Bridget Whelan b.1838
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Bridget became Bridget Gregan on St. Patricks Day, 17 March 1860 when she married Daniel Gregan, a 23 year old miner. The witnesses were Michael and Thomas Whelan and Honora March and the wedding took place at the home of Bridget’s parents in Pennyweight Flat.
Daniel was born in County Clare, of parents James Gregan, a farmer, and Ann Gregan (formerly Ann Coleman). (On later documents Daniel’s father was shown as Michael Gregan).
Daniel Gregan had been one of three labourers who in 1854 discovered the "Great Clare Gold-find" buried in a hole at near Dromoland. The Tralee Chronicle of 24 March 1854 reported:-
“On Thursday three labourers who were at work at Ballykilty, County Clare upon the property of Mr Blood, through which the Limerick and Ennis Railway is to run, accidentally turned up with the spade a large quantity of valuable antique Irish gold ornaments. The gold is of the purest description, consisting of armlets, ringlets, bracelets, collars etc”.
With the proceeds from part of it Daniel paid for himself and his bothers and cousins to travel to Australia. They became known as "the boys from County Clare" throughout the Victorian diggings.
Bridget and Daniel's first child was born at Dirty Dicks Gully in January 1861 and it must have been a joyous family occasion when the little girl, Mary, was baptised by the same Father Patrick Smyth who had married them.
The next year another joyous occasion was expected, but it brought immense family tragedy. On April 13th Bridget gave birth to twins, one of which was stillborn, one of which survived, but sadly the young mother died the very next day.
Bridget Gregan, aged just 21, was buried at the Castlemaine Cemetery. The cemetery records show that a “Gregan (in) B” was buried at the same time, hence it is highly likely that this was the stillborn infant (possibly a daughter, Bridget), buried with her mum. Baby Daniel was to live only to the age of 10 months.
In their short married life together Bridget and Daniel had three children:-
Mary Gregan, born 8 Jan 1861, became Mary O'Brien.
Stillborn Infant (B ?) born 13 Apr 1862
Daniel Gregan, born 13 Apr 1862, died 15 Feb 1863
Mary was aged just two when her mother died, and with only her father to look after her, life in a tent on the goldfields would not have been possible, so little Mary was cared for by her maternal grandparents at Pennyweight Flat, supported by very generous support from father Daniel who had travelled to the New Zealand goldfields.
(Daniel Gregan and his brothers Patrick, Thomas and James all worked their own sluices in Gabriel’s Gully and the mighty Shotover and Kawarau Rivers of Otago. Daniel was renowned as the one who always had a gift for finding gold, and a band of men would faithfully follow him where ever he decided to go. Eventually all the brothers purchased land and settled down in New Zealand, and Daniel married again, to Margaret Higgins).
Mary’s grandmother passed away 8 years later, and by the time she was 22 we find Mary in Dunedin New Zealand, no doubt determined to make a new life for herself.
There Mary met Patrick O’Brien, a 46 year old widower and the son of Arthur O’Brien, a stonemason, and Elizabeth O'Brien (former surname unclear, possibly Tangney). Patrick was the hotel keeper of a Munster Arms Hotel.
Mary and Patrick, married on 11 November 1884 at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Dunedin.
Mary and Patrick’s marriage did not produce any children, and they had only 22 years together, as in 1906, Mary at the age of 47 years, was diagnosed as suffering from cancer of the liver. She died six months later, on 25 January 1907 at 25 Maclaggan Street, Dunedin, presumably their home address since leaving the Munster Arms.
Patrick O’Brien survived his second wife Mary by only 14 months, passing away on 16 May 1908 at Omakau, Otago.
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