Another episode in a series of blog posts as part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge for 2019. I’m using this to write about some of the thousands of people with the Heenan surname that I’ve found in my research.
Today’s subject is a man who like so many thousands of others left Ireland to begin a new life in Australia.
I came across Maurice Heenan when I was researching my own family tree and was trying to locate the Maurice Heenan who was my great great great grandfather. All I had to go on was that the family came from the Kilbehenny parish of County Limerick.
Although I did find a Maurice Heenan from that parish it turned out that he wasn’t my guy. But by then I had followed him to the other side of the world to the state of Victoria in Australia where he became a highly successful farmer.
I know next to nothing about his early life other than he married a Mary Fitzpatrick. At his death he was said to have been 69, making his birth around 1826 but I have not been able to confirm this.
By 1854 the couple were in Mosquito Plains (now called Naracoorte) in what was then the Colony of Victoria, South Wales. The town was founded in around 1845-7 and grew during the 1850s as a service town for people going to and from the Victorian gold rush. It was otherwise largely a rural area of sheep, cattle and wheat farming.
Their first son Michael was born there on 22nd September 1854. A further seven children followed, most of them born around Coleraine, a town further east of Naracoorte. It was here that Maurice Heenan acquired land and began to establish himself as a farmer. By the time of his death in 1875 he had built up the farm to around 640 acres of land in two sections.
At the time of his death newspaper reports described him as ” a well to do agriculturalist and stock breeder owning farms at Carapook and Saltpans.” That description is verified by a detailed inventory of his assets for the purposes of probate. The administrator of his estate recorded the land, equipment, livestock together amounted to £9113, a substantial amount for the period.
His death caused something of a stir locally.
He was last seen early evening on 11 September 1895, when he rode out of Coleraine “being at the time under the influence of liquor.” His body was discovered two hours later, face down in sludge at the bottom of a creek. His horse, still wearing its saddle and bridle, was found grazing nearby with its belly half covered in mud. Police determined that the horse must have slipped and fallen into the creek and that the rider had been thrown and in essence drowned in the mud.
At the time of his death he had five sons and a daughter still living.
Michael Heenan, Denis Heenan, Patrick Heenan, Lawrence Heenan and Maurice Heenan were all living and working as farmers in the Carapook area , and a daughter Margaret. Three other children, Ellen, Mary and Thomas had died earlier.