The discovery of a clay pipe bowl dated 1862 on the eastern beach at Cleveland Point has dug up some forgotten Redland history.
The pipe was found by Phil Robinson of Victoria Point and former resident of Cleveland Point.
Mr Robinson said he and his wife May Sheppard had consciously been seeking artefacts in this area to contribute to a mosaic sculpture at the Old School House gallery of which they are members.
“We used to find shards of pottery of all ages. But this pipe is the most significant find so far. It makes you wonder what else is out there,” Mr Robinson said.
Ms Sheppard said she believed very little archeology had been done in the Redlands.
“There is so much out there from our early history,” she said.
The pipe is etched with the words Erin Go Bragh which means ‘Ireland forever’ and was also the name of the first ship carrying Irish immigrants to enter Moreton Bay. On researching the pipe, Ms Sheppard found local people descended from some original passengers of that ship.
“I’ve always had an interest in archeology and when I researched this, I came across Chris Kelly who is a descendant. I organised to meet his father John. I was telling this story to a woman I met at a meeting and she told me her husband was also a descendant,” she said.
This is John Barker of Thornlands.
“My mother (Britha Barker née Burke) was very proud of her Irish heritage. She grew up sailing on Burke boats around Moreton Bay. Her father was the wharf manager for Burkes at what is now Southbank. Mum named our family home at Victoria Point Kinsale after the hometown of her grandfather who was a sailor on the Erin-Go-Bragh,” Mr Barker said.
“We grew up very much aware of this side of the family. Seeing an object from the ship that brought my great grandparents (John and Alicia met on the voyage) to this country in an odd way has made the stories more real. It is as if touching the clay pipe connected me in a tangible way to my great grandparents and their story.”
Other notable descendants from the same ship are Pat Rafter and former Queensland Attorney General Denver Bealand.
“Many farmers of the 1860s were tenement farmers and because of the potato famine, they ended up being evicted from generations-old potato farms,” Ms Sheppard said.
Mr Barker is the great grandson of John and Alicia Burke. John Burke was a member of the crew who jumped ship at Moreton Bay. He later became a captain of his own ship and is remembered at the Captain John Burke Park under the Story Bridge.
The voyage of the Erin Go Bragh took 25 weeks to get to Australia and is well known for its many misfortunes. Many children died on board and the boat required constant pumping after developing a leak off Capetown.
It arrived in Moreton Bay on August 2, 1862 with 57 of the original 430 passengers perishing on the journey. The ships that followed with many more immigrants to Moreton Bay were the Chatsworth and the Maryborough. A further seven ships followed, filled with 3,901 Irish passengers .
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