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An O'Grady Path into New Zealand History
by P. Danenberg, M. Murtagh & R. Murtagh

This story of our Thomas O'Grady is presented in three parts. The first part gives our best estimate of our Thomas's early family history in Ireland for the period between 1554 AD up until he emigrated from Ireland to New Zealand in 1861. It deals mainly with his NZ-documented parents, Daniel O'Grady and Bridget O'Loughlin, but also extends a little beyond 1861 for the family that he left behind. The second part gives a brief summary of his children's lives and of their families that he and his wife, Frances, produced in NZ. The third part gives a more detailed account of Thomas's life in NZ up until his death in 1913, and covers in particular the more personal aspects of his career in the NZ Police Force. Readers may note that an article on Thomas O'Grady researched and compiled independently by Ann O'Grady of Christchurch is posted elsewhere on this website. Ann's paper is a detailed presentation of photographs and newspaper articles arising from incidents in Thomas's career in the Police Force and dovetails with this article rather nicely.

While the last two of our parts are based on facts and figures available in NZ archives, and so can be regarded as reasonably accurate, the first part is much more speculative. Even in 1861 when our Thomas left Ireland, the registration of birth, death, and marriage details for individual people in Ireland was neither compulsory, nor centralized, nor consistent, and relied primarily on variable quality parish records. While other sources of pedigree information were available for some parts of the society, notably the higher level, land-owning families, we had firstly to find and then learn how to investigate these other forms of data that had survived in Ireland. And from this patchy data in newspapers, land-records, legal deeds, some church records, the internet, and various pedigrees held in depositories such as the National Library of Ireland and the National Archives of Ireland, we have gradually compiled this early history as well we can. The end result is perhaps the most diverse and interesting path from all of our New Zealand families, but we have to qualify it by saying that it is still speculative in parts. Not everyone will agree with our interpretation of the facts that are at hand, but we have tried hard to interpret all of the facts very carefully, and especially in light of the then current conventions in Ireland. We've considered alternative possibilities (as indicated in the story) but have had to settle on the version as presented. Nevertheless, "our door is always open" to other suggestions and to the discovery of other relevant information.

Of particular interest to our New Zealand relatives will be the brief historical summary of the early O'Grady history in Co. Clare, that we've tried to piece together to provide a context for our O'Grady story. It was obtained mainly from the Clare Library website (which is gratefully acknowledged) and from other internet sources that are referenced. This history with its own uncertainties is appended to the first of the three of our overall story.


Part 1:

The Clare O'Gradys

Appendix: O'Grady History prior to 1800

Part 2:

Thomas O'Grady's Descendants

Part 3:

Life and Times of Sgt-Major Thomas O'Grady


Thomas O'Grady
Thomas O'Grady


See also
Sergeant Major Thomas O'Grady: Father of the New Zealand Police Force by Ann O'Grady


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