Who is the Irishman buried in Tasmania after 1915 death?


THE quiet seaside port of Penguin on the north coast of Tasmania is the final resting place of Jeremiah Clifford, believed to be a pioneering Kerryman who died from a single gunshot to the head in 1915.

Now almost a century after his untimely death, the search is now on to find Jeremiah's Irish relatives and with the name most commonly associated with Kerry, searchers have contacted The Kerryman for assistance.

Located on Tasmania's Bass Highway, Penguin was integral in helping to transform the island's economy, providing timber to the Australian south east and the town recently honoured seven of its dead from that era with individual headstones. The aim was to transform the memories of men buried as paupers to their rightful place, as pioneers in the area's relatively young history.

Jeremiah Clifford is one such deceased, buried as 'unknown' in plot 555 on January, 7, 1915 and, until now, his identity had remained a mystery. An extensive search of archives using newspapers, police gazettes and other records it was found that t h e deceased was known locally by the name of ' Paddy' and was last seen alive on December 28, 1914.

His body was found in an advanced state of decomposition by prospector Thomas Day in scrub near an old mine, two miles east side of Penguin.

Described in a coroner's report in the Tasmanian Police Gazette as "a big man over 6ft in height", and aged about 45, Jeremiah had "reddish hair and whiskers".

Police found he had 91/2d, in coin, a watch and chain, and an open letter of recommendation for work. The letter stated that the bearer was a good working man.

There have been several leads from genealogy websites since, with one claiming that Jeremiah Clifford may have settled in Queensland but ended up working for the railway in Tasmania

Despite this no solid information on the deceased's background could be found. A worldwide search has been instigated by the residents of Penguin, resulting in The Kerryman being contacted in a bid to find out more.

Of the Clifford households in the mid 19th Century Ireland, ancestory records show that some 239 Kerry households could be found in Kerry, with the next biggest contingency (63) from Cork. Therefore the call goes out to all Kerry Cliffords to investigate and, if they find relevant information, to contact researcher Ross Hartley at PO Box 334 Penguin ,Tasmania 7316 Australia, or by email at ccsross@ bigpond.com.

"Somewhere there's a family with Irish roots for which the journey of one of their own has remained a mystery for almost a century," said Mr Hartley. "We'd dearly love to return to this man his identity but to achieve this we really need somebody to come forward to claim him."