THE terrible tragedy of Emily Reilly's death at Inskip Point more than 120 years ago was officially acknowledged for its place in the history of Inskip Point this month when her great nephew joined Queensland Parks and Wildlife in opening her restored grave and memorial plaque.
Seventeen-year-old Emily was accidentally shot and killed by her 13-year-old brother Will in mid-1891, as she dusted some photos in the kitchen of the family home at Inskip Point.
Their father, Samuel Reilly, was a coxswain pilot stationed at Inskip at the time.
He had loaded his pistol the night before with the intent of putting down a dog. Will found the revolver hanging on a nail in the parlour after the picture it was concealed behind was taken down to be cleaned.
He thought it wasn't loaded. He pointed it at his sister, who stood about 4.5m from him, and said "It ain't loaded" a split second before it went off and shot her below her left breast.
In Will's deposition to a magisterial inquiry the next day he said Emily immediately said, "Oh Will, you've shot me," and threw her arms out. She ran to the front gate and fell down, unconscious, and died a minute or two later.
Griffith University research fellow Dr Richard Walding is Emily Jane Reilly's great nephew and a descendant of three generations of men who worked the Inskip Point light and signal station.
"My great grandfather was Samuel James Reilly who joined the Queensland Lighthouse Service as the pilot and receiving officer at Inskip Point on December 1, 1875," Dr Walding said.
"He arrived at Inskip with his wife Emily and five-month-old daughter Emily Jane, born in Maryborough."
Dr Walding said his father often talked of Emily's death and how it rocked the family.
"It was seen as a shameful episode and Emily's father was most remorseful that he left a loaded gun in the house," he said.
"It only came to light in 1980 when my father drew a map of the area and marked 'grave' on it."
Dr Walding said Emily died at the gate to her family's home, beside a palm tree at the bottom of the steps.
"That very same tree is still at Inskip, right in the middle of the roundabout outside the camping ground," he said.
Great Sandy Region ranger Grant Phelan said it was wonderful to be involved in a project that reflected the rich history of Inskip Point.
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