A New Zealand heritage tour through County Waterford

County Waterford, on Ireland's south coast, has an unusual number of connections with New Zealand. These links are loosely gathered here in an informal outline tourist trail through the county from east to west. 

Introduction  County Waterford's links with New Zealand form an outline east-west tourist trail in which the connections can be loosely grouped to emphasise particular themes. Waterford City was the birthplace of Captain William Hobson, New Zealand's first governor. The pleasant fishing village of Dunmore East and the Victorian seaside town of Tramore have maritime connections.  Bunmahon, on the Copper Coast, is associated with Edith Collier, a New Zealand artist whose work has only become appreciated in recent decades. Dungarvan, the county town, has priests – some of them colourful characters. In the shadow of the Round Tower of Ardmore lies the grave of Major Triphook who, as a junior officer, took part in the New Zealand Wars of the eighteen-sixties. The Blackwater valley in west Waterford provides a number of emigrant stories. The monastery of Mount Melleray, in the hills above Cappoquin, whose monks founded a daughter abbey in New Zealand in the nineteen-fifties – a saga which sparked a major bust-up over alleged ecclesiastical skulduggery.

Waterford's New Zealand connections are varied, and some of them are controversial. In particular, Captain Hobson was responsible for the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, whose ambiguities complicate public discourse in contemporary New Zealand, while the destruction of the village of Te Irahanga, in which Major Triphook took part, is still mourned by Tauranga Māori today. Commemoration is not necessarily celebration. Waterford's links with New Zealand also offer glimpses of the challenges of Irish life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and perhaps also throw light upon the attitudes and ambitions that helped shape a new society on the other side of the globe.

A study that is aimed at two different audiences at opposite ends of the world will obviously risk either giving some of its readers information they already know, or of omitting background that will leave others puzzled by the significance of the links. Hence the virtual tour is arranged in subsections, some of which can be skipped: for instance, Waterford readers will not be interested in Place and people. Discussion of the two most controversial personalities, Captain Hobson from Waterford City and Major Triphook in Ardmore, is divided into two: a brief overview identifies each person and guides the visitor to the physical connection, while longer More about... notes examine the part they played in New Zealand history, detail that some may prefer to omit. In the happier example of Edith Collier, an outline of her visit to Bunmahon is followed by a more detailed discussion of its context of her life and career. Endnotes and detailed references are omitted, but key sources are mentioned in the text. Most of the stories derive from the Newspapers and Magazines sections of PapersPast, the excellent archival website of the National Library of New Zealand. This is easily searchable by date and by keywords. Supplementary material was trawled from a similar collection, the Irish Newspaper Archives, which may be consulted by arrangement through the branches of Waterford's public library system. Connections that can be seen and visited are underlined, but this does not imply that sites are accessible at all times. I spare readers my brutalist biro cartography, recommending instead Google and other maps that are available on the Internet.

Apparent similarities between the history of the two countries can sometimes be misleading. For instance, in the early decades of settlement of New Zealand, conflict broke out between Europeans (Pākehā) and Māori, usually over control of territory. Formerly known as the Māori Wars, a term now regarded as one-sided, they are generally called the New Zealand Wars or the Land Wars. The main period of fighting lasted from 1860 to 1872, although some would date the start to 1845 and see the conflict as one that continues to the present. In Ireland, the years 1879 to 1882 saw a (generally) non-violent confrontation between tenants and landlords, known as the Land War, which culminated in Westminster's concession of the Land Act of 1881. This recognised the rights of farmers to security of tenure over the land they occupied, and created Land Courts which, from 1882, systematically reduced rents, thereby driving some landlords to bankruptcy and most to welcome State-funded purchase schemes to buy them out. Thus, despite the similarity of terms, New Zealand's Land Wars involved a process whereby the indigenous inhabitants were forced to concede ownership of ancestral territory while, by contrast, Ireland's Land War saw the occupiers of the soil resist landlords imposed upon them as a result of English conquests in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In New Zealand, the divide was ethnic, between Pākehā and Māori. In Ireland, it was predominantly between Catholics and Protestants. The tactical success of Ireland's Land War rested upon the successful mobilisation of a united Catholic tenantry to withdraw co-operation from landlords and resist the imposition of control by the authorities. In New Zealand, Māori were never united in their resistance to the incoming settler population, who were sometimes able to exploit traditional tribal rivalries.

Visitors to Ireland are often puzzled by place-names and local terminology. For instance, Ireland is divided into over 60,000 townlands, a term that is oddly difficult to explain to outsiders. Although the word itself is of English derivation, townlands probably originated around a thousand years ago, originally as property or taxation units. They vary in size, but most are no more than 200-300 hectares in area. Although they have long since lost any administrative function, townlands remain entrenched local identities in the Irish countryside. This is partly because, outside the towns, local roads in Ireland do not have names, and townlands serve as postal addresses. As in New Zealand, Irish place-names are generally derived from the original language of the country, even though few people speak Irish and fewer still live through the language today. (County Waterford has a small Gaeltacht, an officially recognised and supported Irish-speaking district, at An Rinn and Heilbhic, near Dungarvan.) It may be because townland names have been transposed from Irish into English usage that – as will be encountered below – there is sometimes a lack of certainty about their spelling. It is sometimes important to the Waterford-New Zealand story to specify a precise connection with Inchindrisla or Ballyristeen or Knockbrack, however exotic these names may seem to the tourist. (Of course, outsiders can find New Zealand's Māori place-names exotic too. Curiously, some of them have apparent meanings in Irish, even if these are sometimes bizarre: for instance, Rotorua translates as "red-haired bicycle".)

In concentrating upon Waterford's New Zealand connections, I say little about the county's tourist attractions in general – that Waterford City has exceptionally fine museums, that Dungarvan is noted for its restaurants, that Ardmore is an ancient ecclesiastical site. Plaques and gravestones have stories to tell, but it is still worth wandering around Waterford's towns and villages to imbibe the atmosphere that New Zealand's pioneers would have known: the village of Clashmore, for instance, is a little-known gem that has changed very little since Garrett Russell and the Keane sisters left for Otago in Victorian times. It should also be emphasised that Waterford has much more to offer for visitors than can be covered here. The superb Mount Congreve gardens near Waterford City (the exotic display of trees includes a kauri) are worth visiting for their own sake.  Neither the forlorn manufacturing town of Portlaw nor its neighbouring mansion, Curraghmore, are known to have New Zealand connections (maybe some will emerge), but they too may intrigue the tourist. Armchair travellers can sample the journey too. Most of the places mentioned have their own websites,while Google Streetview has surveyed the entire county, even climbing into the Knockmealdowns for a glimpse of Mount Melleray Abbey. (The monks, although Trappists withdrawn from the world, have their own Facebook page).

Place and people Waterford is not one of Ireland's best-known counties, and it is also one of the smallest, ranking twentieth in area. It is fair to say that the county hardly forms a natural unit. The right bank of the river Suir forms its eastern and north-eastern boundary, while to the west Waterford stretches without any obvious logic across the valley of another impressive Munster river, the Blackwater. Waterford City, situated at its eastern extremity, functions more as a regional centre for nearby Wexford and south Kilkenny, while west Waterford tends to look to Youghal, across the border in County Cork. Yet there is a strong sense of a Waterford identity, which shows itself in loyal support for the county's hurling team: "Up the Déise!" or (in Irish) "Déise Abú!". (Strictly speaking, the county's nickname, the Déise [rhymes with the Japanese term "geisha"] only applies to its south-western corner.) In 2016, Waterford also ranked twentieth by population, and this despite having the country's fifth largest city straddling its eastern border.

Demography is an important key to understanding Irish history. It is widely known that the Great Famine of 1845-51 was a terrible human disaster, in which as many as one-third of the Irish people either died or fled the country. The impact upon Waterford was certainly severe. The 1841 census counted 196,000 people in the county. Since the trend was upwards, we can be reasonably sure that Waterford was home to over 200,000 men, women and children when the potato crop failed four years later. The next census, in 1851, recorded 164,000 inhabitants, a drop of about one quarter.

What is less well known is that Ireland's population continued to fall. Six and a half million people survived the Famine but, forty years later, there were fewer than five million. The authorities began to count emigrants in 1851, reporting in 1881 that two and a half million people had left the island. In County Waterford, the 164,000 of 1851 fell to 112,000 in 1881, and onward and downward to 84,000 in 1911. Independence made no difference: the city and county were down to 71,000 in 1961. Not until 2011 did Waterford manage to equal its 1881 population. In 1881, 22,000 people lived in Waterford City, leaving 90,000 across the rest of the county, with the 6,000 residents of Dungarvan constituting the only other sizeable urban centre. By contrast, in 2016, almost half the 116,000 population lived in the City – officially, 53,000, but local sources claim an urban area of 60,000, with some estimates of its metropolitan clout as high as 83,000. With a further 20,000 people living in Dungarvan and Tramore, the rural areas of the county are far emptier than they were before the Famine.

How did this happen? In the terrible natural disasters that afflict Africa, healthy young adults are likely to be the chief survivors. They produce children, and the population gradually recovers. In Ireland, it was the young people who left. Economic change was of course crucial. Growing potatoes had been a labour–intensive activity, and over-dependence upon a single subsistence crop was obviously a bad idea. Irish agriculture shifted towards supplying meat and dairy products for Britain's booming industrial cities. Cattle needed far fewer workers and, as agriculture became mechanised, there was less need for farm labourers anyway. County Waterford, with its mild climate, was in the forefront of change: by 1881, half the county was grassland, with a further one-sixth mountain and scrubland.  Waterford City too was simply not big enough to keep up with economic change. The Jacob family were bakers and Quakers who, in 1851, launched a fancy biscuits emporium in the city: it took entrepreneurial panache to take such a gamble in a poor country that was just emerging from Famine. Their initiative was successful – so successful that they soon relocated the business to the larger population centre of Dublin, where in 1916 Jacob's Biscuit Factory would become a stronghold in the Easter Rising. Waterford also lost its shipbuilding industry. The city's shipyards made the mid-century transition from building wooden sailing ships to constructing iron steamboats but, as ocean-going vessels became larger, they could not raise the capital needed for modernisation, and lost out to Belfast. In 1882, the last Waterford shipyard closed – just about the point where the more comfortable and reliable steamships came to dominate the New Zealand route. Across the county, other enterprises had little success. Clashmore's distillery began operations in 1825, but ceased by 1840: its chimney still sits curiously over the village stream. Bunmahon's copper mines ran into trouble in the mid-eighteen sixties and were driven out of business altogether by foreign competition in 1879. An early twentieth-century attempt to reopen them collapsed in 1912, leaving gaunt industrial ruins that attracted a short-lived artists' colony – and Edith Collier, an aspiring painter from Whanganui.  

The bustle of the Waterford Quays, captured here in 1910, could not disguise the fact that the city had underperformed economically in the decades since the Famine of the 1840s. But Waterford's maritime links made it easy for local people to emigrate. The Post Office (far left), built in Venetian Gothic style in 1876, was the local communications hub. From the photographic collection of Waterford County Museum.

However, there was something deeper going on, right across Ireland, that drove people to rebuild their lives in distant countries. Essentially, it was the death of hope. There were intermittent phases of modest prosperity – enough for hard-working and ambitious Irish people to save the fare for the journey around the world – but Ireland was dogged by a pervading sense of pessimism. One symptom of this was the decline of the Irish language. In 1881, Waterford was one of three Irish counties where more than half the people could speak Irish. But, in the decades since the Famine, most of them had become bilingual, so that they could switch into a modern, commercial, English-speaking world whenever they needed to. Then, from the eighteen-seventies, families stopped passing on the old language to the next generation, who grew up speaking English only. Put simply and starkly, parents were rearing their children for emigration, ensuring that they could compete effectively in English-speaking countries overseas. An ancient culture was ruthlessly discarded so that its people could make a success of life in New Jersey or New Zealand. A great deal was lost in this astonishing revolution in popular culture: place names ceased to make sense, myths and legends, poems and songs were no longer handed down.

If emigration represents one huge underlying theme in the story of nineteenth- and much of twentieth-century Ireland, it is fair to note that destinations changed over time. In the Hungry 'Forties, people fled the Famine as refugees, seeking the nearest and the cheapest refuges available – many to Britain, others to the United States and some to Canada. (The grandparents of Chicago's notorious Mayor Daley were Famine migrants from Old Parish [An Sean Phobal] in the Waterford Gaeltacht.) But in later decades, the transatlantic torrent was quietly paralleled by a trickle of people to the southern hemisphere. A small but steady number sailed direct for New Zealand. From the eighteen-fifties, the end of convict transportation and discoveries of gold made Australia attractive – and some who travelled there moved on across the Tasman. From 1876, an attempt was made not merely to measure the outflow but to identify the destinations of the people leaving Ireland. Although colonial politicians were trying to woo immigrants, New Zealand was little more than a statistical footnote – the choice of 1,558 travellers in 1876, rising to 3,052 three years later. Spanning people from all 32 counties, it might seem that Waterford could claim only a small share. But in 1880, when numbers dropped back to 1,477, two-thirds of them – 932 in all – hailed from Munster, the south-western counties of Ireland which included Waterford.

References to "the Irish" overwhelmingly assume that the true Irish were members of the Catholic Church. Any outline knowledge of the country's history will note that the Protestant population concentrated in the north-east insisted on remaining within the United Kingdom during the crisis of independence from 1916 to 1922. Across the rest of the country, the Protestant minority is often dismissed as a garrison of privileged landlords and unsympathetic officials, in the twentieth century retrospectively branded as "Anglo-Irish" to hint that they were not the genuine article. In reality, although their surnames usually indicated family origins in England or Scotland, in Victorian times Ireland's Protestants generally regarded themselves as Irish too: indeed, one of their number, Charles Stewart Parnell, was perhaps the country's most effective nationalist leader. Protestants made up around five percent of the population of late-nineteenth century County Waterford, rising to ten percent in the city itself. Most of them were members of the Church of Ireland, the Episcopalian partner of the Anglican Church in England. Although they were generally more prosperous and better educated than their Catholic neighbours, this is not to say that all Protestants were wealthy: indeed, very few owned the property portfolios that their critics claim allowed them to oppress hard-working tenants. In the upper echelons of society, men like Hobson and Triphook were obliged to seek careers in Britain 's armed forces – although, of course, as officers. Many, especially in the city, belonged to an intermediate social tier of skilled workers or shopkeepers, the kind of people who could afford the passage to New Zealand and were no doubt attracted by the colony's Protestant and pro-British culture. But that does not mean that New Zealand's Waterford pioneers all came from the minority community. Further west, migrants from the Blackwater valley were more likely to be Catholics: "when a man emigrates from that side of Waterford he makes for New Zealand or Australia", a Dublin journalist wrote in 1928.

Waterford City and New Zealand  The Republic of Ireland's fifth largest city, Waterford has a compact central area in which all the sights (and sites) are within walking distance. The main Kiwi connection is Captain William Hobson, the first British Governor of New Zealand and founder of the city of Auckland, who was born in here on 26 September 1792. He is commemorated by two blue plaques, one high up in the canyon of Lombard Street (probably close to his birthplace), the other – more accessible and interesting – in Patrick Street, at St Patrick's Gateway Centre, the former church where he was baptised. (https://www.waterfordcivictrust.ie/blue-plaques) (The local authority has unfeelingly erected a fine steel pole right in front of the plaque, to display a street sign that might well have been located a few metres away.) Hobson's father, Samuel, was a local barrister.  Young William seems to have had a tough childhood, and at the age of 9 (!) was sent away to join the Royal Navy. An elder brother, Richard Hobson, was Dean of the Protestant Cathedral, a handsome eighteenth-century building. Hobson himself apparently subsequently revisited the city to renew family links.

A plaque in Waterford's Patrick Street commemorates William Hobson as the founder of Auckland

William Hobson was sent to New Zealand by the British government to negotiate the Treaty of Waitangi, which was agreed by some – but not all – Māori in February 1840. (It is discussed in more detail in the section that follows, which some readers may wish to skip.) But if "the Treaty" (as New Zealanders informally call it) remains controversial, William Hobson left one enduring mark upon the country that does deserve to be remembered. Once New Zealand became a British colony, Hobson decided that a new capital was required, away from the missionaries at the Bay of Islands which was, in any case, too far to the north. In September 1840, he established a new town on the shores of Waitemata Harbour, a deep-water inlet of the Pacific Ocean. (The local tribe thought a Pākehā town would be a useful asset, and freely sold the necessary land: Hobson resold it as building lots at a handy profit.) When he first went to sea at the age of nine, Hobson had sailed under Captain John Beresford, an illegitimate son (one of many) of the Marquess of Waterford, the local aristocrat who lived at Curraghmore House near Portlaw. However, his career was relaunched in 1834 by the Earl of Auckland, a British politician who had served as Governor-General of India. Hobson named the new settlement after his patron. The capital was moved in 1865 to the more central location of Wellington, but Auckland continued to grow into New Zealand's largest city. Today it is home to 1.65 million people, almost a third of the country's population. Hobson chose well.

There are useful accounts of his life in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1h29/hobson-william) and the Dictionary of Irish Biography (https://www.dib.ie/index.php/biography/hobson-william-a4041).

More about Captain Hobson: why is his Waitangi Treaty so controversial in modern New Zealand? Rapid readers may wish simply to note that both the Treaty of Waitangi and Hobson's interpretation of his appointment were, and are, controversial, and move on to later sections which say more about Waterford links.

 In the eighteen-thirties, Māori New Zealand was threatened with destabilisation.  The importation of European weapons added new dimensions of slaughter to endemic inter-tribal warfare. Traditional society was also threatened by the arrival of Pākehā, who included some of the toughest elements in European society, whalers and ex-convicts from Australia. In Britain, there were unofficial schemes to send out colonists. There was rivalry between English Protestant and French Catholic missionaries, with the former warning the British government that France was exploiting the priests to gain influence, as they had done in another Polynesian society, Tahiti.

In 1833, James Busby was appointed as British 'Resident' to the Bay of Islands in the northern part of the North Island. Busby was supposed to be a cross between an ambassador and an arbitrator, responsible for keeping the peace between Māori and the Pakeha interlopers. In 1835, he had to deal with Baron Charles Philippe Hippolyte de Thierry, a French exile and eccentric. The Māori chief Hongi Heka had been brought to Cambridge University to help in the publication of a Māori dictionary. De Thierry was a student at the time, and subsequently claimed he had purchased a large area of the North Island from Hongi Heka, who obviously knew a mug when he saw one. De Thierry not only travelled to New Zealand but, on arrival, proclaimed himself its king. In response, Busby persuaded a number of chiefs in the northern part of the North Island to form a European-style state, which he called the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand. The Confederation had its own flag, but nothing much else. With no force to back up his alleged authority, Busby could only plead with the British government for support: Hobson, who was serving in Australia, was sent to investigate. (Through no fault of his own, Busby has generally regarded as a joke figure, but he should be honoured as the founder of the New Zealand wine industry; de Thierry, who was a hilariously silly person, ended his days as a piano teacher in Auckland.)

William Hobson's naval career had been badly timed. By the time he was 22, the long wars against France came to a close: Hobson was a junior officer aboard the convoy that took the fallen Emperor Napoleon to imprisonment on the South Atlantic island of St Helena, the Navy's final flourish. Expenditure on warships was cut back to peacetime levels, and there were few opportunities for promotion. Hobson spent some years in boys'-own adventures fighting pirates in the Mediterranean and the West Indies. On one occasion, he was captured and tortured, an experience which permanently damaged his health.  From six years from 1828 to 1834, he had no command at all, and it was during that time that he is thought to have returned to Waterford. Being sent to New Zealand in 1837 was a long-awaited big break.

Hobson wrote a report suggesting negotiations with Māori chiefs to establish a series of bases around the coast. He argued that these would enable Britain to control New Zealand's external trade while contributing, if possible, to the maintenance of order internally. He may have been thinking of medieval Ireland, where towns like Waterford, Cork and Dublin represented bridgeheads of English authority, with the rest of the country left under the chaotic authority of Gaelic chiefs. In reality, as Ireland's unhappy history proved, such half-and-half solutions rarely worked.  Once Britain became involved, an all-or-nothing solution was the most likely outcome. By the time British policy-makers sent Hobson back to New Zealand to sort out the problems in 1839, official thinking in London was moving towards outright annexation.

Hence there was ambiguity in Captain Hobson's mission from the start. He was appointed Governor of New Zealand, and instructed to negotiate with the Māori for the transfer of sovereignty over the whole country. In other words, he was declared to be the Governor of a colony that would not exist until he had persuaded the people who lived there to hand it over. Probably this reflected the notion that Captain Cook had claimed New Zealand for Britain when he sailed around the islands in 1769 – but if the country was already British, why have a Treaty at all?

There was also much muddle about the proposed Treaty: with whom was Hobson negotiating? He would obviously have to start with Busby's puppet state, Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand, but that had been a failure, and most Māori had never signed up to it anyway. Hence a Treaty would have to be negotiated not only with the nominal Confederation, but with dozens of individual chiefs as well. Did that mean that Hobson would only acquire authority over those areas of New Zealand whose chiefs agreed to accept his authority? The preamble to the Treaty described Hobson as the Governor "of such parts of New Zealand as may be or hereafter shall be ceded to her Majesty", and it also referred to "Her Majesty's Sovereign authority over the whole or any part of those islands". It was all very confusing.

Forty chiefs acceded to the Treaty at Waitangi in the formal conference of 6 February 1840. By the end of the year, there were 500 Māori names attached to the document. But nobody could be entirely sure who had inscribed those names (not surprisingly, Māori were generally illiterate) and what their adherence really meant: for instance, thirteen of the names were women, but only men exercised power in traditional society. And what would become of the areas, especially large regions of the South Island, where nobody had accepted the document?

In practice, Hobson could not allow New Zealand to degenerate into a patchwork of sovereignties. Meanwhile, an unofficial party of settlers from Britain had arrived at what would become Wellington, at the other end of the North Island. In order to assert control over them, in May 1840, Hobson proclaimed the whole of New Zealand to be British territory: the North Island through the Treaty (for which 'signatures' were still being collected) and the South Island by right of Captain Cook's 'discovery'. He was just in time: three months later, a French frigate arrived at Akaroa on the South Island's Banks Peninsula to prepare the way for a shipload of immigrants from France. They found that Hobson had forestalled them by appointing two magistrates to assert British authority.

Obviously, there was a big question mark over the origins of Hobson's claim to rule New Zealand, and it hovers there to this day. Was he the governor because of Captain Cook? Or because the British government had appointed him? Or because some of the Māori had accepted his authority? But what authority had they agreed to accept? Here we come to the murkiest aspect of the Treaty of Waitangi. Incredibly, Hobson, who had no legal training, had been sent out to negotiate a Treaty without any kind of draft document to guide him and no trained lawyers to craft watertight wording. (Compare this with the fraught Downing Street negotiations in December 1921, when the Irish negotiators led by Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith found themselves facing a battery of skilled, experienced and ruthless British politicians who knew how to manipulate the language of the law.) Hobson and Busby, neither of them lawyers, knocked together a document during a week-long conference with Māori leaders, hardly the ideal circumstances to draft a founding charter for a new country.

Worse still, and particularly controversial today, was the challenge of explaining its meaning to the chiefs who were asked to accept it. It was not easy to translate European ideas into the Māori language. Sometimes an existing word could be adapted, but often some new term had to be coined. Thus the Māori word for a chief, "rangatira", could be turned into an abstract concept by adding the suffix –tanga, giving a word that conveyed the notion of sovereignty, "rangatiratanga". But Māori had no notion of administration, day-to-day government, because somehow they managed to exist without civil servants, police or tax-collectors. Their alphabet lacked a hard G and a V, but it was possible to adapt the English word "governor" to "kawana", and extend that to "kawanatanga", to describe the actual process of governance.

Hobson spoke only phrase-book Māori. He and Busby relied upon Henry Williams, a Protestant missionary, who worked against the clock to provide not so much a detailed translation as a general summary. In the English text, Māori conceded "all the rights and powers of sovereignty" over their lands to Queen Victoria ("Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland"). But in the Williams translation, Māori were transferring "te kawanatanga katoa" (complete government) to Wikitoria, " te Kuini o Ingarani [the Queen of England]", which was giving different powers to a different person. There was further confusion when Williams translated his Māori version back into English, providing in effect a rival version of the Treaty. Was this incompetence or a deliberate policy to trick the country's indigenous people?

Henry Williams energetically lobbied Māori leaders to accept British rule, and undoubtedly presented the agreement to them in a favourable light. As the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography says, Williams "must bear some of the responsibility for the failure of the Treaty of Waitangi to provide the basis for peaceful settlement and a lasting understanding between Māori and European". But William Hobson was ultimately responsible for the 'spin' adopted by his enthusiastic agent. There can be little doubt that Māori believed that they had, in effect, out-sourced the preservation of law and order to the British, delegating to the governor authority to control the troublesome Pākehā incomers. They had no idea that they had handed over the sovereignty of their homeland. (Indeed, a recent – and massive – book by Dr Ned Fletcher, The English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi, which is being respectfully discussed in New Zealand, argues that Māori did not concede rangatiratanga at all. If Dr Fletcher's arguments are accepted, this will mean that their original sovereignty must be regarded as in some way fused into the modern-day New Zealand State.)

The Treaty of Waitangi placed New Zealand in an anomalous constitutional position, which for Hobson was made worse by the complication that he lacked adequate force to back up his claim to rule the country. (Unlike poor James Busby, he did have a few troops that he could call upon, but nowhere near enough to intimidate ferocious Māori leaders.) Tāraia Ngākuti was a warlike chief in the Thames district of the North Island. In 1842, he attacked a rival tribe who were Christian converts, demonstrating his contempt for European ways by tossing the heads of two of his victims into a Māori church service. Hobson sent an official to investigate, who quickly abandoned as impracticable his original idea of making an arrest. Pointing out that he had not signed the Treaty of Waitangi and insisting that no Europeans had been involved, Tāraia Ngākuti flatly refused to recognise Hobson's authority. A more worrying problem developed under Hobson's successor, Hōne Heke, one of the most prominent chiefs in the northern part of the North Island, and one of the few who had converted to Christianity. He had urged acceptance of the Treaty of Waitangi, and was the first Māori leader to sign. But he soon became disillusioned with the way British rule intruded upon and undermined traditional Māori society, and in 1845-6 he led an armed resistance. The outbreak of actual fighting was preceded by a famous stand-off, in which Hōne Heke four times chopped down a flagpole flying the Union Jack. Flagpoles have been sensitive symbols in New Zealand ever since. However, William Hobson did not live to see the breakdown of relations with Hōne Heke. Three weeks after the first signing of the Treaty, he had suffered a stroke. A second attack killed him in 1842.

A word is needed on the fate of the Treaty. For a century after its negotiation, Pākehā authorities did not take it seriously. An official of a private colonization company cynically described it as "a praiseworthy device to amuse and pacify savages for the moment". I have seen a parchment copy on display in Wellington: it had been thrown into a store and nibbled by rats. But attitudes gradually changed, and in 1975 the New Zealand established the Waitangi Tribunal to adjudicate Māori claims to traditional rights, in such areas as land-ownership and fishing. The establishment of the Tribunal put the Waitangi Treaty back at the centre of New Zealand life. For at least two generations after the establishment of the Free State, Irish people argued over the legitimacy of "the Treaty" of 1921 as its founding document. In much the same way, New Zealanders today use the same shorthand, still working out how "the Treaty" affects the nature of their country. With the gradual extension of its powers, the Waitangi Tribunal has made a major impact upon New Zealand life. It should be noted that, since 1987, the New Zealand courts have felt free to be guided by the "spirit" of the Treaty, which avoids awkward clashes of wording, and the Tribunal is charged with enforcing its general principles, not necessarily the disputed text itself. This is a reminder that Hobson did try to carry out the instructions he had received in Britain, that he should attempt to create an agreement that would protect Māori from Pakeha incursions. Perhaps he should be remembered in the words that he used (or had memorised) as he shook hands with each of the chiefs at the conclusion of the Treaty ceremony: "He iwi tahi tatou" (We are [now] one people). The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography describes him as "prematurely aged from years in the tropics and from the inroads of disease. His private conduct was irreproachable; he was a good husband, father and friend, a gracious host and an entertaining speaker. … In his official duties he strove to be just, and saw protection of the Māori as a major reason for establishing British rule. He could be obstinate and lacking in diplomacy. He was capable of poor decisions, but the tragedy of his governorship arose mainly from his ill health and inept advisers, and unrealistic Colonial Office [i.e. British government] policy towards the new colony."  

Other Waterford City people in New Zealand From the other end of the social spectrum, and the other side of Ireland's religious divide, Patrick Sheridan also played an influential role in settler relations with Māori people, one that has only recently been dragged from the shadows and even now remains obscure. Born in 1841, Sheridan came from Newry in the north of Ireland, but by his teens he was living in Waterford. At the age of fourteen, he qualified as a telegraph operator, which suggests that he was a bright youngster. In 1858, like many an adventurous Irish Catholic lad, he joined the British Army. His unit, the 2nd battalion of the 14th Regiment, was posted to New Zealand, where he arrived in 1860, and took part in fighting against Māori in the Waikato and Taranaki campaigns. He was eventually demobilised in Melbourne, where he married but apparently disliked the city's lawlessness. He returned to New Zealand and took a job in the Native Lands Purchase Office – a government department which purchased Māori land for resale to settlers.  He rose through the civil service ranks to become an enormously powerful (but generally invisible) bureaucrat, who was said to know more about Māori affairs than everybody else in the government machine put together. Professor Tom Brooking, the New Zealand historian who has dragged Sheridan partly out of the shadows, reckons that, in effect, he controlled official policy towards New Zealand's indigenous people. One contemporary marvelled that Sheridan often "made Dick or Jock do exactly as he told them". 'Dick' was Richard John Seddon, the colony's Lancashire-born Premier [prime minister], a charismatic publican whose political ascendancy was reflected in his nickname, 'King Dick'. (He turned down a knighthood, fearing that it would be demotion to become merely Sir Richard.) 'Jock' was John McKenzie, a Scottish Highlander who was Minister of Lands and effectively Seddon's deputy. Māori had been forced to surrender large areas of land as a result of the New Zealand Wars, but substantial transfers to government control continued in the following decade. Sheridan, promoted to Chief Land Purchase Officer in 1890, was a key figure here. An admirer wrote that "of all [P]akeha officials he is the most trusted", because Māori liked his "rough diplomacy". It is equally possible to see him as an over-powerful bureaucrat and a bully. He was known as "old Pat" in the corridors of Wellington, but his Māori nickname, "Tamata", is revealing: it means "trying", and suggests that he was relentless in  pressurising Māori to hand over their ancestral land. Because he mostly operated behind the scenes, it may never be possible to make a full assessment of Patrick Sheridan's role in New Zealand history, but enough is known to establish that Captain Hobson was not the only Waterford person to play a role in the challenges faced by Māori.

Waterford City also produced some impressive women who helped build a new society on the far side of the world, but the connection got off to an acrimonious start. In the eighteen-seventies, the New Zealand government adopted the bold policy of providing free passages to suitable emigrants from Britain and Ireland. One of the agents employed to recruit the new settlers was Caroline Howard, who had travelled to New Zealand in 1862, chaperoning a party of unmarried young women migrants. She had established an employment agency in Dunedin that helped girls to find work as domestic servants. Following the death of her second husband, she returned to England in 1872. However, her first marriage had ended in divorce – very unusual in those days, and highly scandalous, even when, as in Caroline's case, the wife was the injured party. To the modern mind, she was very well qualified to act as an emigrant agent – but the appointment of a woman to a government post was a startling novelty. By November 1873, she had opened an office in downtown Waterford's King Street (now O'Connell Street), where she publicised "the advantages of New Zealand over any other country for the emigrant, both in nature’s lavish gifts, and for its most genial and health-giving climate". Waterford people were assured that free passages on offer were "a free grant from the New Zealand Government … there is no bond, no tie, no repayment, required". Emigrants were "free to choose both employer and employment on arrival in that colony".  Ireland's hard-pressed farm labourers were advised that "a year’s wages would enable them to commence buying good freehold land at a pound an acre. A second year’s wages would stock it, and in ten years they would, by careful industry, be living in comfort and abundance on their own thriving farm, in peace and prosperity, such as they could never hope to attain in a life-time in America". Within a few weeks, she had recruited 350 emigrants. They were sent to London where they were packed into an 869-ton sailing ship, the Woodlark, which sailed in December.

The voyage was an unpleasant experience. The ship was overcrowded and departure arrangements were mildly described as "most confused". Many passengers were "put on board in a miserable state". The Thames was blanketed in thick fog, which added to the confusion of loading supplies. Once the Woodlark had set sail – it took two weeks to limp down the English Channel – "it was found that many necessaries were not on board at all, and that other articles were incomplete". Worse still, one family had been allowed to embark even though they were recovering from scarlet fever – and, indeed, had not shaken it off altogether. Within days, the disease broke out among the passengers: the first fatality occurred on Christmas Eve. In all, there were eighteen deaths, all of them children – although one of the youngsters perished from sunstroke. Even without sickness, the three-month journey was no pleasure cruise. Some of the healthy children seem to have been as much of a menace as the sick ones: a feral minority, curtly dismissed as "cubs", were soon in trouble with the law in their new homeland. When the Woodlark finally arrived in Wellington in mid-March 1874, the nightmare was still not over. With fever aboard, the ship was placed in quarantine, and it would be another fortnight before her passengers were cleared to land. They were treated with suspicion when they did get ashore, and for some months they were blamed for any local outbreaks of disease.

However, it was not so much the physical state of the passengers that became the focus of controversy as their moral character. An official report was scathing, but a careful reading of its condemnation of the Waterford contingent points to prejudice based upon hearsay. "We have learned that some of the worst of the passengers were selected by a Mrs Howard at Waterford, and the conduct, both during the voyage and since their arrival here, of some of the single women, or rather married women who have left their husbands and come out to the Colony as single women, would lead to the inference that they must have been picked up off the streets without any regard to their habits and mode of life. Five minutes' conversation with the captain or surgeon would convince any one that many of these women ought never to have been allowed to come out with other respectable girls who were on board the vessel." The New Zealand historian Professor Charlotte Macdonald has defended Caroline Howard, pointing out that she continued to help women and girls to emigrate until her death in 1907 – by which time she had helped 12,000 of them to make new lives in the southern hemisphere. The disapproving reference to "a Mrs Howard" indicates that she was the prime target, and the stress upon "married women who have left their husbands and come out to the Colony as single women" implied that a divorcee could not be trusted to vet the sexual behaviour of dubious applicants. The "inference" that women had been "picked up off the streets without any regard to their habits" amounted to a thinly-coded but unsubstantiated innuendo that they were prostitutes. No doubt the ship's captain and its surgeon were critical of the failure to exclude passengers who were infectious, and both were probably conditioned by class and gender to disapprove of uppity servant girls, but it was hardly fair to base such generalised character assassination upon an oblique allusion to brief and undocumented comments.

As Professor Macdonald suggests, the denunciation of the Woodlark's Irish passengers also represented a form of dog-whistle sectarianism. The New Zealand government was initially accused of ignoring Ireland in its campaign to recruit new settlers. When it did turn to the Emerald Isle, its efforts seemed to be centred upon Belfast and Derry, the cities in the country's northern Protestant heartland. Caroline Howard's offence was to sign up young women from the other side of Ireland's religious divide: the accusations of sexual immorality represented a covert (if bizarre) way of condemning them for being Irish Catholics. A month after the arrival of the Woodlark, a second party selected by Caroline Howard reached Dunedin – this time mostly composed of workhouse girls from Cork, who were denounced as immoral, ignorant and "certificated scum". Mrs Howard was dismissed, only to be promptly hired to do the same job for the Australian colony of Queensland. The irony behind the denigration of these young Catholic women is that New Zealand did not seek female migrants for their skills at mathematics or their knowledge of foreign languages. They were needed as wives and mothers – in plain language, as bedmates and breeders – and it was inconsistent, if not downright hypocritical, to denounce them for – allegedly – behaving like sexual beings.

One of the "respectable girls" on board the Woodlark was sixteen-year old Mary Crampton (later Player) who had been born in County Kilkenny during the decade that followed the Famine. The handful of Crampton families in Kilkenny had probably originated in England, for most were Protestants who were employed by the landed gentry, but Mary came from a working-class Catholic background: her father was a shoesmith, who made and fitted horseshoes. Kilkenny is part of Waterford's hinterland, and it is likely Mary had come to the city to work as a servant by her mid-teens. She probably qualified for an assisted passage thanks to Caroline Howard's earlier interest in the welfare of domestic servants. Travelling to New Zealand in the nightmare conditions of the Woodlark must have been ordeal for an unaccompanied teenager, but perhaps she was fortunate. A few months later, another emigrant ship, the Cospatrick, caught fire at sea, and 470 lives were lost.

In 1877, Mary Crampton married Edward Player, an English migrant, who tried a range of jobs – storeman, shopkeeper, milkman, sign-writer – but was never very successful at any of them. Over the next twenty years, she did her duty to the colony by producing seven children, one of whom died young. Although New Zealand wanted babies, the colony offered no support for childbirth. Women simply helped one another bring babies into the world and, although it does not seem that she ever acquired formal qualifications, Mary Player became a supportive midwife. This led her into political activity, campaigning for women's refuges and – a short but logical step – supporting the temperance movement, which particularly aimed to stop men from wasting their wages on alcohol.

In keeping with its reputation as the world's experimental social laboratory, in 1893 New Zealand became the first country to allow women to vote. Mary Player wanted to mobilise the new female political lobby into the support of issues vital to women. In 1894, she founded the Women's Social and Political League (WSPL), which demanded improvements in women's legal status and working conditions. Mary herself was particularly concerned for the welfare of domestic servants – a reflection of her own experience as an exploited skivvy. She pressed for government regulation and inspection to protect vulnerable workers, but more radical feminists favoured an alternative strategy of alliance with the male-dominated trade union movement. Far from ushering in a millennium of feminine good sense, the WSPL was soon split into factions. Put simply, Mary Player was a victim of class politics. Most women's rights advocates were middle class, educated, often leisured and programmed to be self-confident. With her working class background and poor schooling, Mary was out-gunned and out-manoeuvred. In 1895, she resigned the presidency of the organisation she had founded, and the rest of her career descended through anticlimax to tragedy. Edward Player died in 1905: he had never been much of a provider, but Mary now became a homeless widow, forced to depend upon her married daughters. In 1924, probably fearing that she had cancer, she took her own life. New Zealand's promoters described the colony as a paradise for working people. Mary Player tried to make that vision into reality. It is her idealism, not her failure, that deserves to be remembered.

Jane Runciman (her friends called her Jeannie) also fought for the rights of New Zealand women in the workplace. Her story starts on The Mall, still the most imposing street in downtown Waterford. Her father, William Runciman, ran a high-class grocery business at numbers 5 and 6, opposite Lombard Street where a plaque recalls the birth New Zealand's first governor, William Hobson. In 1875, two years after Jane's birth, Runciman announced that "in consequence of the rapid increase in his wine trade", he had made "arrangements for direct shipment from the leading growers". Vintages would be imported in wood "and bottled under his immediate supervision, thus enabling him to guarantee their purity and offer special advantages as to quality and price". In addition, his shop would continue to supply teas, coffee, spices "and all the other articles connected with the grocery trade, of best quality and at most moderate prices". It is not difficult to imagine William Runciman's wine barrels being unloaded just around the corner on the Quay, and then carted past Reginald's Tower, the Norman fortress at the heart of the city, to be bottled in his emporium. But the business did not prosper: in 1881, he sought fresh opportunities in New Zealand.

Reginald's Tower, at the junction of the Quays and the Mall (left) is named after a Gaelicised Viking chieftain, Raghnall. It was built by the Normans around 1280, on the site of earlier fortifications. Now part of Waterford's impressive museums complex, it is claimed as Ireland's oldest civic building. It can also be seen as symbolising the beginning of eight centuries of external intervention in Irish affairs. This photograph, from the collection of Waterford County Museum, dates from about 1900, two decades after the Runcimans had left for New Zealand. 

What had gone wrong for such an ambitious businessman at such a prestigious location? As already noted, the Waterford City economy was in the doldrums, but Runciman probably supplied the gentry in the surrounding countryside. Between 1879 and 1881, Ireland was convulsed by the Land War. In many places, tenants refused to pay their rents and dared landlords to try to evict them. Many landowners must have been forced to make economies, and their position would become worse when Gladstone's 1881 Land Act created special courts that were empowered to fix rents – and would usually sharply reduce them. William Runciman's upmarket retail enterprise was almost certainly one of the collateral casualties of Parnell's campaign to break landlord power. In 1881, he sailed (as a third-class passenger) on the emigrant ship Hermione to seek opportunities for New Zealand, for the time being leaving the rest of the family in Waterford. For Runciman, being a Protestant was something more than a label for census returns: in New Zealand, the family would be members of the very serious Methodist church. He kept a diary of the 83-day voyage, possibly to let his wife know what awaited her on board ship. It is preserved in the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, and has been quoted in the Oxford History of New Zealand. Pious emigrants were often shocked by the heathen qualities of their less devout shipmates. Runciman was even more censorious. True, his fellow passengers attended the religious service every Sunday ("the Heavenward Day" as he called it), but they turned out "merely because it is correct to do so not because they have any inward longing for that which is unseen". It was a harsh comment, not least because he could have had no real insight in to the motives of other worshippers, and certainly lacked any right to judge them. Life on board ship was intensely boring: a Sunday service at least broke the monotony, and offered a chance to sing a few hymns. Maybe formal participation might lead to real involvement: who was William Runciman to criticise?

"Susan Runciman and four daughters, including Jane, travelled to New Zealand to join William in Timaru in 1883." That simple sentence in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography gives a clue to the unsung contribution of so many women to the country's foundation. Jane's mother's maiden name, Susan Propert Williams, suggests that she was Welsh, and hence a newcomer to Waterford. In her early thirties, she was left to supervise William Runciman's business interests in the city: the licence for the premises on The Mall was only transferred to a new dealer in July 1883. It was a huge responsibility for an unaccompanied woman to bring four youngsters half-way around the world. Throughout the long weeks on board ship, it would have been a challenge enough to keep the girls entertained and make some contribution to their schooling, and there was the even more overwhelming issue of safety: a ten-year old had been lost overboard from the Hermione. And all this was a preliminary to the demands of helping her husband to rebuild their lives in New Zealand, where she would go on to have three more children. Women like Susan Runciman may have lacked civic and political rights, but they constituted impressively resourceful role-models for their feminist daughters.

Keen to get back into the retail trade, William Runciman purchased an existing grocery business in the South Island coastal town of Timaru, whose citizens he informed that "from his past experience, and with personal attention to business, he hopes to be able to secure a share of public patronage, as every article will be kept of the best quality, and at the lowest price". But it was a risky venture. The shop's address, in Theodocia Street (named after the daughter of a pioneer settler), was more impressive than the actual location, several blocks from the incipient business district. With barely 4,000 people, Timaru had less than one-fifth of the population of Waterford City. For a couple of years, shipping news in the local press reported the import of packages for Runciman's stores, but it seems that he abandoned the business in 1887. The family moved to Dunedin, where he became an office worker (and would play a walk-on role in the tale of a Waterford fantasist that follows).

No doubt the move to Dunedin enabled William Runciman to support his growing brood, but when Jane left school, there was no question but that she would have to earn her own living. She became a skilled clothing industry technician, serving an apprenticeship to become a "first-class tailoress". However, she was essentially a factory worker. New Zealand had a nascent textile industry, but it operated on tight profit margins. With a population of about 700,000 in the eighteen-nineties, the colony provided a very small domestic market, while hopes of developing an export trade were hampered by the problem that New Zealand was distant from potential customers. Hence factory owners needed to keep wage costs down, and that meant exploiting female labour – for, in that era, there was no prospect of equal pay. When, in 1894, Premier Seddon's reforming ministry imposed a maximum 45-hour working week for women in factories, employers howled in protest. Perhaps it was not surprising that, by 1897, Jane Runciman was drawn into trade union activity. In 1908, she became the general secretary of the New Zealand Federated Tailoresses' Association, and remained a principal organiser of women's trade unionism until her retirement in 1943. She never married.

We may summarise her career by saying that she had to fight on two fronts. Obviously, there were negotiations and occasional confrontations with employers over wages and working conditions. But more surprising was the battle that she had to fight for women's interests inside the male-dominated labour movement. In 1918, she became one of the first women to be elected to the national executive of the New Zealand Labour Party, but it was an uphill task to persuade the men that their fight for decent living standards would be undermined if bosses could draft in cheaper and unorganised female labour. Even when the men accepted the need for them to fight for women's interests, they found it hard to swallow the idea that women should be represented by persons of their own gender. In her home base of Dunedin, the local Labour boss took advantage of her retirement to absorb the women's union into his own organisation. Jane hoped she would live long enough to see her supplanters "come a 'cropper'", but, by the time of her death in 1950, New Zealand's idealistic Labour Party was still several decades from welcoming women MPs, let alone female cabinet ministers.

It is curious that a small provincial city in Ireland should have produced two of New Zealand's feminist pioneers. Jane Runciman spent some time in Wellington in the late 1890s, where she may have met Sarah Player, but New Zealand was still a very regionalised country, and the two women never worked together. If their aims were similar, their tactics were very different: Sarah Player relied upon government intervention to protect vulnerable domestic servants, Jane Runciman urged women factory-workers to fight for their rights.

Arthur Clampett Early In 1889, New Zealand was briefly captivated by a new arrival who called himself Sullivan. Tall, muscular and disdainfully handsome, his Irish-American accent masked the singing voice of an angel. Indeed, he was first noticed when he joined in the hymns at a Methodist gathering. He told a fascinating story, of being born a Catholic and becoming a drunkard before turning his back upon both these forms of error, and feeling himself called to preach to others who were similarly afflicted. Most sensational of all, he claimed not only to have been a prominent athlete in the United States – he had, so he said, once won a swimming race under San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge – but he also insisted that he was the brother of John L. Sullivan, the world heavyweight boxing champion. For (some, at least) Methodist and Presbyterian clergymen, this made him a very attractive acquisition. Catholics were a definite minority in New Zealand, forming about one-seventh of the population. But the colony's predominantly Protestant culture was stiflingly middle-class and unrelievedly cheerless. A lapsed Catholic who was the brother of the first global sporting megastar could reach out to Irish Catholics and to working men who would otherwise be repelled by the tedious tabernacles of New Zealand Protestantism. First in Auckland and then in Wellington, pulpits were opened to the honeyed oratory of the "converted athlete", and Preacher Sullivan gathered a following of devoted adherents.

Nonetheless, some had their doubts. Mysteriously, his luggage was marked "Clampett", and he was thought also to have used the alias "Santley". For somebody so keen to save souls, he seemed remarkably keen on the comforts of this world. Hospitable churchgoers gave him free accommodation in their homes, prosperous and pious women showered him with money. By the time he headed for the South Island in August, the converted athlete encountered doubters. In Christchurch, the Nonconformist ministers maintained a loose organisation for the discussion of issues of common interest. They invited the newcomer to a meeting to discuss his credentials. He did not appear. "I knew well they would catch me if I went to the convention, and consequently I would not go near it. I thought the parsons would floor me, and I thought I would carry on my game with the view of paralysing them," he later explained. A deputation of ministers called upon him. The encounter was brief and hostile.

At that point, the Coptic docked at Lyttelton, the city's port, and the saga of the glamorous preacher took on a new twist. Travelling on the Coptic was a much more pleasurable experience than the emigration sagas of previous decades. The 4,000-ton steamship made the journey from Plymouth in seven weeks. Not only could it provide more comfortable accommodation than the tiny, storm-tossed sailing vessels, but it was large enough to carry refrigeration equipment for New Zealand's developing trade in the export of frozen meat. Hence there was time for passengers to go ashore while the ship unloaded cargo and took on stores. One of the passengers was a Miss Burns from Waterford, who was on her way to join her sister, who ran a dressmaking business in Wellington. Miss Burns was met by friends – probably also Waterford people – who took her into Christchurch to see the sights. Strolling the downtown streets, she spotted a photograph in a shop window, and was surprised to see familiar face from back home. "Oh!", she exclaimed to her hosts, "there is Arthur Clampett!" The picture was the centrepiece in a display promoting the controversial preacher. With those five words, Miss Burns exploded his impudent imposition.

By the time news of the incident reached the newsroom of the Christchurch Telegraph, the Coptic had sailed for Wellington. Luckily, the Telegraph employed a correspondent in the capital to report parliamentary debates. He received an urgent telegram instructing him to locate Miss Burns and get an interview. Finding her was no problem – her sister's business was located on Lambton Quay, in the centre of Wellington – and the new arrival was happy to chat. "Miss Burns went to school in Waterford, with the members of the Clampett's family, and knew Arthur well. He had sung in the choir of Waterford's Protestant cathedral. She had no idea that he was in New Zealand, but he "was of a roving disposition, and of unsettled habits. ... he is much stouter than when she last saw him some six or seven years ago, but his features are unchanged." This scoop touched off a journalistic feeding frenzy, as editors competed to secure some new angle on the sensational case. A Dunedin newspaper persuaded William Runciman to take part in a virtual identity parade. He was shown a handful of randomly chosen portrait photographs, from which he selected the picture of Clampett. Runciman was "pretty certain" of his identification, "although he would not positively swear to it". He had not seen the man for seven years, but he recognised his characteristic frown. Unfortunately, Clampett's most distinctive feature was his hairstyle, and the preacher was wearing a hat. Like Miss Burns, Runciman remembered Clampett singing in the Protestant cathedral, although he unkindly added that the choirboy had been "without much ear for music". 

Clearly, Arthur Clampett was somebody who made an impact on people, although not necessarily for the right reasons. When stories of his New Zealand exploits filtered back to Ireland, a local newspaper published a withering character sketch of a farcical fantasist. "There must be few grown up persons in Waterford who do not well remember Arthur Clampett." His claim to have been a lifelong Catholic was "astounding". In reality, his father had been a shoemaker in Patrick Street who had doubled as the sexton of St Patrick's – the Protestant church associated with Captain Hobson. On leaving school, he had failed to hold down a couple of office jobs, before securing an appointment in the Post Office. (The handsome Post Office, on Custom House Quay, had been built in 1876 in Venetian Gothic style, presumably a statement that Waterford, too, was a great maritime city. It is still in use.) This coincided with his first foray into religious enthusiasm, which led him to irritate his fellow employees by inflicting workplace Bible readings upon them. Dismissed as a disruptive force, he joined the British Army, and appeared in the city as Lieutenant Clampett. It was assume that he had become an officer's batman, and helped himself to the uniform. A soldier could only leave the Army before the conclusion of his term of enlistment by buying himself out: "friends" obligingly rescued him. (Throughout his bizarre odyssey, Clampett could always rely upon gullible dupes to help him evade the consequences of his own follies.) Next, he had perhaps found his true vocation by becoming a cathedral chorister in Tuam, County Galway. The problem was that Tuam has two cathedrals and, in the eyes of his family and friends, Clampett was lifting his voice in the wrong one. Once again, he was rescued, "as his soul was held to be in danger". His voice proving to be a greater asset than his judgement, he joined an opera company in Belfast, where he called himself Signor Clampetti. The market for high culture in the north of Ireland may have been limited for, in the early eighteen-eighties, Arthur Clampett was thought to have headed for America, vanished from Waterford but definitely not forgotten. From across the Tasman came similar derisive warnings about an Australian career – as a "Professor" of swimming – that formed a curtain-raiser to Clampett's starring role in New Zealand. When challenged on this, Clampett claimed that he had accompanied Dion Boucicault, the celebrated Irish actor-playwright, who had toured Australia (incidentally dumping his wife en route).

Although his identification as an imposter led to his being shunned by the respectable clergy of Christchurch, Clampett, still claiming to be Sullivan the Evangelist, continued to make a living through October 1889 by hiring the city's independent Mission Hall and charging his remaining supporters to endure his harangues. (There was a curious irony in this. Christchurch had been founded by a Church of England organisation, which had named the streets after English and Irish bishoprics: the Mission Hall was in Tuam Street.) His admirers proved their devotion by presenting him with £200 and a silver communion set, which he reportedly considered melting down to turn into more cash. But in November, the pressures became too great, and the apostle of temperance fell off the wagon, in a spree that lasted for several days. His bender was the last straw and, to general relief, he was ushered out of town. "His career here has caused intense bitterness, as well as a terrible scandal to the cause of religion." It was generally assumed that he was making his way back to Auckland to take ship for California.

The editor of the Auckland Star decided to try for one last journalistic bite at the Clampett cherry. Two of the paper's ace reporters were tasked with tracking him down and persuading him to confess. It took them several days trap the "unconverted athlete", as his detractors now called him. Clampett shuffled aliases, switched hotels – perhaps to avoid paying his bills – and took refuge in safe houses provided by his few remaining deluded admirers. Vanity was his undoing. The Irish nationalist politician John Dillon was due to arrive in New Zealand, heading a delegation to raise funds in support for the latest challenge to Ireland's landlords. The chance of shaking hands with one of Parnell's principal lieutenants was too much for Clampett's magnetic ego, and he intruded himself into the welcoming party on Auckland's dockside. When one of the scribblers greeted him with an aggressive "Good evening, Mr Santley", Clampett realised that the game was up.

Characteristically, he decided to take charge of the interview, peppering his comments with instructions, such as "Put this down, put it down, it's very important". He confirmed that he was indeed Arthur Clampett, aged 30, from Waterford, but he also asserted that he had been Ireland's national athletic champion, a title that did not exist. He admitted – as he could hardly deny – that he was no relation of John L. Sullivan, although he insisted that he had hung around with the American sporting crowd. (This was probably true: Ned Hanlan, the famous Canadian oarsman, who happened to be in New Zealand, confirmed that he had run across Clampett on the competition circuit.) 

Arthur Clampett spoke frankly about the "religious racket", claiming to have made thousands of pounds out of secretly received donations. "The weak-minded women were taken like lambs, and I made money out of their weakness." Widows, it seemed, were a soft touch. When asked how he had equipped himself to be a preacher, he explained that he had "worked up" the New Testament Epistles, the letters attributed to St Paul and addressed to various early churches around the Mediterranean, which were packed with advice and homilies. Thanks to this crash preparation, he "took them all in from left to right". However, it may be that, behind the preacher who took New Zealand by storm – the North Island at least – we may glimpse the choirboy who had sat through cathedral services in Waterford, no doubt imagining himself holding forth in the pulpit. Most clergy of the Church of Ireland were not noted for religious enthusiasm, and some may have possessed a limited repertoire of sacred eloquence. Perhaps they succumbed to the temptation of recycling sermons written for specific festivals, repeating their words from year to year until an adolescent with a retentive memory was word-perfect in their texts. Perhaps, too, resentment at his humble boyhood role explained his continued insistence that he had always been a Catholic – "put that down; it's very important" – and that he intended to die in the faith in which he claimed to have been reared. There was something of the spoilt child in his apparent assumption that a few words of simulated apology would wipe away all his misdemeanours.  "I am very sorry if I have offended anybody. Put that down too. ... I am very sorry, and I'll never pick up religion again." It was an odd performance, alternating between the deeply revealing and the utterly fictional. (Clampett would later pretend to have no memory of talking to the Star journalists, claiming that he must have been drunk.) A few days later, he boarded a ship for San Francisco, and New Zealand assumed it had seen the last of Arthur Clampett.

Unfortunately, that comfortable assumption failed to take account of the narcissistic insensitivity of the man himself. Within months, New Zealanders were astonished to learn that Arthur Clampett planned to return. Even more remarkable was the report that a "syndicate" of his supporters in Christchurch had funded his passage. He would later complain that news of his New Zealand exploits had preceded him to the United States, where his friends in the sporting community had turned against him. He had headed for England, where he supported himself by betting on boxing matches and delivered public lectures on the attractions of New Zealand to emigrants, a campaign that the colony's eagle-eyed journalists had somehow failed to report. Speaking, so it claimed, for ninety-nine percent of the population, the Christchurch Star denounced his "impudence". However, far from being Clampett-deniers, the remaining one percent argued that his very fallibility to the demon drink would make his oratory all the more effective in denouncing the slippery slope of alcoholic indulgence. On arriving in Wellington, Clampett issued a statement insisting that his "sole intention" in returning was "to make a public apology in the near future", although there was no suggestion of refunding cash to those he had duped. The Auckland Star had sent one of the reporters who had ambushed him back in December to seek a further interview. Clampett greeted him as an old friend, and explained that he intended to resume his career as "a professor of physical culture", which would include giving "gymnastic exhibitions". Speaking with his habitual "self-possessed deportment", he emphasised that "I am done with the religious racket now."

Unluckily for Clampett, the religious racket had scores to settle. Warned that if he set foot in Christchurch, he would be prosecuted for obtaining money by false pretences, he promptly boarded a ship to Sydney. Clampett was next heard of early in August, on board a steamer from Melbourne to Hobart. The steamship company evidently operated lax security procedures at the dockside, relying upon ticket-collectors on board ship to ensure that passengers had paid their fares. When challenged, Clampett "candidly admitted that he had no ticket", but assured the functionary that his fare would be paid by friends who were meeting him on arrival in Hobart. When these fairy-godparents failed to materialise, he was arrested. Yet again, he was protected by some special Providence, in this case a Hobart publican – a member of a species perhaps not known for philanthropy – who made good the deficiency.

Although he insisted that he had been "drugged and sent to Australia" to prevent him from going on to Christchurch, he remained in Tasmania for several months,  giving recitals at musical entertainments around the island, at which he described himself  as "the pupil of Signor Gambogie of Milan" – a maestro whose achievements have as yet eluded the internet. By September 1891, he felt it safe to return to New Zealand, where he was soon arrested for an alleged offence of being drunk in public. He protested that the police had found him "in a dying state", having once again been mysteriously drugged. He had also taken "a couple of glasses of brandy" to stimulate the action of his heart, and had assumed that the police had intervened to take him to hospital. (In fact, the Wellington constabulary thoughtfully postponed his court appearance for one week to give him time to sober up.) Clampett's ingenious defence might have been more persuasive had it been supported by medical testimony. In its absence, the magistrate sentenced him to 24 hours' detention unless he paid a fine and met the costs of medical attendance. Yet again, somebody found the cash and Clampett was freed from custody.

Even more remarkably, within weeks, Clampett found a wife. In his notorious Auckland Star interview, he had boasted of "an exceedingly fine girl in New York" whom he planned to marry, but when he finally made it to the altar, his victim was a Christchurch woman, Annie Price. In marriage notices, couples generally supplied their addresses and named their parents. Arthur bombastically listed his notable relatives – not a particularly effective strategy, since the Clampett clan was short on achievement – and described himself as "ex scholar University Medical College, New York City", perhaps to give colour to the self-diagnosis of impending death that he had so recently offered in the Wellington police court. His bride was herself a talented performer, a happy circumstance that would enable her to support herself as a music teacher when Clampett inevitably deserted her, as seems to have happened by the mid-nineties. In 1896, he was in gold-rush Western Australia, where he had reverted to calling himself "Signor Clampetti" and, one detractor put it, "warbles to order in exchange for coin of the realm". In 1901, Annie Clampett, who was teaching in Whanganui, received a telegram from the United States informing her that she was a widow. Her husband, it said, had died of pneumonia at Syracuse in the State of New York. The message added that he had been connected in some way with the town's Military College, which had entitled him to be buried with military honours. The detail is so bizarre that it is tempting to wonder whether Clampett had faked his own death and was embarked on yet another career of fantasy and fraud. However, he was never heard of again. Arthur Clampett most certainly did not represent Waterford most admirable contribution to New Zealand life, but he was undeniably its most amusing.

New Zealand's lost Waterford Before leaving the city, we should note that it made a few dents in the map of New Zealand. In 1879, the politician and colonisation promoter George Vesey Stewart laid out a town on Tauranga Harbour, about 35 kilometres north-west of Tauranga itself. It is not known why he decided to call it Waterford. Vesey Stewart came from a gentry background in the north of Ireland, and the parties of settlers that he brought out were mainly from County Tyrone. Possibly the place was named in honour of the family of the Marquess of Waterford, one of whom was invoked by Gilbert and Sullivan, in Patience (1881): "A smack of Lord Waterford, reckless and rollicky." The newcomers largely ignored Vesey Stewart's choice, preferring to use the local Māori name, Katikati. In fact, only the town's post office and the court house were officially called Waterford. The post office switched to Katikati in 1884, according to legend because Vesey Stewart objected that messages had to be addressed to "Waterford New Zealand" to prevent their despatch to Ireland, thereby adding the cost of two extra words to each telegram. In 1897, the local council asked to have the court house renamed too, "there being no such place as Waterford" in the district. There is a Waterford farmstead near Hastings in Hawke's Bay, while a former cattle run of the same name near Christchurch has recently been commemorated by a new subdivision bearing the name at Rakaia.

Dunmore East and Tramore For over a thousand years, Waterford has been an ocean-going port, although nowadays most freight activity is concentrated at the nearby Belview docks. Its maritime tradition is all the more impressive since the city is located twenty kilometres from the sea, on the estuary of the Suir. This lower stretch of the river, known as Waterford Harbour, is relatively narrow, but deep and sheltered by hills. The Vikings recognised it as a fiord, hence their name for the city that they founded: Vedrarfjordr (although there is no general agreement about its meaning). The village of Dunmore East – locally known as just Dunmore – is tucked into the cliffs at the point where Waterford Harbour meets the Atlantic Ocean. Hailed in 1824 as "a delightful and fashionable watering place", it is also a thriving fishing village. It looks directly across the water to the tower on Hook Head in County Wexford, which is claimed to be the world's oldest operational lighthouse.

Ten miles to the west, the seaside resort of Tramore, home to 10,000 people, is County Waterford's second largest community. On the map, the broad expanse of Tramore Bay seems comfortably protected by the chunky Newtown Head to the west, and looming mass of Brownstown Head to the east. But cartography – including mariner's charts – can be deceptive. The surging, crashing waves that make Tramore one of Ireland's surfing centres are the product of very shallow water and – worse still – a coastline that is studded with inshore hidden reefs of jagged rocks. In 1816, a "transport" – the old word for a troopship – called the Seahorse was wrecked in the bay, on its way to Cork to deliver a detachment of British soldiers, some with wives and children. From the grim vantage point of the Tramore dunes, the local population watched helplessly as the ship broke up, close enough to the strand for them to hear the screams of the doomed passengers. Thirty of the men made it to safety by clinging to wreckage, but 364 people were lost. Remedial action was taken by the Admiralty, which wanted to avoid losing ships, supported by the insurance syndicate Lloyd's of London, which did not wish to pay for them. In 1823, five giant columns, resembling factory chimneys, were erected on the two headlands as a warning to shipping to keep clear. One of the three pillars on Newtown Head was crowned with a cast-iron statue of a sailor, clad in the red, white and blue uniform of Nelson's Navy. (He gets a fresh coat of paint every year.) Local folklore relates that, should passing sailors ignore his pointing finger, the Metal Man shouts: "Keep out, keep out, good ships from me, for I am the rock of misery". Unfortunately, he was silent on a wild winter night in 1932, when a wounded vessel narrowly escaped tragedy, with a young New Zealander at the heart of its dramatic story.

Erected in 1823, the Metal Man was said to shout warnings to shipping not to enter the treacherous waters of Tramore Bay. From the photographic collection of Waterford County Museum.  

The Great Depression of the nineteen-thirties had plunged the world economy into deep crisis. The 5,000 ton freighter Pauline had been laid up on the Clyde for two years, and her owners were ruthlessly determined to cut costs when she finally went to sea again in December 1932. The Greek and Arab crew were fine seamen, but they were hired as cheap labour and they had no experience of Irish waters. Only two of the fifty men on board could speak English. One of them was the radio operator, Alfred Bennett, the son of a lawyer from New Plymouth in Taranaki: his proud parents passed his letters to the local newspapers and – we may suspect – exaggerated his part in the drama that took place in Tramore Bay. Alfred Bennett had only recently travelled to Britain, and this was his first voyage as a radio operator. It was very nearly his last. The Pauline – "in a terrible state", so Bennett reported back home – was despatched from Glasgow to the coal port of Barry in south Wales, where it was to take on Welsh anthracite for delivery in Italy.

The owners provided just enough fuel and food for that first leg, with no reserves should problems arise. In fact, as the Pauline tried to swing around the Pembrokeshire and enter the Bristol Channel, she ran into an unusually severe easterly gale. With no cargo on board to function as ballast, the vessel was driven towards the coast of Ireland. Charts were consulted, and a decision taken to head for Hook Head lighthouse and seek safety in Waterford Harbour.  Unfortunately, the target was missed: the storm-tossed Pauline was riding so high that her propeller was half out of the water, making steering almost impossible. Eventually, the captain managed to coax his ship into what he innocently assumed to be the shelter of Tramore Bay, creeping in under the Metal Man and dropping anchor close to the shore. The crew were exhausted. They had run out of food and water. Most had not slept for 48 hours, several of the stokers had collapsed and the boilers had gone out, making it impossible to raise steam. The onboard electrical system had failed, leaving the rookie radio operator depending upon a hurricane lamp and a battery. In his first big test, Alfred Bennett tapped out a call for help. "We are at anchor off Tramore. No provisions or bunkers. How can we get same? Cannot keep up steam. Send lifeboat to our assistance as soon as possible."  

Sending a wireless message from Tramore Bay in 1932 was an exercise in optimism. Ireland was only slowly entering the age of electricity. The Free State had one radio station, which could hardly broadcast beyond Dublin. There was no rural power grid and, consequently, not much radio equipment. Alfred Bennett's desperate appeal was picked up by the British Navy at Fishguard in Wales, 120 kilometres to the east – far too remote to be of practical help. The Navy's reply was bleak. Bunkering – ship-to-ship transfer of coal, the maritime equivalent of in-flight refuelling – was impossible in such a hazardous location. "You are in the most dangerous position on the Irish coast. Get out as soon as you can. Good luck and God be with you." This was not encouraging.

As they awoke on a Sunday morning, the residents of Tramore were amazed at "the extraordinary spectacle" of so large a ship coming so close to land. "It is many years since any type of steamer entered the treacherous inlet", and everyone feared a second Seahorse tragedy. An urgent call was issued to the local lifeboat. In the nineteenth century, lifeboats had been rowed through towering seas to carry out rescues. Gradually, these were replaced by motorised vessels, which had a wider range. Hence it seemed to make sense to provide protection for this stretch of the Waterford coast from the calmer waters of Dunmore East, and the lifeboat station at Tramore had been closed a few years before.

When the Dunmore lifeboatmen reached the Pauline, they were horrified both by the condition of the crew and the location of the ship. Everyone aboard was exhausted and hungry. They also seemed unaware that there was barely two feet (60 cms) of water under the keel: a slight shift in wind or tide and, in the vivid expression of a local reporter, the Pauline would have been "speared" on hidden rocks. The first priority was obviously food, and the lifeboat sped back to Dunmore where an anxious crowd waited for news. Within fifteen minutes, essential supplies were volunteered – water, meat, seven dozen eggs (let's hope they were hard-boiled). In heaving seas, it was a challenge to transfer even this relatively small consignment of basic necessaries. However, on their return to the Pauline, the lifeboat crew encountered another problem. Because of the language barrier, seamen aboard the hapless vessel had not understood why their rescuers had turned round and headed back home. They were now in a state of panic, fearing that they would be abandoned to their fate. To calm them, two Dunmore men volunteered to go aboard the Pauline – one was a fisherman, the other the village postman – to play out a hybrid role, part liaison officers, part hostages. Theirs was a courageous gesture, for if the wind had veered round the ship would probably have foundered, and there was no certainty that anybody aboard could have survived. The lifeboat also stood by to add to the reassurance. Gradually some sense of normality was restored to the Pauline. The Dunmore volunteers helped to use the small remaining stock of coal and fire the boilers, and the lifeboatmen carefully coaxed and piloted the ship through the hazards of Tramore Bay and along the coast to safety in Waterford Harbour. It was a remarkable rescue, against all odds, for the Pauline was the only large ship to have entered Tramore Bay in living memory and lived to tell the tale. In New Plymouth, Alfred Bennett's proud parents told everyone that the radio operator had saved the ship and everybody aboard with his timely message calling for help. In reality, it was the quick and generous response of the people of Tramore and Dunmore East and, above all, the resourceful courage of the lifeboat crew that had avoided disaster.

A peaceful evening scene at Tramore Bay, taken at about the time the Pauline sought refuge in 1932. Its New Zealand radio operator received a message warning that the ship had chosen "the most dangerous position on the Irish coast". From the photographic collection of Waterford County Museum.

The nineteen-seventies were a time of new ideas. Traditional barriers to the role of women were broken. In 1964, Tramore's lifeboat station had reopened. By 1980, the cox was 20 year-old Grace O'Sullivan. She was also a lifeguard and succeeded in gate-crashing the alpha-male sport of surfing to become a national champion. It was a time when people were also becoming aware of environmental issues. Protected from the ocean by huge sand-dunes, a large tidal lagoon, the Tramore Backstrand, lies to the east of the town. Anyone familiar with this wilderness could easily appreciate that ecology was both interdependent and fragile. Grace O'Sullivan joined Greenpeace, the peaceful protest movement that confronted the ravages of humanity upon the natural world. With her lifeboat experience, she was an obvious recruit to its campaign vessel, a converted trawler called the Rainbow Warrior. In 1985, they took on a powerful adversary.

President François Mitterand was determined to assert his country's role as a great power. France, he insisted, needed to possess its own nuclear deterrent, and the bombs had to be tested to make sure they worked. The active Catholic missionaries of the eighteen-thirties had paved the way for French sovereignty over large areas of the South Pacific, a conveniently distant region – so Paris reckoned – in which to detonate nuclear weapons. Fearing radio-active fall-out, New Zealanders opposed the testing programme. Greenpeace decided to use Auckland as a base from which to sail the Rainbow Warrior into the test zone, in the hope of forcing the French to change their minds. The rest of the terrible story is well-known.

French Special Forces were infiltrated into New Zealand with orders to block the protest. Their trained frogmen could probably have sabotaged the ex-trawler's propeller, but France wanted to demonstrate that it could contemptuously crush its opponents. Hence the Rainbow Warrior had to be blown apart by underwater limpet mines. Grace O'Sullivan was on shore leave at the time of the attack, but one of her friends was killed. New Zealand police arrested two of the secret agents, although the actual murderers escaped. To guard against any commando-style rescue attempts, the two were detained in a high-security compound at Ardmore Airport, outside Auckland – another echo of Waterford on the New Zealand map – before they were tried and sent to prison. Later, as the result of a deal with the French government, they were sent home with a promise from Paris that they would serve the rest of their sentences. In fact, they were released and decorated for their contribution to la gloire. The attack on the Rainbow Warrior remains an appalling episode of State-sponsored terrorism, all the more arrogant by being carried out against a friendly country. It did not even stop Greenpeace: another vessel was acquired, and Grace O'Sullivan was one of those arrested for sailing into the nuclear test zone. Still an environmental campaigner, Grace O'Sullivan eventually returned to live in Tramore. In 2016, she was elected to the Seanad, the upper house of the Irish legislature. Three years later, she won a seat in the European Parliament. It was her upbringing in Tramore, she says, that made her "a lifelong nature-enthusiast and environmentalist, with a particular love of the sea". Alfred Bennett from New Plymouth nearly lost his life in Tramore Bay; Grace O'Sullivan might well have been murdered in Auckland Harbour.

John Hearn and Nicholas Hearn The contrasting stories of two emigrants from this corner of County Waterford are a reminder that life in New Zealand could be a lottery. In 1911, a local newspaper on the South Island's West Coast ran a respectful news item about the death of John Hearn, "an old and highly respected resident" of Hokitika. He had been born at Dunmore East in County Waterford in 1833, a piece of silent evidence that tells us that he was a teenager during the Famine of the eighteen-forties. It seems that he arrived in New Zealand around 1860, initially working as a miner on the goldfields. His brother followed in 1867, arriving in Christchurch with no idea where to find him. "Should this meet the eye of John Hearn, of the County of Waterford, communicate with his brother Edmond, just arrived per Blue Jacket," a newspaper advertisement pleaded.  (The Blue Jacket was a clipper, a sleek sailing ship, carrying emigrants outbound, but essentially in service on the New Zealand run to carry gold fast and securely back to Britain.) A niece is mentioned in John Hearn's obituary notice, so presumably the brothers duly made contact. Entrepreneurial miners often moved on to other jobs, and John Hearn became a builder. "Pioneers will remember the deceased as a contractor", wrote the Greymouth Evening Star, which called him "a man of upright character". The choice of words conveyed a careful meaning: thirty years earlier, John Hearn had been forced into bankruptcy. Early New Zealand was a huge start-up venture: some people succeeded, others crashed. Business failure was often down to bad luck: if they were honest, victims of such setbacks were not blamed for their misfortune. John Hearn's widow, Mary, died a few months later. She, too, was a native of Waterford, suggesting that they had emigrated as a young married couple.

Hearn is a characteristic local surname, hence it is unlikely that another contemporary Waterford migrant to New Zealand was a relative. Unlike his namesake, Nicholas Hearn was massively successful in his new country, so much so that his funeral procession, at Patea in 1904, was said to have been the largest ever seen in south Taranaki. He was born, just before the Famine, at Annestown, a tiny coastal settlement ten kilometres west of Tramore, that probably owes it origin (and almost certainly its name) to the eighteenth century, when gentry from the inland counties built holiday homes here.  At the age of eighteen, in 1860, Nicholas Hearn headed for New Zealand. In 1873, we hear of him in the South Island town of Timaru, and associated with another young Irishman, John Kennedy, who was also from County Waterford.  Whether they had come out together or met up in the colony is not known, but they were not only lifelong friends but became brothers-in-law, marrying sisters Bridget and Mary Norton from County Galway at a double wedding that year. By 1881, they had moved to the North Island, and were partners in a series of farming ventures in Taranaki.

Once again, the Waterford-New Zealand story intersects with the darker history of Māori- Pākehā relations. Even after the New Zealand Wars, Taranaki tribes continued to offer dogged resistance to European penetration of their lands. 1881 saw one of the greatest tragedies of New Zealand history, the destruction of Parihaka, a commune established by dispossessed Māori, inspired by the pacifist teachings of the prophets Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi. Although the two spiritual leaders fell out, Parihaka was a remarkable community, which foreshadowed both Gandhi's campaign of non-violence in India and the Israeli kibbutz. The New Zealand government saw its very existence as a challenge to Pākehā authority and, in 1881, the authorities sent in 1,600 colonial militiamen: in keeping with their rejection of violence, the Parihaka people watched with contempt as the soldiers wrecked the settlement. Nicholas Hearn was not involved in the continuing process of the seizure of land from its indigenous owners, but there can be little doubt that he and Kennedy moved to Taranaki to become indirect beneficiaries.

They were also, so it seems, the accidental victims of a land scam based on a forgery carried out almost a decade before they began to cultivate a 395-acre (160 hectares) block within sight of the district's imposing dormant volcano, the snow-capped Mount Egmont (now Mount Taranaki). In 1882, local Māori sued Hearn and Kennedy for recovery of the land, claiming that a transfer of ownership in 1872 had been based upon the X-signature of a vendor who had died three years earlier. The case was sufficiently murky for a local settler to be charged with perjury, which he denied, and pleas and appeals dragged on for two years before Hearn and Kennedy were apparently evicted. Fortunately for the Waterford duo, they were building up other holdings around Patea: in December 1883, they had 800 acres (325 hectares) planted with a flourishing crop of oats. Nicholas Hearn and James Kennedy worked hard, but there is little doubt that the land they acquired had recently belonged to New Zealand's original inhabitants. One obituary praised Hearn for creating a "fine property" from a "wilderness" – Pākehā-speak for land that had been owned by Māori, whose failure to make use of it undermined their moral claims to ownership.

The brothers-in-law established their growing families on a property at Moumahaki, about twenty kilometres east of the town of Patea. A previous owner had named the place "Buenos Ayres" in honour of its gentle climate, although a travel writer complained that "it seems to blow and rain at all times and from all points of the compass". Nonetheless, the property's "fertile soil and invigorating atmosphere" encouraged Hearn and Kennedy to undertake successful "agricultural, horticultural, and floricultural pursuits" in a flourishing enterprise. The two "benevolent gentlemen" supported their own school – a reasonable enough gesture since they were fathering most of the pupils, an expanding cousinhood which grew up in adjoining family homes.

Like most Irish people, Hearn and Kennedy were keen on horses, and New Zealand gave them the wealth to indulge their passion in ways that they could never have afforded in the peasant-farming world of Waterford. They operated their own stud, importing thoroughbred stallions to improve Taranaki bloodstocks. They also donned green jackets and joined the local hunt to chase hares. Their horses competed at race meetings, popular with punters "because they were always out to win". In November 1895, disaster struck when fire reduced their racing stables to ashes, killing six horses, one of them, Tramore, named in honour of their Waterford heritage. Damage was estimated at £1,000 (almost €200,000 in 2023 values) and there was no insurance cover. The tragedy provides a glimpse of an aspect of New Zealand life that the image-makers preferred to ignore. Alongside the official portrait of the happy homesteads peopled by the more successful migrants, there existed a shadow world of shiftless vagrants, mostly single men who tramped the rural districts seeking temporary work and basic charity. Arson was suspected as the cause of the stables fire, and suspicion fell upon an itinerant Irishman who had been seeking the Hearn and Kennedy property the previous day. The description was so precise – aged "about 26", 5 feet 9 inches (175 cms) tall, short hair, sandy moustache, tweed suit, felt hat – that the suspect must surely have been spotted, and presumably was exonerated, since no more was heard of the arson allegation. It was understandable that an Irishman down on his luck might look for a favour from more fortunate fellow countrymen. Nicholas Hearn was described as "good-natured to a fault", "a genial, open-hearted friend, who ever had a cheery greeting, and never hesitated to do a kind action". However, there may have been limits even to his sense of Hibernian solidarity, for we must assume that the sandy-whiskered hobo was sent on his way, perhaps muttering self-incriminating threats of vengeance.

Unfortunately, for Nicholas Hearn, wealth did not buy health. By the time he reached his mid-forties, he was suffering from "rheumatism" – probably, from contemporary reports, rheumatoid arthritis, which causes painful swellings in the joints. Now incapable of riding to hounds, early in 1904 he undertook a six-week convalescence at Rotorua, in the central North Island, where the celebrated volcanic hot springs supported a health resort which provided treatment for assorted afflictions. Nicholas Hearn returned home in great spirits. "He said he had never felt better in his life, and that the trip had done wonders for him." However, the return journey had been tiring, so he lay down for a rest – and suffered a heart attack. Within hours he was dead, aged just 59. A funeral sermon emphasised Nicholas Hearn's commitment to his Catholic faith: "there were very few churches in the North Island which were not indebted to his generosity". Of the five local priests in attendance at the graveside, at least two were from County Waterford. Was this mere coincidence?

Bunmahon and the Copper Coast The 25 kilometres of rugged coastline west of Tramore forms the Copper Coast UNESCO Global Geopark. The Visitor Centre commemorates the mining industry whose ruined buildings dominate some parts of the landscape. (It is located in the former Church of Ireland at Bunmahon, a district where Protestants were scarce: Edith Collier reported attending church there herself, and finding a congregation of sixteen people.) Until the nineteen-twenties, Bunmahon was generally known as Bonmahon: in a jovial spirit of compromise, the village greets travellers with two signs, one for each version of the spelling. The most important New Zealand connection is the painter Edith Collier, who came here in 1914 and 1915: her home was in Wanganui, which is now spelt Whanganui, creating toponymic instability at both ends of the connection. But to understand how an artists' colony almost took root in early twentieth-century Bunmahon, we have to go back into the history of copper mining in this district – a saga that reveals an earlier, and more tragic, connection with New Zealand.

Although copper mining had begun locally in the eighteen-twenties, the major installation at Tankardstown only came into production around 1850: its ruins still dominate the cliffs two kilometres east of Bunmahon. One of the mine managers was Stephen Richards who, in later years, was referred to as Captain Richards: his name does not appear in the British Army Lists, which suggests that he had served in the Volunteer movement that had sprung up across Britain and Ireland in 1859. In 1865, the Tankardstown mine entered a decade of crisis, caused by a combination of declining quality of the ore that it produced and a fall in world mineral prices. (There is an excellent study of the problems by the Waterford historian Des Cowman on https://www.mhti.org/uploads/2/3/6/6/23664026/a_history_of_tankardstown_mine_1850-c.1875._cowman_d.__2005_.pdf). These problems probably explain the decision by Stephen Richards to emigrate to Australia, where in 1867 he was appointed manager of a copper mine near Lake George in New South Wales, with the glowing endorsement that he was "a gentleman of large mining experience". In 1871, he crossed the Tasman Sea to take on the challenge of running the Caledonian gold mine near the North Island town of Thames.

The industrial ruin of Tankardstown copper mine, painted by Edith Collier, probably in 1914. Collection of the Edith Collier Trust, in the permanent care of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui.

The gold rush on the Coromandel peninsula had begun in 1868, and an exceptionally rich patch was located in the Caledonian mine in January 1871. The problem that Richards faced was theft, to which his predecessor had turned a blind eye. Miners took their billy cans underground to supply themselves with refreshment while they worked – and brought them to the surface filled with stolen nuggets. The Caledonian needed somebody who could combine mining experience with military discipline. However, when Richards tightened pithead security, his employees took to hiding packages of loot in the network of tunnels, to be recovered at some quieter time. Workplace relations were fraught throughout the New Zealand summer of 1871-2. Richards prosecuted two miners for theft, but a goldfields jury refused to convict them. The judge gave his opinion of the verdict by sternly warning the accused "to turn their hands to honest industry". Richards reacted to this setback by instituting strip searches of the miners as they came off their shifts. They refused to cooperate, went on strike and were dismissed. The confrontation came at an awkward moment, when Captain Richards was trying to sink a new shaft and badly needed workers. It was at about this time that a young Irishman came to him, looking for a job.

John Lawlor had been born about 1845 in the attractive village of Stradbally, about seven miles (11 kilometres) west of Bunmahon. It was almost certainly the Famine that had driven his family to the mines, where several of his relatives had worked underground at Tankardstown. However, young John had run away to sea, which explained how he had ended up in New Zealand. He was probably illiterate, for he had lost contact with his family in Ireland, and it was Richards who put him back in touch. The manager evidently recalled the Lawlors as reliable workers, while John himself was a member of the Odd Fellows, a fraternal order that provided medical assistance to its subscribers. This indicated that he was trustworthy, and could be relied upon not to steal smuggled nuggets. If he did not have any direct mining experience himself, his family background would at least have given him some sense of the need to follow safety procedures underground.

The rest of the tale is short and sad. At the end of July 1872, a few months into the job, John Lawlor was part of a team driving a new tunnel deeper into the workings. Excavated fragments from the rock face – miners called the spoil "mullock" – had to be shovelled back to the base of the shaft, whence they could be hauled up and dumped. John Lawlor dropped back a few metres behind the others to dig into the spoil heap. At that moment, about a ton of rock split from the side wall and hurled him against a timber pit-prop. His mates quickly scrabbled him free and he was carried to the surface. A medical examination established that he had broken very few bones, but it was obvious that he had sustained catastrophic internal injuries. John Lawlor died, in agony, a few hours later. An inquest concluded that he was the victim of a freak accident. Perhaps inexperience had led him to clang his shovel and so trigger the lethal rock fall. Life in New Zealand was a lottery.

On the Waterford coast, copper mining struggled on for a few years, but in 1879 Tankardstown closed and its equipment was sold for scrap. The Waterford industry could not compete with cheaper, better quality ore imported from the United States, whither many of the miners emigrated. Never exactly prosperous, Bunmahon now became a poverty-stricken backwater. With no harbour, large-scale fishing was impossible. Since Victorians did not care for industrial archaeology, the blighted landscape ruled out any real holiday trade. In 1906, a belated attempt was made to reopen the mines, but the fanfare of publicity was never paralleled by the investment in equipment that would have been required to make the project a success. A failed action for defamation against a financial journalist who called the project "a huge Hibernian joke" did nothing to help raise capital. As the Waterford historian Des Cowman sagely remarked, the scheme proved that there is "a narrow boundary between wilful self-delusion and skilful misrepresentation". The new company was bankrupt within four years, and by 1912, local people were brazenly stripping Tankardstown of anything useful. Two years later, a self-confident Australian woman arrived in the village hoping to establish an artists' colony. At some point during 1914-15, there were 21 female students attending a Bunmahon summer school.

Like Bunmahon itself, Margaret Rose Macpherson was known by more than one name. In her native Adelaide, she was Miss Rose Macpherson. Later she married, and is remembered in Australian cultural history as Margaret Preston. Like their contemporary, the English artist (Dora) Carrington, she and her feminist circle preferred to use only their surnames: hence her companion, Gladys Reynell (later a noted potter) and their gifted New Zealand pupil Edith Collier were Reynell and Collier. A brilliant teacher who had lived in Paris and was abreast of the latest developments in the art world, Macpherson was a friend of the Irish artist, William Orpen, and had recently negotiated the purchase of one of his paintings on behalf of Adelaide's art gallery. Orpen taught at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, but was increasingly spending time in London. It seems likely that, in effect, he farmed out his female students to Rose Macpherson. Bunmahon may have been chosen because of support from the Osborne family, County Waterford gentry who owned most of the village: the local people who provided the most active support – such as accommodation and models – worked for the Osbornes. Edith Collier herself lodged at a cottage in Osborne Terrace.

Edith Collier was forgotten in New Zealand until her work was rescued in an elegant biography, by Joanne Drayton, published in 1999. (Quotations in this section are mostly taken from Dr Drayton's Edith Collier: her Life and Work 1885-1964.)  Collier's art work now forms an honoured part of the collection of the Sarjeant Gallery in her home city of Whanganui, and is extensively illustrated on its excellent website: https://collection.sarjeant.org.nz/explore. Edith Collier was also remembered in Bunmahon, which commemorated the centenary of her connection with the village. YouTube has a charming 26-minute video of a walking tour, filmed in 2015, led by Jim Cullinan (whose mother was one of Collier's child models) and Orlaith Hamersley, whose illustrated publication, Edith Collier's Bunmahon, is regrettably out of print in 2023. Edith Collier's pictures are spliced into the video at around 9 minutes, and again from 15 to 20 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkwP0xt7jg4.

More about Edith Collier To understand the opportunities and the setbacks in the life of this long-neglected New Zealand artist, we need to focus upon her father, Henry Collier, a man whom it is a pleasure to dislike. A migrant from Manchester, he became very wealthy in New Zealand by investing in farmland. Shortly after Edith's birth in 1885 – she would be the first of nine children – Henry Collier travelled back to Britain for a year to study music. A decade later, he once again abandoned his family to spend more than three years attempting to manufacture a patent bicycle gear back in Manchester. While these absences had the effect of stretching out the arrival of Edith's younger siblings, they also made clear that Henry Collier regarded his family as a minor adjunct to his own ego.

Of course, it can be argued that this harsh judgment is undermined by Henry Collier's decision to allow Edith to travel to Britain at the age of 27 to study art. In reality, he was simply demonstrating that he had acquired the wealth – through investments in land – to send his eldest daughter overseas. Her family did not see Edith's talent for painting and drawing as opening up some new gender role. Rather, art school in London would provide a ladylike enhancement of a young woman's traditional destiny, and an element of insurance against the hazards of marriage and motherhood. Her indulgent Aunt Annie revealed highly conservative reasons for approving Edith's ambition to become independent. "You might be left a widow with a family to provide for (of course you will be getting Married) and then you could take up your old work again." (In London in 1917, a family friend "asked me the ever interesting topic to some people are you engaged Edith[?]". Directed to someone who had earlier sardonically suggested that Whanganui enact a bylaw that "men should not be allowed out at night", the question was optimistic.)  Edith Collier might be travelling 19,000 kilometres around the world, but she remained on the end of a very long string, anchored to Henry Collier's bank account. Funding his daughter to study art in London was a form of parental potlatch, an exercise in flamboyant expenditure to prove to his neighbours in Whanganui that he had the cash to spare. Eventually, in 1922, the snare was tightened and Edith was hauled back to New Zealand. By that time, her art had evolved under the modernist influences fermenting in Europe, creative trends that stimulated uncomprehending and hostile reactions in her homeland. Four years later, her contribution to a local exhibition came under sustained criticism in a Whanganui newspaper. According to an anonymous journalist, Edith's "work suffers from a slavish imitation of a prevailing fad .... it is a pity that she goes out of her way to distort nature under a mistaken idea that this is the way to display originality". A decent father would have dismissed the sneers as the product of a small-town small mind. But Henry Collier shared that mentality, and felt disgraced by his trophy daughter. Asserting his right of ownership over her, he waited until Edith was out shopping, grabbed armfuls of paintings from her studio and burned them.

Mostly he targeted female nudes ("disgoostin'", he called them, in his Lancashire accent). Nudity was not a feature of New Zealand colonial life (and there were no nude models available in County Waterford either). Edith had confessed that she felt "very shaky" during her first life class, and much relieved that male and female students were segregated when they sketched the human body. However, in the later phase of her time in Britain, she painted a number of female nudes, some sad, some elfin, only a handful of which survived Henry Collier's bonfire.  Thanks to his appalling vandalism, we simply do not know which subjects attracted her in her Bunmahon days. For instance, there are few seascapes and, apparently, no pictures of animals – and this despite the fact that Waterford is "horsey" country, and one of the more prosperous villagers maintained a stud on a nearby farm. Maybe some of Edith Collier's Irish paintings were destroyed by her awful father. It is only fair to add that, by the late nineteen-thirties, artistic taste in New Zealand had moved forward, and her work was appreciated, sometimes in extravagant terms – "unobtrusive and yet so gripping" as the Wanganui Chronicle put it, in a belated act of justice in 1943. In later years – she survived until 1964 – Edith Collier painted from time to time, in bursts of activity, but she never fully recovered from the humiliation inflicted upon her by her father. Throughout her life, she was the victim of what might be called Eldest Daughter Syndrome, assumed to be the first-choice carer for ageing relatives, nursing Henry himself, her mother and Aunt Annie who had mapped out her path to marriage, while it was also taken for granted that she was the readily available child-minder for 37 nieces and nephews. When one of her landscapes was selected in 1938 for an exhibition in New York, a friendly journalist described her as "so very modest and retiring". It is more likely that her confidence had been destroyed, and much of her artistic spirit crushed. "Wanganui feels very proud of Miss Collier's success", that report concluded, and Whanganui certainly owed her a debt of appreciation.

The decision to send Edith Collier to London in 1913 rested upon two assumptions, both of which soon crumbled. The first was that she would be away for no more than two or three years. In the event, the First World War – and, in particular, the German U-boat campaign – made civilian travel impossible, and hence she stayed in Britain for almost a decade. During the War, she provided support for three of her brothers who joined the Army and came to Britain. In fairness to her parents, it should be acknowledged that their soldiering added to family financial pressures: "although they get their pay from Government it doesn't seem sufficient to keep a Collier going", their mother lamented. Edith seems to have made her own bid for freedom by studying for a teaching qualification, which would have enabled her to support herself by working in girls' private schools. Unfortunately, she failed "Theory of Teaching" and "Practical Class Teaching", which fairly conclusively pointed to some other career.

The second assumption underlying the decision to study in Britain was that it would provide Edith with a superior training than was available in New Zealand. While true, in reality this was not saying a great deal. The official London art scene was complacently resistant to new trends in painting. No French impressionists were displayed in the National Gallery. The more recently established Tate, mandated to collect modern British art, was controlled by a cartel of established painters who are now largely forgotten. These were the men who controlled the selection of works for the prestigious exhibitions of the Royal Academy, and Edith quickly realised that, as an outsider, she had no hope of breaking in: "it is only humouring some old bug and doing a pretty picture". She found that the St John's Wood Art School where she was enrolled (it was round the corner from Lord's cricket ground) was "old-fashioned ... very nice teachers, but it is really a bit out of date". She transferred to Rose Macpherson (at five shillings a lesson), and accompanied her to Ireland. In 1914 and 1915, Collier was mainly learning about the technique of painting from Macpherson, and was not yet influenced by her modernist style. In those years, she still expected to make an early return to New Zealand, where she was only likely to sell pictures if they were conventional representations suitable for the living rooms of Wellington and Whanganui. As the First World War intensified and marooned her in Britain, so her ideas about painting became more radical.

"Never enjoyed myself anyw[h]ere like Ireland", was Edith Collier's comment on her two visits to Bunmahon. Yet she was well aware that life was a struggle for the local people. Moved by her descriptions of ragged children, her family sent a parcel of clothing from Whanganui. No doubt fearing that her friend's good nature might be exploited, the masterful Rose Macpherson took charge of its distribution. "We have tried to give the clothes to the orphans as much as possible", she reported to Edith's parents. There was "almost inconceivable poverty" in the village. "A family of 9 is the ordinary course of events ... how they feed them I don't know." (This was hardly a tactful comment to the Colliers, who had also stopped breeding just short of double figures, although they at least had the cash to support their brood.) Poor housing conditions caused rampant tuberculosis. In fact, in 1913, the parish priest had demanded action to deal with recurrent outbreaks of diseases such as scarlatina, measles, whooping cough and diphtheria, underlining his plea with the complaint that "this state of things had been going on for a number of years". The visitors from the Antipodes were perhaps not told about this.

Bunmahon's village street, painted by Edith Collier, probably in 1914. Collection of the Edith Collier Trust, in the permanent care of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui.

During her relatively brief 1914 visit, Edith Collier lodged in a cottage in Bunmahon's old main street, using a vantage point behind the building to paint a general view of the village. In 1915, she boarded with the Reidy family in Osborne Terrace, a nondescript street more typical of an industrial town that had been built by the landlord family for the long-departed miners. Edith Collier tactfully disguised the name in her painting of "Grannie O'Ready's Kitchen", but she showed hens pecking at the beaten earth floor. A 1938 account of her visit added pigs to the indoor amenities, although this may have been a stereotypical exaggeration. Edith's bedroom was in the attic, accessed by a ladder which was removed after she had gone to bed. As Jim Cullinan remarked, there was not much chance of en suite facilities.

"Grannie O'Ready's Kitchen". Edith Collier lodged with the Reidy family in 1915: their daughter Bridie worked for the landlord family, the Osbornes. Beaten earth floors survived in a few cottage kitchens until relatively recent times. The Reidys probably allowed chickens to peck at scraps, but a later claim that pigs were kept in the kitchen may have reflected a negative stereotype of Irish life. The interior gloom is faithful to the subject, but it is difficult to distinguish objects. There appears to be a religious statuette on the table to the left.  Collection of the Edith Collier Trust, in the permanent care of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui.  

Ireland's 1911 census reveals that almost everybody in Bunmahon had been born locally. However, the intermediaries between the artists and the local community were themselves outsiders to the village ("blow-ins" as they are known) who had connections with the Osbornes. Ellen ("Grannie") Reidy was from County Limerick, married to a retired policeman from County Clare. Their daughter, Bridie (Bridget), who was in her thirties, had described herself in the 1911 census return as "book keeper", but she was remembered as the Osbornes' rent collector. Bridie kept in touch after Edith's return to London, in March 1917 mailing a sprig of shamrock so that the New Zealander might celebrate St Patrick's Day. (Edith was proud to make the identification with Ireland: "I wish they could get some settlement about Home Rule," she told her mother.) Also fairly recent arrivals in Bunmahon – they had been in the village about seventeen years – were Thomas Porter, from County Galway, and his wife, Sligo woman Kate. He was the Osbornes' land agent, and the couple supplied their eight-year old daughter Beatrice as a model for "Girl in the Sunshine".

Beatrice Porter, daughter of the Osbornes' land agent, was the model for "Girl in the Sunshine". According to local tradition. Edith Collier sketched Beatrice in her Osborne Terrace studio, and then transposed the image into the woodland scene. Beatrice was 8 in 1915. Collection of the Edith Collier Trust, in the permanent care of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui.      

The two principal local businesses also got behind the artists' colony project. James Kirwan was both shopkeeper and publican, who also owned a nearby farm where he bred horses. Their ten-year old daughter, Cissie (Mary Cecilia), was another of Edith Collier's models, demonstrating perhaps a hint of puzzled resentment in "A Serious Maiden".

Cissie Kirwan, aged 10, stares suspiciously at Edith Collier. The daughter of a Bunmahon shopkeeper, she could hardly have expected to become an artist's model. Collection of the Edith Collier Trust, in the permanent care of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui.

Richard Watts was a successful dairy farmer and manager of the local creamery. His wife May – they were one of the few Protestant families in the district – encouraged Edith to return after her first visit.  "Poor little Bonmahon is very lovely now" she wrote in October 1914, "... you would love to see the autumn tints". Through these supportive intermediaries, the visitors were able to recruit more local models, especially elderly folk whose weather-beaten faces offered intriguing scope for interpretation. (In 1927, during one of her brief attempts to resume artistic activity, Edith Collier painted several Māori subjects, in a spirit that some will consider sympathetic, others patronising. The Serjeant Gallery website makes it possible to compare these interpretations with her portraits of Irish country people.)

Edith Collier was certainly welcomed on her return in 1915. "All the old souls here came up & shook your [i.e. 'my'] hand & said welcome back to old Ireland." Bunmahon, she reported, was "a grand place for painting. Models of all sorts, seascapes, and landscape without going far."  Thanks to the Sarjeant Gallery's excellent website (https://collection.sarjeant.org.nz/explore , search for "Edith Collier Bonmahon", taking care to use the bon- spelling), it is possible to follow in her footsteps around the village. "Village by the Sea" and "Down in the Village" are panoramas of the thatched cottages in the main street, both notable for their lack of human figures. (Many of the buildings survive, but mostly nowadays with slate roofs.) While we cannot know how much of Edith's Irish work was destroyed in Henry Collier's pyrotechnics, she seems to have taken little interest in seascapes. "Rocks of Bonmahon, Ireland" is conventional: the craggy Copper Coast could hardly disappoint. Bunmahon's tiny beach disappears into mist in "A Grey Day on the Irish Coast".

"A grey day on the Irish coast". Collection of the Edith Collier Trust, in the permanent care of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui.

In 1914, at least, Edith Collier was more interested in the chunky fragility of local buildings: "everything in Ireland is falling down." To capture their outlines, she experimented with different mediums, such as mixing charcoal and watercolour, but when she attempted to telescope perspective – probably in "A Thatch by the Stream" – the feedback from Whanganui signalled disappointed puzzlement: was the background a vertical hill or a horizontal field, "will you explain next letter[?]".

"A Thatch by the Stream" may have been the picture that did not go down well with Edith Collier's parents. In 1915, Whanganui liked paintings to be accurate representations, not experiments with abstract shapes. A century later, critics may perhaps feel that the artist flattered her subject: very few Bunmahon cottages could have been so smart.  Collection of the Edith Collier Trust, in the permanent care of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui.

One painting that remains enigmatic is "Hilltop Fence Line", a view of a straggling wire fence, buffeted by gales and dominated by a vast vault of cloudy sky. Introduced into New Zealand in 1879, barbed wire had a major impact upon farming. It became possible to run sheep in scrub country that was not easily accessible to the boundary riders who checked for damage to traditional post-and-rail fences. The use of barbed wire had spread rapidly during Edith Collier's childhood, so that rural areas were criss-crossed with long, neat, taut wire fences. Viewed in 1914, the sagging and neglected boundary markers of County Waterford would have struck Edith Collier as quaint and quintessentially Irish. But if the painting dates from 1915, the symbolism of barbed wire would have radically changed. It was becoming the symbol of the futility of trench warfare, with the bodies of brave men impaled in No Man's Land where they could not be safely rescued for honourable burial. "Hilltop Fence Line" may seem a simple picture, but the ambiguity in its dating raises in sharp form the question of how far the viewer is involved – even complicit – in defining the meaning and message of an artist's work.

If painted in 1914, this view of an insecure barbed-wire fence perhaps represents an ironic comment on Ireland by an artist from a land of regimented paddocks. But if it dates from 1915, it may echo the barbed wire of the Western Front, hammered by artillery and lethal to attacking infantry. Collection of the Edith Collier Trust, in the permanent care of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui.

There can be little doubt that Edith Collier returned to Ireland in 1915 hoping to distance herself from the War. It soon became obvious that there was no escape. On 25 April, Allied troops landed at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles. Over the next few weeks, news would have reached Bunmahon that Australian and New Zealand soldiers – eventually around 20,000 of them – formed a large part of the invasion force, along with one thousand men from the Royal Munster Fusiliers, a local regiment that many Waterford men had joined. Visitors and villagers alike would have anxiously scanned the growing casualty lists. "Over here the people seem to talk and worry about the war far more than they do in London," Edith Collier commented in mid-May. One reason for this was that they had a ringside seat for a new and terrible form of warfare, the German U-boat campaign. Some of the incidents were minor, as when a German submarine surfaced next to a fishing boat and seized its catch. But merchant ships were also being torpedoed, and there were rumours of U-boat sightings close to the shore. On 7 May occurred one of the landmark tragedies of the War.

Off the County Cork coast, about 100 kilometres west of Bunmahon, the giant liner Lusitania was sunk without warning, and 1,198 passengers and crew lost their lives. To Edith Collier, the destruction of the ship was "ghastly". Bunmahon coastguard station received a signal from the Royal Navy: "No member of the public is permitted to sketch or take photographs on the coast." For Edith Collier, who was by now focused on portraiture, the prohibition was a minor nuisance, but it proved fatal to the project of establishing an artists' colony at Bunmahon. Rose Macpherson's students drifted away and, sometime during the autumn, Edith Collier returned with her to London. She kept in contact with her Irish friends, and considered returning to the village in 1917. However, by then, the political atmosphere had changed, and Ireland ceased to be a welcoming place. After her return to New Zealand in 1922, she lost touch with her Waterford friends. Nonetheless, when her biographer, Dr Joanne Drayton, arrived in the village almost a century later, she was pleasantly surprised to encounter lingering but warm traditions of Edith Collier's association with Bunmahon. In the twenty-first century, the memory of this unlikely artistic visitor from the other side of the world has been revived on the Copper Coast.

"The Rocks of Bonmahon". The sinking of the Lusitania off the south coast of Ireland in May 1915 led to a security ban on the sketching and painting of coastal scenes.  Collection of the Edith Collier Trust, in the permanent care of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui.

Dungarvan, Kilgobnet and the Colligan Woods  Dungarvan's New Zealand connections are about cycling, cider and – above all – priests. The County Museum, small, friendly and free, displays a silver claret jug awarded to a local man in 1877 after his victory in a five-mile cycle race at New Ross in County Wexford. He was Richard Hudson, vice-president of the Dungarvan Ramblers Bicycle Club, which had been founded in 1869 and is claimed to be one of the oldest in the world. The modern light-weight steel safety bicycle had not yet been developed, and the Ramblers rode on a prototype called the "improved boneshaker": five miles (eight kilometres) at high speed on rough roads would have demanded a high standard of fitness.

Born in 1860, Richard Hudson was a member of Dungarvan's most powerful Protestant families, who produced the magistrates and officials responsible for upholding law and order in a sometimes turbulent Ireland. It was entirely in character that he spent some years serving as a Captain in the British Army, but his marriage to Ellen Redmond smashed through the conventions. The Redmonds were also members of the local elite, but they were Catholics. Ellen's devout mother was a niece of Daniel O'Connell, "the Liberator", who had led the country's first mass nationalist movement, forcing the British government to allow Catholics to sit in the Westminster parliament. Mixed marriages were unusual and disapproved of by both communities. Their scandalous romance probably helps to explain why the couple left the country, Hudson becoming a tea planter in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In 1908, by now a widower, he moved on to New Zealand, settling in the province of Nelson where he switched to fruit growing. In Ceylon, he had led the tea planters in a successful campaign to establish a government marketing board. He soon applied his organisational skills in his new career, quickly becoming president of the local fruit-growers' association. In 1914, he was elected as the Reform (Conservative) Party MP for Motueka, a constituency at the northern tip of the South Island. He was said to be the first candidate in a New Zealand election to be selected by a popular convention, composed of delegates from across the whole electorate. "For a man who has been a fruit-grower only for five or years, this is a record that speaks for itself", commented one newspaper, which confidently predicted a notable parliamentary career. An MP for fourteen years, Hudson was personally popular, but in 1928 he was the victim of a swing against the Reform Party government and lost his seat.

With only 80 MPs in the New Zealand parliament, a government supporter had roughly a one-in-three chance of getting into the cabinet and, of course, turnover of ministers meant that the odds shortened over the years. There is something of a mystery about Hudson's failure to become a cabinet minister. The death of his son in the First World War was a major blow and he suffered some bouts of poor health (although he lived to be 93). Nonetheless, when there was a ministerial vacancy in 1923, the Nelson Evening Mail pressed Hudson's case, while hinting that he was too modest to do so himself. "He is essentially level-headed and practical, and his judgment is characteristically sound." More to the point, it was "many years" since the area had been represented in the cabinet. This complaint probably explains why Hudson was passed over. New Zealand prime ministers needed to balance regions and interest groups when they constructed their ministries. The Reform Party leader, William Ferguson Massey, was himself an Irish Protestant (indeed, something of a sectarian agitator), while population – and hence political power – was moving to the North Island. (The town of Dungarvan, it should be said, has not had a great record in producing cabinet ministers in Irish politics either.) 

After his defeat in 1928, Hudson and his second wife moved back to Ceylon, but they ultimately returned to New Zealand, where he died in 1953. Maybe it is appropriate that he should be remembered in Dungarvan for his exploits a century and half ago on the improved boneshaker, for the town is now the western terminus of the Waterford Greenway, a 46-kilometre cycle route along a former railway track. The Greenway, of course, is part of a global trend towards off-road cycle paths. Thomas Quealy was a Dungarvan man and an early university graduate, in engineering. Born in 1852, he emigrated to New Zealand in his late twenties. He was put in charge of constructing a branch railway line from the college town of Lincoln, on the Canterbury Plains, to the coast at Birdlings Flat. It is hard to see how even the most ambitious transport planner could have hoped that there would be much traffic between Lincoln and Birdlings Flat, and the track now forms part of a trail for walkers and cyclists.

The County Museum has several displays related to emigration, including a list of thirteen local people who were known to have emigrated to New Zealand between 1862 and 1876. Although their subsequent careers have not been traced, there are noticeable patterns suggesting that members of the same family followed one another over the years. This phenomenon, called chain migration, is well-known to historians: Dungarvan would add its own twist, the chain migration of priests.

Also featured in the County Museum is Thomas Power's cider factory, with photographs of apple mountains that are a reminder that Richard Hudson was no stranger to fruit farming when he arrived in New Zealand. Thomas Power was a popular figure, the chief local entrepreneur and for many years chairman of Waterford County Council, which had its headquarters in the town. "His house at Dungarvan was always open to people from New Zealand". Why did a cider manufacturer in a small Irish town welcome visitors from so far away?

His cider factory made Thomas Power one of Dungarvan's leading citizens.  His brother was parish priest at Hawera on the North Island and Thomas welcomed visitors from New Zealand. From the photographic collection of Waterford County Museum.

The particular Waterford connection had its origins in a dynamic personality from County Wicklow, Patrick Moran, the Catholic bishop of Dunedin. Moran was believed to have been the youngest bishop in the Church of Rome when he was first appointed and sent to South Africa in 1856. He was transferred to New Zealand thirteen years later, with responsibility to create a stable Catholic community out of the rootless backwash of adventurers who had arrived in gold-rush days. He founded a high quality weekly newspaper, the New Zealand Tablet, whose vigorous news reports from Ireland can be read in the Magazines section of the PapersPast website. He placed particular emphasis upon the establishment of schools, importing the Christian Brothers who would leave their mark upon generations of Kiwi lads. (Their founder, the Blessed Edmund Rice, was a Waterford man, and the Christian Brothers commemorate their New Zealand connection in displays which honour him at the Mount Sion school in the city.)

To understand what brought Bishop Moran to Waterford in 1881, we need to delve a little into the internal rivalries of the Catholic Church. As already noted, the Church's first missionaries in New Zealand were French: it had been their activity that had pushed the British government to send William Hobson out to take control of the country. When Patrick Moran arrived in Dunedin, he found that most of his priests were French, members of the Marist order, trained to convert the Māori but awkwardly diverted to ministering to the Irish. Perhaps unfairly, the new bishop regarded them as organisational and spiritual failures – the first shortcoming being almost worse than the second. However, not content with wishing to get rid of the French, he was also temperamentally inclined to take on the English. In the nineteenth century, Protestant Britain and Catholic Rome conducted diplomatic relations at arms' length, each seeking to avoid conflict with the other while taking care not to say so openly. The Church tacitly recognised that the bishops appointed to New Zealand should not all be Irish. Of course, there were exceptions: Moran himself in Dunedin, while Thomas Croke was appointed to Auckland in 1870, but quickly recalled to become Archbishop of Cashel (and first patron of the Gaelic Athletic Association, who named their Dublin stadium in his memory). Precisely because English bishops were appointed to other New Zealand dioceses, Moran was determined that Dunedin should have a distinctively Irish identity. The irony was that his diocese comprised the provinces of Otago and Southland, settlements founded by the Presbyterian Free Church of Scotland, the staunchest of Calvinist Protestants. Moran planned to give the region a second identity, Irish and Catholic. But to realise that vision, he needed priests, and they had to come from Ireland.

Monsignor William Burke and the Dungarvan priests  Bishop Moran's appearance in Waterford turned the world upside down for a brilliant young man from Dungarvan. Born in 1856, William Burke had sailed through his studies for the priesthood at the diocesan college in Waterford City. Quite simply, he was a once-in-a-generation student, who effortlessly beat his 76 classmates at every subject. He was no retiring bookworm, but a larger-than-life personality who stood out from the crowd.  In 1878, a year before his ordination, he was appointed to the teaching staff – they were called professors – an unprecedented distinction. It must have been whispered that William Burke was on a fast track to becoming a bishop. With his combination of intellectual firepower and inspirational magnetism, he might even prove to be the leader who could guide Irish Catholicism into the unknown twentieth century – Archbishop Burke, Cardinal Burke? All this was suddenly shaken by the arrival of an ecclesiastic from the other side of the world, the determined and fatally persuasive Bishop Moran, with his message calling upon the priests of Ireland to help establish new communities and create new fields for the Church in a fluid society that was still taking shape. Perhaps the call to distant New Zealand was a divine device to remind the glamorous young Professor Burke of the need for humility. Agonising over the challenge, he discussed his options with a young Dungarvan friend, Patrick Power – brother of the cider magnate – who was in the early stages of studying for the priesthood himself. Like most decent Irish boys, William Burke would have liked to get his mother's advice, but his parents were dead. Instead, he turned to Patrick's mother, and she told him it was his destiny to go to New Zealand.

Father William Burke arrived in Dunedin in 1882, and was sent to a curacy in Invercargill. There he combined learning about parish work with the delivery of a historical lecture on "The Triumphs of the Church", an impressive survey of European history, although well seasoned with complaints about contemporary persecutions of Catholic clergy. In 1884, he began a six-year assignment at Port Chalmers, Dunedin's window on the ocean, where he energetically tackled his church's fragile finances. When his parishioners learned in 1890 that he was to be transferred to Queenstown, they resolved to show their appreciation with a rousing send-off. Knowing that their pastor would veto any personal demonstration, they had to plan secretly and move silently. Each evening, Father Burke would slip into the church to say the rosary, accompanied by a handful of worshippers. One night he was surprised to find the church lit up and packed with people, determined to make him accept their appreciative gifts, which included a "purse of sovereigns". Deeply moved by this affectionate ambush, he insisted that "as the congregation was very small" and he had enough money for his own needs, "the best thing he could do ... with the money testimonial was to hand it over to lessen the debt remaining on the place". This characteristic gesture produced "loud and emphatic protests" from his parishioners, who refused to accept his offer.

At Queenstown, money had been borrowed to build a church and, with an outflow of population as gold mining declined, the debt seemed daunting. Father Burke not only cleared it within three years, but also managed to pay for a curate at Arrowtown, a mining settlement now preserved as part of New Zealand's heritage. Notably, the curate he recruited was not only a Waterford man but his own nephew, a young priest called James Lynch, who would be followed to the new country by five of his brothers. In Ireland, social pressure compelled Catholics to attend Mass and support religious causes. But in the freer air of New Zealand, it required strength of personality to enforce a similar level of participation in Church life. Father Burke's organisational techniques could be summed up in two simple commands: turn up and pay up. His services were full, and so were his parochial coffers. But he won respect by living a simple life himself. When he left Port Chalmers, one of his congregation made an arch allusion to priests who "were proverbial for their frequent references to the coin of the realm", but Father Burke "was a striking exception in the matter of that little clerical failing, for he had never complained or asked for a single shilling". When he moved on from Queenstown in 1896, he was accorded another warm farewell, not only from his own flock but from two local Protestant ministers who joined in the festivities. He made a point of expressing his appreciation for their willingness to cross inherited barriers. "With regard to other denominations he did not see why there should be any antipathies in the community as we were all one as a little family, and as members of such should not allow differences to spring up between us." It was an unusually generous sentiment from an Irish priest. His six years in Queenstown, he insisted, had been "the happiest of his life".

Ecclesiastical politics explained the disruption of those happy days. When Bishop Moran died in 1895, there was naturally speculation about his successor. As part of the selection process, the priests of the diocese were invited to submit three names to Rome, although the Pope was not obliged to take any notice of their suggestions. In effect it was a straw poll, disguised in mellifluous Latin. The three nominees were to be ranked in order of preference: "dignissimus" (most worthy), the top pick; "dignior" (very worthy), the runner up; and "dignus", worthy, who would do at a push. The outcome was a resounding vote of confidence in Father Burke of Queenstown. (He beat two priests from County Cork, a triumph that would have been particularly savoured in Waterford.) But being chosen as dignissimus did not get him the mitre. The Catholic Church is an authoritarian structure, and Rome may have felt that a bishop could be too popular with the priests over whom he was to rule. More to the point, Bishop Moran probably concluded that his charismatic protégé was not yet ready for so awesome a promotion. Moran had privately recommended that his successor should be Michael Verdon, an older man who possessed the dynastic advantage of being a nephew of Cardinal Cullen, the inflexible theocratic dictator who had dominated mid-nineteenth century Irish Catholicism.  After a distinguished career in Ireland, followed by a decade in Rome, Verdon had been transferred to Sydney in 1888 to head a priestly training college. New Zealand had also reached the point where it needed to train its own priests, and Verdon was seen as the bishop who could establish a national seminary.

In any organisation, there is potential for tension when an outsider is appointed to a top job over a favoured local candidate. Father Burke was not the man to intrigue against his supplanter, but it was undeniably awkward that Verdon was working to establish a seminary (it opened at Mosgiel near Dunedin in 1900, with Verdon as its first rector):  was there a role for the man who had been fast-tracked on to the staff at Waterford? Verdon's answer was to get Burke out of the way by moving him back to Invercargill, where he had served as a curate, but this time with the consolation prize of an honorific title, Dean. It would be an exaggeration to describe this as the equivalent of exile to Siberia, but it is worth pointing out that the capital of Southland is the most southerly English-speaking city in the world. Beyond its windswept port of Bluff and the blob of sparsely populated Stewart Island (Rakiura), there is only Antarctica. In Waterford, Professor Burke had the world at his feet; now, Dean Burke found himself at the foot of the planet.

William Burke responded by doing what he did best – working with people, organising and building. His most enduring contribution to Invercargill was a handsome new church designed by the New Zealand architect F.W. Petre, a basilica crowned with a copper-sheathed dome. Back home, Church architecture tended to be triumphalist, an aggressive statement that Ireland was destined to be a Catholic country for a Catholic people. By contrast, Dean Burke had imbibed the pluralistic spirit of New Zealand, and saw the basilica as a contribution to the construction of a new society. In an echo of his farewell remarks in Queenstown, he acknowledged the civic dignitaries who attended the setting of the foundation stone in 1904. "The days of bitter animosities were gone. They were a heritage of semi-barbarous times and should be despised in our day, and all, no matter at what altar they knelt, would heartily join, in peace and harmony, in building up this beautiful country into a great State in the Southern Pacific." He was popular with his parishioners, and especially indulgent towards children. It was a common sight "to see him in the streets of Invercargill accompanied by a band of young people", all of them noisily reporting their activities to the "responsive and smiling" priest. His influence extended far beyond his own flock.  Enthusiastic and knowledgeable about sport, he was "a constant attender" at Invercargill's rugby stadium, "following the course of the game with delighted enthusiasm". "Was there ever anyone with such a fund of humour, such a ready smile and so much sympathy for humanity?", one of the city's Protestant  citizens asked when William Burke died in 1926. "No one could spend a half-hour with him without emerging a happier, more well-informed man. His humour was never sardonic but in the kindest and sweetest way it is possible to imagine he saw fun in everything."

Nonetheless, the years took their toll. By his late sixties, there are signs of health problems that sometimes affected his temper. In 1923 he was forced to deny having called Invercargill's innocuous newspapers "scurrilous rags", although there was ample evidence that, like some of America's less gifted Presidents, he had 'mis-spoken' himself from the pulpit. In a droll half-apology in 1926, he admitted to his parishioners that "he might have scolded them sometimes", excusing himself with the reflection that "Irish people had tempers but had a habit of coming together happily afterwards".

The replacement of sail by steam as the primary means of ocean travel had made it possible for those with the money – like Edith Collier's father – or the time to make return trips to Europe. It became standard practice for New Zealand's Irish priests to make the journey home, a glorious holiday, a lap of honour after years of services, sometimes dressed up as a sabbatical with time allocated to imbibing the spiritual air of Italy. Dean Burke had made such a journey in 1908. A second excursion took him to Europe for fourteen months in 1925-6, part of it devoted to a low-profile home visit in Ireland. In Rome, where the Pope raised him to the rank of Monsignor, he revelled in the tourist experience, such as a candle-lit tour of the Catacombs, "cold underground streets of the dead". But he regarded the Italians as a joke, an argumentative, mysterious and essentially idle people given to the ritual of the siesta, which frustrated him by closing the bookshops every afternoon. Nor did they comprehend the Irish sense of humour. He told some nuns that "he was a cannibal from New Zealand". They laughed "but he noticed they took care to avoid him thereafter".

Unfortunately there was one negative result from this Italian tour. It sometimes happens that highly intelligent and very likeable people fall prey to unsavoury political opinions, and Monsignor Burke was a case in point. Italy seemed to be functioning more efficiently (if not by much) than in 1908. He became an articulate advocate for its dictator, Mussolini, who had seized power four years earlier. Monsignor Burke rejected the charge that personal freedoms had been "crushed" under the fascist regime but, in any case, "individual liberty must always be subject to collective liberty", a chillingly totalitarian remark. It did not trouble him that the country was overrun with soldiers, "little fat fellows clad in all the colours of the rainbow", while he insisted that Italy's intimidating police officers were "very polite, harmless looking guardians of the law". Mussolini represented not "tyranny ... but discipline". That was "the essence of Fascism", and its Duce was "unquestionably the greatest man that had arisen since Napoleon". Monsignor Burke was certainly not alone in his misplaced enthusiasm for the Italian dictator, but it seems sad that so intelligent an observer had failed to see below the surface of the new Italy. He died three months after his return to Invercargill.

Young Professor Burke's encounter with the persuasive Bishop Moran touched off a chain migration to New Zealand. His own sister emigrated and married in Dunedin. His close friend, Patrick Power, followed soon after his ordination in 1897, but to the North Island. In 1897, he became the parish priest at Hawera, a small town within sight of Mount Egmont: we may suspect the influence of the Annestown-born farmer Nicholas Hearn, at whose funeral he officiated in 1904. Four years later, Father Power made his return visit to Europe. The two high spots were in Rome and Dungarvan. He was granted a private audience with the Pope, where Pius X said that he was "gratified" to learn that the New Zealand Irish "were renewing the piety and faith of their fathers". But that was nothing to his reception in his home town, where he delivered a public lecture in the Town Hall – by pleasant coincidence, later to become the home of the County Museum. The brother of the town's leading businessman was assured of a good turn-out and it appears that the audience was mesmerised by Father Power's account of his adopted country. "New Zealand – Islands of the Blest" was published as a pamphlet (now, it seems,  lost) by his local admirers: one reader described it as "pure poetry". It was generally felt that his performance had boosted New Zealand as a destination of choice for young locals seeking a new life overseas. When he arrived back in Hawera, he had one Dungarvan resident in tow – his unmarried sister, imported to act as his housekeeper. Other members of his family also settled in New Zealand, including a nephew, who was a priest, and another sister who became a nun.

However, it was William Burke's decision to recruit his nephew, Father James Lynch, as his curate at Arrowtown that triggered a mini-mass migration from the countryside just to the north of Dungarvan. To understand how this happened, we need to travel through winding back-roads five kilometres to the graveyard at Kilbgonet (also known as Kilgobinet).

Kilgobnet and Colligan Woods  During his desperate struggle to hold on to the leadership of the divided Home Rule movement during the Irish Party "Split" in 1890-91, Parnell appealed for support from the "hillside men", the peasants who struggled to survive on marginal land, and who had no interest in the existing power structure. The hinterland of Dungarvan is classic "hillside" country.  Kilgobnet church clings to the slopes of Waterford's Comeragh Mountains. Its steep graveyard has the unforgettable air of a packed sports stadium, perhaps Liverpool FC's famous Kop, or Hill Sixteen at Croke Park in Dublin. (New Zealand stadiums tend to spread out more comfortably, but Auckland's Eden Park has a certain Kilgobnet-style verticality, as did the roofless grandstand at the former Athletic Park in Wellington.) Near the top, and close to the church, the inscription on a large Celtic cross records the death, in 1930, of Father James Lynch "who during 41 years laboured in the diocese of Dunedin New Zealand". In those four decades, Father Lynch made three journeys back to Ireland. The last was intended as a six-month holiday, but he fell ill and died in a Dublin nursing home. His New Zealand friends had expected to see the 66-year old priest among them once again, but they took consolation from "the reflection, that he was enabled to revisit the friends and the scenes of his youth before the end came".

The inscription on the memorial to Father James Lynch at Kilgobnet. His labours were not without fruit.

The Lynch family came from Inchindrisla, the steep townland to the west of Kilgobnet church. Their father, John James Lynch, had been active in the Land League fighting for the rights of tenant farmers. There were at least thirteen children. It is a mystery that so hard-pressed a household managed to finance three sons to study for the priesthood: it may be significant that Father James left money to establish a bursary at the diocesan college. It is much less surprising that the sons emigrated, with no fewer than six of them heading for New Zealand. Two priests followed Father James Lynch. Edmund officiated at Marton on the North Island, but the rest of the family clustered in Otago. The youngest of the three priests, Father John Lynch, succeeded James at Palmerston, a small coastal town north of Dunedin (not to be confused with the city of Palmerston North). The three clerics no doubt provided a support network that helped Lawrence Lynch become a successful shopkeeper in Queenstown, where he was also superintendent of the fire brigade and president of the regatta committee. Another brother, Patrick, farmed on the Taieri Plains near Dunedin. Unfortunately, the last of the siblings, came to a tragic end. William J. Lynch had emigrated in 1895, at the age of 20, eventually becoming a hotel-keeper at the small Otago town of Hyde, about 50 kilometres north of Dunedin. One of the less smart European ideas for the improvement of New Zealand had been the introduction of rabbits. Lacking any natural predators, they quickly ran wild and became pests. At Christmas 1910, William Lynch decided to go rabbit shooting. At the first sign of danger, the rabbits, of course, took off at high speed. Lynch unwisely ran after one of them, hoping to get a clear shot – but he stumbled, fell and accidentally discharged his own gun. Fatally wounded, he left his wife to rear five small children on an estate worth just £150.

The inscription at Kilgobnet, recording that Father James Lynch "laboured" for four decades in New Zealand, might suggest that the clerical members of the family saw exile as an opportunity for service, not for the accumulation of riches. When Father John left Dungarvan in 1901, well-wishers gave him a farewell supper at the town's leading hostelry, the Devonshire Arms (now Lawlor's Hotel). The guest of honour spoke of his apprehension at moving to a distant land, but he consoled himself with the example of the saints of early Irish history, who had struggled for salvation living on rocky islands and in isolated hermitages. "Surely the conditions of life to be met with in New Zealand today must be luxury itself when compared with what those illustrious examples of sanctity, learning, and obedience had to endure," he optimistically remarked. In fact, the clerical life in New Zealand could be a comfortable existence. Parishioners were prosperous and they were generous. Most priests would have found their wants supplied, with little cause to spend money of their own. Even so, it seems surprising that Father James Lynch left over £18,000 in his Will – in 2023 spending power, worth over one million Euro or two million New Zealand dollars. Most of his cash was sensibly deposited in savings accounts, but about £2,000 was lent out in mortgages, surely a surprising venture for a man of the cloth. About half his estate was bequeathed to various Catholic charities – overseas missions, the Waterford diocese and the abbey at Mount Melleray – while the rest was divided among various relatives. Sad to report, at the end of his life he fell out with Father John and cut him out of the Will: the cause of the disagreement is not known. New Zealand's newspapers respectfully reported the charitable bequests, but – far from being the "scurrilous rags" of Dean Burke's condemnation – they made no comment on this unexpected accumulation of wealth.

The main road from Dungarvan to Clonmel leads a short distance to Colligan Woods, a popular amenity area. One of its walking trails, the five-kilometre Inchadrisla Loop (once again, local spellings are inconsistent) combines something of the demanding terrain with glimpses across the countryside and out into Dungarvan Bay. Here visitors may catch the flavour of the world that shaped the six Burke brothers but could not sustain them in their own homes.  The Clonmel road branches off the highway to Killarney at the Master McGrath Monument – one of Waterford's quirkiest memorials, since it honours a greyhound. Just to the east lies the townland of Killadangan, on the fertile valley floor below Inchindrisla. In the early twentieth century, there was a corn mill here, powered by the Colligan River and operated by the Desmond family. Cornelius Desmond had moved here from County Cork in the eighteen-nineties. His wife, Ellen, was even more exotic, having been born in the United States: perhaps her family were returned emigrants. Although the mill provided job opportunities for several of their children, two of them emigrated to New Zealand: Mary to Dunedin, and James Desmond, who was a teamster, working with draught animals on farms in the Ashburton district of south Canterbury. During the First World War, New Zealand introduced compulsory military service (Edith Collier thought it was "dotty" to strip an agricultural country of its farm workers) and, in July 1917, James Desmond was conscripted. By November, he had completed his basic training at Trentham Camp, near Wellington, and was about to be sent to fight in France. Every soldier going on active service was required to make a Will. James Desmond had little beside his pay to leave to anyone, but he named his sister Mary as his executrix, and listed his parents and siblings by name as the beneficiaries. But for this document, there would be no evidence connecting him with Killadangan. James Desmond's Will is an example of a story that will be encountered again and again across west Waterford: family members at opposite ends of the world making gestures of belonging, trying to maintain some form of contact.

James Desmond was killed on 8 October 1918. I do not know when he had first gone into action, but it is likely that by the northern autumn of 1918, he would have been an experienced soldier. The First Battalion of the Otago Regiment, to which he was attached, had resisted the German onslaught of March 1918, and taken part in the breaching of the fortified defences of the Hindenburg Line six months later. Every death in the First World War was a tragedy, but loss of life barely a month before the end of the fighting seems especially poignant. Five days earlier, on 3 October, the German government had asked for peace terms. The generals had demanded an end to the War, but were putting up a last-ditch military resistance, partly to strengthen Germany's hand in bargaining for an armistice, but also to lay the foundation for the mendacious legend of the "stab in the back", the claim that the Army had been on the verge of victory but had been betrayed by treacherous politicians – a lie that would bring Hitler to power and plunge Europe into a second conflict. For their part, the Allied High Command wanted to inflict blows that might cause the tottering German defence to collapse altogether. As he waited to go into action at 4.30 a.m. on 8 October, James Desmond probably knew little of the geopolitics that made him part of the second battle of Le Cateau. The official history of the New Zealand campaign, published soon after the War, played down the horror of battle.  It told the glorious story of the 1st Otago battalion charging barbed wire that the artillery barrage had failed to destroy, the demoralised Germans doing little to stop the New Zealanders hacking a way through. Using smoke from a barrage as cover, the Otagos "crossed the surprisingly well-wired final trench with little opposition. From there it was but a step to the sunken road and the hedgerow which was their final objective. They were on it well up to time and with light casualties." And so on. Better not to face the truth that the generals had (yet again) underestimated German resistance, and that the tactics employed in the frontal assault had failed time and again over the previous four years. Sometime that day, James Desmond was killed. In the first decades of the Irish Free State, a conspiracy of silence tried to write Ireland's First World War sacrifice out of history, and those who fought in the British – and Empire – armies were treated as if they had never existed. This attitude has gradually given place to a desire to acknowledge those who lost their lives. In 2013, the names of County Waterford's war dead were inscribed on a 16-metre long wall of black granite in Dungarvan. Unfortunately, James Desmond's story was not then known, and his name does not appear. He is buried in a British war cemetery in France, and his dignified headstone can be viewed on https://www.nzwargraves.org.nz/casualties/james-desmond.

One name that does appear on the Dungarvan First World War Memorial is that of Patrick Flynn, from the townland of Glendalligan, near Kilrossanty, about 12 kilometres north-east of  the town. In what will become apparent was a common west Waterford saga, his elder brother inherited the family farm, so "Paddy" emigrated to New Zealand. In 1917 he was working on a property at Methven in south Canterbury as a teamster, managing draught animals. He was conscripted into the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and died in Flanders in December of that year. Also included is Patrick Finn from Araglin, a hidden valley in the far north-west of the County that not even many Waterford people have visited. He and his brother William were sponsored as emigrants in 1908 by a distant relative who farmed at Hunterville, north of the city of Palmerston North, who described them in his application for government support as "farmers’ sons, strong and healthy and fit to face the back country.”  Although he had been working in a sawmill at Hangatiki in the North Island, not far from the famous Waitomo glow-worm caves, Patrick was assigned to the Canterbury Regiment of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. His unit sailed from Wellington in October 1917, and he died of wounds on the Western Front the following June. 


Paddy Flynn (seated, right) in uniform, and determinedly ready to take on the foe. Tradition suggests that his two (unnamed) NZEF companions were both Waterford-born. Like James Desmond, who was also killed, he was called up by the New Zealand government for military service. Conscription was not imposed upon Ireland, for fear of the opposition it would cause.  From the photographic collection of Waterford County Museum.

Ardmore, Simon Bagge Triphook and Te Irihanga  In the mid-nineteenth century, Simon Bagge Triphook served as a junior officer in the British Army. He spent three years in New Zealand, from 1864 to 1867, fighting in what used to be called the Māori Wars but are now known as the New Zealand Wars or Land Wars. In January 1867, he took part in the destruction of the Māori village of Te Irihanga, near Tauranga on the North Island, although it is not clear whether he participated in the actual looting and burning of the settlement. The destruction of Te Irihanga formed part of a scorched-earth campaign: arguably, in 21st-century values, it would be regarded as a war crime. The settlement was never rebuilt, but in 2017, Tauranga Māori held a ceremony at the site, reported by Māori TV in a two-minute news clip in Māori (with subtitles) and English: http://www.Māoritelevision.com/news/regional/tauranga-moana-commemorates-invasion-te-Irihanga. Simon Bagge Triphook died in 1887, and was buried in Ardmore's Round Tower graveyard, close to the top end just off the path to the memorial to the crew of S.S. Ary, whose bodies were washed up along the coast here after the ship foundered during a storm in 1947. Triphook lies in a "chest" tomb, close to the ground and surrounded by a cast-iron railing. In 2023, the inscription was weathered, but the words "New Zealand" can be made out in the top right-hand corner.

The grave of Major Triphook in the shadow of the 12th-century Round Tower of Ardmore.

More about Simon Bagge Triphook.  Simon Bagge Triphook's forebears seem to have arrived in Ireland in the eighteenth century. They were a professional, not a landowning family, whose sons sought careers in the British armed forces and the Protestant Church: his uncle John was Rector of Schull in west Cork, and a cousin settled in Christchurch. William Clarke Triphook, his father, was born in Cork in 1812, and became a captain in the Royal Navy. In marrying Ann Bagge, from the Waterford gentry, he moved up a notch socially. She was probably a sister of Simon Bagge of Ardmore House (its site is now the Round Tower Hotel): it is noteworthy that their only son was named in honour of his mother's family. Simon Bagge Triphook was born in 1840, at Portsea in the English county of Hampshire. This suggests that William Clarke Triphook was serving at the time from the naval base of Portsmouth. However, by the end of the decade, he had left the Navy. In February 1849, he beat 67 other candidates to be appointed Governor of Waterford Gaol, with a salary of £300 a year, plus house, coal and candles: in Famine times, millions of Irish people were struggling to survive on very much less.

Simon Bagge Triphook spent his teenage years at the Governor's House at Ballybricken Green, the city's open-air pig market.  He probably knew Ardmore through visits to his mother's family, and it is likely that his parents purchased a house in the village, perhaps around 1860, for use as a holiday home and for eventual retirement. Young Triphook was evidently an intelligent youngster: in 1861, he graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a Third Class Honours degree – nothing outstanding, but there were plenty of candidates below him who merely scored a Pass. No subject of study is recorded: I suspect Trinity taught an arid set curriculum based on Latin and Greek, for the era of specialist degree courses still lay in the future. Graduate Army officers were rare (to put it mildly), and in his later years, Simon Bagge Triphook became a military administrator. He joined up soon after leaving Trinity, initially holding the lowly rank of Ensign (renamed Second Lieutenant in 1871). Infantry regiments in the British Army were numbered: Simon Bagge Triphook was commissioned in the 12th Regiment, which was connected with the English county of Suffolk. In November 1863, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant, which sounds an impressively fast promotion. In fact, until 1871, Army commissions were bought and sold, and Triphook's step up was "by purchase". For a professional family, a commission bought both a career and a lifetime annuity: officers did not formally leave the Army but retired on half-pay, a pension but with the provision that they might be called back to the colours in an emergency. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1 put an end to this bizarre system. When the efficient Prussians overwhelmed the French and created a united Germany, the shift in the European balance of power pointed to the need for greater efficiency in the British Army.

Simon Bagge Triphook, with his Trinity BA, was presumably a cut above some of his less intellectual comrades. In June 1864, he was given a new assignment, as an Instructor in Musketry. This may explain why he was almost immediately sent to New Zealand. The Land Wars had broken out in 1860, and Māori had quickly proved to be resourceful and innovative fighters, in particular specialising in mobile guerrilla tactics. The Army's participation in an inglorious land-grabbing colonial war was unpopular in Britain and Ireland. British governments were keen to shift the burden of fighting to the settlers themselves, but that meant training colonial volunteers to become effective soldiers – probably (there is no confirmation) just the job for a bright young officer. Triphook enjoyed a pleasant four-month voyage on board the 1,277-ton sailing ship Columbus. Along with a handful of brother officers, he was a cabin passenger, comfortably segregated from a couple of hundred poor emigrants crammed into steerage. The Columbus sailed from London to Auckland non-stop, generally encountering good weather until the ship plunged into the gales of the Roaring Forties south of Tasmania. The cabin passengers even crafted a congratulatory testimonial to the captain to thank him for his kindness.

Simon Bagge Triphook as a young officer in New Zealand.

The three years that Simon Bagge Triphook spent in New Zealand, from October 1864 to May 1867, coincided with something of a lull in the overall fighting. Major campaigns of 1863 and 1864 had ended with imposed local peace settlements, and severe conflict did not erupt again until the middle of 1868. Instead, there were isolated flare-ups, and British troops were moved around the country to respond to these outbreaks. Triphook is occasionally reported in the New Zealand newspapers accompanying detachments of troops sent by ship around the coast: soldiers were moved by sea because the North Island had no railways, and the highway system was still rudimentary. However, there is no indication that he saw any action until January 1867.

The impact of Europeans had profound effects upon Māori society. At a political level, the Māori King movement (Kingitanga) attempted to create a common front against the Pakeha by electing a national leader. (The first Māori king, chosen by some but not all the tribes in 1858, was called Potatau, a name that was generally mocked by the settlers.) The Māori heartland in the interior of the North Island became known as King Country, and resistance to the sale of land to Pakeha was widespread there. A more explosive development was the proclamation of Pai Marire [various pronunciations, e,g, pie-ma-ree-reh, pie-maria], a syncretistic religion, which mixed Māori tradition with elements of Christianity. Pai Marire drew heavily on the Old Testament, claiming that Māori were the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who had mysteriously disappeared from the Bible. Salvation was defined as getting rid of the Pakeha. Although Pai Marire meant "good and peaceful", an extreme element, called Hauhau [how-how] from their war cry, provided fierce resistance to British and colonial forces.  Hence Pakeha branded all Māori who resisted them as "fanatics".  Descendants of Māori King and representatives of Pai Marire attended the 2017 commemoration at Te Irihanga.

Although intended to unite Māori culturally and politically, in fact Pai Mariri and Kingitanga further divided them. This helps to explain why some Māori, known as kupapa or "friendlies", fought alongside the British, often motivated by longstanding inter-tribal feuds. These friendlies were conveniently blamed for the savagery of the sack of Te Irihanga, which somehow implied that British and colonial troops were not really responsible for what happened. Although Pākehā attitudes were predominantly racist, settlers did have the sense to recognise the importance of their Māori allies.  In 1867, the year of the village's destruction, the New Zealand parliament took a landmark decision to incorporate them into the system of government. In a remarkable step, they created four special constituencies, which were reserved for Māori MPs elected by Māori voters. (There are now seven Māori electorates in a parliament of 120 members, while other Māori politicians sit for 'general' seats.) Although race relations continue to dominate modern-day New Zealand, this was an important step that set the country on a different path from white supremacist South Africa. By the end of the century, there were even Māori cabinet ministers.

The principal theatre of war in 1863-4 had been the Waikato, the river valley to the south of Auckland around the city of Hamilton. Waikato Māori were supported by allies in Tauranga, which the British invaded in January 1864 to cut off reinforcements and disrupt supplies. There, in April 1864, the regular Army suffered a stunning setback at the battle of Gate Pa (Pukehinahina). Māori had dug hardwood tree trunks into a series of ring forts to create anti-artillery bunkers capable of sheltering about 250 warriors from barrages of shells. (The pa [pah] was the traditional Māori defensive structure. Pas were mounds that were simple to throw up, and could be located in inaccessible places, which the invaders felt obliged to attack – but were easily abandoned once troops had slogged through dense bush, dragging cumbersome artillery into place. Gate Pa was constructed on a much grander scale.) The British pounded Gate Pa with an eight-hour cannonade from fifteen big guns. (The distinguished New Zealand historian – and Oxford University professor – James Belich has estimated that, per square yard, the weight of shells that fell on Gate Pa in that short period was twenty times heavier than the barrage during the whole week that preceded the Battle of the Somme in 1916.) Eventually an assault party of 300 men rushed into the pa with fixed bayonets. They expected to meet no resistance but, in fact, they had been lured into a trap: overwhelmed in deep underground passages, the attackers suffered over 100 casualties, 31 of them fatal. That night, the remaining Māori defenders simply melted away to regroup elsewhere. To the British, it seemed impossible that their soldiers could have been outwitted and slaughtered by a non-European enemy. The assault party were branded as cowards; the general in command angrily refused to visit the wounded. The disaster at Gate Pa was a major blow to British military prestige, and helps explain the increasing barbarity of the fighting in the years that followed.

In June 1864, a British patrol ran into a Māori force at Te Ranga, and achieved a face-saving victory in a more traditional open battle. A fragile peace was patched up in Tauranga, negotiated with the help of kupapa and neutral tribes. Māori were required to surrender their weapons but, as they had been collecting guns for over thirty years, it was easy for them to hand in obsolete and broken firearms. Tauranga Māori were still well able to defend themselves:  the British knew that any heavy-handed action would risk uniting the tribes and igniting the local powder keg. Trouble flared late in 1866, when a hapu (sub-tribe) called Piri Rakau began to resist the intrusion of European surveyors, who had been sent in to map the country as a preliminary for settlement. It is hard to guess what Piri Rakau hoped to achieve: they could probably field no more than 50 to 60 warriors, although they pinned down several hundred British and colonial forces during the first three months of 1867. Perhaps, like the Fenians in the same year on the other side of the world, they hoped that a few bold acts of defiance would act like a match thrown into gunpowder, and that their small-scale operations might trigger a more widespread uprising. Like the Fenians, their armed protest failed, and its hopelessness made it easier to dismiss Piri Rakau as fanatics. The British decided to crush their resistance by imposing a scorched-earth policy. Villages were to be burned and crops destroyed in the hope of goading the insurgents into a repeat of the pitched battle at Te Ranga.

In January 1867, at the height of the New Zealand summer, the local British commander assembled a force of 260 men, drawn from the First Waikato Regiment of settler militia and Triphook's unit, the 12th Regiment: military theory generally assumed that volunteer troops needed a stiffening of regulars to ensure that they did not run away. In fact, the Waikato Regiment were hardened fighters from earlier campaigns and they had a score to settle: a few days earlier, one of their reconnaissance parties had been ambushed and a sergeant-major shot dead. The British had learned some lessons from years of guerilla warfare: they would strike fast, moving by night to strike unexpectedly. Kupapa, their Māori allies, were also involved, probably acting as guides.

Triphook was one of about a dozen junior officers mobilised to take part in the march. The detachment from the 12th was accompanied by a regimental medical officer, Dr William Manley, VC.  Manley had been awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry at Gate Pa. He had braved the killing ground of the anti-artillery bunker attempting to rescue wounded officers – his courage does not seem to have extended to privates and corporals. At a moment of humiliation where heroes were in short supply, his actions had been honoured with Britain's highest award for bravery, only recently invented to reward veterans of the Crimean War of 1854-6. William Manley, we may guess, had no qualms about burning Māori villages. The column set off at about 1 a.m., and reached their first target, Te Irihanga, sometime around 8 o'clock. (There are several vivid accounts PapersPast: https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers, and search for "irihanga" and "triphook".)

The 12th did not take a direct part in the attack on the village. Their detachment was drawn up on high ground nearby, with a good view over the landscape. Although not made explicit, the strategy was intended that the settler militia would draw the Māori skirmishers from their defensive positions so that regular troops could stage a counter-attack. Te Irihanga was charged by the settler militia, supported by kupapa: "one poor fellow belonging to the First Waikato Regiment lost his life, being struck by a bullet as he was cheering his comrades on up a steep ascent, when the rebels fired a volley into them". He was Private Denis Augustus Ward, and as he was given a Catholic funeral, an Irish connection seems likely.  Private Ward was 31 years of age and left a family of four.  His wife gave birth to a fifth child the following October: she may not even have known that she was once again pregnant when she heard the news of his death.

The attackers estimated that about 25 Māori snipers opposed them, firing from disguised positions made by treading down ferns, but they quickly abandoned the village. "The rush made by the friendlies for loot was instantaneous after the village was taken, and everything in the shape of poultry, geese, pigs, &c, were seized by them." This sounds like an attempt to blame Māori allies for the pillaging, since the same report of a Piri Rakau counter-attack seems to contradict its own assumption: "While our men were partaking of the good things that were seized from the foes, such as fowls, pigs, potatoes, &c, they received a volley from the fanatics." Buildings were fired "and everything that was of any use to the Māoris were destroyed by our men". (The phrase "our men" in a New Zealand newspaper account may refer to the Waikato militia. It is not clear whether Triphook and the 12th took a direct part in the destruction, or simply continued to provide cover for the militia and the kupapa.)

 After Te Irihanga, the column moved on, destroying two other settlements later that day. As always, the British put a bold face upon a disappointing operation. They were sure they had killed some of their enemies in occasional exchanges of fire – Māori "were seen to topple over and were carried off by their friends" – which, of course, explained why there were never any bodies. Crops that had been destroyed were claimed to have been capable of feeding 600 warriors for six months. Nonetheless, overall, the 12th Regiment's foray had been a failure. They had hoped to draw Piri Rakau into a general engagement, but Māori refused to fight by the rules of European military textbooks. The soldiers endured a "fearful" 50-kilometre trek through difficult country, "saturated with water nearly the whole time", and with nothing much to show for their efforts. One journalist lamented: "When we heard the brave old 12th were going out we were highly gratified, knowing very well if they could only get a crack at them they would have riddled some of the rebels. But we are thoroughly convinced that the gallant colonel, together with his officers and men, feel thoroughly disgusted in having to return after a march of thirty five miles without having a chance of knocking a few of the fiends over."

Soon afterwards, Simon Bagge Triphook returned to Britain. He was no doubt glad when the crowded 905-ton troop transport Mary Shepherd reached Plymouth in August 1867. Yet, probably within hours of stepping shore, he received news that turned his life inside out. Two days before the transport entered Plymouth Sound, his father had died of a heart attack. Not only were the family required to quit the Governor's House, which went with the job and was needed for Captain Triphook's successor, but his death left them with financial problems, since he had died a few months before becoming eligible for a pension. Despite energetic lobbying by local worthies, the government declined to help. Ann Triphook fell back on Ardmore and the support of her own relatives. Her husband was buried in the graveyard of Ardmore's ruined cathedral. The widow and her impressively named daughter, Trophina Triphook, settled into their Ardmore residence. Technically, as its only male member, Simon Bagge Triphook would have become head of the household, and there is a local tradition that he erected a greenhouse and laid down a tennis court – it must have been an early one, since the modern sport of lawn tennis only emerged around 1874. All of this seems very far from the reality of Ireland during the Land War of 1879-81, and the Phoenix Park murders in 1882, in which a government minister was slashed to death by terrorists.

In fact, Simon Bagge Triphook was still pursuing his Army career, and probably visited Ardmore only when he was on leave. In 1879, he became an Adjutant, an administrative assistant to a senior officer – further evidence of his scarce qualities of military efficiency. For three years in the 1870s, he served as brigade major (a temporary rank) at the Curragh, the British Army base near Dublin, in command of one battalion of the regiment. There followed a further period of overseas service, during the Afghan War of 1878-80. Triphook was stationed at Jhelum, on the north-west frontier of India, where he enjoyed the imposing title of Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General, responsible for ensuring that supplies reached the fighting troops over the border in Afghanistan. He was now a Captain and, approaching the age of forty. The campaign in India probably seemed an adventure to crown a military career, for he briefly retired from active service in February 1881. However, a further opportunity soon opened up. That year, the British government merged two existing regiments to form the Durham Light Infantry (DLI), destined to become one of the Army's most famous fighting forces. The new unit presumably needed capable officers who could integrate personnel and procedures, and there were advantages in bringing in outsiders who might rise above any potential friction between the two sets of officers who had to learn to work together. Although he had no connection with the north-east of England, Triphook transferred to the DLI and, in 1882, secured his final promotion, to the rank of Major. He was still serving in the Army in November 1884, when he represented the War Office at the trial of a soldier who had stolen 13,000 rounds of ammunition. Although it was Triphook's inspection that had discovered the theft, it was an embarrassing lapse in security, and may explain why he finally retired from active service soon after. It is also possible that he did not wish to accompany the DLI to Sudan, where it was sent in 1885 to avenge the death of General Gordon – the famous, colourful but strategically inept hero, Gordon of Khartoum. Back in Waterford, Triphook was appointed a Justice of the Peace, an appropriate distinction for a gentleman with time on his hands, but he does not seem to have sat as a magistrate. His life of leisure did not last for long. He died, at his home in Ardmore, on 17 October 1887. His passing was reported in the press, but there were no detailed obituaries and hence no information about his health that might have explained death at the early age of 47. Perhaps he had inherited his father's heart disease. He was a lifelong bachelor.

A decade earlier, in 1876, Trophina Triphook had married one of her brother's regimental comrades, Captain Henry Magee from County Wexford. Their life together was brief: Captain Magee accompanied the 12th to Afghanistan, where he fell sick and died. Trophina then married Robert Lawe (sometimes spelt Law), a gentleman of independent means who was eleven years her senior. At the 1901 census, they were living near Cork, at Dunkettle, nowadays famed but not much loved for its highway interchange at the start of the Dublin motorway. Anna Triphook, her mother, now in her eighties, had come to live with them. Their Ardmore residence was retained, perhaps for holidays, until it was in 1904. By her second husband, Trophina had two sons. One joined the Royal Navy, and in 1916 he was a junior office on board the battlecruiser HMS  Indefatigable. Battlecruisers were the attack dogs of naval warfare, and Indefatigable was one of the first ships to go into action at the battle of Jutland. Within fifteen minutes, the ship was ripped apart by devastatingly accurate German gunnery. Out of a crew of 1,019, just three men were saved: Trophina's son was not one of them. Families like the Triphooks paid a high price for their loyalty to the Empire. She died, in England, in 1925. In the Army reforms of 1881, the 12th had been renamed the Suffolk Regiment. Trophina left her brother's campaign medals, and those of her first husband Captain Magee, to the regimental museum in Bury St Edmunds. In February 2023, so I am informed by the Curator, the Triphook and Magee medals were on display there.

The grave of Simon Bagge Triphook provides a connection between New Zealand and Ardmore's ancient religious site, but it is one that raises questions about a violent episode from the past. The destruction of Te Irihanga happened over a century and a half ago, but it remains a wound. The past does not always give us cause for celebration, but commemoration can provide opportunities for reflection.

From Ardmore to Lismore The countryside of west Waterford, and especially the Blackwater valley, is gentler than the jagged landscapes of the Copper Coast. Ireland is a land of relatively few villages, but Ardmore (by the sea), Clashmore and Villierstown (on the majestically calm river) are pleasant places to visit, and little changed by time. Cappoquin and Lismore are interesting country towns, only a few kilometres apart, but very different in atmosphere. Cappoquin is noted for quirky heritage shop fronts (and one of Ireland's finest bakeries, where a charming barista used to describe her coffee as "cappoquino"), and is also the starting point for an excursion into the bleak hills that are the home to the monks of Mount Melleray. Lismore is dominated by its ducal castle, complete with gardens and a challenging modern-art gallery, which are open in the summer months. Protestants were scarce in this part of the county, and almost all the migrants to New Zealand were Catholics from unspectacular backgrounds, about whose lives little information survives. One theme, however, does stand out: the story of attempts to keep alive memories and maintain family contacts (not always successfully) from opposite ends of the earth.

By the early twentieth century, New Zealand's pioneering days were beginning to fade into the realm of legend. But for the Cleary sisters, their childhood in Ardmore and their journey to their new home in 1864 remained a vivid memory to the end of their lives. Obituaries for Mrs Minnie O'Sullivan in 1916 and her sister, Mrs Ellie Gillespie in 1924, contained similar information suggesting a shared and well-remembered tradition of their origins. Their father, Michael Cleary, who was in his mid-fifties, had emigrated first, and his wife and children – at least four of them -- had followed in 1864, another story of a heroic mother shepherding her brood across the oceans. The sisters recalled arriving in Wellington, and promptly travelling on across Cook Strait to their new home in Marlborough. Michael Cleary, described in 1886 as "a very old and much respected settler ... a native of Waterford", had established himself farming at Renwick, not far from the town of Blenheim and close to the Wairau River, which had a bad habit of flooding. (It's now in the heart of Marlborough's wine-producing country.) There were four men called Michael Cleary living at Ardmore in Griffith's Valuation, a land register published in 1853, each of whom occupied a very small holding: whichever of them went to New Zealand did well for himself and his family.

The two sisters also recalled the sailing ship that had brought them to Wellington. The Asterope was a tiny vessel, not much over 600 tons. In 1864,she managed to cram in 46 people in what her owners claimed was "unrivalled accommodation for first and second cabin passengers" – and she also carried a prize bull and a cow, destined as breeding stock for the farmers of Hawke's Bay. Her 103-day voyage, from Gravesend on the Thames, was uneventful, except for a severe storm near the Kerguelen Islands, deep in the southern Indian Ocean. The sisters had a special reason for cherishing the memory of those three months on the Asterope. It was on board ship that Ellie Cleary met John Gillespie, the man she would marry. Their seven-year courtship was no whirlwind romance: Gillespie took off for a time to try his luck at gold-mining in Australia. A resolute Scotsman, John Gillespie established an important principle in New Zealand law. When a hotel at the North Island resort of Lake Waikaremoana proved unsatisfactory, he complained to the Ministry of Tourism. The hotel manager retaliated by suing him for libel, and initially persuaded a jury to award him a large sum in damages. Gillespie appealed the case, and the country's Chief Justice, the splendidly named Sir Robert Stout, ruled in his favour: it had been the government department that had published the letter, not Gillespie, and there was no evidence that his complaint was malicious. New Zealand consumers can thank Ellie Cleary's husband for their right to complain about bad service. The couple would have thirteen children, three of whom died young.   Ellie's death came just weeks before they would have celebrated their golden wedding.

In 1914, a recent arrival in New Zealand was keen to defend the honour of Ardmore. When Germany sparked the First World War by invading neutral Belgium, Irish opinion was outraged at the brutal attack on a small and intensely Catholic country. The Home Rule Party leader, John Redmond, a Waterford MP at Westminster, appealed to young Irishmen to join the vastly expanded British Army that was needed to hold the front line in France. Yet, outside Ulster, recruits were slow to come forward. There were good reasons for this. Most Irish farms were small-scale operations that depended upon family labour: it simply did not make sense for grown-up sons to rush off and fight. In any case, emigration had considerably reduced the number of young Irishmen in the military age group, and many of those had already joined the British Army in peacetime. The Christchurch Press published a letter from J. Donnell of Kaiapoi, who was keen to defend the honour of Ardmore from the charge of shirking. He was probably John Donnell, a 24 year-old fisherman at the time of the 1901 census, who had shared a cottage with his sister Norah in the townland of Ardoginna, which stretches along the coast west of Ardmore. He probably fished from nearby Whiting Bay, but evidently thought of himself as an Ardmore man. Since he cannot be traced in the 1911 Irish census, it seems he had left for New Zealand by then. Kaiapoi is a small coastal town on the South Island. Its potential to function as a port was limited by a bar across the mouth of the Waimakariri River, but John Donnell may well have been fishing from there and supplying customers in the nearby city of Christchurch. Emigration to the other end of the globe had not extinguished his Waterford patriotism. "Coming from Ardmore, Waterford, myself … I have some idea of the number of men available as volunteers, and am not surprised that the numbers do not compare with other parts." He stressed that "most of the men in those parts" were members of the Royal Naval Reserve – Donnell himself had been one of them – and hence not available to join the Army. "I should be glad if you could give this publicity, in order to remove any wrong impressions the news has given." Nationalist opinion began to turn against the War, and emphatically to reject Ireland's connection with Britain after the Easter Rising of 1916, and the decision to execute the rebel leaders by firing squad under martial law.

Ardmore appears on the map of New Zealand. Ardmore Airport near Auckland is a general aviation aerodrome that is home to flying schools, air ambulance and rescue helicopter services. Unfortunately, I cannot trace its history before 1943, when it was established as an RNZAF base. It may owe its name to another Ardmore, in Easter Ross, Scotland. An Ardmore Station on the Pomahaka River of south Otago, in existence by 1859, almost certainly has a Scottish inspiration.

Ferrypoint. An eight-kilometre network of back roads from Ardmore leads west to Ferrypoint, a shingle spit sticking out into the estuary of the River Blackwater. Ferrypoint offers a superb panorama across the narrow estuary to the town of Youghal, which straggles along two kilometres of hillside. (A guidebook of 1752 which described the layout as "a little like the situation in Constantinople" was a touch overheated.) Youghal is still a small-scale coastal port, and freighters unload at Green's Quay, opposite and just upstream from Ferrypoint. It takes its name from a mercantile family who dominated the town in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. William Spotswood Green was born in Youghal in 1847, a grim year for most Irish people, but his comfortable background ensured him a gentleman's education. He became a Church of Ireland clergyman (although not, it seems, for very long). An early interest in marine biology, nurtured on the foreshores of the Blackwater, gave way to an enthusiasm for the new adventure sport of mountain-climbing in the Alps. In 1882, William Spotswood Green arrived in New Zealand with two Swiss guides in tow, to make what was proclaimed as the first recorded ascent of the country's highest peak, Aoraki / Mount Cook – although it is now accepted that the party celebrated on a peak six metres short of the real summit.

Cromwell crossed the Blackwater here in 1649, but there has been no ferry service for over half a century. Ferrypoint forms part of the townland of Prospect Hall (sometimes spelt as one word), which looks north up the Blackwater. The original Prospect Hall, probably built in the early eighteenth century, looked down across Ferrypoint. It was destroyed by fire in 1883 and a later house (a private residence) was incongruously erected within the ruined walls. Beyond stands the ruined Protestant church of Kinsalebeg, abandoned in 1928. A pleasant feature in the landscape, it is now (2023) besieged by ivy and briars. As part of Waterford, Ferrypoint was usually beyond the writ of law-enforcement from County Cork, making it a favoured location for massed rallies that defied the authorities across the Blackwater. Several thousand hungry and desperate people gathered here in September 1846 to stop shipments of grain crossing the river to Youghal. One of those present may well have been Patrick Reilly of Prospecthall, who was in early twenties. When his sons emigrated to New Zealand – the younger Patrick in 1876, John (known as Jack) eight years later – they would have taken such stories with them. Indeed, they kept their memories alive in their new homeland.

 In 1886, the brothers teamed up and headed for a gold rush in the far north of Western Australia. Patrick had probably saved money working on various estates on the Canterbury Plains but, even so, they must have borrowed to acquire £1,000 worth of mining equipment – worth around €200,000 today. This they dragged over 600 kilometres to the goldfield at Hall's Creek. There, in common with most of the other 15,000 hopefuls who had suddenly arrived, they were defeated by the intense tropical heat, sold their kit and left. The experience may have driven a wedge between the brothers, for John Reilly headed for Melbourne and remained there for six years. Patrick returned to New Zealand, and seems to have taken any available job, perhaps to pay off their debts. In 1890, he helped build the Canterbury mansion, Claremont, for a wealthy pastoralist who wanted an English-style country house, although one transmuted into New Zealand conditions. That year, he embarked on a second business venture, taking over a hotel in Timaru: John Reilly returned from Australia soon after to help. It was only a few years since William Runciman had failed to establish a grocery store in the town, but the brothers made a success of their venture. However, once again they soon went their separate ways.  Jack worked for a time at the local freezing works, before purchasing, in 1898, a rival local hotel. "Mr Reilly has always been a favourite among his fellow workers, and all things going well he should do good business", commented the Timaru Herald: he had only been in charge for a few days but he had "already got his place in admirable order". In 1923, John Reilly moved to Auckland, taking over one of its smartest hostelries, the Royal Hotel.

Meanwhile, in 1906, Patrick Reilly embarked upon a third career, purchasing a 300-hectare farm near Waimate in south Canterbury. It was a classic rural and small-town Irish strategy: run a pub and save enough money to buy land.  A local newspaper congratulated him on "securing such a fine property", but it hardly rivalled the sheep stations he had worked on as a young man, one of which had spanned over 11,000 hectares. It seems that he branched out to run sheep in a mysterious upland district about 100 kilometres inland. Described by one writer as "a vast tussocky sea of windswept desolation", the Mackenzie Country owed its name to a legendary sheep-stealer of pioneer days. Australia, with its convict origins, has a rich folklore about bushrangers, but law-abiding New Zealand celebrates few outlaws. The chief exception is James Mackenzie, a Highland Scot who was accused of sheep-stealing in the early years of the Canterbury settlement. It was said that he could "lift" (the New Zealand word for rustling) sheep in plain sight or, at least, in plain sound: he had trained his dogs in Gaelic, and openly gave them orders to round up flocks that witnesses could not translate. He knew the gullies and the gulches of the foothills of the Southern Alps as well as his native glens, and the sheep he was alleged to have stolen had a habit of permanently vanishing. This Robin Hood-like folk hero, for whose wealthy pastoralist victims humbler migrants felt little sympathy, had disappeared from the scene half a century before Patrick Reilly began to drive his flocks to the Mackenzie Country. Nonetheless, the district remained a challenge to European farming: it stretched to Aoraki / Mount Cook and snow was common in the winter. If sheep were to be run in the Mackenzie Country year-round, they would need supplementary feed, which was expensive to transport from the coast. A landscape that barely supported isolated islands of crude grass certainly did not invite the shovel or the plough. Patrick Reilly "claimed to be the first man to break up land in the Mackenzie Country to sow turnips." It was a unique, if admittedly minuscule, contribution to New Zealand history.

Coaxing turnips out of unfriendly ground was probably one of the skills the Reilly brothers had imported from County Waterford. They certainly cherished the memory of their home patch. Around Christmas 1900, they learned of the death of their father, and promptly announced the news in the New Zealand press. "On 19th November, 1900, at Prospect Hall, County Waterford, Ireland, Patrick Reilly, father of Patrick and John Reilly, of Timaru aged 75 years. R.I.P." A cynical display of filial piety that was good for business? It seems unlikely, for hardly anybody in the colony could have known either the person or the place. A few months later, a census enumerator called on their widowed mother at Prospecthall, and the reports have been preserved. Johanna Reilly could speak Irish, probably as her first language, for she could neither read nor write – literacy tended to go with a preference for English, since there were few books in the country's older tongue. Johanna was sharing the family home with a teenage girl, a cousin, who presumably acted as companion and carer. But it is a second form, a buildings' survey that describes the cottage, that gives us a glimpse of the life that the Reilly brothers preserved in their memories. The walls were solid, brick or more likely stone, but the roof was thatched. There were three front windows, which suggests three or four rooms inside, with the same cramped sleeping space under the thatch that Edith Collier had occupied at Bunmahon. Although amenities would have been sparse – the government survey did not even bother to ask about bathrooms – we should not rush to condemn the place as a hovel. In 2023, most of the old cottages have been swept away, to be replaced, in Prospecthall as across most of rural Ireland, by comfortable modern bungalows, but those that do survive can sometimes be surprisingly spacious within – as would be needed to accommodate the large families of the time. It is impossible to identify the exact location of the Reilly homestead, but the internal listing of the census forms confirms that it stood close to Ferrypoint. 

The brothers also announced Johanna Reilly's death, early in 1903, this time omitting their own names in the notice. Patrick and John may have been the only surviving children; they would probably have been the only offspring to have any spare cash. Their parents had been buried beside the Catholic church at Piltown, about two kilometres from Ferrypoint. The sons would never stand beside the grave, but they could and did make sure that it was appropriately marked. "Erected by Patrick and John Riely", the headstone proclaimed, the local monumental mason obviously being shaky on spelling, "in loving memory of their dear father … and also in loving remembrance of their beloved mother". Thus far, the sentiments were moving but conventional. The remarkable design feature is tucked in the top right corner of the headstone, a carving of a New Zealand fern. The silver fern had been adopted as an unofficial emblem by Kiwi sports teams as early as the eighteen-eighties, and the symbol was proudly worn by New Zealand volunteers fighting in the South African War of 1899 to 1902. Nonetheless, its use was still unofficial, and it would not have been much known overseas until the first (and very famous) All Blacks' tour in 1905 (they beat Munster 33-0). Its appearance in Piltown graveyard in or soon after 1903 must be one of the first international examples of the silver fern as a symbol of New Zealand. Patrick and John Reilly must have sent a sample, or a sketch, to form part of the headstone's design, and happily the mason was better with alsophila than with surnames. Sad to report, 120 years' exposure to the Waterford climate has weathered the headstone, although the fern can still be made out. It is a detail that speaks of two emigrant brothers who kept alive their sense of belonging to this small corner of Ireland, and in themselves embodied its connection with an exotic distant land. John Reilly retired from the hotel business in his early seventies, and died in the Auckland suburb of Epsom in 1942. His last months must have been clouded by the news that a son in the Army had become a prisoner of war. Although he did not embark upon farming until he was 50, Patrick Reilly had over forty years on the land, dying in 1948 at the age of 93. Waterford people are generally enthusiasts for horse racing: Patrick, a life member of the South Canterbury Jockey Club, was true to type.

A New Zealand symbol (top right) on a County Waterford headstone. The Reilly brothers honour their parents and signal the land of their adoption. 

Clashmore Eight kilometres north of Ferrypoint, the village of Clashmore is one of County Waterford's little-known gems. Little more than 100 metres in length, the sloping main street was probably laid out in the early nineteenth century. Most of the buildings predate the Famine years of the eighteen-forties: Clashmore's emigrants would recognise their old home if they could see it today. They would probably not be disappointed to learn that the Protestant church at the top of the street is now a secularised community centre, although they might feel surprised to discover that there is now (2023) a delicatessen in the village street where troops had to be summoned to quell an angry demonstration by 3,000 hungry people in September 1846.  

Clashmore's most idiosyncratic – and photogenic – feature is the ruined chimney of the former distillery, which seems to rise straight out of the stream. The distillery operated from 1825 to about 1840: some argue that it was bankrupted by a vigorous local Temperance movement which persuaded its customers to abandon their whiskey. For the car-bound tourist, the village offers opportunities for gentle exercise. From the south end of the main street, a woodland path leads downstream to St Mochua's well, and onward to the mysterious reed beds that engulf Raheen Quay. At the north end, the road makes a sharp turn towards the 'suburb' of Coolboa, with an attractive group of houses and the local Catholic church, built in 1827, a grim box viewed from without, but with a friendly barn-like interior.

The distillery chimney at Clashmore, which seems to rise out of a stream. Whiskey was made here from 1825 until about 1840. It is not clear whether it was economics that killed the project, or the campaign against alcohol. Garrett Russell, who arrived in Otago during the eighteen-sixties, was a lifelong abstainer.

One Clashmore migrant to New Zealand is interesting for his sheer ordinariness. People like Garrett Russell, who spent 35 years working as a labourer in New Zealand, do not usually get into the history books. Born about 1826, he would have been a young man at the time of the Famine, and probably took part in that angry demonstration when desperate west Waterford people besieged local magistrates, who were attempting to hold court hearings in the building that is now the village shop. We do now know when he left Ireland, but it is possible that he headed first for the goldfields of Australia, moving on to New Zealand where he arrived around 1866. There he worked as a labourer at a village called Fairfax, about two kilometres from the market town of Milton in Otago. (Fairfax is now called by its Māori name, Tokoiti, to avoid confusion with a small town of the same name in Southland, which also has Clashmore associations.)

He married in 1873, and the couple lived in a four-room cottage on a three-acre (1.2 hectares) block of land – a home probably similar to the one he had left in Ireland, but with enough garden ground to be self-sufficient in growing vegetables. They had no children. Garrett Russell would not have recalled Clashmore's famous distillery with any affection. An early convert to the campaign against alcohol, he remained a lifelong abstainer. He was also a devout Catholic, who was proud of the fact that his uncle had been Dean of the diocese of Cloyne. (Dean Russell had earlier been a popular parish priest in Youghal: he died in 1867.) Dominated by Presbyterian Scots, Milton was not a particularly welcoming place for Catholics, whose small chapel was tucked away in a side street. Garrett Russell was a staunch attendant: even "when extreme age and infirmity had set their grip upon him, he continued, almost to the last, to make his way to the Milton church, hobbling along painfully and with great difficulty and many a pause for needed rest". He continued his devotions at home, where he "devoted a lengthy portion of each evening to prayer, which included the 15 decades of the Rosary". His religion guided his lifestyle.  "He considered it a reproach if a tradesman's account were ever sent to him." Yet he was by no means wealthy. In 1898, New Zealand became one of the first countries in the world to introduce old age pensions. At first, they were means tested and applicants also had to secure certificates stating that they were of good moral character. As an upright teetotaler, Garrett Russell had no problem in becoming one of the first beneficiaries of the new welfare system. When he died in 1901, his total estate was worth less than €40,000 in 2023 values.

His Will revealed that he had not forgotten his Waterford origins. Indeed, it must have come as a shock to his widow when she discovered that Garrett had left their cottage and his small savings to his sister, Margaret Sisk, back in Dungarvan. The 1901 census shows Margaret Sisk living as a widow at Ballynacourty, Clonea, where the superb beach is known as Dungarvan's Gold Coast. The census described her as a "Dealer", and perhaps she ran a shop, catering for holiday makers. Maybe she had lent Garrett the cash to go New Zealand all those years before, and this was his way of repaying her. Mrs Johanna Russell contested the Will, and as no outcome of the case is reported, the two women probably reached a deal.  Even so, Johanna was plunged into poverty by her husband's death. In her final years, she was cared for by an Order of nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor. She died, at the age of 80, in their Dunedin convent in 1909.

There is one curious feature about Garrett Russell's Will, which gives us a glimpse of life in Clashmore in his childhood. He could read and write, skills he had probably acquired locally: in 1834, when he was eight years of age, over 300 children attended primary school in the village. The government-backed school system was a modernising influence in rural Ireland, since making youngsters literate generally meant encouraging them to operate in the English language. However, in other respects, Clashmore teachers seem to have been old-fashioned. When Garrett Russell carefully signed his Will – he probably didn't wield a pen very often – he used a long S in his surname, so that it looked like Rufsell. This was an eighteenth-century style, and it is curious to find its survival in a New Zealand document. His surname is remembered in his home village: the stroll to Coolboa crosses Russell's bridge, possibly named after a local politician from Victorian times, who managed to bestow benefits on his voters.

A short stroll from Clashmore's village street, tranquil Coolboa has hardly changed since this picture was taken about 1900. From the photographic collection of Waterford County Museum.   

In her book Irish Migrants in New Zealand, Professor Angela McCarthy of the University of Otago uncovered not just another Clashmore connection, but a minor goldmine of letters that showed how families tried to maintain contact across the world. About 1882, two sisters Mary Anne Keane (born 1859) and Bridget Keane (born 1863), emigrated to Dunedin from Shanacoole, a townland four kilometers south of the village. (In fact, Shanacoole looks across the Blackwater to Ferrypoint, and there is some evidence that the Keanes were related to the Reillys of Prospecthall: in a countryside of large families, interlocking networks of cousins were the norm.) The letters were written from the Irish end, mostly by Kate Keane, the sister who stayed at home, and who sometimes grumbled about being saddled with the responsibility of looking after their mother. Mary Anne and Bridget, she felt, could at least help with the cost of the old lady's medical treatment. "She have hardly any appetite at all but now I am asking you to try and assisst [sic] her … I hope you wont [sic] be so false hearted as not to do so." (In the Waterford dialect, "he have" and "she have" are still used for the standard English "he has" and "she has".)

Their brother John was a worry too, and there was some discussion of sending him to New Zealand to sort out his life. John was obviously expert at blaming other people for his failings, claiming in 1886 that his dissolute life was "through means of ye forgetting us here at home as much as ye did sat me nearly out of my mind". However, like Garrett Russell, he gave up the demon drink, thanks to a temperance society formed in Clashmore, which was even planning to start its own band. Unfortunately the reformed John Keane quickly presented the family with a new headache, a girlfriend named Catherine Doyle. "My biggest enemy," Kate Keane called her, "& so are all the Doyles for I cant [sic] bear the sight of any of them." In fact, Kate's Irish countryside was anything but a land of harmony. "Kate Hartnett & sister are my biggest enemies also. Every one hate them." Worse still, Kate felt inhibited about voicing her opinion of Miss Doyle, for fear that she would provoke John into fatal defiance. "He might take & marry her at once in order to vex us." In due course, Catherine did indeed become Mrs Keane, and the couple emigrated to the United States.

Of course, distance could sometimes be used to ration and filter information. Not long after the sisters reached New Zealand, Mary Anne reported that Bridget had married a Dunedin Irishman called Michael Harty. Kate was anxious to know "where her husband is from for there are many heartys round here". Mary Anne, it seems, had suppressed the embarrassing information that Bridget had married a Kerryman, a reckless gesture that would have raised eyebrows in Waterford, where Kerry was regarded as Wild West country. Nonetheless, the sisters stayed in touch for thirty years, even after Kate too had married and moved to London. One substitute for direct contact was the new medium of photography, which allowed families to keep memories alive by exchanging pictures. "For Friends in America, Australia and New Zealand," a Waterford City studio announced in 1890, "the most acceptable offering to send them by Post is a Beautiful Photograph of yourself." "If you have an old photograph do send me one just to remember you as I used to in the old days", Kate appealed to Mary Anne in 1918, adding "I am having some taken & will send you one". In response, Mary Anne, who had also married, sent a picture of her son. Kate was delighted to spot familiar family features in the young New Zealander. "I could at once recall your face Mary as I knew you at home, the same expression." In what seems to have been her last letter, in July 1921, Kate wrote in scornful condemnation of the heavy-handed repression inflicted by British forces in Ireland. "Piltown has suffered & up the Blackwater. … Patrick St Cork is in ruins by the Black & Tans". Mary Anne, who died in 1932, was honoured as "a charming old lady" with a "straightforward and affable disposition".  She had four children; Bridget lived until 1937 and was survived by twelve of her offspring.

Memorial to the Coghlan (or Coughlan) family at Clashmore, a story with a hidden New Zealand dimension. Four of patriarch William Coghlan's sons emigrated, but they were not forgotten. In the background, the former village school, where children were steered from speaking Irish to reading and writing in English.

Close to the doorway of St Cronan's church in Clashmore, a handsome Celtic cross commemorates members of the Coughlan family, who farmed at Knockbrack, a half-hidden wooded glen four kilometres south-east of the village. (Once again,we encounter a relaxed attitude to the spelling of proper names, this time in a U versus non-U version: the family were generally – but not always – Coghlan in Ireland but usually – although not invariably – Coughlan in New Zealand.) It was erected in honour of their patriarch, William Coghlan, who died in 1890 at the age of eighty. It does not relate that four of his sons emigrated to New Zealand, nor that – once again – siblings sought to maintain family links and memories, both among themselves in exile and from opposite ends of the world. Everyone accepted that the farm would pass to the eldest son, Patrick, and, by the early eighteen-eighties, he had probably begun to take over from his father. Certainly he was married by then, and children were beginning to arrive. It was expected that his four younger brothers would leave home and make their own way in the world. In 1884, Maurice and William emigrated to New Zealand: Cornelius (Con) and Harry also made the journey at about the same time. It was probably the trail blazed by the Dungarvan priests that took them to Otago and Southland. All the evidence points to an exceptionally close and affectionate sibling relationship. By terrible paradox, this would lead to a shocking tragedy.

The driving force among the brothers seems to have been Maurice, "a big and burly Waterford Irishman" (he had been a wrestler in his youth) who was noted for telling tall stories of his fishing exploits on the rivers of Otago. Although he claimed to be "naturally Irish in his willingness to take people at their face value on sight", it took him some years to understand the province's predominantly Scottish population. Eventually, he came to appreciate their cautious qualities, concluding that "the Scot is the best man on earth once you know him … but it takes a long while to know him". He even became active in the Caledonian Society, summing up his assessment of the Otago Scots in the wisdom and vernacular of his native Waterford: "'Tis the trees of slowest growth have the soundest timber". Coming from a farming background, it was natural that he started life in New Zealand by taking land near Fairfax in Southland, but within a few years he switched to the hotel (i.e. pub) trade, sometimes in partnership with his brother William. He managed hotels in Dunedin and the small towns of Clinton, Gore and Balcutha. There was a simple explanation for this mobility. The struggle between abstinence and alcohol that had marked the social values of Clashmore was transmuted in New Zealand into a political battle between the Temperance movement and the drink trade. Opponents of the bar and the booze used local licensing regulations to limit the number of outlets. As mine host, Maurice Coughlan attracted customers: anyone who "wanted a bit of a lift … blew along to Maurice, and generally went away feeling as if this wicked world held one good man, after all". This made him a target for the wowsers – as the militant teetotalers were called – and each time he established a successful business, they succeeded in closing him down.

Like John Reilly, he drifted north to Auckland, in 1912 taking over a hotel in the city centre. His larger-than-life personality was reflected in his breezy advertisements. ""Friend, are you looking for a drop of good, genuine unadulterated liquor? Then step round the corner to Maurice Coughlan's City Club Hotel, Shortland Street, Auckland." (Shortland Street is Auckland's financial district: the name was later borrowed for a New Zealand soap opera.) "All I ask my patrons is to see me, if they have the slightest doubt as to the quality of the liquor. Or, better still, ask the attendant to open a fresh bottle." Yet, for all his joviality behind the bar, Maurice still aimed to become a farmer. He soon sold up and took land at Pukekohe, south of Auckland. This time, he stuck by farming for about five years before returning to Dunedin to resume the lease of one of his earlier ventures, the Provincial Hotel. A twist of fate supplied him with ample capital. When New Zealand servicemen returned from the First World War, the country determined to honour its ex-soldiers by settling them on the land: what better sequel to fighting and killing than a peaceful life of rural self-sufficiency? The government purchased Maurice Coughlan's farm for a goodly price – £20,000, worth about €1.5 million in 2023 values – and cut it into smallholdings for the country's heroes. (Unfortunately, the policy of soldier settlement largely failed, since few of the men had any farming experience and the blocks of land allocated to them were not large enough to support a family.) Back in Dunedin, once again, energetic advertising fostered the Maurice Coughlan myth. "Good Attention. Good Liquor. Good People" was one of the hotel's slogans, which also offered "the finest ninepenny cigar in New Zealand".  A brief attempt to market the Provincial as an Irish pub does not seem to have struck any chords in so Scottish a city as Dunedin. Nonetheless, Maurice Coughlan was entitled to use the now-hackneyed tourism slogan, "céad míle fáilte" (one hundred thousand welcomes): census returns indicate that the Coughlans of Knockbrack were an Irish-speaking family. There was to be yet one more career zigzag, retirement to a farm at North Taieri on the outskirts of Dunedin. Maurice Coughlan died there in 1930.

If Maurice had led something of a charmed life, his brother William's experience was overshadowed by tragedy. By 1888, all four brothers were in New Zealand, and observers noted that they were "devotedly attached". Harry, the youngest son, was in Dunedin, where he was probably helping Maurice settle into the hotel trade: he would later become a publican on his own account. William was working on the railways, which made it easy for him to travel around. A "splendid vigorous young man, just over 30 years of age", Cornelius (Con) lived in a hut at Fairfax in Southland, where Maurice had attempted to farm. He was, in an odd way, a civil servant, holding an appointment as a "Government rabbiter", responsible for keeping down the imported bunny menace across a wide district. Armed with a shotgun and accompanied by "a handsome little fox terrier", he was a popular figure. In November, early summer in New Zealand, William had a Saturday off and was invited by Con to spend the day at Fairfax. He reached the settlement on an early train, and Con at once suggested the three of them – two brothers and the dog – should set out to hunt rabbits. Nowadays, the paddocks around Fairfax are neatly laid out, seeded with luscious grass. But in 1888, there was still native bush close to the settlement, with tussocks of dry grass, some of them the size of armchairs. William took charge of the shotgun, and was loading cartridges as they walked. Con announced that he was pushing on ahead to a spot that Harry had liked on a previous visit, where he proposed to sit down and enjoy a smoke. The disaster that followed happened – quite literally – in a flash, and even William was not sure of the precise details. He knew that he had stumbled, possibly while attempting to sit down, and Con turned back to check if he was all right. At that moment, the shotgun had discharged, hitting Con full in the face. William knew at once that his brother was dead. He threw down the gun and, shouting and sobbing, ran the two kilometres back to Fairfax where he stopped passers-by and told them he had killed his brother. A police constable led a search party into the bush, where they found Con Coughlan's body in a sitting position, his head lying back against a tree, his face dreadfully disfigured by the gunshot, which had obviously been discharged at close range. There followed a poignant melodrama to the larger tragedy. Con's faithful dog ferociously defended his dead master, preventing the rescuers from getting close to the corpse. Eventually, they had no alternative but to shoot the loyal terrier, who became the second victim of the day. 

News of Con's death was flashed to Dunedin by telegraph, and Maurice and Harry at once set off to support their devastated brother: the railways even put on a special train to hurry them as far as Invercargill. Although prostrate with grief, William was required to give evidence at the inquest two days later. "The poor follow, who was supported by his brother Maurice, was terribly affected." Everybody was sympathetic, and nobody could suspect that there had been any quarrel between such devoted brothers. The coroner emphasised that "there was not the slightest evidence to attach blame to anyone", and expressed "the greatest sympathy" for William.

Yet life continues even after the most searing of tragedies, and presumably William gradually came to terms with what had happened. In 1892 he married Ellen Lawton, an immigrant from County Cork. Children followed, with the usual hazards of infant mortality: the Coughlans lost two of their youngsters. In 1895, Ellen gave birth to twins, a son and a daughter. Their birth may have been premature, for the boy did not survive. As the girl, Catherine, grew up, everyone noted that she was very small for her age. But at least the household prospered.

In 1897, the partnership of Maurice and William Coughlan had finally taken charge of a hostelry that defied any attempt by anti-alcohol campaigners to quash its licence. Dunedin's Shamrock Hotel gave them a comfortable income: the bold device of providing a free lunch brought in profitable bar trade. William and Ellen now had a middle-class lifestyle, which they matched with middle-class aspirations. Their two teenage daughters would be educated by the Dominican nuns, a genteel Order who would impart a ladylike veneer. The girls were sent to a convent boarding school at Oamaru, 110 kilometres along the coast.

When term ended ten days before Christmas 1910, the girls were no doubt keen to get home to their families. A gaggle of them boarded the Dunedin train, taking their seats in a first class compartment near the front of the train. Its top speed was only about 50 kilometres an hour, but an onshore gale made it a bumpy ride, although the train crew denied that the weather was unusual. Catherine Coughlan needed to use the onboard toilet which was located in a rear compartment, as did another student, Marjorie Murray. The two girls made their way back along the train together, so that they could help one another cross between the carriages. "The gangway between the carriages of our trains is one of the clumsiest and most primitive of contrivances," one newspaper commented. The most awkward transition was from the dining car, which had been coupled in the middle of the train, but had been designed with a small rear observation platform intended to allow passengers view the retreating landscape. This appears to have been protected by a single handrail of two hinged bars which had been swung open to provide access to the next carriage. There was not much doubt that it was a hazardous link.  As the taller of the two girls, Marjorie "went over first, and then turned round to give her companion her hand, but when she turned Miss Coughlan was gone. It was blowing hard at the time." Thinking that the diminutive teenager might have changed her mind and returned to their first class carriage, Marjorie returned to learn that her companions had not seen their missing friend. At this point, they alerted the dining car staff who informed the guard that there was a missing passenger.

There was some criticism of the train crew from those who felt that they should have stopped the train at the wayside halt of Shag Point rather than continue a further eight kilometres to the regular station stop at the small town of Palmerston. The guard robustly defended the decision to keep going. Emergency braking would have been required to make an unscheduled stop at Shag Point, and he was still searching the train on the assumption that Catherine had got lost when they passed through. Although the line from Oamaru to Dunedin was the South Island's main railway, it was only a single track. Trains from the other direction could pass in Palmerston Station, which made it a more convenient place to stop if the service had to be delayed. The halt at Shag Point merely existed to service a coalmine. At Palmerston there was a team of platelayers – railway maintenance staff – who could be sent to explore the line on a hand-cranked trolley. In fact, by the time the trolley was dispatched, Catherine Coughlan's badly mangled body had been found by a passing cyclist. It was obvious that she had slipped under the handrail of the observation platform and been dragged along under the wheels. Her death must have been virtually instantaneous, and no earlier attempt to search could have saved her.

We can hardly begin to imagine the grief that would have overwhelmed Catherine's parents. William and Ellen Coughlan did not attend the inquest; identification evidence was given by the family's parish priest.  Ellen had been waiting to meet her daughter at Dunedin's railway station. For William, the horror of his daughter's death must have recalled those unforgettable images of his brother Cornelius, sitting immobile by a tree with half his face blown away. At his death in 1939, William Coughlan was remembered for his "bright and cheerful disposition", but exterior bonhomie must have masked a continuing burden of internal grief. 

Yet the Coughlan family's Celtic cross at Clashmore carried no hint of these distant tragedies. But this does not mean that emigrants were excised from the record, that they ceased to exist when they left Ireland, but rather that the New Zealand experience was a silent dimension that we have to recover, however faintly. Take, for instance, the tale of Margaret O'Connor, who emigrated from her home parish of Grange, six kilometres from Clashmore. Shortly after her arrival in Dunedin, she married Maurice Coughlan. A whirlwind romance between two people who happened to meet and discover that they a great deal in common? It is more likely that there had been an understanding between the couple before Maurice left Ireland, and that Margaret followed him across the world to a prearranged appointment at the altar. The memories were kept alive too in the farmhouse at Knockbrack, where the eldest son Patrick and his wife Catherine (they appear as Pat and Kate in one document) were raising their own family. Early in their married life, the couple produced three sons, given traditional and probably family names – Patrick, William and Michael. There followed a brood of daughters, before their last child, a boy, arrived in 1903. They called him Cornelius, almost certainly in honour of the unknown uncle who had been accidentally slaughtered in New Zealand.

The Clashmore neighbourhood has one other New Zealand connection, which can guide the visitor to one of the most scenic stretches of the Blackwater. The back lanes five kilometres south and west of the village end in a steep, potholed hill, a thatched cottage and a small riverside car park in the townland of Ardsallagh, which looks across the river to Ballynatrae House and Templemichael, with its ruined castle and abandoned church. The demesne of the eighteenth-century mansion, still a private residence, is sometimes open to walkers. The grounds include Molana Abbey, founded around 600 AD and an island site until 1806, when it was enclosed by dykes. A rich folklore gathered around these sites: locals would not pass Molana at night for fear of encountering spectral monks. There were ghost stories about Templemichael too, such as the tale of the knightly FitzGerald of the Middle Ages whose spirit protested that he wished to be buried with his kin at Ardmore, causing nocturnal commotions until his wishes were obeyed. It was from Templemichael that the Green family emigrated in 1866, no doubt bringing its memories and traditions with them.

The Greens arrived at Wellington on board the clipper Weymouth, an aristocrat among sailing ships. It was a fast passage – only a little over two months – but not one without problems. Three of its lifeboats were smashed in stormy weather off the coast of South Africa, and the crew mutinied when they reached New Zealand, protesting against their conditions on board ship – and one of them had been lost overboard. By contrast, the 48 passengers lined up and gave the captain three cheers before disembarking. (There had only been 47 when they left Gravesend on the Thames: the youngest migrant was only a few weeks old.) The arrival of the Weymouth was particularly notable because the ship was carrying submarine cable and the equipment to lay it across Cook Strait. Within a few months, the North and South Islands were linked by telegraph, an important step in the process of consolidating the disparate settlements into a New Zealand nation.

The Green family also crossed Cook Strait, to settle at Blenheim in the province of Marlborough. There nineteen year-old Margaret Green met John O'Sullivan, who was about ten years older and ran a sawn timber business. ("Arrangements made for delivery of Firewood to all parts of the Province.")  Their wedding followed within eighteen months of her arrival. Unlike Maurice Coughlan's marriage, this was a colonial romance. Born in England to Irish parents, Margaret's husband had arrived at the age of four in 1842, one of the first settlers in the province of Nelson, of which Marlborough then formed part. He was lucky to have survived the voyage. Medical standards had improved by the time the Greens sailed but, a quarter of a century earlier, there had been no proper health screening of passengers. A sick family had been allowed to embark, and no fewer than 63 small children died on the voyage.

The young couple were devout Catholics, who had to travel to the next town, Picton, to find a priest to marry them. John O'Sullivan was "a staunch adherent [who] did great service in the early days in conveying the priests from one part of the district to another, being especially ready to undergo hardship in the case of a sick call". The first of their twelve children was born the following year. Named after his father, he was described as "a quiet and promising lad" who was employed as a messenger in the telegraph department after leaving school. Sadly, at the age of eighteen, he was swept away while swimming in a local stream: the young man's body was never recovered. The parents' grief can still be detected in the dignified advertisements that John O'Sullivan placed in the local press, thanking his neighbours for "so kindly exerting themselves in the effort to recover the body of my late son, drowned in the Opawa River. The further services of any who may feel disposed to further continue the search will be gratefully appreciated." For his mother, who had grown up on the banks of the broad Blackwater, the bereavement must have seemed not only searing but also incomprehensible. At Templemichael the surging tide struggles with the flow of freshwater that floods downstream from the rain-soaked hills of Kerry, and children would have been warned to respect the river and its dangerous moods. To lose her son in the far smaller Opawa (now Ōpaoa) River was indeed a cruel fate.

The Green family may have been unusual in apparently leaving no relations behind in County Waterford but, throughout the Blackwater valley, it is possible to catch of echoes of the sense of loss caused by emigration. Kate Keane wrote of her sadness when her sisters departed for New Zealand. "I thought my heart would break thinking of ye both when ye were leaving us all." At least Kate could maintain contact by letter, but many emigrants lacked literacy skills and some became difficult to track down. In 1888, an Australian priest advertised in the New Zealand papers for Thomas Byrne, who had left Knockmaun, a townland between Dungarvan and Aglish, in 1864. Byrne had headed for California, and was known to have travelled on to Adelaide in South Australia three years later, before crossing the Tasman to the New Zealand goldfields. Father M. O'Connor, a priest in a small Murray Valley town, urged him to get in touch and "hear joyful news" – money?, a forgotten child? We shall never know. Sometimes, it may be suspected, kinship only became important because a distant relative died leaving money. When Patrick McCarthy, a retired baker, died in squalor in 1924, he was promptly tagged the Dunedin Miser, since his estate was worth nearly £7,000 – around half a million Euro is 2023 values – and he had no known heirs. A claim was eventually entered in 1940 by Patrick Bullen, a fisherman of Camphire, across the Blackwater from the attractive village of Villierstown, which had been laid out as a weaver's settlement in the seventeen-forties. Unfortunately, Bullen failed to make out his claim that his mother had been McCarthy's first cousin. The problem here was probably the absence of reliable birth and marriage records in nineteenth-century Ireland, and the impossibility of identifying a paper trail for any individual. The Miser was thought to have come from Thurles in County Tipperary, but his age and precise place of birth were unknown. Patrick McCarthy was a common name: the 1901 census counted over nine hundred of them in Ireland, a figure that of course omitted the emigrants. Bullen supplied a sheaf of affidavits from witnesses who affirmed that there was a relationship, but there was no substitute for attested birth certificates. 

Another wanderer provided a link to Strancally Castle, which in the Middle Ages had been notorious for its murdering hole: unwanted guests were dropped down a shute into the river below, like a scene from a James Bond movie. A short distance downstream from Villierstown, Strancally was rebuilt in 1830 in fake medieval style. Still a private residence, it can be glimpsed from Dromore Quay on the Blackwater, but the visitor will need a local map and some good luck to locate the lookout. Miss M. Stone was probably employed at Strancally as a governess to the family of its young Protestant squire when she advertised for news of her brother John. He had emigrated from Liverpool in 1859 on the Shooting Star, which had limped into Auckland with badly storm-damaged masts after a voyage just short of four months. The ship had brought 173 "stalwart" emigrants, 29 of them from Ireland, and all of "orderly and respectable bearing". John Stone was a gardener, an unusual occupation – only one gardener is listed among the Shooting Star migrants – he may well have learned his craft in the grounds of Strancally. His sister knew that he had found work in Auckland, but three years after his departure she was sufficiently worried by his silence to advertise for news. Perhaps her quest was successful: unusually for the Blackwater valley, brother and sister were probably Protestants, whose literacy levels were usually higher than their Catholic neighbours. In 1871, a gardener called John Stone gave evidence in a court case in Christchurch: the siblings had perhaps lost touch because he had moved to the South Island.

Other appeals for missing relatives were more poignant. Thomas Keeffe had emigrated from Cappoquin about 1880, and had been last heard of in Adelaide, although it was evidently assumed that he had travelled on to New Zealand. In 1895, he was "sought for by his mother".  Patrick Cotter had left for New Zealand from the pleasant village of Ballyduff, in the north-west corner of the county, at about the same time. He was last heard of in Sydney about 1887. Eight years later, his "widowed mother" appealed for news of him. Bridget Cotter was the local postmistress, evidently with the schooling needed to arrange advertisements in overseas newspapers. Many families lacked such skills, and must have simply fretted over the unresolved fate of a vanished relative.   

Glenshelane, Mount Melleray and Lismore  These three very different locations in the north-west corner of County Waterford are worth a visit, and each has its own New Zealand connection.

Glenshelane [glen-shi-laun: it means the glen of the fairies] is another of Waterford's peaceful but little-known woodlands. The full circuit is a demanding trek of over ten kilometres, but the less energetic will prefer to take a short stroll alongside the playful river before crossing  the footbridge and doubling back down the opposite bank. Like so many Irish households in that era, the Veale family, who farmed alongside Glenshelane, sent one of their sons to train for the priesthood. Ordained at the age of 27 in 1907, Peter Veale was a popular young man – "a fine young priest, who is loved by all" – and Cappoquin wished him well in his vocation. Nonetheless, it may seem surprising that he was immediately earmarked for the diocese of Auckland. Thanks to Bishop Verdon's seminary, New Zealand was beginning to train its own Catholic clergy. It was a long way to send a young man who could have had little or no experience of parish work. Reading between the lines, the most likely explanation was that young Father Veale was consumptive, suffering from lung problems that pointed to the development of a devastating affliction. Prior to the discovery of penicillin, there was no known cure for tuberculosis. Medics could recommend only conditions that might mitigate the symptoms. The most favoured of these were warm weather and bracing winds. Auckland had both.  Unfortunately, it was too late. By the time Father Peter Veale reached Auckland, in December 1907, he was seriously ill. Not even the nursing care of the Sisters of Mercy could save his life, and he died in March 1908. It was barely five months since he had made his farewells in Cappoquin, catching the early train to Rosslare. This was the first stage of a journey to London where he would board the luxury steamship Ortona. (Later, renamed the Arcadia, it became the world's first cruise liner. Sailors believe changing a ship's name can bring bad luck, and the Arcadia was sunk by a U-boat in 1917.) "Father Veale is gifted with a good many fine qualities of head and heart, and he is absolutely certain to have a successful career in that Christian mission at the Southern Cross," wrote a local journalist. "We all sincerely wish him well, and hope to see his return in the not distant future." But many of the locals who turned out on that October morning to cheer him on his way must have suspected that they might never meet him again. We shall encounter this story of distant bereavement again, and at almost the same time, in Lismore.

Mount Melleray  Six kilometres north of Cappoquin, beyond Glenshelane, the slopes of the Knockmealdown Mountains are home to Mount Melleray Abbey.

Mount Melleray Abbey.

The monks settled here in 1832 after they had been driven out of France – the original Melleray is in Brittany – thanks to an imaginative act of ecumenical entrepreneurship. A local Protestant landlord, Sir Richard Keane, owned the valueless barren hillsides. He reckoned that Cistercians, famed since the Middle Ages for their devotion to manual labour, would tame the wilderness, and thereby "set an example for the tenantry all round". The mountains were also bandit country, "a nest of sheepstealers" in Sir Richard's words, whose lawless inhabitants preyed on the decent folk in the valleys below. The intrusion of a monastic community would ensure both economic development and social control. The strategy eventually worked, although much of the preliminary site clearance was undertaken by volunteer work gangs from the surrounding parishes and, in the early years, the monks would have starved without gifts of food. Yet it could hardly be said that the project was fast-tracked.  The cathedral-like Abbey church that dominates the landscape was begun as a centenary project in 1933 and completed in 1940. (The stones were carted fifty kilometres from a mansion that had been destroyed during the Irish Civil War.) In recent times, the complex has contracted as the community itself has shrunk. A boarding school for boys closed in 1974. The classrooms were later demolished, but its dormitories are now a Scout centre. Other buildings have become a café and a heritage centre: the latter commemorates the Abbey's role in the founding of a daughter house at Kopua in New Zealand.  (There is a very readable account of the story by Abbot Brian Keogh of Southern Star Abbey on https://kopuamonastery.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/The-Founding-of-SSA-FINAL-web-version-26.7.2010-2.pdf.)

This unlikely project was born out of the interaction – sometimes collision is a better word – between two tough-minded clerics from opposite ends of the globe. When Peter McKeefry was pre-appointed Archbishop of Wellington in 1947, it seems that he aimed to establish New Zealand's first monastery. In personnel terms, the Catholic Church had needed first to import priests to serve its congregations – hence Bishop Moran's seismic visit to Waterford in 1881 – and then to train its own. From earliest days, nuns were also vital auxiliaries.  They were the teachers who set out to make a young lady out of Catherine Coughlan, the publican's daughter. They were the nurses who cared for young Father Peter Veale during his final illness. There were nuns everywhere. Father James Lynch had organised his Southland parishioners to build a convent at Wreys Bush. Monsignor Burke had died on a visit to the convent at Bluff. By contrast, monks, with their inward-looking, contemplative way of life, would have seemed a luxury in a country where Catholicism was a minority faith whose people had worked hard to lay the foundations of a local Church. But to Archbishop McKeefry, New Zealand-born of parents from the North of Ireland, a monastery would be the final brick on the ecclesiastical edifice, the icing on the clerical cake, the symbol that the Church had arrived.

An opportunity to realise his dream soon presented itself. Tom and Rosalie Prescott owned a 500-acre (200-hectare) farm in a remote area of the eastern North Island, "between Dannevirke and Waipukurau, Central Hawke’s Bay" as the monastery's own website describes it. A devout couple (they called their property "Veradomus", which means "true house"), they wanted to guarantee "a home for life" for their adopted son John, whose disability required constant care. To that end, they planned to pass their property to the Church, with the wish that it should eventually become an agricultural college. This was a proposal that later caused complications, and the donors' wishes were tacitly set aside. Archbishop McKeefry saw the Prescott property as the obvious location for a community of farmer-monks who would till the land and care for young John. All he needed was a suitable monastery to send spare brethren to establish the nucleus of a daughter abbey. Unfortunately, his initial approaches to Cistercian houses overseas fell on stony ground. Continental abbeys were recovering from the Second World War. In Ireland, Roscrea Abbey was committed to starting a daughter house in Scotland, while Mount Melleray's efforts were directed to the founding of an abbey in Northern Ireland. It was not until 1952 that McKeefry secured the breakthrough he had hoped for.

The more he heard about the New Zealand project, the more Dom Celsus O'Connell's interest was aroused. Elected Abbot of Mount Melleray in 1933, he was certainly a holy man, but by no means an unworldly person: he had, after all, overseen construction of the Abbey's massive church. Before coming to County Waterford, he had served the Cistercian Order in Rome and in England. If the truth be told, behind the monastic habit of this cloistered abbot, there lurked a would-be globe-trotting tourist. In 1952, that alternative personality burst out. In the nineteenth century, the Waterford community had founded New Melleray, a daughter abbey in the American Midwest, and this gave Abbot O'Connell an excuse to make a friendly visit. Before leaving, he set his cap at the Archbishop of Wellington, writing to inform His Grace that he was on his way to Iowa, where he would be happy to receive suggestions. McKeefry took the hint, responding with heavy humour: "You are nearly half way to New Zealand. … I am willing to pay your return ticket to the United States". A few weeks later, a delighted Abbot O'Connell was inspecting the paddocks of the Prescott homestead.

Of course, after accepting such a massive freebie, Dom Celsus was virtually committed to the founding of a Cistercian community in New Zealand. Nonetheless, he was uneasy. Rosalie Prescott seemed keener on the project than her husband, who talked of transferring the land in instalments. More worrying was McKeefry's announcement that, to get around New Zealand tax law, the property would have to be vested in the archdiocese, at least until the new monastery became a legal entity. The promise to start an agricultural college was also a problem, since Dom Celsus insisted that this did not fit with the Cistercian ethos – an odd objection given that Mount Melleray ran a boarding school for boys. McKeefry's soothing reassurance was hardly straightforward: the promise had to be made in order to persuade the Prescotts to hand over the land, but it would be for the new community to determine the appropriate moment to launch the project. The implication was that, since it had taken Mount Melleray 108 years to complete its church, the right moment might be – never. The Abbot began to wonder whether the Archbishop was altogether to be trusted.

Nonetheless, the scheme went ahead. Six monks from Mount Melleray were selected as "Pioneers": one of them, Father Fintan O'Neill, was a Waterford man. He came from the Dungarvan suburb of Abbeyside, which owes its name to an Augustinian house – in fact, a friary – closed by Henry VIII in 1541. Journalists were fascinated by the story of their planned journey to New Zealand – by passenger liner from Southampton through the Panama Canal. The monks of Mount Melleray belonged to the Trappist Order, famed for their vow of silence: how would they manage on board ship? (The answer, sensibly enough, was that the rule was relaxed for the voyage.) On 29 April 1954, Abbot O'Connell bade farewell to the advance party from the Abbey's front porch – and then headed for Shannon airport, determined to meet them at the other end and help launch the new project.

This should have been the start of a fairytale migration of holy men. In fact, it began six months of misunderstanding and ill-feeling that came close to torpedoing the new Abbey altogether. The Abbot was partly to blame. He had rejected the offer of a prefabricated dormitory on the grounds that Cistercians worked with their hands and must undertake their own buildings, but McKeefry was perplexed to receive complaints from him about the inadequacy of the temporary accommodation. More broadly, the initial problems largely stemmed from the Archbishop's determination to unite people with different aims in support of a project that had not been fully considered. For instance, the Prescotts apparently did not know that the Cistercian day commences at 3.45 a.m., and even having a silent Order on their property disrupted their sleep. There were difficulties, too, about the extent of land to be handed over, and the location of the monastic complex. Soon, the monks found they could neither work nor pray.  But the key reason for the near-breakdown in relations between the two senior clerics was legal. McKeefry pressed ahead with arranging the transfer of the land to a board of five trustees, only one of whom would be a representative of the monks. The remaining four were the Prescotts, the Archbishop and the diocesan lawyer. It did not help that Abbot Celsus was on his way home when he realised what had happened, and felt forced to make decisions an ocean away from New Zealand. During a stop-off in Iowa in July 1954, he sent McKeefry two angry letters. "We have made a mistake. The sooner the foundation is concluded the better," he announced in the first. The missive that followed was notably lacking in charity. "The ugly tricks you have played in arranging that the contract be signed behind my back make me lose confidence in your sincerity." Essentially, like so many conflicts in Irish and New Zealand history, this was a dispute about the ownership of land which, as one of the Kopua monks wrote, was "the foundation rock" of the Cistercian way of life. "We cannot hold property in trust with the Archdiocese."

Of course, the project had gone too far to be abandoned without public humiliation and scandal all round. McKeefry played hardball, threatening to refer the matter to Rome. Abbot Celsus would have realised that he would not come well out of a slow and intrusive Vatican investigation: there was no such thing as a free ticket to New Zealand. But the Archbishop also sought to resolve the practical grievances on the ground, so much so that when the monks received a peremptory message from Mount Melleray in August – "Quit New Zealand and come home" – they tactfully ignored it. Formulae were found to get around the legal concerns, and in September O'Connell drew upon ethnic stereotype to offer McKeefry a half-apology: "you can forgive strong language from an Irishman". The following year, eight more monks made the journey from the Knockmealdowns to Hawke's Bay. Southern Star Abbey was formally constituted as an independent foundation in 1959. Ten years later, Peter McKeefry became New Zealand's first cardinal.

Remote from highways and habitation, the peace of Mount Melleray is almost palpable. The monastery offers retreats for those who wish to explore their own spirituality, while a network of walking trails ("pilgrim paths") challenges more energetic visitors. Certainly, it is hard to imagine this sanctuary of calm as the backdrop to the story of muddle and suspicion that underlies the founding of Southern Star Abbey. Some may feel that the saga proves that faith can move mountains. Others may suspect that trust is important too.

The second contingent leaves Mount Melleray for New Zealand in 1955. A few months earlier, mistrust and harsh words between the Abbot and the Archbishop of Wellington seemed on the point of derailing the project of an abbey in remote Hawke's Bay. From the photographic collection of Waterford County Museum.

Lismore A six-kilometre run along the main N72 highway alongside the Blackwater west from Cappoquin culminates in the dramatic view of Lismore Castle etched against the skyline. The last town in west Waterford, Lismore is a honeycomb of odd corners, each with an indefinable charm. Perhaps the most timeless is the short, tree-lined North Mall, which leads to the Church of Ireland cathedral, the secondary centre of the combined diocese of Waterford and Lismore. Not much larger than an English parish church, it is crammed with memorials to landlords, estate managers and clergy, conveying the impression that, historically, Lismore was a Protestant island in the Catholic ocean of west Waterford. Perhaps that is why the town's Catholic church, erected between 1881 and 1884, was designed in a flamboyant style called Lombardo-Romanesque. Its Italianate campanile just manages to peep along Chapel Street towards the town centre, making the architectural point that some – maybe most – of the people of Lismore gave their loyalty to Rome.

In one of the few County Waterford towns to be dominated by a Protestant elite, St Carthage's church at Lismore defiantly proclaims the spiritual allegiance of the majority of the local population through its Italian-style architecture. It was built in 1884. This photograph dates from about 1910, when Archdeacon Thomas McGrath was mourning two brothers who had died in Wellington. From the photographic collection of Waterford County Museum.

A stained-glass window in the south transept commemorates Archdeacon Thomas McGrath, who was parish priest here from 1898 until his death in 1911. Like the Coughlan family cross at Clashmore, the window has a hidden dimension of a New Zealand story. One of the Archdeacon's brothers, Maurice McGrath, had emigrated there in his early twenties. We rightly think of nineteenth-century Ireland was a poor country, but it was precisely the need to insure against poverty that determined the educational strategy of the middle class – a term that includes prosperous farming families. They trained their sons for the professions, with the paradoxical result that Ireland over-produced doctors, engineers, lawyers – and (of course) priests. When Maurice qualified as an engineer around 1880, it was difficult for a new graduate to find work at home – but New Zealand had reached the stage where the colony was building railways and launching other public works schemes. Maurice McGrath worked on a series of infrastructure projects, mostly around the capital, Wellington. When Wellington had been founded in 1840, it had seemed an ideal location for a small town, a protected harbour within Port Nicholson, sheltered by hills from the storms of the Tasman Sea. However, as Wellington began to grow into a city, its switchback landscape created obstacles for the sprawling conurbation. In 1906, Maurice McGrath was engaged in driving a tunnel through one of the ridges to extend the urban tramway system to the isolated suburb of Seatoun. (Nowadays, it is a road tunnel.) In fact, he had only recently been prevailed upon to take over the project, on top of other work, following the death of the previous contractor. At the age of fifty, he may well have been working too hard.

Five years younger than Maurice, William McGrath had followed Archdeacon Thomas into the priesthood. Initially sent to Australia, he could not handle the baking summer heat of Bathurst in the interior of New South Wales. Here we should note that the McGraths were not merely devout, but well connected in the clerical power structure: Maurice had married Olive Redmond. William McGrath was transferred to the gentler climate of New Zealand's North Island. There may have been a Waterford network in operation as well: the McGrath homestead was in the townland of Ballyristeen, six kilometres north-west of Annestown, birthplace of the successful south Taranaki farmer and Catholic Church benefactor, Nicholas Hearn. It is unlikely to be coincidence that Father McGrath was initially appointed to a curacy at Hawera and later became the parish priest at nearby Patea. Certainly, he was in attendance at Hearn's funeral in 1904. He was popular: when he left Hawera, parishioners regretted the loss of "your genial presence, your sweet smile and kindly word". At Patea he would be remembered for "kindness of heart and broadmindedness". In his mid-forties, he looked a picture of health. Nonetheless, there were concerns that his harsh Australian experience had left a legacy of cardiac problems: ominously, he complained of chest pains.

As with other Waterford emigrant families, the McGraths sought to keep in touch within the colony and across the world. In late August 1906, Father William arranged to spend a few days with Maurice and Olive at their Wellington home. On the Friday, while Maurice rode the ferry to a business appointment in the satellite community of Lower Hutt, William called on friends around the city. Evening found him strolling along Willis Street in the central business district, probably heading for the waterfront to greet his returning brother. There he was struck by a fatal heart attack.  Maurice McGrath did indeed land shortly afterwards, and happened to be walking with a companion along Willis Street when he saw a crowd of bystanders. "Let's see what's up", he remarked, pushing through the throng to get a glimpse. To his horror, he found his own brother lying dead on the pavement, with police officers trying to identify the corpse. There followed the ordeal of a massive funeral at Patea, at which Archbishop Redwood presided, supported by priests from all over the North Island. There were even four local Protestant clergy in attendance to express their respect for Father McGrath. It was no surprise that, when he returned home to Wellington, Maurice took pen and paper and wrote to Archdeacon Thomas. The letter would take the best part of two months to arrive in distant Lismore but no doubt the act of writing helped him to reach out and share the pain with his brother in Ireland.

The misfortunes continued. Within days of Father William's funeral, news arrived of the sudden death of Olive McGrath's brother, aged just forty. Maurice's resistance was undoubtedly low, and in mid-September he succumbed to a bout of influenza.  Reports are sketchy, but it seems that the 'flu turned to pneumonia, which generated a pulmonary embolism. The medics decided that an operation was necessary to clear the obstacle. In those days, surgery was always hazardous. Maurice McGrath died on 26 October, two months after his brother's William's fatal heart attack. He left four young children.

The news reached Lismore by telegram before the delivery of Maurice's handwritten account of the tragedy in Willis Street. There was sympathy locally for the Archdeacon both in his double bereavement, and in the poignant manner in which he received Maurice's account from beyond the grave. As one Waterford journalist wrote, "the writer of the letter was in eternity before his letter reached his brother in Lismore". Perhaps in a secular age it is too easy to assume that the loss of family members was somehow easier for clergy to bear, since they dealt with death and preached the consolations of religion. This was not necessarily the case. Archdeacon McGrath was a sensitive man. As a young priest, he had suffered a breakdown after his duty required him to attend the hanging of a parishioner. Irish Catholic funeral rituals seek to channel grief within ceremonial, but there are no passage rites for bereavements that are notified in the cold type of a telegram. Archdeacon Thomas McGrath died in 1911, although his memorial window curiously bears the date 1904. It is also noteworthy for a cameo of Lismore Castle and the town's bridge over the Blackwater, a kind of picture postcard in stained glass.

The memorial window to Archdeacon Thomas McGrath in St Carthage's Catholic church, Lismore. The date is a puzzle, since he died in 1911, and the cameo of Lismore Castle is hard to explain.

Reflections From Lismore, the highway leads west towards Killarney and the Ring of Kerry, or to the city of Cork and the Atlantic peninsulas beyond. Travelling through Ballyduff, departing visitors are invited to spare a thought for Bridget Cotter, the widowed mother running the village post office and yearning for news of the son who had sailed away and disappeared. At the county bounds, a few thoughts on Waterford- New Zealand links may be appropriate.

It is important stress that the connection operated on a two-way basis. Bishop Moran's visit in 1881 set off a trickle of priestly emigrants, no doubt small in numbers but noteworthy in their impact, especially in the diocese of Dunedin. They made return visits, allowing Father Patrick Power to thrill the inhabitants of Dungarvan in 1909 with his colourful invocation of New Zealand as the islands of the blest. Soon after, Edith Collier arrived to capture the scenery and the people of Bunmahon. A related theme, especially in west Waterford, was the determination of families to maintain contact across the world, coupled with the palpable sense of loss when an emigrant relative ceased to communicate. In some places, there are physical memorials, either gravestones or modern commemorations, but perhaps the most poignant memorials are those of families like the Coughlans, McGraths and the Reillys where there is a silent, unrecorded New Zealand dimension that needs to be woven back into the story.

Maybe is it not surprising that there are random elements behind Waterford's connections with New Zealand. Hobson and Triphook had sworn to serve Queen Victoria as officers in her armed forces. It happened by chance that their duty took them to an exotic land in the south Pacific. Alfred Bennett, the young radio operator from New Plymouth, certainly did not plan to be swept into an uncomfortably close encounter with the dangerous reefs of Tramore Bay. In one instance, an unrelated list of events combined to bring about tragedy. The downturn in the fortunes of the Tankardstown copper mine forced engineer Stephen Richards to emigrate, which explained how he found himself running a Coromandel goldmine where most of the skilled workers were sacked for thieving nuggets. When a young Waterford man came looking for a job, Richards recalled his family as reliable workers and took a chance on John Lawlor's lack of mining experience. He was crushed in a rock fall a few months later. A respectable young seamstress, Miss Burns was on her way to join her sister in Wellington when her ship put in to Lyttelton, giving her the opportunity of an excursion on shore. On the streets of Christchurch, she unexpectedly encountered a photograph of the controversial Preacher Sullivan, whom she identified as Arthur Clampett. Clampett's farrago of fantasy was probably already crumbling, but presumably he had not expected to be unmasked by a former neighbour from the city of Waterford.

Perhaps a more general reflection on the stories that emerge from the Déise-Kiwi interplay is the thought that events can be both remote and recent, long ago in time but sometimes still reverberating in our own vivid present. This is particularly true of New Zealand, for all that we may think of it as a 'new' country. It is almost two centuries since Captain Hobson concluded the Treaty of Waitangi, but its interpretation remains key to the evolution of a shared New Zealand heritage. For Simon Bagge Triphook, the attack on Te Irihanga represented just another day's soldiering, but – 150 years later – its destruction was  still mourned by Tauranga Māori. For Ireland, the comparable national trauma of the mid-nineteenth century, the Famine of the eighteen-forties, functions in a more subtle form, part of the background to the national psyche, as much miasma as memory. It is striking to realise that some of the earliest Waterford people in New Zealand had lived through those ghastly years of the late eighteen-forties: Garret Russell from Clashmore, for instance, was in his early twenties when the potato crop first failed. We do not know whether the survivors kept alive their recollections of horror in New Zealand.  Perhaps they deliberately excised them, as part of the discarded baggage of a life that they had rejected because it had rejected them – although the efforts that the exiles made to keep in touch, among themselves and across the globe, make this amnesia unlikely. Most of the late nineteenth-century emigrants were born in the years immediately after the Famine, and would have carried traditions with them. Yet it is curious that they do not seem to have held on to Irish, which remained the principal language – certainly of west Waterford – until at least the eighteen-sixties. Kate Keane from Shanacoole, literate but not highly educated, wrote her letters in the forceful Waterford English that she undoubtedly spoke: the school system ensured that being able to read and write meant literacy in English. Knowing that their numerous broods were condemned to emigrate, parents ceased to pass on the old language, but surely there were Waterford migrants who had grown up communicating with grandparents in the only tongue the older generation knew. The 1901 census shows that many of the young adults who were left behind understood Irish, but in New Zealand we have only Maurice Coughlan's use of "céad míle fáilte" to advertise the fact that he was running Dunedin's Irish pub.

Hence we close this journey through County Waterford with a paradox, the possibility that the world the emigrants carried with them is now further from modern Ireland than it is – in certain respects – from their adopted home in New Zealand. Of course, there is much more to Waterford – its people, its past -- than the connections identified in this essay, and the fact that the county is relatively, if inexplicably, ignored makes it all the more attractively uncrowded and unhurried to explore. I hope that, just as the argument may be made vice-versa, the Kiwi dimension will add something to Waterford, and that visitors from New Zealand may feel some sense of affinity, even of ownership, in this beautiful part of Ireland. Whether the journey is made by road or by laptop, I say to those who choose to follow Waterford's links with New Zealand: "kia ora" and, yes, "céad míle fáilte" too.

Farewell to County Waterford: Ballyduff in 1905. From the photographic collection of Waterford County Museum.

Acknowledgements Many people have generously helped in the compilation of this heritage tour, several of them contributing much time and great skill. I offer my thanks to them all and hope that I have adequately expressed my appreciation privately.  I am also grateful to the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua, Whanganui, for permission to use images of Edith Collier's paintings, and to Waterford County Museum for access to its photographic archive. As ever, Déise Design of Dungarvan proved that not all the talent in County Waterford emigrated.   

For other material on the history of County Waterford on martinalia, see "Waterford on www.gedmartin.net"