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A tale of a family's fortune forged in Gympie

LEGACY: James Fitzpatrick (far left) with his family in Dublin. The Fitzpatricks gave back to the town which gave them a fortune.
LEGACY: James Fitzpatrick (far left) with his family in Dublin. The Fitzpatricks gave back to the town which gave them a fortune. Bernard Fitzpatrick

MANY Gympie families have connections to the gold mining past, and this story, the Fitzpatrick family, is just one in an ocean.

Wealth flowed from Gympie and in turn, contributed back to the town.

This story could be seen as the archetypical Gympie family history, and it started with one individual.

James Fitzpatrick was born May 1839, second child to farmers Daniel and Mary (Nee Cosgrove) Fitzpatrick.

The family lived in Derravona, bordered by the River Erne (now the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland).

Local Irish oral history suggests the Fitzpatrick family were in Derravona since the early 1600s.

James was six years old during the Great Irish Famine, and 10 years old when it finished.

Seven younger siblings were born up to 1858, of which five including James would later emigrate.

Patrick (born 1838), the oldest sibling, inherited the farm and it would be in the family until the 1970s.

The next two sons, Hugh (born 1841) and James left Ireland for a better life abroad.

Hugh emigrated to New York in May 1860, fought in the American Civil War, and joined the New York Police Department.

James also travelled to New York , not impressed, he travelled back to Ireland only to emigrate to Australia between 1861 and 1864.

On November 11, 1864, five years after the Colony of Queensland was created, Roseann Fitzpatrick emigrated and married James in St Stephens Church, Brisbane the afternoon she arrived.

Oral family history says James and Roseann settled near Laidley where their child, John was born in October 1866.

James and Roseann, with baby John, moved to Gympie for the birth of their first daughter, Mary Ann Fitzpatrick, who family oral history says she was born in early 1869.

James Fitzpatrick's will, Drumard House, Clones. Ireland. Gympie History. G150.
James Fitzpatrick's will, Drumard House, Clones. Ireland. Gympie History. G150. Bernard Fitzpatrick

James went from miner to investor. A paragraph in the Freeman Journal, 13 October 1877 describes him.

"... Mr Fitzpatrick, is an intelligent and experienced digger, and one of the pluckiest investors that ever visited a goldfield... He was one of a party who took on tribute two and three South Monkland two years ago, and after surmounting some reverses, eventually succeeded in getting a crushing which yielded to him about £600. Being re solved to build his future independency from this quoin atone he bought 800 script in the Phoenix, which went 4 ozs to the ton. Lately, besides, he purchased a share in the now famous No. 6 South Lady Mary, from which on Wednesday the result of 84 tons was 571 cz 8 dwts of retorted gold. Since then, at a breaking down in the jump-up, her ladyship unlocked her stony chest and scattered a portion of her splendid jewellery to the gaze of the underground spectators. Judging from those healthy prospects this enterprising speculator has by his indomitable perseverance attained an independency.”

The following year, his younger brother Philip emigrated and became Manager of the North Smithfield mine.

In 1882 in St Patrick's Catholic Church, Gympie, Philip married Ellen Hennessey and had 10 children.

Their son, Private Patrick Joseph Fitzpatrick of the 49th Battalion was killed in action by a shell near Etinhem, France, on 12 August 1918. His name is listed on the War Memorial Gates in Mary Street.

Descendants of Philip still live in Gympie. Both Philip and Ellen are buried in Two Mile Cemetery.

In 1881, James' younger brother Michael Fitzpatrick joined him in Gympie.

Michael, a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary, also emigrated to Gympie in about 1882. He was joined by Agnes McCullough and married in Maryborough in March 1884.

Michael died in April 1899 at the age of 44 years of mining dust in his lungs.

He and Agnes are buried in Two Mile Cemetery with three of their children.

Their daughter, Mary died in 1916 and is buried in Sydney; son Michael died in 1947; and, their other son, Charles, moved to Brisbane in 1938. However, two of Charles' grandchildren live and work near Gympie.

James became wealthy, and in the early 1880s, took his family to Ireland where he purchased "Drumard House” near Clones. Now listed on Ireland's National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

James Fitzpatrick's invitation to the opening ceremony of the Mersey Railway, and the Prince and Princess of Wales. Gympie 150 years. G150.
James Fitzpatrick's invitation to the opening ceremony of the Mersey Railway, and the Prince and Princess of Wales. Gympie 150 years. G150. Bernard Fitzpatrick

James was invited by the Mayor of Liverpool to meet The Prince and Princess of Wales for the formal opening of the Mersey Railway on Wednesday January 20, 1886.

James and Roseann Fitzpatrick and family then returned to Australian and settled in residence "Glenthorne”, in Sydney.

James died of cancer in November 1897.

In his will, James left funds for the design and build of the marble altar in St Patrick's Catholic Church, Gympie.

He also left substantial funds to the Hospital and the Roman Catholic Schools in Gympie.

Three of James' children took his remains to Ireland to be buried with his parents his birth place in Cavan and is buried at Staghall, Beturbet, County of Cavan.

A copy of James' Will is held as part of the Deeds of Drumard House, owned by the Irish author Eugene McCabe.

In July 2013, the Will was viewed by descendants of the three Fitzpatrick brothers, James, Philip, and Michael at the Drumard Residence.

Topics:  drumard house g150 gold gold mining gympie gympie goldfields history ireland james fitzpatrick james nash

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