The Australian Dictionary of Biography is Australia’s pre-eminent dictionary of national biography and is now online. In it you will find concise, informative and fascinating descriptions of the lives of significant and representative persons in Australian history. Here we have a selection of three Kerry men who made their mark in different ways on the Australian Nation.
Richard Kelliher (1910-1963), soldier and gardener, was born on 1 September 1910 at Ballybranagh, near Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, son of Michael Kelliher, labourer, and his wife Mary Anne, née Talbot. Dick attended technical college at Tralee and worked as a mechanic in his brother’s garage. In 1929 he emigrated to Brisbane with his 15-year-old sister Norah. This brother owned Kelliher’s Garage in Denny St., and Richard was the Uncle of Ted, Ray & Maurice Kelliher of Tralee. Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 21 February 1941, Kelliher sailed for the Middle East and was assigned to the 2nd/25th Battalion in October. He served initially in Syria and from 1942 in Papua New Guinea. In September 1943 his unit came under heavy fire from a Japanese machine gun post. Five men were killed and Richard showed exemplary bravery in taking on the enemy as well as crawling out under enemy fire to drag one of his comrades to safety, thereby sving his life. Kelliher was awarded the Victoria Cross. Richard made a number of trips back to Tralee and died in Melbourne in 1963 having suffered ill health for the rest of his life. Read the full story.
Gerald Spring was a Politician, with a name like Spring in Kerry, what else could he be? Gerald Spring was born on 1 July 1830 at Castlemaine, County Kerry, Ireland, youngest child of Francis Spring (1780-1868), gentleman, and his wife Catherine, daughter of Tobias Fitzgerald of Rathkeale, County Limerick. He arrived in New South Wales about 1853 and after visiting the goldfields probably became a squatter. He later joined the constabulary and became a sheep inspector on a salary of £250, which was a very respectable sum in 1865. Spring represented Wellington in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1869-72: he advocated westward extension of the railway, secular education, free trade, triennial parliaments, the eight-hour day and suggested that the miners make their grievances known and ‘organize themselves for that purpose’. Champion of the small settler, liberal, fair-minded and a good speaker, Spring made a notable contribution to the 1883-84 land legislation debate and became secretary for lands. He married Jane, daughter of David Watt, grazier. He died at his 130 acre property in 1888. He was survived by five sons and a daughter; his third son David Hugh (b.1875) represented Mudgee in the Legislative Assembly in 1932-35.
James Raymond came from a well known family in North Kerry. According to this biography ‘he was reputedly a landowner and magistrate in County Limerick, Ireland, who became involved in disturbances there and was forced to abandon his property when his life was threatened. When his lands became dilapidated in his absence, Raymond decided to emigrate. In July 1824 Henry Goulburn wrote on his behalf to Earl Bathurst, requesting a free passage for Raymond and his family to New South Wales because of their misfortunes in Ireland. Governor (Sir) Ralph Darling was asked to provide Raymond with a suitable colonial appointment and, until it became available, to allow him the means of subsistence. With his wife Aphra and nine children, Raymond arrived at Sydney in the Thames in April 1826, and in May Darling made him coroner at Parramatta on a salary of £50, with additional allowances of £184 in place of rations and lodgings until a more suitable appointment could be found.’ We can see from that Raymond was well able to use his connections to the highest levels of power and this helped him to initially become in 1827 searcher and surveyor of customs. In 1835 his title was changed to Postmaster-General, and his salary had increased to £650 by the time of his death. In 1839 Raymond bought Varroville, near Campbelltown, from Charles Sturt and there entertained extensively. He was also a keen follower of horse-racing and owned several horses himself. He died at Darlinghurst on 29 May 1851 aged 65. Read full story