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KEENAN FAMILY in Australia (1)



(1) A site to do mainly with the descendants of Henry John Keenan

  and Nancy Jane Gamble of Glenone and Lislea, Northern Ireland.

Site last updated 11 July 2024


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NOTES: For details of recent significant additions to the site, and assorted information appearing on other websites, go to NEWS.  Please use the Guest Book to leave your comments, information or queries for others to read.  Also, take a look at the correspondence page.  Please email us if you have any information or photographs which you think should be included on this site.  Many thanks to all who have contributed so far. 

To submit information regarding a member or members of the family a form is available for download by clicking HERE.

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  • OVERVIEW  Start here
  • KEENAN FAMILY TREES     Start here
  • MISCELLANEOUS (including NEWS of significant updates to this site)    Start here
  The author of this site (Peter Keenan) has an account on Facebook.
  • This website contains information about descendants of Henry Keenan (1808 - 1881) and Mary Ann Gamble ( 18??-18?? )  of Glenone and Lislea, County Derry, Northern Ireland. 
  • However, the majority of the information relates to one of their sons, Henry John Keenan (1842 - 1889) and his wife Nancy Jane Gamble (1844 - 1926), who married in Northern Ireland in 1863 and emigrated to the east coast of Australia in 1864. As Batlow, NSW, was the town in which they eventually settled, this line of the family is often referred to as the Batlow Keenans. Their first son, Australian-born James Keenan (1864 - 1942), was the author's grandfather. The inspiration for this website came, initially, from George Keenan (son of Aaron Keenan, the second-son), who wrote an article in 1949 headed "A Pioneer Family of Batlow - The Keenans", which was given to the author by his father, Wilfred Keenan.
  • Three other sons of Henry (1808 - 1881) emigrated to the West coast of Australia.  They were Stewart, Robert and Aaron.  Through a contact in Western Australia I have discovered - and included on this website - a considerable amount about these three, particularly regarding Stewart, who had 9 children.
  • Two of the children of Henry (1808 - 1881) and Mary remained in Northen Ireland.  They were James (1847 - 1906) and Elizabeth (18?? - 19??).  James married Maria Hastings (1846-1937). Through contacts in Northern Ireland and Scotland I have discovered - and included on this website - a considerable amount about the family of this James. His sister, Elizabeth (Lizzy) Keenan, married ..... Kyle, and I've included what little information I have about her family. Some of James' children emigrated to the USA and I have included information about that too.
  • One of the sons of Henry (1808 - 1881) was named David.  He emigrated to New Zealand, but had no children.

Confused?  To see a diagram/family tree which depicts this overview, click HERE.

The Keenans of Eastern Australia

Henry and Nancy (Anne) arrived in Eastern Australia in 1864 and eventually settled in Batlow, New South Wales.

 Map of Australia   Location of Batlow

This branch of the Keenan's is sometimes referred to as the "Batlow Keenans", because Batlow in New South Wales is where Henry and Nancy (Anne) eventually settled.

"Eastern Australia" means the States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland

  •   Henry John Keenan and Nancy Jane Keenan (nee Gamble)  This is the young couple who left Glenone/Lislea, County Derry, Ireland, in December 1863 and travelled to Australia to start a new life, first in Maryborough, Queensland, then in Bombowlee/Tumut, New South Wales, and later (about 1870) in Batlow, NSW.  These pages show details of birth, marriage, children and death; and also information about the parents and siblings of Henry John and Nancy Jane. [NOTE: Nancy Jane Keenan was known in Australia as Anne (or Ann) Jane Keenan, then, after remarrying, was known as Granny Hopson.]  Henry and Nancy had 11 children between 1864 and 1885, but sadly only 6 reached adulthood (see First Generation Australians and/or the first part of their family tree). 1884 was a terrible year for them, with 3 of their children dying from typhoid fever and 1 from accidental burning. By that stage Henry was very sick.  He was admitted in a very poor condition to the Gladesville Mental Hospital in September 1885, and died there on 22 June 1889. He is buried in the grounds of the hospital, but sadly there is no record of exactly where he rests. I visited the hospital and its cemetery in mid-May 2024 and said "hello" to Henry. At that time I may have been the only one of his descendants to have visited the cemetery. A book about the "Gladesville Hospital Cemetery - The forgotten cemetery, the forgotten people" has been published by Ryde District Historical Society in July 2023; for details go to the link shown above.
  •   The journey to Australia aboard "The Prince Consort"  Information about the trip to Australia in 1864 by Henry John and Nancy Jane Keenan.  Includes a sketch of the ship, a copy of the entry in the book referring to Henry John and Nancy Jane, and the address where a fascinating book about the journey may be obtained.
  •   1949 Batlow Newspaper Article  Details of the arrival in Australia of Henry John and Nancy Jane Keenan, their adventures and the family as it existed in 1949. Written by George Aaron Robert Keenan of Batlow (1894 - 1981) and appearing in the Tumut and Adelong Times. This page also contains some additional notes by me.The page also contains a tale about Nancy /Ann Jane Keenan (Granny Hopson) taken from the 1975 book "Batlow: The Growing Years From Gold to Apples".
  •   1884 Newspaper Articles  About the Typhoid fever which hit Batlow and the family of Henry John and Nancy Jane.  Also the burning death of a child and the poor condition of Henry John at that time.
  •   About Batlow, New South Wales  After living in Bombowlee (near Tumut) for, perhaps, 3 or 4 years, Henry and Nancy settled in Batlow. They purchased a 2 acre block in Batlow on 23/11/1871, then after selling that,  acquired, on 2/2/1882, 40 acres of land adjacent to land which later became the golf course.  Many Keenan descendants still live in Batlow and the surrounding area, but there are also many in other parts of NSW (such as Bombowlee and Engadine) and in Victoria.  This page includes maps, book titles and internet links concerning Batlow, as well as many photographs.
  •   Tragedy - 5/3/1909 Batlow Newspaper Article  In 1909 two young Keenan boys (Eric and Sidney Catherall) were found shot dead in Batlow.  Here is a transcript of the first report which appeared in the local paper, the Tumut and Adelong Times.
  •   Song to the Pioneers  Words to a song about the Batlow Pioneers, including the Keenans, Mouats, Hides, Quarmbys, Barberies and others.  [This link is to a scanned copy of the song as it appeared in a book.  To get the words in text that can be copied and pasted in to a Word document, go to my page about Batlow.]
  •   The second generation Information about the second generation (birth, marriages and deaths) and FAMILY TREES.  The last member of the second generation - Dorothy Mary Lovering - passed away in Sydney on 8 October 2008, aged 98 years.  The links on this page will take users to pages for descendants of the second generation (where such information has been supplied). My father - Wilfred Walter Keenan b.1910 - appears on this page.
  •   Keenan Names    Here are some of the names of descendants of Henry John Keenan and Nancy Jane Gamble. From the first generation to the fourth.  This has not been updated for several years. The current generations are spread out over the east of Australia, but with major concentrations in Batlow and Tumut (NSW), Engadine and other parts of Sydney (NSW), Shepparton (Vic), Geelong (Vic) and Melbourne (Vic). Note: In October 2008 there were approximately 560 Keenan names on the Australian electoral role for New South Wales.  Most of these are not descendants of Henry and Nancy/Ann Keenan.  But, of course, there would be descendants or the role who don't have a Keenan surname.
  •   Photographs Photos of  Keenans in Australia and (courtesy of Jack Harkins) Keenans in Northern Ireland.  Also, of the ancestral home in Northern Ireland.
  •  Photo Gallery - the Brian Keenan collection  Photos of Keenans in Australia supplied in June 2008 by Brian Keenan of Queanbeyan, NSW. (Brian Keenan has also supplied a lot of the information that appears on this site concerning the descendants of George Aaron Robert Keenan and Nora Mary Keenan (nee Naughton)).
  •  Mrs Anita Beryl Arnold (nee Lovering)  Mrs Anita Arnold, of Engadine, Sydney, NSW - daughter of Dorothy Lovering (nee Keenan) (1910 - 2008) and grand-daughter of John Keenan (b.1873) - was the catalyst for this site.  Anita, her cousin Robert Keenan and other Keenans in the Engadine area successfully campaigned for a park to be named in honour of their grandfather, John Keenan.  For maps showing the location of this park and the location of Engadine, go to the page of John Keenan b. 1873.
  •  The Keenans of Balgownie, New South Wales  Henry John Keenan (b.1842) had a brother, James (b.1845). James stayed in Northern Ireland where he married Maria Hastings. [The descendants of James Keenan and Maria Hastings  feature very prominently on this website.] One of their children, Stewart, came to Australia, married Nellie Preston and had 8 children. Unfortunately I don't have much information about the children of Stewart and Nellie, apart from their names and a few details of the life of James Keenan (b. April 1909 - August 2006) - see Stewart's page.  (For more information about the Northern Ireland family of James, see the email from Sheila Johnston on 24/9/2008.  Sheila is a descendant of James.)
  •   Documents  Various Keenan family documents old and new, plus bits of information appearing in registers.
  •  Videos  These present views of places, people and events of interest in Australia and Northern Ireland. (Section commenced March 2010)
  •   Barry Crocker, a legendary Australian singer, television performer and actor,  (e.g. Barry MacKenzie) appears to be the only showbiz celebrity in the Keenan family.  Barry (b.1935) is a grandson of  Mary Keenan, one of Henry and Nancy Keenan's 11 children.   Click HERE for Barry's account of how Mary Keenan came to marry John (Jock) Houston; to see  a couple of photos of Barry, to see him perform "Stairway To Heaven" on television (YouTube), and to see the official transcript of an extensive interview with him on ABC television in 2006.  October 2012: Barry's latest TV work is as co-star of "The Strange Calls" a comedy series on ABC TV.
  •   Links to relevant web sites  A special page for links to websites in Australia and overseas concerning ancestry and news, including other selected Keenan family websites in Australia.  Note, however, that there are many more links on other pages of this website.

Keenan and Gamble relatives in Northern Ireland and Scotland

  •   About Glenone, Inishrush and Portglenone, Northern Ireland  Henry John Keenan was born and lived until departing for Australia in Glenone. The main village nearby is Portglenone.  The township of Portglenone is beside the Bann River.  The main part of the township is in County Antrim, while the rest is on the other side of the river in County Derry (or Londonderry).  Henry lived on the Derry side, in Glenone, which is near the villages of Lislea, Tamlaght O'Crilly, Clady and Inishrush.  Glenone is understood to mean "meadow of two rivers", the rivers being River Bann and the Clady River. This page of the website contains information, maps and photographs. Henry's wife, Nancy (Anne) Keenan (nee Gamble), was born and raised in Lislea, which is near Glenone. This page also contains many LINKS to other websites containing information about the area.
  •   Cousins in Northern Ireland and Scotland 
  • Mary (May) Keenan, (b.1924 - d.2019) lived in Inishrush, Northern Ireland (see Photographs).  Her home was close to the Glenone farm where the Keenans lived for many years.  May was apparently the last of the "Glenone" Keenan's.  The link to May, for those, like me, who are descendants of Henry John Keenan (b.1842), is that May Keenan's grandfather, James Keenan, was Henry John's brother.
  • The late Sheila Johnson (nee Harkins) was May Keenan's niece.  Sheila passed away in November 2013.  She and her husband, Richard, lived in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland. Richard passed away in 2021.

  • Sheila's brother, Jack Harkins, lives in Findochty, Morayshire, Scotland (see Photographs). Jack's wife, Mary, passed away in November 2015. In 2002 I met with Jack at Fingask Castle (Rait, Perth, Scotland) where he was staying for a work function.

  • I had the pleasure of meeting May, Sheila, Richard and Jack in 2002, and still keep in touch with Jack (on Facebook).  See the correspondence page for an informative letter from Sheila on 24/9/2008.   Click HERE for old photos, supplied by Sheila and Jack, of some of the Irish and Scottish Keenans. In 2002 Sheila and Richard took my wife and I on a trip from Belfast, along the Antrim Coast to Cushendall (for lunch), then across to Kilrea, via Ballymoney, and on to Inishrush to meet May Keenan.

  • Karen Topping (nee Karen D Keenan) lives in Largs, North Ayrshire, Scotland.  Largs is a popular sea-side town on Scotland's west coast, not far from Glasgow.  In May 2011 Karen [see photo] and her daughter Katrina visited Melbourne, Australia, and I had the immense pleasure of meeting them.  I communicate regularly with Karen on Facebook and via email.  Karen has supplied details of her family tree, which will be incorporated in mine.  Karen and her husband, Richard, own some holiday apartments in Largs.  In August 2018 I had spent two in Largs, staying at one of their apartments and seeing some beautiful sites with Karen.

  • I've also been communicating with Hazel Smith and Lynda Palmer (sisters), who live in Largs, North Ayrshire, Scotland. They are descendants (great-great-grandchildren) of James Keenan and Maria Hastings of Northern Ireland. In August 2018, while staying in Largs with Karen Topping, I met up with Hazel and the three of us spent time chatting over breakfast and sightseeing.

  • John Kerr of Coleraine, County Derry, Northern Ireland, is a relative on the Gamble side. My great grandmother, Nancy Jane Gamble (m. Keenan, then m. Hopson) and John's grandmother, Elizabeth Gamble (m. Kerr), were sisters. (Nancy Jane Gamble 1844-1926; Elizabeth Gamble 1858-1935.) After writing to one another for a while, I met John in Melbourne in November 2016. He too is a genealogist and has lots of information about the Gambles of Lislea and Kilrea. I have published some of it on this site.  In August 2018, I stayed with John and his wife, Carol, for three days. They were extremely generous, and John took me to see several towns, people and sites in the area, including the sites of the Gamble and Keenan homes in Lislea and Glenone.

  •  "Johnstone's Farewell"  A song written by Robert Johnstone in the 1800's on leaving Portglenone and going to Melbourne, Australia.  This song is published in a 1928 book by R. M. Sibbett titled "On the Shining Bann - Records of an Ulster Manor"  (ISBN 1-873401-04-3 & ISBN 1-873345-05-4).  As well as providing a transcript of this song, I hope to include on the same webpage extracts of several observations  made by Mr Sibbett in his wonderful book.  Mr Sibbett's book is now (August 2012) available on CD in .pdf format, from the North of Ireland Family History Society ( www.nifhs.org/publications.htm).
  • Ulster Covenant  In 1912 nearly half a million Irish Protestants from Ulster signed an oath, a call to defend Ulster from Home Rule (from an Irish Parliament with responsibility for domestic affairs over all of Ireland).  In Ulster resistance to Home Rule had existed for many years, particularly since the first Home Rule bill was introduced in the British parliament in 1886.  Many Keenans and Gambles were among the Unionists who signed the 1912 Ulster Covenant.  For more information go to this page.NOTE: Northern Ireland was created in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, creating a devolved government for the six north eastern counties, including Derry.

Keenans relatives in Western Australia


Before Henry John and Nancy (Anne) Jane Keenan settled in Batlow, New South Wales, Henry's brother, Stewart Keenan and his wife, Isabella Gamble (possible a sister or cousin of Nancy Jane) migrated to Australia in 1859 and settled in the south-west of Western Australia.  The first page below includes information about the children of Stewart and Isabella.  Also on this page are a photograph of Stewart and Isabella, recent photographs and a great deal of information about "Glenbourne Homestead" - the (heritage listed) house at Margaret River built by Stewart and Isabella - and links to more information. 

See first The Keenans of Western Australia   and then the sections below. →

The late Edward (Ray) Keenan (d.2004) of Perenjori, Western Australia, transcribed letters sent by Keenans between America, South Africa, Western Australia and Northern Ireland from 1873 to 1955 .  He published these 23 pages in 2003.  Included are letters from David Keenan of Providence, USA, Grace Catherall (nee Keenan) who lived for a while in South Africa, and James and Maria Keenan of NI, Annie Jane McKay (nee Keenan) of NI, Mary Houston (nee Keenan) and many others.   (Thanks to Anne Waghorn of  WA for supplying this material.) TASK COMPLETED 25/4/2010.

  •   Book about the Keenans of WA  From 19/12/2007 I will be publishing a fascinating book written in 1994 by the late Edward (Ray) Keenan of Western Australia.  The original manuscript is 44 pages. This material contains information about all branches of the Keenan family, but mostly the WA branch.  Don't miss it! (Thanks to Anne Waghorn of  WA for supplying this material.)  MORE WAS ADDED ON 10/7/2010
  •   Edward Keenan Recalls: published book by Edward Keenan [Added 21/12/2010] I have put on this site extracts (about 4,000 words) from a book by Edward Keenan, "I Shook the Family Tree: the story of an adopted boy."  Published in 2001 - and held in the National Library in Canberra - the book is essentially about Edward's life and his search for his natural mother and father (Ruby Carter and Alwyn Parker).  However, there is a considerable amount of information in the stories he tells about his adopted parents William Stewart Keenan and Eleanor Jane Keenan (nee Curtis) of WA.  [William Keenan named his farm "Glenone", the same name as the farm of his family in Northern Ireland.]
  •   Link to Keenan genealogy website   An excellent and easy-to-use website by Gil Hardwick of Margaret River, entitled "Pioneer Families of the Lower South West of Western Australia", with lots of information which may also by of interest to their Keenan cousins in eastern Australia (aka "the Batlow branch"). Look under K in Gil's index.

Keenan relatives in other parts of the world
  •  Kay Kuebeler (nee Keenan)  Kay Kuebeler is a distant relative who lives in Florida, USA.  Her great-grandparents were John Keenan (b.1847) and Elizabeth Gamble (b. 1849). They married in Wheeling, West Virginia, USA, in 1872. John Keenan's father was Daniel Keenan (died 1872) and his mother was Eliza Wallace (died 1877), both of Tyanee, County Derry, Northern Ireland. It appears that Kay's great-great grandfather (Daniel) and my great-great grandfather were brothers. 
  •  Other American relatives with whom I occassionally communicate include Marge and Bill Golder of Port Orange, Florida and Jim J Keenan of North Canton, Ohio.

  • In Canada, Marina Hehn is another active and valued member of our Keenan family genealogy group.  She has visited Keenans relatives in Australia, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Keenan Family Trees
  •  Family Trees   (Latest addition or change 13 December 2018) Several Keenan family trees, in flow chart style, have been created and are linked together by hyperlinks. The earliest family tree shows what I know of the start of the Keenan branch in the Glenone/Lislea district of County Derry, Northern Ireland. Then there are (or will be) hyperlinks to other charts for descendants in Australia, and also for those in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the USA.  This is a work-in-progress.
  •   Other Family Trees  In the chapter "The Keenans of Eastern Australia" there are other sections which contain additional family trees presented in a different manner: see "The first generation" and "The second generation".


  •  News about this site    Look here for information about developments and changes to the website.

  •   Correspondence  Some correspondence with members of the Keenan clan in Australia, Northern Ireland and other parts of the world.
  •   Australian Cultural and Ethnic Groups See the classifications devised by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Note: the Northern Irish are classified as Irish.  The Scottish are classified as British.

Website created and maintained by Peter J Keenan, Melbourne, Australia.
Please contact me if you have any information or photographs which you think should be included on this site. Many thanks to all who have contributed so far.