The Griffin Family of Knockbrack, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland

The Griffin Family of New South Wales and of Knockbrack, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland

Having completed two family chapters on The Patterson family of New South Wales and Sweden, I was now ready to write up my research into my husband Geoff Rundle’s great grandmother Margaret Mary Griffin, the wife of Alfred Andrew Patterson.

The Griffin family was amongst my earliest and most successful areas of Irish research, during the formative years of my genealogical research. Nine years later I am finally writing this chapter up, the final branch which will conclude Geoff’s family history.

Since those findings in 2012 I had been looking forward to the time that I would sit down and write up this wonderful history. Whilst acknowledging that Alfred Andrew Patterson’s Australian family history was most interesting, it was actually Margaret Mary Griffin, his wife, who had inspired and piqued my interest in her Irish family from Kerry. Mary doesn’t feature much in the Patterson family history, yet this quiet dedicated mother and wife was part of the pioneering fabric of our outback, a quiet achiever in life’s complicated existence.

Graves of Margaret Mary Patterson and Mary Griffin, sisters, Bathurst General Cemetery

It was in Bathurst General Cemetery’s Catholic Section that I found the beautiful sandstone graves of Margaret Mary Patterson and her sister Mary Griffin, side by side, which had been forgotten in time, until Geoff and I visited Bathurst in April 2012. It was exciting to discover Margaret’s sister and this new information gave me the impetus to find out more about the Griffins.

Headstone of Margaret Mary Patterson, born 4 May 1862, died 28 February 1920 Bathurst General Cemetery, Rundle Photo Collection, Photos taken in April 2012

Headstone of Mary Griffin, sister of M. M. Patterson died 28 Feb 1922, Bathurst Cemetery

I had been fretting, ever since I found a burial listing for Margaret Mary Patterson on the Bathurst Cemetery Online search engine, thinking that Margaret Patterson had been buried in the New South Wales outback all alone, I felt a great need to find her grave and let her know she wasn’t alone. However, the knowledge that two sisters were together was a poignant moment in my family history. Armed with this new information that Margaret had a sister, I was now determined to search for shipping records to find their migration. It was wonderful to know that Mary Patterson had been living in the Bathurst area, near her sister.

Unfortunately, neither Australian Death Indexes for Margaret and Mary were helpful. Death records are notoriously unreliable as the witnesses at the death may not know anything about the deceased. Birth, marriage and death indexes are available online and can be purchased from either the Registry Office in the state, or from a Transcription Agent, however, sadly, they are very expensive and in many cases, very disappointing and death records in many cases reveal very little; it became an area of last resort for me.

Australia Death Index, 1787-1985

Name: Margaret M Patterson
Death Date: 1920
Death Place: New South Wales
Father’s Name: Griffin
Registration Year: 1920
Registration Place: Bathurst, New South Wales
Registration Number: 3912
Name: Mary Griffin
Death Date: 1922
Death Place: New South Wales
Mother’s Name: Bathurst
Registration Year: 1922
Registration Place: Bathurst, New South Wales
Registration Number: 1757

NSW, Australia Unassisted Immigrant Passenger List, 1826-1922 for Margaret Griffin (18) and Mary Griffin (16), dairymaids, aboard the Samuel Plimsoll, from Plymouth to Sydney, arrived 1 July 1880.

New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896, August 1880, Marg and Mary Griffin, aboard the Samuel Plimsoll

I was on my own in this untouched area of research into the Griffin family of Kerry, Ireland. No one, as far as I could see had ever collected records for this family and I had to be careful and work slowly, making sure everything I collected was correct. As I narrowed my search parameters and selected “immigration records”, a great many records presented themselves on for me to check and select. Nothing came up as a suggested record for Margaret Griffin, so I had to be extra careful with each record I encountered. is a wonderful subscription website for genealogists and family researchers, but one has to be careful what is selected and kept, as there are so many occasions when I have seen people collecting massive amounts of wrong records which does add to great confusion and incorrect trees on the website.

Here in front of me was a record for Margaret 18 years, and Mary Griffin 16, years, listed as general servants from Kerry, Ireland, their parent’s names are listed as Pat and Mary, Kerry, and under the column, “relations in colony” was listed Uncle John of Orange, New South Wales. All my instincts told me that I had stumbled upon the correct record for Margaret Mary Griffin and her sister Mary Griffin. This incredible information was as amazing, as it was exciting, for me to just sit and contemplate and try and absorb these records. Clearly there was a lot more work to be done to find Uncle John of Orange, however, the fact that Margaret Griffin had married Alfred Andrew Patterson in Orange meant that this document was definitely one that had huge potential as being the correct one for Margaret.

New South Wales, Australia, Immigration Deposit Journal, 1853-1900 for Patrick (19) Margaret (17), Mary (15) aboard the Samuel Plimsoll, John Griffin sponsoring the siblings.

I wasted little time finding mention of “Uncle John” Griffin again, finding a sponsored migration document for the Griffin Family aboard the Samuel Plimsoll. This time listing Patrick Griffin, farm labourer, together with Margaret and Mary, who were again listed as Dairy Servants. What was most remarkable of all, was the listing of their Irish address in Kerry – Knockbrack, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland.

I was quickly building my Griffin family tree online, tentatively accepting the wonderful shipping records, adding a sister Mary and brother Patrick, parents Patrick and Mary and an uncle John Griffin, a brother to Patrick.

Margaret Mary Griffin (1892-1920) was the daughter of Patrick Griffin (1833-1902) and Mary Regan (1842-1881). Margaret married Alfrid Andrew Petterson (1859-1932) on 27 July 1887 in Orange, New South Wales and they had four sons, Andrew William Patterson (1888-1949), Alfred Walter Patterson (1890-1942), Edward Patrick Bathurst Patterson (1892-1962) and Thomas Vincent Patterson (1893-1964).

I was curious regarding the naming patterns of Margaret and Alfred Patterson’s children, in particular the name Vincent gave me hope that this may have been a maiden name for one of Margaret’s ancestors. During my searches for Uncle John I did come across a John Frances Griffin (1828-1915) of Inverell New South Wales, born in Tralee, Kerry, Ireland, who had married Jane Murphy (1842-1922). They had a large family of fourteen children and incredibly one of their sons was named Thomas Vincent Griffin. I became very enthusiastic with this discovery and at first thought that this may have been Margaret and Mary Griffin’s Uncle John. However, to complicate things, I discovered another John J. Griffin had died in Orange on 26 October 1915.

Just as I was going to throw in the towel, I found an obituary for John Griffin of Orange (1833-1915), born in Kerry, Ireland, who had married Mary Ford (1848-1895). The obituary for “Mr. John Griffin, Orange”, who died 9 May 1915, wrote that he was a native of Brosna, County Kerry, Ireland. This article from the Freeman’s Journal settled my dilemma; I knew I had finally found Margaret and Mary Griffin’s uncle, John Griffin of Orange.

Obituary for Mr. John Griffin of Orange, (died 9 May 1915), 20 May 1915, Freeman’s Journal

Incredibly this newspaper clipping also listed John Griffin’s wife Mary Ford and the names of his nine children, and in the case of two daughters, their married names and addresses. I then collected some records for John Griffin, including his death record in 1915, naming his parents as Patrick and Ellen, I also found other trees on which had collected the same family. It was wonderful to read that John Griffin never forgot his homeland of Brosna, Kerry, Ireland and how he had experienced first-hand the famine that had gripped Ireland, after a virus blighted the potato harvests for many years.

John Griffin (1933-1915) was born in Brosna, Kerry, Ireland, the son of Patrick and Ellen Griffin. He married Mary Ford (1848-1895) in Orange, New South Wales in 1867. They had nine children, Margaret M Griffin (1869-1925), Ellen A Griffin (1870-), Mary Griffin (1872-1960), Thomas Griffin (1874-), John Joseph Griffin (1877-1931), Bridget Griffin (1879-), Ferdinand Griffin (1881-1957), Michael Griffin (1883-) and Bartholomew Griffin (1896-1926).

Records confirmed the Freeman’s Journal obituary for John Griffin or Orange, that his daughter Mary Griffin had married Edward Fanning (1965-1946) of Red Hill, Mullion Creek, New South Wales in Orange, New South Wales in 1898. Edward and Mary Fanning had four daughters, Mary, Brigid Cecilia, Irene and Ann and named their son Vincent Ambrose Griffin. Another daughter, Ellen Griffin had married Daniel James Collins of Wrightville, New South Wales in Cobar, New South Wales in 1905 and had one daughter Margaret, born in 1906.

Interestingly, I found the funeral record for John Griffin’s son and namesake, John Joseph Griffin in 1931, listing a wife Annie and family . It was wonderful to read that John had named his home Brosna, where he lived at Eighth Avenue, Campsie in Sydney. John Griffin and his wife Annie Maria Kerr (1886-1951) had seven children, Melba, Valerie, Mary, Winifred, John, Lorna and Josephine Griffin.

Funeral of John Griffin, 27 June 1931, Sydney Morning Herald

I found the names of Margaret, Mary and Patrick Griffin’s parents on their migration records, listed as Pat and Mary Griffin. I also now had information that Pat Griffin’s parents were Patrick and Ellen, from his brother John Griffin’s Australia Death Index. This was more than enough information for me to now turn my mind to Ireland and search for records, if they existed and perhaps find census records or cemetery records.

Australia Death Index, 1787-1985

Name: John Griffin
Death Date: 1915
Death Place: New South Wales
Father’s Name: Patrick
Mother’s Name: Ellen
Registration Year: 1915
Registration Place: Orange, New South Wales
Registration Number: 7429

I located Knockbrack, in the townlands of Brosna, Kerry, Ireland on my laptop on Google maps, which showed an area of open land with sheep farming.

Knockbrack, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland

A google of the town of Brosna revealed a catholic church, St Carthage and a graveyard to one side, with an online search engine.

In an incredible moment of family research, the Brosna Old Cemetery Index revealed a headstone grave for Mary Griffin, who died 28 March 1881, aged 40 and Patrick Griffin, died 30 January 1902 aged 69. It would seem that Margaret and Mary Griffin’s mother Mary may have died the year after the girl’s migration to Australia.

Ireland has always proved to be a very challenging area for any family researcher, due to the fact that so many Irish birth, marriage, death and census records were disastrously burnt, when the Dublin Four Courts building was blown up in 1922 by the British Army during the IRA rebellion. Some records do survive, only because some parishes in Ireland very sagely copied their precious records, before the compulsorily acquisition of them by the Irish Government, in their effort to create a single Irish Registry Office for all these historic documents. Their almost total loss has been lamented ever since by anyone who has Irish family ancestry.

However, in blaming the British for their blunder in Dublin, I must also admit to admiring their incredible detail for bureaucratic record collecting in Australia. So many Irish migrants are now being identified from these shipping records as assisted migrants, during the great Irish migration period from 1840-1900.

Unbelievably, when the Irish held their Census in 1901, it was discovered that nearly half the population of Ireland had either died from starvation or migrated, travelling mainly to Canada, USA and Australia, largely due to the great potato famine and the subsequent starvation of the Irish peoples; resulting in poverty, crime and further religious unrest across the land.

Some Irish records do survive, parts of the 1901 and 1911 Irish Census’ escaped the fire and I could see that this was another area to search to see if I could capture Patrick Griffin’s name; hopefully still living in a home or farm in Knockbrack. I also had at my disposal some records from, the FindAGrave website as well as another wonderful website called Irish Genealogy, which has some original records which are free to download.

Geoff and I had already resolved to travel to Ireland in 2016 for a three week ancestor road trip that would take us through southern Ireland. Starting in Dublin, we drove through the Counties of Kildare, Mullingar, Clare, Limerick, Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Wexford and back to Dublin again. Then we flew to Cornwall, hired another car and spent ten days in Cornwall, ten days in Devon and a night in Surrey, before a week’s stay in London. It all seems like a blur now, however we managed to visit so many of the places our Irish ancestors had lived, from Geoff’s Farrell and Griffin families, to my Kilpatricks, Cranwills and Wise families. We had the most amazing trip, with only one morning of torrential rain in Cork and apart from a few cloudy days we had the most glorious time enjoying a summer in England and Ireland. In fact, I spent my 60th Birthday in the tiny town of Ballycanew, Wexford in the middle of an Irish heatwave.

FindAGrave is a remarkable world-wide resource, whereby headstone images, cemetery pictures and inscriptions are uploaded to their site. It is easy to access and you narrow the parameters by picking a country, a county or state and then enter the name of the cemetery and your ancestor’s name to see if they are amongst the listings. has done a wonderful service by adding FindAGrave to its available records and without even looking, a record can be recommended in your ancestor’s profile.

UK and Ireland, Find A Grave Index, 1300s-Current

Name: Patrick Griffin
Birth Date: 1833
Birth Place: Brosna, County Kerry, Ireland
Death Date: 30 Jan 1902
Death Place: Brosna, County Kerry, Ireland
Cemetery: Brosna Old Cemetery
Burial or Cremation Place: Brosna, County Kerry, Ireland
Has Bio?: Y
Spouse: Mary Griffin


Erected By
In Memory Of Their Belovd
Died 28th March 1881
Aged 40 Years
Also Their Loving Father
Died 30th January 1902
Aged 69 Years

St Carthage Catholic Church, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland, Rundle Photo Collection

Headstone of Patrick and Mary Griffin, Brosna Old Cemetery, Kerry, Ireland, Rundle Photo Collection

Headstone (detail) of Mary Griffin died 28 March 1881, aged 40 and Patrick Griffin, died 30 January 1902, aged 69, Brosna Old Cemetery, Kerry, Ireland. Image from the Rundle Photo Collection

Patrick Griffin (1833-1902), was the son of Patrick and Ellen Griffin, and his wife Mary Regan (1842-1881), both of Kerry, married circa 1860 in Brosna, Kerry, Ireland. They had six children, Patrick Griffin (1861-1940), Margaret Mary Griffin (1862-1920), Mary Griffin (1865-1922), Catherine “Kate” Griffin (1866-1945), Ellen “Ellie” Griffin (1870-) and Bridget Griffin (1876-1941).

At the time of writing up the Griffin family of Knockbrack, Brosna, Kerry, I am unsure about what happened to Patrick Griffin after his arrival in Australia and I also don’t have any information on Ellen “Ellie” Griffin, who was mentioned in the probated will of her father Patrick Griffin as a spinster in 1903 and would have been about 33 years of age. I deal later with other siblings Catherine “Kate” O’Keeffe nee Griffin and Bridget Broderick nee Griffin.

St Carthage Church, Brosna, Alter, Rundle Photo Collection

St Carthage Church, Brosna, Font, Rundle Photo Collection

Bell from the ruins of the old church, Kilmanihan, Brosna, Rundle Photo Collection

View from Brosna Old Cemetery across the valley. Rundle Photo Collection.

Saint Moling’s Holy Well, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland. Rundle Photo Collection

St Moling’s Well, Rundle Photo Collection

View of Brosna Old Cemetery with St Carthage Church on the top of the hill. Rundle Photo Collection

The ancient well of St Moling’s is a short walk from St Carthage Church, down a lovely flowered walkway, adjacent to Old Brosna Cemetery. The walk is a very pretty area down the hill to ancient walls and rocks surrounding a well, where fresh water brims to the top.

Death Record for Mary Griffin of Knockbrack, 28 March 1881, married female, 39 years, a Labourer’s wife, died of Typhus Fever, 7 Days, witnessed by (the mark) of Patrick Griffin who was present at the death. Image courtesy of Irish Genealogy.

Death Record of Patrick Griffin of Knockbrack, 13 January 1902, 70 Years, farmer, death by morbus cortis, witnessed by Ellen Griffin, who was present at the death, District of Tralee, Image courtesy of Irish Genealogy.

Interestingly Patrick Griffin is listed as a married man. I decided to search for a possible re-marriage record for Patrick after his wife Mary Griffin nee Regan had died.

Marriage of Patrick Griffin and Katie Curry, 22 January 1889, both of Knockbrack, Brosna, District of Tralee. Patrick, a farmer, is listed as a widower, Katie is listed as a spinster. Image courtesy of Irish Genealogy.

Patrick’s father is recorded as Patrick Griffin, farmer and Katie’s father, David Curry, is listed as labourer, both are listed as deceased. Ellie Griffin is a witness to the marriage.

Web: Ireland, Census, 1901

Name: Patrick Griffin
Gender: Male
Marital Status: Married
Age: 68
Birth Date: abt 1833
Birth Place: Co Kerry
Residence Date: 31 Mar 1901
House Number: 13
Residence Place: Knockbrack, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland
Relation to Head: Head of Family (Head)
Occupation: Farmer
Religion: Catholic
Language Spoken: English and Irish
Literacy: Read and write

1901 Copy of the original Irish Census for Patrick Griffin, farmer, aged 68, Cathrina, farmer’s wife, aged 33, daughter Ellen, aged 31, Grandchildren Mary, aged 7, and Ellen Keeffe aged 3.

Ireland, Calendar of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1920. Probated estate of Patrick Griffin 1903, died 13 January 1902 at Knockbrack, Kerry, money lender, granted to Ellie Griffin, spinster, Effects 1276 Pounds.

Ireland, Calendar of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1920. Probated estate for Patrick Griffin 1910, died 13 January 1902 at Knockbrack, Kerry, Farmer, granted Dublin to Catherine Keeffe, wife of J Keeffe. Effects 280 Pounds.

I don’t understand why there are two documents, however both are relevant and correct.

Birth Record for Mary Griffin, 4 May 1865, daughter of Patrick Griffin, labourer, and Mary Griffin, formerly Regan, Knockbrack, District of Tralee, Brosna, Kerry. Image courtesy of Irish Genealogy.

Like many Scottish birth records, the Irish also listed wonderful information on their baptisms and birth records and for the first time I could see that Mary Griffin’s maiden name was listed as Regan. Mary migrated with Margaret and Patrick Griffin to Sydney in 1880 aboard the Samuel Plimsoll.

Birth record for Ellen Griffin, 16 January 1870, Daughter of Patrick Griffin and Mary Regan, Knockbrack, District of Tralee, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland. Image courtesy of Irish Genealogy

Whilst I didn’t find the birth record for Margaret Mary Griffin, it was wonderful to be able to collect the birth records for both Mary Griffin and Ellen Griffin.

Catherine “Kate” Griffin (1866-1945), daughter of Patrick Griffin (1833-1902) and Mary Regan (1842-1881) married John O’Keeffe (1866-1918) on 29 November 1890 at Knocknagoshel, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland and they had thirteen children, Patrick John O’Keeffe (1891-1943), John “Francis” O’Keeffe (1893-), Mary Catherine O’Keeffe (1894-1965), John “Jack” O’Keeffe (1896-), Eugene O’Keeffe (1898-1980), Elizabeth “Eliza” O’Keeffe (1899-1961), Dennis O’Keeffe (1904-1979), Thomas O’Keeffe (1906-1979), James O’Keeffe (1908-1980) and William “Willie” O’Keeffe (1910-1980).

Marriage of John O’Keeffe and Kate Griffin, 29 November 1890, Brosna, Kerry

 John O’Keeffe, bachelor, is listed as a labourer of Knockbrack, his father is Francis O’Keeffe, also a labourer. Kate Griffin, a spinster of Knockbrack, her father is listed as Patrick Griffin, a labourer. The witnesses to the marriage are John O’Keeffe and Kate Curry. Kate Curry presumably was Kate Griffin’s stepmother.

1901 Irish Census for John Keeffe, aged 35, Shopkeeper, wife Kate Keeffe, aged 35, children Patrick (9), Francis (7), John (5), Eugene (3) and Eliza (1), Enochafreaghaun, Gneeves, Kerry, Ireland

I captured two other children, Mary (7) and Ellen (3) earlier when they had been listed with their grandfather Patrick Griffin on the Irish Census, on the same night in 1901.

Ireland, Catholic Parish Register 1655-1915, Brosna, Kerry Register 1868-1878

Baptism for Bridget Griffin, 3 August 1876, daughter of Patrick Griffin and Mary Regan, of Knockbrack, Brosna, witnesses to the baptism were Nicholas and Ellena Cotter

Catholic Baptisms in Ireland are nearly always written in Latin, hence the Latinised naming on the record. These records are rare and very precious as very few parish books survive. I am sure that Nicholas and Ellena Cotter were relations, perhaps grandparents or an uncle and aunt and possibly not a couple either.

Ireland Census 1911 for James Broderick (39) farmer, wife Bridget (35) and children Mary (8), Catherine (5), Bridget (3) Patrick (1) of Knockadarrive, Kerry. Bridget’s brother Francis O’Keeffe (18) is listed as a farm servant.

Bridget Griffin (1876-1941) was the daughter of Patrick Griffin (1833-1902) and Mary Regan (1942-1881). Bridget Griffin married James Broderick on 4 February 1899 at Brosna, Kerry, Ireland and they had six children, Mary Broderick (1903-1952), Ellen “Nellie” Broderick (1904-1998), Catherine Broderick (1906-), Bridget Broderick (1907-), Patrick Broderick (1910-1953 and Johanna Broderick (1919-1997).


Marriage record for James Broderick and Bridget Griffin, 4 February 1899, Brosna, Kerry, witnesses to the marriage were William and Margaret Broderick. Image courtesy of Irish Genealogy.

Interestingly, a daughter of James and Bridget Griffin, Ellen “Nellie” Broderick was born on 3 April 1904. Nellie migrated to the U.S.A. and amongst the documents available to capture for her on was a U.S.A. Naturalisation Petition Record dated 28 June 1927, upon her arrival on 5 September 1927 into New York harbour aboard the Carinthia. Ellen “Nellie” Broderick married John. J. Byrne in the Bronx, New York in 1937.

It was also exciting to discover that the DNA science actually works. I manage DNA for my son Rowan Rundle and he has had several Griffin matches down the Broderick and O’Keeffe lines. Matches include descendants of three of James Broderick and Bridget Griffin’s daughters, Mary McAuliffe nee Broderick, Ellen “Nellie” Byrne nee Broderick and Johanna Kelly nee Broderick and two of John O’Keeffe and Catherine Griffin’s children, Elizabeth Lee nee O’Keeffe and Thomas O’Keeffe.

Birth record for Ellen Broderick, daughter of James Broderick and Bridget Griffin, 3 April 1904, Knocknadarriv, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland. Image kindly uploaded on by warriorartist12

Petition for Citizenship for Ellen Broderick, 30 April 1934, of Knocknadarrine, Ireland

This is where I end my research on the Griffin Family of Knockbrack, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland for now. I look forward to getting connections from other Griffin family researchers in the future. I will update my family history as I find further information. I do have several baptisms and birth records for the Broderick and O’Keeffe families and I am happy to email them upon enquiry.

Virginia Rundle

4 February 2021


Irish Genealogy

Rundle Photo Collection

Irish National Archives


Trove Digitised Newspapers


1 comments On The Griffin Family of Knockbrack, Brosna, Kerry, Ireland

  • Hi Virginia

    My name is Paul Fanning, the great grandson of John Griffin. Congratulations on your wonderful professional contribution to our family history. My grandmother was Mary Griffin (Fanning). My wife Ann and I live between Orange and Sydney. We are leaving tomorrow for Europe and the USA and will visit the cemetery at the old cemetery at Brosna. I have a piece of mortar from the old fireplace at ‘Tralee’ the property near Orange where John Griffin would have sat many times no doubt dreaming of his family on the other side of the world. We will bury it in his parents grave. Thankyou so much for what you have done. My kind regards to your husband.

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