erected a headstone in her memory.

After the land reforms of 1861, Thomas was farming his block west of One Tree Hill – "Fairview" and around 1863 Patrick and Mary moved to Ginninderra to assist Thomas, now an old man. 'Fairview' was later sold to Samuel Southwell after Thomas's death in 1871.

Patrick established his own farm on their blocks east of One Tree Hill, where they farmed from around 1863 to the late 1890s. In 1878 Patrick was advertising services of his stallion "Young Express" as Patrick Cavanagh, One Tree Hill, describing good paddocks with a good supply of water.

The Cavanaghs were caught by the big recession of the 1890s, and eventually the One Tree Hill blocks were taken over to form part of Gillespie's 'Horse Park' and Rolfe's 'Gold Creek'.

The family then moved to Gundaroo Road, Mulligans Flat with Michael, Patrick and Mary, Ernie, Jane and Mary on Eastview and Clarence and Esther (Smith) on Strayleaf across the road.

Patrick died in 1914 and Mary in September 1921 and are both buried in the Queanbeyan Riverside cemetery.

Patrick's son, Michael, married Mulligans Flat school-teacher Ethel Harris and they farmed at Eastview with Ernie (Aaron), Jane and nephew Ernest, until Michael's death in 1937. As they had no children, grandson Ernest, who had come down from Queensland at a young age to live with the family, took over the farm.

Ernest Cavanagh MBE married Beatrice Smith, built a new house and they had one son John, who married Joyce Brown in 1965. The family took over Eastview and leased additional land at 'The Valley' and 'Oak Hill", which they farmed with their family until the 1990s.

Clarence farmed Strayleaf next door until his death in 1933, and then his widow Esther and son Jack continued until around 1965. John and Joyce took over Strayleaf from 1965 and extended the house.

The properties were finally resumed for the Gunghalin suburbs of Amaroo and Forde and the family re-located to Young, NSW.

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