DAVID Hurley, Australia’s new Governor-General, has discovered his family descend from a village not far from Cork city.
Through the efforts of a team of dedicated genealogical volunteers, General Hurley has traced his roots to Ballinspittle, near Kinsale.
“I’ve discovered that Murtagh Hurley was transported from County Cork to New South Wales in 1827 for theft…he settled near Cooma,” General Hurley said. “Interestingly, I’ve since discovered that the pub in Ballinspittle is called Hurley’s.
“We hope to visit one day!”
Australia’s 27th Governor-General believes the 19th century links established during his ancestors’ time have helped forge a close bond between Ireland and Australia. Two million Australians, out of a growing population of 25.5 million people, claim Irish heritage.
He said: “Today, our historical links are the foundation of an exceptionally close and ongoing friendship between our nations, with bonds ranging from the sporting field, to trade and education.”
A former Governor of New South Wales, General Hurley, aged 66, served in an Australian Regiment, before an exchange role with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards. His respect for Ireland has also been reinforced by his love of rugby union. Former Ireland and British Lions hooker Keith Wood is among General Hurley’s Irish heroes.
“As a rugby fan I always admired Keith Wood, even if I wasn’t such a big fan when he was facing the Wallabies!”
Communications Manager Laura Colleran revealed that Sydney Owen Feeney, the Consul General of Ireland in Sydney, contacted her organisation Ireland Reaching Out - a Galway based volunteer group which helps Irish people around the globe to trace their ancestry-to discover precise details about the Governor-General’s Cork lineage.
“Ireland Reaching Out connects people of Irish origin, living all over the world, with their ancestors place of origin...It is a non-profit organisation funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Heritage Council,” Ms Colleran said. “We have a volunteer network of over 300 people all over Ireland, and an active group in Cork.”
Ms Colleran proudly announced that tracing the Hurley name to Cork was as one of the highlights of 2019 for Ireland Reaching Out volunteers.
General Hurley, who was sworn in last month, became NSW governor in 2014 after over four decades in the Australian army.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his leadership during Operation SOLACE in Somalia in 1993 and was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2010 for eminent service to the army. For the past three years he was chief of Australia’s defence forces.
“I have seen the richness of Australia’s spirit at work in the people and the organisations assisting our veterans, our rural communities under stress, asylum seekers who we have welcomed into our country and our Indigenous brothers and sisters,” General Hurley said.
“There are countless organisations and people demonstrating how rich this country is every day. As Governor-General, I am committed absolutely to supporting these people in their work.”
The governor-general is appointed by the Queen in Commonwealth countries, on the advice of the prime minister, to be the representative of the Crown.
In recent decades a typical term of office is five years.