Sunday, March 3, 2024

Australian family travels to Ireland in search of lost family heirloom in Carlow village

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More than 130 years after the Finn family left Ireland, their Australian descendants return home in hopes of reuniting with ‘TF Stone’.

“Getting the stone, or seeing the stone, and walking the farm would be a good way to end what has been a journey,” Paul Finn said this week from his home in Brisbane, Australia. he said. It started 180 years ago.

Thomas Finn was born in Ireland in 1843. At the time, Ireland was on the brink of a great famine.

Thomas was just a young child when famine struck Ireland, but he managed to survive and when he was older he started a family and became a farmer in the small town of Kilcoltrim, near Boris, County Carlow.

Thomas and his children worked hard on the Finnish farm in Kilchortrim, but times were still tough and employment opportunities were scarce.

Thomas’ two children, Mary and Joseph, made the difficult decision to immigrate to Australia in 1886 under the Australian Government’s Migration Assistance Scheme in search of a better life.

Under this plan, countless skilled Irish workers uprooted their lives in Ireland and emigrated to the other side of the world.

Thomas and the rest of the Finn family were initially forced to remain in Ireland, as the Australian government only offered jobs and free travel to Australia to skilled Irishmen.

Joseph Finn was Boris’s coachbuilder by trade. When he disembarked in Australia, he was given a job as a carpenter building houses. His sister Mary, who was a skilled seamstress, was also hired to work at Finney’s, her Brisbane department store, and built a new life for herself.

Five years later, in 1891, the entire remaining Finn family, except one, Thomas’ son Martin, who emigrated to America instead, made the long and arduous journey to Australia to join Mary and Joseph.

The decision to move from the only home he’s ever known weighs heavily on Thomas. But he reluctantly accepted that there was no future for his children in Ireland at the time.

The day has finally arrived for the Finn family to leave their life in Ireland behind and make a new start in Australia. But Thomas wasn’t ready to give up on his Irish roots just yet. As part of his final act of humility towards his beloved country and the land he has cultivated, he inscribed his initials ‘TF’ into a stone in the wall of his home on a Finnish farm in Kilchortrim. I carved it.

The TF Stone and the stories surrounding it have survived through the generations, reaching Thomas’ great-grandson, Paul Finn, who now lives in Brisbane, Australia.

Paul, along with his wife Raphael and their three daughters Ashley, Caitlin and Bronte Finn, track Thomas back to his native Ireland in search of the TF Stone, which was last seen in Kilcoltrim.

Following in the footsteps of his ancestor Thomas Finn, Paul and his family have their own farm in Australia. They now hope to find the stone and bring it back to a farm in Australia to reunite Thomas’ memory with his farming roots.

When Paul researched his family tree to find out more about what became of his great-grandfather Thomas Finn and the stone he carved in Kilcoltrim, he was surprised to find the first piece of the puzzle just five minutes from his home in Brisbane. Found it in the distance. .

“I found out that Thomas’ son, Joseph Finn (my great-grandfather), became a house builder in Australia. The house he built still stands in Brisbane, just a short distance from where I live. We found out it was five minutes away,” Paul explained.

“We also found his grave, and it turns out I was driving by it every day without realizing it.”

Joseph Finn emigrated to Australia in 1886

When the pieces started to fall into place for Paul, he tracked down his great-grandfather Thomas Finn to Sydney.

“We went to Sydney and also found Thomas’ grave. Thomas had emigrated to Australia with the rest of his family in 1891. His only occupation was as a farmer, so he moved to Queens to work on a farm. He was sent to the interior of the Rand.” But he didn’t like too much heat.

“So he ended up getting a job as a bus driver in Brisbane. He also built a house in Brisbane, which was demolished by the government to make way for the railway.”

“Thomas seems to have been very upset about this and returned to Sydney with his wife and two children. At this point it’s a bit unclear what Thomas did next. But , my uncle told me that he thought Thomas was running the store.”It’s over there, but I don’t know what kind of store it is.” ”

Looking for more answers, Paul came across an article in a Carlow newspaper printed in the 1990s. This article reminded me of the story of Thomas Finn’s departure from Kilcoltrim and TF Stone. A woman named Bridgey Doyle, who was present on the day Thomas Finn left for Australia, had reminded many people around Carlow of the story of Thomas Finn and TF Stone before she died. She was still a young girl when Thomas left, but her memories of that day are quoted in her article.

Paul had a hard time finding the source of the article, but at the end of the article there was an advertisement for a 24-hour recovery service from a company called Brian Kelly. The business happened to be based in Boris, where the Finn family was originally from.

“I didn’t know what paper it was from or what era it was from, but underneath it was a Brian Kelly tow ad,” Paul recalls.

“It turns out that Brian Kelly’s towing is still going on. So I emailed Brian Kelly’s towing and within 10 minutes he got back and said he knew about the Finns. He said he knew exactly where the Finnish farm was once located.

“I thought to myself, ‘How on earth do I know where Finn Farm was when everyone left there over 130 years ago?'”

After Thomas Finn left in 1891, the farm and home eventually fell into disrepair. One hundred years after Thomas left, a man named Willie Hayes decided to build a cabin using stones from the old Finn family. Although he had heard stories about his TF stones, he was still shocked when he found one with the initials TF etched into it.

Willie Hayes has since passed away, but Paul still keeps in touch with Willie’s son, Shem Hayes, who lives in Boris.

“Sem now lives on the property where a cabin was built using the Finn family’s stone. He said he saw the stone and didn’t throw it away, knowing it was somewhere on the property. told me.”

“I hope Shem finds it by the time we get there. If he hasn’t, I’ll take a look, but I’ll take the opportunity to tell you that my great-grandfather farmed it. I would like to walk through the land and see if there are any ruins left.”

Paul, his wife Raphael and their three daughters will travel from Australia to Kilcoltrim on January 4th to search for the famous TF Stone. But importantly for Paul, this trip brings him a connection to his great-grandfather, as he will be walking on land that his ancestors once walked. This trip will reunite the Finn family with the original Finn Farm. This is exactly what Thomas wanted.

“It’s nice to get the stone, but more importantly I want to walk over the old Finn farm. It’s been a long journey looking for my family tree. I met my wife. It was the ’80s and she was from Dublin and so were her parents.” Obviously Irish, so Ireland has been a big part of our family for a long time.

“At the time, I didn’t know that my bloodline was of Irish origin as well. And it was a long journey to find out where Finns came from and where the Finn farm was. My grandfather was from Ireland, Finland. “I came across a book about people, and it was amazing to go to Ireland and find a news article about the stone,” Paul said.

“Obtaining or seeing the stones and walking through the farm is a great way to conclude the journey we have been on.

“We are all very keen and it would be great if we could find this stone or even touch the stone that was the old Finn farm, so we hope to achieve that next week.”

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