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Bog Irish Micks - the O'Brien Family from Scariff

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When the Irish arrived in New Zealand, they were frequently greeted with the derisive term ‘Bog Irish Micks.’ To be called any of these three words individually or together was to start a brawl. Irish were considered by many to be the lowest of the low, fit only for domestic service or as labourers. Within a generation there were O’Brien lawyers, bank managers, broadcasters, film makers and even an All Black.

So now I use the term ‘Bog Irish Micks’ in a loving and proud sense to indicate where we have come from and where we are now - due to the courage, hardship, loneliness and often, I am sure, despair of our ancestors who chose to come to New Zealand to make a home. - Kath Woodley

This book has been privately published in New Zealand. It is now a nominee for 2012 NZ Post Book Awards and the 2012 NZSG Kevin McAnuity Award.
Bog Irish Micks has been reviewed by prominent Irish Historian Dr Maureen Langan-Egan
‘This research is very relevant. Not so much is known of the lives of many emigrants. The research comes alive through the use of photographs, press reports, official documents, interviews and, at all times, respect for
historical truth.’
‘For me, this is a valuable historical work, written in a clear, lucid style.’
Over 12 years of research has gone into this book which traces the Scariff OʼBrien roots from Brian Boru to the present day. 500 photographs and maps, 250 pages of facts, memories, stories and letter transcriptions. There are 78 colour pages. Counties Clare and Roscommon ancestors are uncovered.
A CD Rom is included with complete family tree, Gedcom, 250 extra newspaper cuttings, films, recordings of singing and orchestral works, extensive bibliography, 45 birth/death/marriage certificates and some mystery photos. Early Wellington, Patea, Waverley and Morrinsville, New Zealand included.
The book is superbly bound with an original watercolour on the cover to last as a family treasure.

Written by Kath Woodley

Download full review by Dr Langan-Egan
Download review by Gerard Madden
Listen to the podcast of Jim Sullivan's review on Sounds Historical, Radio New Zealand

Product details:
  • Soft Cover: 223 pages
  • Dimensions: W206mm by H295mm
  • CD included

Customer Reviews

Review by  michael
(posted on Dec 25, 2011)
Huge hugs and cuddles and endless congratulations to you for a great work. I know I said this already, but I'll say it again, it is a wonderful family history! The numerous photographs, each and every one perfectly presented, make it an easy book to read. We are ever so very proud of you.
Hugs and cuddles,
Michael and Frances.xxxxx.

Review by  monica
(posted on Dec 22, 2011)
We in aussie are getting many hours of enjoyment out of your book. My husband has read it from cover to cover! He knew a few of my distant relations in NZ when he was young. He found it most interesting.
Review by  Carmen
(posted on Dec 22, 2011)
A fascinating journey into the past to trace one family's hopes, dreams and aspirations. Of moving far from 'Home"' and carving out a new life in a strange land. Relevant and interesting for all people of Irish descent whose early suffering has translated into a proud and celebrated culture and heritage. Wherever we may be in the world, we know who we are and where we are from. A great book.
Review by  Michael O'Gorman
(posted on Dec 22, 2011)
"BOG IRISH MICKS" was a degradatory appellation to Irish emigrants to the Antipodes during the 18th. Century. It was an appelation born of ignorance of the social and economic conditions prevailing in their home country. What wasn't generally known, outside of Ireland, is that Ireland and its native population had been kept in a state of systematic, deliberate, arrested development since the 17th. Century.
The professional army of Oliver Cromwell had totally destroyed the entire social structure of the Irish nation, that had rejoiced, for hundreds of years, in the title of 'The Island Of Saints And Scholars. The draconian Penal Laws, introduced by Parliament, effectivly deprived the native Irish from owning anything of value, professing their religion or having any sort of education; They were not even allowed to sign down the lease of a piece of land. Whatever land they farmed was always of a poor quality and on which they were tenants at will. Their form of tillage, and diet, was based on the monoculture of the potato. When the Devon Commission Of Enquiry into land ownership and the social system in Ireland (1838) was completed and published, it stated that over two million native Irish were 'badly fed, badly housed and badly clothed.' The Westminster answer to that was the establishment of Poor Law Unions throughout Ireland and each Union contained at least one Workhouse capable of housing from 600 to 2,000 poverty stricken people. On the heels of the Commission Report, in 1845, came what is called The Great Famine: a disasterous failure of the potato crop during which time the Irish population dropped from nearly eight millions to less than five millions: all through death and mass emigration.
This then is the background of those 'Bog Irish Micks' who arrived in New Zealand on board the 'HANNIBAL' in 1875. Amongst them was a certain John O'Brien from Moynoe, Scariff, Co. Clare.
The story of this man and his family is inspirationally told by Kath Woodly in her book 'BOG IRISH MICKS'.
The book traces the ancestry of John O'Brien, from King Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, who was slain by the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, to their present, prominent position in New Zealand.
The story relates how, within a generation the family of this man, blossoming in the freedom of New Zealand: the social structure that allowed them an education and social advancement in relation to their talents and abilities, had become successful businessmen, farmers, teachers, soldiers olympians and sportsmen of the highest calibre, one actually playing rugby with the fabled All Blacks!
'BOG IRISH MICKS' is comprehensively well researched and contains a treasure trove of geneologies of the O'Brien clan of New Zealand and Scariff, and contains hundreds of well presented photographs of both family and of places of interest where the O'Brien's and their extended families distinguished themselves during times of both war and peace.
This is an excellent work by an excellent writer and deserves every success.
Review by  California O'Brien
(posted on Dec 21, 2011)
This is a wonderful account of the New Zealand descendants of the O'Brien family from Scariff, Ireland. From a very humble home all 5 children of John O'Brien and Margaret Malone eventually found their way to New Zealand. This tells the story of their legacy. The incredible amount of time spent researching and assembling all the material for this book is reflected the final product.
Review by  Geniewiz
(posted on Dec 20, 2011)
Hi! I was very impressed with the book! It is very comprehensive and a delight to read through and is well referenced. It certainly brought back memories of my own journey to Moynoe and Scariff and trapsing through ther graveyards.

It has obviously been a work of love and covers all the branches, even those who went to Australia.

Thank you, Kath, well done!
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