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KEENAN FAMILY in Australia


Last updated 29/7/2023

NOTE: In addition to this page, there is correspondence in the Guest Book. You can post your own comments and queries in the Guest/Visitors Book for the whole internet world to see!

Email from on David Christopher Keenan, 26 July 2023 (apparently a descendent of George Aaron Robert Keenan, TreeGK1894)

"Dear Peter,  Thank you for this wonderful resource. I am a Queensland Keenan, descended from William Stanley (Bill) Keenan 1904-1984. Bill's only child, David Lindsay Keenan is my father, born 1937 and still with us. I am David Christopher Keenan, born 1959."

Letter from Sheila Eckroate of North Carolina, USA, regarding David Gamble Keenan (USA) 1873-1948
30 November 2015

"Mr Keenan. These are pictures of Gertrude Elizabeth Bare (Keenan). I have written before. You may publish on your site. The baby child is me. Thanks for keeping this site. Sheila Eckroate (Bare)...." Note By Peter Keenan: For David Gamble Keenan's obituary, click HERE. The photographs from Sheila Eckroate will be posted on this site at Photographs ASAP.

Email from Christine Desmuke of USA regarding the David Keenan line
3 September 2013
I've spent quite a bit of time looking through your site this past week--you have got a LOT of information about the family. I am quite impressed, and quite appreciative that you've spent so much effort making the information available.
Something I saw led me to think David Hilton Keenan and his wife had at least one child, but I've not found a name or a date yet. Will continue investigating.

I do want to clarify that I'm not a Keenan descendant myself; my father's sister is the widow of James Malcolm Keenan Jr., and I'm doing some research on behalf of her children, my cousins.

Several in the California branch of the Keenans had Huntington's Disease; I saw you had a note about Henry John Keenan of Batlow and the possibility that his dementia was related to Huntington's. Did you find any more evidence one way or another in his medical records from Gladesville?

The information I have is that David Keenan, son of James and Maria (Hastings), was born 22 Nov 1877--I have a page from the civil registration of births in Ireland with that date. On the other hand, he seems to have used several dates in 1878 (including 9 January and 9 May) in various records in Rhode Island, and I am at a loss to explain this. Perhaps one was his christening date?

I think the dates on some of his letters on your website are also off. I saw you'd guessed the 1891 letter was really 1898, and I think the Dec. 10, 1899, letter must really be from a year later, because he mentions President McKinley's reelection, which was in November of 1900. 

I am currently trying to prove that David Keenan's wife, Joanna Malcolm, was the sister of Robert Malcolm who married David's sister Margaret Isabel Keenan. It certainly appears that way, but I do not yet have anything definitive. Have you researched this?

Thank you and best wishes.


Extract from email reply to Christine Desmuke of USA by Peter Keenan.
2 September 2013

I've done a little research on David Hilton Keenan (b.1909). It appears he married Margaret (maiden name unknown), who was born in Rhode Island about 1905. According to the 1940 US Federal Census they were then living in a house they rented in Leah Street, Providence, Rhode Island. He was a machinist (Fire Extinguisher) and she was a bench hand (Jewellery). I haven't see anything to suggest they had children.

Email from Christine Desmuke of USA regarding David Keenan, born Northern Ireland, 1878, and his descendants.
17 August 2013

I've recently come across your site about the Keenans of Australia, and I believe you are related to my cousins, whose line I am currently researching.

They are the great-grandchildren of David Keenan (born Ireland 1877/8, died Providence, Rhode Island, on 23 Dec 1936) and Joan or Joanna Malcolm. David and Joanna had three children, all born in Providence;

     * James Malcolm Keenan, Sr. (born 16 Nov 1905; died Ventura County, California, 5 July 1964)

     * Edith Mildred Keenan (4 Oct to 20 Nov 1907)

     * David Hilton Keenan (b. 13 Sept 1909; died March 1971. I know very little about him or his family.)

In turn, James Malcolm Sr. married Olga Wilhelmina Olsen (born in Vestfold, Norway, on 26 Dec 1905; died in Lebanon, Linn County, Oregon, on 19 July 2001) and had three sons, likewise all born in Providence, Rhode Island:

     * James Malcolm Keenan, Jr. (b. 7 June 1928; died Los Angeles County, California, 20 Nov 1978. Widow and three children still in California.)

     * William Edward "Bill" Keenan (b. 13 July 1930; died Lebanon, Linn Co., Oregon, 1 Aug 2010. Never married.)

     * David Allen Keenan (b. 17 June 1932; died Ventura County, California, 1 March 1985. His wife predeceased him; two children live in the western U.S.) 

 The David Keenan who founded this line certainly seems to be the same as the son of James and Maria (Hastings) pictured on your site, but I am having trouble viewing the family trees there, and some of the information you have does not quite mesh up with what I think I know. Would you be willing to discuss this further and exchange information?
Thank you for your consideration.

Emails from Sheila Eckroate of North Carolina, USA,
regarding David Gamble Keenan
on 1st & 4th December 2012
1/12/2012:  "Dear Peter .... I am Sheila Eckroate. My grandmother was David Gamble Keenan's daughter from Wheeling, West Virginia: Gertrude Elizabeth Bare (Keenan). She married Ovid James Bare of Akron Ohio. She had no children but 3 step children Sandy, James and Larry Bare. I was James Wesley Bare's daughter. Sheila Eckroate (Bare).. She passsed away in May of 1987. If you want to publish on your site that's great. You can add my email address in case anyone wants to contact me.  Thanks for bringing the Keenan family history to life."                                                                                        seckroate01@sbcglobal.net

4/12/2012:  "Dear Peter, Your site has David Gamble Keenan's obituary on it .... I was just giving you info on David Gamble Keenan's only child Gertrude Elizabeth Keenan. She married Ovid James Bare on January 1, 1956 and became Bare. No children but 3 step children. James Wesley Bare (my dad) Sandra Bare and Larry Bare.Let me know if there is anything else I can give you. You may list my email address if you would like as well. Thanks for taking the time and have a blessed Christmas season.
Sheila Eckroate (Bare)."
Email from John Kerr of Northern Ireland
who is a descendant of Elizabeth Gamble (b.1858), sister of Nancy Jane Keenan (nee Gamble)

Received 22 November 2012
The person named Kay in this email is Kay Hourighan of Australia, who carried out some research into Aaron Gamble (b.1832).  I sent a copy of Kay's email to John Kerr.

Thank you for your e-mail and sorry I have not been in touch lately. I was hoping I would have some photographs for you but I'm afraid the weather here has been dreadful and I will possibly wait until Spring arrives.

I was very interested in the information from Kay Hourigan. Yes I was aware of Aaron Gamble emigrating to Australia and that he married one of the Gordons of Craigquarter, Lislea. However, that was all I knew and I thought that I had heard my Uncle David say they went to West Australia, but obviously he was wrong.

Let me retrace my steps and detail the family of James Gamble and his wife Jane McKay. I know of 8 of their children ( there may have been others that died in infancy).

The oldest of the family appears to have been Aaron b.1832. Two sons born in the late thirties John and David died of TB infection in their twenties. David's name was on the headstone in Kilrea Presbyterian church, died Feb 1861 age 22.

The next I think was James , although I have no date of birth. He was a well-to-do business man in Belfast, elder in Berry St Presbyterian church and had three sons, James, Joe and John. One son, James Garner Gamble, born 1861, was the principal city architect of Belfast and supervised the building of the Belfast city hall around the turn of the century. I have a contact who works in the archives in Belfast city hall who has promised to get me a photograph of James and any other information he can get his hands on.

Then Garner b.1844, who inherited his grandfather's farm ( Aaron Gamble, United Irishman) at the Stoney park. He married his first cousin Nancy Jane McKay and three of their six childern were deaf and dumb. One of the daughters was Charlotte mentioned in James Gamble's will. She married John Smyrl, a grandson of my great grandfather on the Kerr side and the Smyrl family still live at Stoney park.

The next appears to have been Nancy Jane your great grandmother b.1844.

Wilson was born in 1851. He had several businesses in Magherafelt, a market town in south Co Derry. I remember my father telling how he often rode his bicycle to Magherafelt to visit his Uncle Wilson. Some years ago I visited his grandson but unfortunately he died quite a young man.

The youngest was my grangmother Elizabeth b.1858, who inherited her father's farm and married my grandfather. The farm has passed down to my father, my brother and now my nephew. They had 10 of a family, the second youngest was my father Gardiner Gamble Kerr.

One of the intriguing things about James and Janes family is the long gaps between births and the difference in age between the youngest and the oldest, but there is enough evidence to verify these dates. So if Aaron went to Australia in 1855 that was 3 years before my grandmother was born. She was only 5 when Nancy Jane married and went to Australia.

To return to Aaron, the Mary Ann Gordon that he married also came from Lislea. Maybe one reason my family knew so little about him was because of his early death. The Gordon family still live in Craigquarter house and both my father and my grandmother were very friendly with some of the Gordon's of their generation. The Gordon farm and Stoney park farm are near neighbours.

Kay's comment about the United Irishmen is interesting. It was, of course, led by a protestant guy called Wolfe Tone. It does get very complicated, but the Presbyterians of North East Ulster were particularly fervent in their support of the rebellion, basically because the parliament in Dublin did not give them or the Catholics all the rights and privileges they thought they deserved. Remember it was the era of the French revolution and indeed if the French had arrived in time to help the uprising it might have been a different story.

Sorry for the long winded epistle. Do pass all of this or whatever you think appropriate to Kay and I would be interested to know why she was reseaching the Gamble connection. If she wants to e-mail me thats ok.

Best wishes
Emails from Kay Hourighan of Australia
regarding Aaron Gamble b.1832

on 11 November & 16 November 2012
11/11/2012 -   "Peter.  I am working on the tree of Aaron Gamble 1832 who I believe may be a sister brother to your Nancy Gamble. I was interested in the information provided to you by John Kerr about Nancy I wonder if he knew about Aaron. Aaron went to Australia in 1855.  Thanks for your assistance.  Kay"
16/11/2012 -
"Thanks Peter.  I would be interested in discussing Aaron with John Kerr; please forward my email to him. I am not a Gamble but I did the research for a friend.
Aaron b. 1832 was an assisted migrant coming to Victoria in January 1855. He married Mary Ann Gordon, also of Kilrea, in the Presbyterian Minister's residence, Warnambool in July the same year. They had 8 children and settled in Woodford near Warnambool, but Aaron died in 1866 when his wife was carrying their final child. I have only traced Aaron's son James' family who were in born in Woodford but then moved to Hamilton. By the 1930s the family seem to have left the Western District and moved generally to Melbourne.
I was interested in John saying that Aaron's grandfather was a United Irishman given the family were Presbyterian's. Irish history would have been very different if religion had not been included in the mix.

Letter from John Kerr of Northern Ireland, descendent of Elizabeth Gamble,

 who was sister of Nancy Jane Keenan (nee Gamble)

Written October 2012

"Dear Peter,

May I first of all congratulate you on the wonderful Keenan family site , it is truly amazing.  I hope I can help you with some more information on the Gamble side of the family.

It was very exciting to be able to speak to you on the phone and make contact.  As I told you then my name is John Kerr, (and I live) .... about 20 miles from the townland of Lislea where I was born and where my brother and nephew still farm the land owned by the Gamble and Kerr families away back in the early 1800’s.  When I get organised I will send you maps of the area. .... I have one son who is a lawyer in the USA and a daughter a translator who works in London. Enough about me!

Most of the information about the Gamble / Kerr family tree came from my uncle David and aunt Selina.   I only wish now I had listened more carefully. However, I did write down most of what I remembered they had told me in 1967 and aunt Selina was still alive then. My aunt Selina did correspond with Ivy Keenan (Morris) and I well remember her talking about the letters when she visited our home in Lislea.  I have two letters written by Ivy Keenan when she was a girl of about 20 sent to my grandmother  Elizabeth Kerr (nee Gamble) who was a sister of Nancy Jane. They are dated 1913 and 1914 and she often refers to her grandmother Nancy Jane and what she was doing. My grandmother Elizabeth was born in 1858 so she was only 5 when Nancy Jane got married and went to Australia.   I have a copy of the same photograph of Nancy Jane as you display on your site and written on the back ‘To my dear sister Lizzie Kerr from Ann Jane Hopson, Batlow, NSW, Australia, August 16th 1916’.

I can give you some information about Aaron Gamble 1778 – 1859 who married Eliza Gardiner 1774 – 1855.  ( apparently she was known as Betty Gardiner)  Aunt Selina also said her maiden name was Garner but was unsure how it became Gardiner. The name Gardiner has come down through 6 generations ( My Father was Gardiner Gamble Kerr and I am John Gardiner). My nephew and great nephew also have the name Gardiner.   Aaron Gamble was born at the Stoney Park farm also in the town land of Lislea. As a young man of about 20 he was involved in the 1798 United Irishmen rebellion and when the rebellion was quickly defeated the authorities went after the rebels. Quite a number were hanged. Aaron went into hiding for a number of years around the Braid district near Ballymena and it was there he met and married Betty Garner. After some years they returned to Stoney Park farm.  According to my records they had 4 of a family.

(1) James A Gamble:     This was Nancy Jane’s and my grandmother’s father.  He married Jane McKay ( her home was about 300 yards from our home in Lislea).  He was a stone mason as well as a farmer. He must have got a tenancy of the Bog farm from the Mercers Company and on it he built a house where the family was reared. As a boy growing up I remember the ruins of this house. It was a nice situation overlooking the river Bann and Co Antrim. They had just over 10 acres of good land  listed on the Griffeth valuation.  Unfortunately none of the house now remains, just the corner of the field where it once sat.  I also remember my uncle David pointing out various stone houses that he had built in the countryside but I would not know any of them now.

(2)  Rev John Gamble: (1813-1854)    John was a Presbyterian minister. He was the first minister of Ballygowan Presbyterian Church, a town about 10 miles south of Belfast.  His name is inscribed on the outside of the church above the door and his grave is in the churchyard. He died a young man aged 41 having caught some infection when visiting his congregation.  He must have done his training for the ministry in Edinburgh as the established church did not take kindly to either the Catholics or the Presbyterians at that time. I have attached 3 photographs of the gravestone, the church with the plaque above the front and then the plaque itself. I apologise for the quality of these pictures taken last year but my photography skills are not wonderful. Again , I know my aunt was in touch with a grandson of his who was also a Presbyterian minister.

(3)   David Gamble:  My information is that he emigrated to Canada.

(4)    Jane Gamble:    Again there is little information but my uncle and aunt said she had a shop in Portglenone.

That is probably enough to digest for now but I will send you some information on the family of James & Jane Gamble that were brothers and sisters of Nancy Jane.

Best wishes to you and all your family

John Kerr."

Emails from Retta Palmer re Keenan connection, September 2011


My name is Retta Palmer and while researching my family trees on Ancestry.com and living in Perth - I was searching for my grt Uncles name (James Arthur Pizaro from my dad's mother's side) at the Karrakatta Cemetery and discovered he was laid to rest with 2 other men of which were Keenans.

I then discovered his sister was Louisa Jane Pizaro who married John Keenan. They were the only two Pizaros to settle here in WA from SA and VIC. I then traced Louisa and her children's children to my distant cousin who was actually living down my street!!

I met Jill Eaton nee Keenan (father was Victor Joseph Keenan and grandfather was Thomas Arthur Keenan). Thomas' father was John Keenan 1872. This was all great but while talking to jill's mum Patricia - I mentioned my mum was from Antrim in Ireland and she said so are we!

You can now see where I am going with this haha...

My mother's paternal grandmother was Annabell Hughey nee Gamble b 1851 we think in Newry. Her father was Thompson Gamble 1828 - 1904. We think his father was Robert Gamble date and place unknown.

I found your website and was hoping you might have heard of these names. Who were all of Isabella Keenan's (nee Gamble) sibling and could we come from the Innisrush area??

If we are related to you through the gamble side - it means I am related to you through both my dad's side and my mum's side!!

Can you help at all plz?


"Hi Peter

Thank you so much for your input!  I have been waiting with baited breathe for a reply!

My Irish cousin (Joan) who now lives in Scotland and I, have been working around the clock literally to link us all up.
I am related to you with Louisa Jane Pizaro, for sure, who married John Keenan and lived here. She was my grt Aunt and I am happily surprised to find you live in Melbourne as well, I am organising a family reunion on OCT ... in Seddon ... and fly in to tromp around cemeteries .... This reunion is for Louisa Jane's family and her descendants and ancestor's descendants Mary Jane Beer/ Pizaros/ Sherwells and my lot - Thomas. Unfortunately Jill Eaton nee Keenan can't make it due to not being able to take time off work.
It would be great to be able to meet up with you. It is also a 90th birthday for Lorna Thomas (another descendant). ....We (the Pizaros) are related to Francisco Pizaro - the conquistador who founded Lima and raped and pillaged the Incans for their gold in the 1500s. Our skeleton.... haha.

As for the Gamble side of things... The Gambles from 1850 to now seem to have stayed in Newry. Prior to 1850... I have no idea!

Joan Patton (my mother's niece) who married Stephen and now lives in Scotland, has just told her hubby what she is up to now in the tree and scared the wits out of him telling him about the Gambles. Turns out he too has Gambles in his tree back in Ireland!! Poor man haha. He could be married to his distant cousin!

Thank you for your help - we need every bit of help we can get 'coz as you know, records in Ireland are hard to attain.


Retta Palmer"

"Hi Peter,

Yes that's fine about my emails going on your website. .... Joan just found this info:

Here are the Keenans who lived at House No. 9 in Glenone in 1901:

James Keenan aged 55 Farmer;  Maria Keenan aged 45; Robert Keenan aged 20 Son Shoemaker; William Keenan aged 16 Son Farm labourer; Annie Keenan aged 13 Daughter Scholar; Samuel Keenan aged 14 Son Apprentice Tailor

AND at house 8:

William Gamble aged 38 Farmer born Co. L'derry; Edith Gamble aged 27 born England; Frank Gamble aged 2 Son born Co. L'derry; David Gamble aged 1 Son born Co. L'derry; William Gamble aged 5 mths born Co. L'derry.

Yes they were in the south of Antrim (Thompson Gamble) but we think his father's father was Wlliam Gamble of Derry.  We are making great headway! Will keep you posted.


Retta Palmer"

Reply email from Peter Keenan (Aust)  to Gary Keenan (England) , 26 November 2010

"Hi Gary,

Thanks for your email.  The names and address you've mentioned do not ring any bells with me. As you know, there were lots of Keenan's from different families in Ireland and Scotland who came to Australia. I recently had a visit at work from a member of another Keenan family living in Melbourne, but there was no known connection with my ancestors. When I retrieve from home the information I received from that visitor I will pass on to you, in case it means something.  If you like I could publish your email on my website. You never know your luck.


Peter Keenan"

Email from Gary Keenan (England) re John Patrick Keenan, 26 November 2010

 Hello Peter.

First off, what a fantastic web site. Really enjoying it.  I came to your web site while researching a family member. John Patrick Keenan born Ipswich, Queensland c1887. He Has an address of.. Carlton Terrace, Manly Brisbane, QLD. And at this time,while at the address is married to a Maud Keenan, formerly Dodd and they have one child.

Through some research and help iv'e discovered that he died in March 1967 aged 79 and is buried in the Hemmant Cemetery, Hemmant , Brisbane, QLD.

I would of course love to know if this side of the Family is known to you in Australia, but realize that you maybe some distance apart. So, if any family members have any back ground to JPK that they would like to share I would be very grateful.

The period prior to 1887 is proving very hard to research. I'm trying to find his parents and of course how they came to Australia and from where? But that's part of the fun in doing genealogy.

Cheers Peter.

from G. Keenan. Stockport Cheshire. England.

Email from Peter Keenan (Aust) to Jim Keenan (USA), 2 August 2010

Hi Jim,

 When you last wrote to me you asked what the connection was between us.

In order to have a go at answering this question, I have assumed that you and Kay Kuebler are from the same family “line”.  In other words, I assume that you are both descendants of John Keenan, b.1847 d.1930, who married Elizabeth Gamble (b.1849) in Wheeling, West Virginia, USA, in 1872

I understand that this John Keenan was son of Daniel Keenan (d.1872) and Elizabeth Wallace of Tyanee, Northern Ireland.

My guess is that this Daniel Keenan (d.1872) was a brother of Henry John Keenan (b.1808).

As my great-grandfather was a son of Henry John Keenan (b.1808), it appears that our great-great-grandfathers were brothers.


Best wishes,                       Peter Keenan, Sandringham, Australia. 2 August 2010

Email from Jim Keenan of Ohio, USA, July 2010

Hi Peter:

Good to hear from you. Sorry for the typing errors. I am always trying to find more information about my “Keenan” line. From this census I was able to determine that my grandfather had three sisters. I have visited Ireland in 2004 and 2007 and spent some time in the Portglenone area. I have also seen in the Griffith’s Valuation the following:

                         Keenan, Daniel. Tyanee, Tamlaght Ocrilly, Derry.                 Keenan, Henry. Tyanee, Tamlaght Ocrilly, Derry.

I am wondering if Daniel Keenan who is my great grandfather would be a brother of Henry Keenan who is in your “Keenan line. I have viewed your Keenan website and enjoyed reading all the information. You certainly have done an excellent job on it. I just wish we could somehow determine if we are related.

Jim Keenan, North Canton, Ohio

Emails from Charles (Chuck) Keenan of West New York, USA, 18/2/2010

Hello Peter


My Keenan line descends from Felix and Sarah (McQuoid) Keenan; b.1814/1809; IRL. Their son, John, my gg grandfather, was baptized in Kircubbin, Co. Down in 1835. Felix and family immigrated to the Dearham, Cumberland, ENGLAND area about 1845. One branch of my tree stayed there, my line eventually made it to the Western NY area around Rochester, NY in 1910.

One of the Cumberland, ENG Keenan's who I have found a tie to, Joseph Keenan settled in your part of the world and was very influential in the Labor movement in NSW.  If you are on Genes Reunited, let me know to send you my tree or if you would like a gedcom just ask.

I am still trying to find the town of origins for Felix and Sarah, my personal brick wall. Have any of you male Keenan's done the dna test kit? I did with Family Tree. There is some DNA info shared on WorldFamilies.net for Keenan surname group.  My Halo group is R1b1b2 with the 37 marker.  I will have my aunt Joanne (Keenan) Rothfuss, check out your site. She is the true historian in our branch.

Happy searching.  Best regards from Western NY, Chuck Keenan  charlesmkeenan1@yahoo.com

                                                                                              LATER  ...

If you come across any Keenan's that are connected to the Cleator Moor, Cumberland, ENGLAND Keenan's who settled in Australia, tell them to drop me a line as well. DNA testing might be surprising as the results predate the use of surnames.  Best regards from a wintery Western NY, Chuck Keenan.

Email from Church of Ireland 12/6/2009

Hi Peter,

Unfortunately the early Portglenone registers, including baptisms to 1873; marriages to 1845 and burials to 1871 were all destroyed in the fire at the Public Records Office of Ireland in 1922. No copies survive. However, for information about headstones the best approach would be to contact the local rector who is the Revd Mark Loney: rev.loney@btopenworld.com

Dr Susan Hood

Assistant Librarian and Archivist / Publications Officer

Church of Ireland

RCB Library
Braemor Park
Dublin 14

+ susan.hood@rcbdub.org 
Website  http://www.library.ireland.anglican.org/

Email from Peter Keenan to Church of Ireland 9/6/2009


I am from Australia. My ancestors (KEENAN) came from Portglenone. My wife and I visited Northern Ireland in 2002 and, acting on information from family historians here, visited the Church of Ireland in the Portglenone township, where we came across two headstones, side by side. One for Henry John Keenan and the other for James, both of whom were buried in the 1700’s. (I can send photographs if necessary.) I would like to find out more about these people from the Church of Ireland records.  (I have been unsuccessful at the common genealogy websites.)

Yours faithfully,

 Peter Keenan, Sandringham, Victoria, Australia. 9/6/2009

Email from Shellie Cummings (Western Australia) on 2 May 2009

Hi Peter,

I came across your wonderful website tonight while researching on the net.  I am a descendent of Stewart and Isabella Keenan of Western Australia through their daughter Eliza who married James Armstrong.  I am hoping you maybe able to clarify some information I had been given.

I have been told that Stewart was the son of Henry and Nancy Keenan nee Gamble. Henry christened 21.12.1802 and died 9.9.1869 Ballymena, Ireland. Nancy was the daughter of John Gamble and Mary Williamson born 1.9.1811.  This is different to what you have and I was wondering what evidence you have that Stewart’s parents were Henry and Mary. You have that Henry and Mary married in 1834 do you have a marriage certificate. Also the details relating to Henry’s date of birth and death. Can you tell me what evidence you have to confirm these?

I appreciate any help/clarification you can provide. I have appreciated all the help family members to date have provided but sometimes what we think is right is only sought of right.  I am learning quickly that patience is needed when trying to unravel the past.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Shellie Cummings
Perth, Western Australia

Email from June Reid (New Zealand) on 1 March 2009

Hi Peter from New Zealand

We first had a conversation re the Keenan family a year or so ago. I have been spurred on again after a visit to Scotland and discovered my cousin in East Kilbride is also trying to uncover the family history.

I have just had a look thru your site which is just great & emails sent to you. The one I found most interesting is from yourself to John 19.4.08 where you mentioned Robert Keenan & Emily Kerr – my great grandparents. My grandmother was Marion Hastings Keenan ( Date Death 1975 not 1973) , married to John Leiper Riddell. I was really surprised that my great grandparents were farmers .

Because of the information on your site which is very exciting , I rang my Dad ( who lives in Christchurch) and is 83yrs old and the grandson of Robert Keenan & Emily Kerr , great grandson of James & Maria. Dads name is Robert Keenan Riddell. Dad just marvelled that so many generations of a family can be unravelled and in contact in such a way , he is now quite frail but the brain was put into action & lots of memories flooded back.

Dad remembers staying with his grandparents at the farm , feeding the chickens & riding the horse & cart. He seemed to remember lots of “burns” to cross and a large load of peat at front of the property. He remembers his grandmother smoking a white clay pipe and always with a crutch and there was two half doors into her house. He thought Elizabeth had died of St Vitus Dance !

Although I don't live close to my Dad it brought him a great deal of pleasure today to make contact with the past , I am going to print of what I can of your site & send to him to read at his leisure.


June Reid

Letter from Lynda Palmer, Largs, Scotland, 16 February 2009

Hello Peter,

Just a wee note to put in with the file I have been trying to send you. ....

I hope you managed to decipher the family tree file that (my sister) Hazel (Smith) and I sent you. It wasn't very professionally laid out so I hope you could understand it OK.

My grandpa Keenan met my gran, Margaret Ralston, when he came over from Ireland around 1920 to work as a riveter in Kincaid's Shipyard - Greenock, on the Firth of Clyde. (Before that he still lived in the old homestead in Portglenone and mostly worked the land with his family.) He was still working at Kincaid's Shipyards when World War 2 broke out and the work he was doing -- shipbuilding -- was deemed important to the war effort so he was not drafted in to the army to fight.

Greenock however was a prime target for bombing raids because of the shipyards, and my grandparents were bombed out of their home in St Laurence Street in Greenock. They then walked, with their six children, to the nearest place of shelter, which was the small village of Inverkip. There they stayed for a few weeks in the church hall, till it was safe to move on again, eventually settling here in Largs. My Uncle Bob (Robert) was just a baby at the time and my mum Edna (Edwardina) was only a toddler. My Aunt Betty, Uncle Jim, Uncle Tommy and Aunt Margaret were all much older.

Out of them all Tommy, Margaret and Robert still live here in Largs, as do their children and their grandchildren.

My mum Edna died in 1981, aged 42. She had been left with a heart condition after contracting a childhood illness during the war. My Aunt Betty (Elizabeth) died three years ago in her 80s, and my Uncle Jim just last year.

Hazel and I are going to try and find some time to sit and go through photos for more up-to-date ones of the family, Granpa (James) Keenan etc.

In Largs we are all known just as "one of the Keenans" (no matter what our surnames are now) as we will look so alike. It is quite comical if you are in the butchers to order steak pies etc and he asks "which one are you?", then "Oh never mind, I'll just put it under Keenan" ha ha.

Well I suppose I'd better head out into the wind and rain again to go and bring in my daughter Dawn's pony, Loki and my wee mare, Fern. I wasn't joking when I said I wore woollies and wellies (ha ha).

I look forward to keeping in touch and hope you enjoy the photos I send now.

Best wishes, Lynda.

Email from Jamee Taylor and Suzannah Keenan on 4 February 2009

Good evening fellow Keenan family members,

We have immensely enjoyed viewing the website containing our proud family history, however we have noted an error with the spelling of two family member names.  Could you please make the following amendments to your records to ensure that the website remains accurate:

Jamie Keenan (daughter of James and Joanie Keenan) should be corrected to Jamee Taylor (nee Keenan)

Suzanne Keenan (daughter of James and Joanie Keenan) should be corrected to Suzannah Keenan.

Also there have been some new additions to this branch of the family, details as follows:

Georgia Mai Boyanton (B. 2003) daughter of Samantha Keenan
Benjamin Keenan Boyanton (B. 2006) son of Samantha Keenan

Jacob Michael Taylor (B.2006) son of Jamee Taylor (nee Keenan)
Sophie Rose Taylor (B.2008) daughter of Jamee Taylor (nee Keenan)

We have also included a recent family photo with all members of our family.

Regards,                  Jamee Taylor and Suzannah Keenan

Email from Mike Keenan of USA  on 6 February 2009

Dear Peter,

I don't know where to start. My name is Michael Keenan. My grandfather is Howard W. Keenan, whose father was Thomas James Keenan.

I want to thank you for all of the "tingles" you have sent up my spine. I am 38 years old and do not know a lot about where I came from. All of the work that you have done is GREATLY APPRECIATED. My searching was actually started by my father, John Howard Keenan. He had told me of some things that he had heard, and I started to "google" around. I was amazed at all of the information available.

I have 4 kids. Thomas 18, Brittany 16, Michael 11, and Kaitlyn 8. The older 2 are step kids. I mention this because I was amazed when I saw the pictures of the children taken Oct. 1, 2006. Their eyes! My kids have the same beautiful blue eyes. I was floored. Thank you again.

If I can help provide any more recent information from this side of the pond, I would love to. I don't want to be a bother, so let me know by replying to this email. God Bless

Mike Keenan

Email from Hazel Edwardina Smith on  22 January 2009

Dear Peter

We are so happy to have found this site as our grandfather was James Taylor Keenan born in Portglenone 1898. His Father , James born 1845..mother Elizabeth Taylor. I have included an attachment of our family tree, of which my sister and I are so proud of, to be a part of the Keenans.
I would love to hear back from you, as this is the first time we have managed to find more Keenans, though we are planning to visit Portglenone in February.
My sister Lynda and I, two of my uncles, Thomas and Robert Keenan, also my Aunt Margaret, and most of their children are living in this town on the West coast of Scotland where my gran, grandpa and all their children moved to when blitzed out of Greenock, Renfrewshire in WW2. My grandpa moving there from Ireland to work in the dockyards.
Hoping you get in touch, and enjoy our family tree included.

Yours sincerely
Hazel Edwardina Smith
Largs , Ayrshire, Scotland

Email from Lynda Palmer on  23 January 2009

Hi Peter,

It is so good to find another Keenan that is interested in our heritage.
My sister Hazel and I came across your website when we were trying to do some more research and were fascinated by what we were reading.
I have tried to research what I can, but I'm at the stage where I am getting confused between Maria (nee Hastings) Keenan and Elizabeth (nee Taylor ) Keenan. In fact I'm beginning to wonder if my great grandpa James may have been married to both, ha ha.
I hope you received the amended tree with the correct dates etc, I hope it all helps to expand our combined Keenan trees.
May I also thank you for replying to the e-mail Hazel and I sent you so quickly, we were so surprised to have an almost instant response.
I have attached some old photos with what information I have with them, I hope you enjoy them.
Perhaps you will be as astounded as we are at some of the likenesses that appear in the family to this very day.
Hazel and I will try and send some more up to date photos to show you, it's quite spooky.
As for adding our tree and contact information to your tree etc, well we would be honoured to say the least. Thank you.
I look forward to keeping in touch and finding out more about our ancestors.

keep well
from freezing cold Largs in Scotland

Email from Christine Conwell on 8 December 2008

(Email deleted in October 2015 at the request of its author. )

Email from Phillip Boyle on 25 October 2008

Hi Peter,
I was just going through your website (again) and looking at the photographs of the Fosters and Keenans. I just felt I had to e-mail and thank you for compiling this website. There were photographs of my grandmother Isabella Jane Naughton (nee Foster) with I presume my great-grandfather Henry Foster. Although I, to this day, still have a clear visual memory of Isabella I never knew my great-grandfather Henry nor had I previously seen a photograph of him. The photos also brought memories flooding back of George and Nora and of Don Keenan as a young married man with his wife Aileen. It was good also to see Brian as an adult (I haven’t seen him since he was about 4 or 5 years old) with his mother Aileen.

Email from Phillip Boyle on 23 October 2008

Upon further reading of your website I see that I haven’t added much that you didn’t already know. One thing I noticed was the date of Don Keenan’s birth – I have it as 1923 and you have it as 1924. My mother (now 103 and still going strong) keeps a list of births and deaths and I doubt she’d be wrong. Are you certain about the 1924?

I don’t mind your adding my e-mail address however the only people likely to contact me is Margaret or Brian both of whom I met when we were children. George (KEENAN)  was one of my favourite uncles and had a great sense of humour, a real gentleman in every sense of the word. His wife Nora was also one of my favourite aunts and I sometimes stayed with them when I was young. Norah went out of her way to entertain me on those occasions even though her son Don had long since left home.


Email from Phillip Boyle on 23 October 2008

Hi Peter

I was idly searching the Naughton’s in Tumut on Google and found your link to Honora (or Nora as we called her). All I have on Nora is:
Honorah Mary NAUGHTON
Born: 23 Nov 1902 in Tumut, N.S.W., Australia
Died: 05 Jan 1990 Tumut Hospital, NSW, Australia
Married George Aaron KEENAN

They had only one surviving child, a son, Don who was born 22 Mar 1923. Don married Aileen CONNORS. He died in 2002 in Queanbeyan. Don and Aileen had a few children but my memory only recalls Margaret and Brian. For a time Don and Aileen lived on the Batlow property with George and the other Keenan brothers. George’s house was called “Little Snuba” and has, since Nora’s death, been sold.

Honora was my aunt (my mother’s sister). Nora’s parents were:
John NAUGHTON and Isabella Jane FOSTER.

Phillip Boyle

GUEST BOOK ENTRIES FROM 15/6/2008 TO 14/7/2008

14 Jul 2008 11:36 AM

I am trying to trace the ancestors of William Keenan, who joined The Royal Scots Greys at Ballincollig around 1884. His service papers indicate he was born in County Down, In his marriage certificate, he lists his parents as James Keenan & Mary Campbell …. I have William's Attestation papers for The Royal Scots Greys …. On 3rd December, 1883 William is "processed" and gives his place of birth as "In the Parish Londonderry, near the Town of Londonderry, in the County of Londonderry" …. He gives his age as 19 Years 0 months …. This means he was born in 1864. On 26 January, 1886 William is married in Glasgow to Jessie Livingston and gives his parents as James Keenan, Blacksmith; and Mary Keenan, nee Campbell. His address is given as "Barracks, Aldershot". He gives his age as 20 which means of course a birth year of 1866 but could be 1865 …. their first child was born in May of 1886 …. Having completed his 12 year engagement, William is given an honorable discharge on 27 November, 1895 …. Five years later (almost) William re-joins his old regiment and signs up for one year with 2 Dragoons, Royal Scots Greys, on 19 May 1900. He gives his age as 36 years, 0 months which now gives us a date of birth of 1864. He gives the same place of birth as Londonderry. Any help or advice would be most welcome and greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Robert Allan.

01 Jul 2008 09:43 PM

A wonderful site, beautifully done. If you stumble across my line of Keenan's from Co.Down>Cumberland,ENG>Rochester, NY, USA please drop me a line. Best regards from Groveland NY, Chuck Keenan charlesmkeenan1@yahoo.com

29 Jun 2008 11:02 PM

I have obtained two photographs of Glenbourne Homestead from the website of the Heritage Council of Western Australia. They are now added to the relevant page of this site. Any additional photographs of the house would still be welcome. Peter J Keenan.

27 Jun 2008 12:05 PM

Does anyone have a photograph of Glenbourne Homestead, the heritage listed small farmhouse situated on the northern bank of Ellens Brook, Margaret River, Western Australia, and built by Stewart and Isabella Keenan in the late 1880s? If so, please contact me, because I would love to put a copy on this website for the Keenans of Western Australia. Peter J Keenan.

22 Jun 2008 12:26 PM

Hi Kathryn. It's great to hear from you. My wife (Margaret) and I met your mother and father on our trip to Northern Ireland in 2002. We have been writing occasionally since then. They have sent me a photo of you and your brother. In 2002 they took us on a tour along the Antrim coast and then back to Innishrush to meet "Aunty" May Keenan. My wife and I also travelled to Scotland, where we met your uncle Jack Harkins. I am gradually preparing, for publication on this website, a series of family trees, with the aim of showing the families in Australia and Northern Ireland. I would appreciate receiving any information that might help me. For example, I know that your great, great grandmother was Agnes Keenan, but don't know her maiden name, DOB, etc. I think her husband was William Keenan, and that his father was James Keenan, but that's all I have at this stage. Thanks, and best wishes to you and your family. Peter James Keenan, Sandringham, Australia.

20 Jun 2008 08:18 PM

Hi I would like to say hello to all my Keenan relatives throughout the world. I am Nancy J Harkins (nee Keenan) granddaughter. My name is Kathryn Mary Nightingale (nee Johnston) daughter of Sheila and Richard Johnston. I now live in West Yorkshire England, married to Shane Nightingale and we have a son Samuel who turned 1 recently.

15 Jun 2008  12:26 PM

my name is robert keenan my wife & I left belfast northern ireland in june1962 for australia & we have lived in Canberra ACT since. My grand-father was john Keenan & I believe he came from some where in antrim & I am still trying to find out where

Email from Sheila Johnston of Northern Ireland on 24/9/2008

Dear Peter,

Glad to hear you and Margaret are well. I will send some of the old family photos that I have.

My grandfather was William Keenan and his wife was Margaret Agnes Whyte. My great grandparents were Maria (Hastings) and James Keenan. Their children were, Elizabeth (America) Margaret (America) David (America) Robert (Scotland) James (Scotland) Henry (Scotland) William (Innisrush) Annie (Portglenone) Samuel (Scotland) - he is buried in Belgium , he was killed in the first world war his name in on the Commonwealth grave site his full name is Samuel Frackleton Keenan and he was in Seaforth Highlander Regiment and Stewart (Australia).

I have all their photographs except James and Henry and will send these to you soon. We are just back from a holiday in Majorca with Kathryn and family.

All for now, Sheila

Email from Anne Waghorn of Western Australia on 18/8/2008

"Hi Peter, Margaret and all the family. Hope this finds you all well. Terry and I were down in Margaret River weekend before last and went out to see the old Keenan house. Thought you might like a photo of it. Was wonderful to go and see, you could stand back and imagine them walking around. My cousin Keith took us out to it and also pointed out the out door oven they used to use.  They are still working on the restoration and are hoping to be able to get some shingles for the roof so it will be as it was. There are still some old fruit trees and a huge old mulberry tree they planted. Keith says the mulberry tree has a huge crop around January, so may have to take a trip down in Jan 09. Just a short note for now hope you like the photos, Cheers Anne & Terry. 18/8/2008"

Email from Therese Alting on 9/6/2008

"Re Henry Keenan

I'm doing some research into the history of Huntington's disease in Australia, and just came across your amazing family history website. What a lot of work you've been doing! I wonder if you'd be interested in sharing any further information you may have, particularly about Huntington's disease.

When looking into the medical records of Henry Keenan, did you have to go out to the Records Office in the west of Sydney? The earliest reference to Huntington's chorea I've found in an Australian medical journal is 1902, but it's very interesting that they diagnosed Henry with the condition in 1885. Interesting too that they called it St Vitus' Dance in the newspaper articles, as that's the name used by many families to describe the disease up until the 1950s.

If you'd like to know more about what I'm doing, I'm happy to send you more information.

Best wishes,
Therese Alting"

Reply from Peter Keenan to John Keenan on 19/4/2008

Hi John,

The information I have is as follows.  

Henry John Keenan (b.1808) married Mary Ann Gamble.  They farmed the 10 acre property of “Glenone” in the Townland of Glenone, Parish of Tamlaght O’Crilly, County Derry, Northern Ireland.

They had the following children: Stewart (b.1834), Robert (b.1836) , Henry John (b. 1842), Aaron, James (b.1845 or 1847, d. 1906), David and Elizabeth.  [I am a descendent of Henry John (b. 1842).  Henry John Keenan married Nancy Jane Gamble.  Stewart Keenan married Isabella Gamble.  Henry John and Stewart and their wives came to Australia, as did Robert and Aaron.]

Their son, James Keenan (b.1845 or 1847, d. 1906), married Maria Hastings (b. 1846, d.1937).  It is said that they farmed the “Glenone” property until James died.  Their 10 children were Samuel, Elizabeth, Henry, William, Annie, Stewart, David, Robert (b.1882, d. 1946), James and Margaret Isabel (b. 1876, d. 1954).

It appears that Henry, William, David and James went on to live in Scotland.

Anne stayed at home and looked after her mother.

Margaret Isabel went to America where she married Robert A Malcolm. 

Samuel Keenan died 6/9/07 in France/Flanders (1st World War), Battle of the Mons.

Stewart died in Australia.

Elizabeth died in America.

Robert Keenan married Emily McLaughlin Kerr.  It is said they carried on farming at “Glenone” until 3 years after Robert’s mother died (say 1940).  Their children were Marion Hastings Keenan (b. 1905, Greenock, Scotland, d. 1973 in Lanarkshire, Scotland), May Keenan (b.1906), William Kerr Keenan (b. 1908 in Coatbridge), Stuart Keenan (b. 1910 in Coatbridge), Hannah Kerr Keenan (b. 1912 in Bellshill Uddington, Scotland, d. 1992).  Hannah married John Easton.

The only sibling of Henry John Keenan (b.1808) that I have heard of is John Keenan.

I hope this is of some assistance.  I would love to hear about any information you have dug up or do so in the future.


Peter James Keenan

From John Keenan of Scotland on 2 April 2008

"Hi there,


I'm John Keenan living in Scotland.


I am looking for info on Henry John Keenan who married a Gamble in Ireland. I found on Ancestry.co.uk that Henry had a son James Keenan who married a Maria Hastings. They both had several children in Scotland. Can anyone shed any light on this?


Also HJ Keenan b.1808, does anyone know the names of his siblings?


Any info would be just great


Best Wishes


From Gordon Elston of Isle of Man 19 April 2008

"Hi Peter


Thanks for the reply. Have asked my friend and she is organising me a copy to send to Kay.


Had a look at some of the photo's of Maryborough and Sandy Strait on the internet, looks a bit warmer and nowhere as windy as the Isle of Man is.


Thanks again for your efforts.





Reply from Peter Keenan to Gordon Elston on 19/4/2008

Hi Gordon,


I have examined my copy of "Tall ships on the River: Prince Consort 1864 and other voyages", by Judith Grimes and Kay Gassan.  The book contains extensive extracts from a diary of a passenger by the name of Thomas McEvoy Bussey.  It also contains an unauthenticated list of the emigrants who landed.  The name Levins does not appear in either of these, nor, it seems, in any other part of the book.  But the passengers did arrive at Maryborough Wharf on 2 April 1864, so it would seem that the grandfather of the worker you mentioned was on the ship.


I'm sure the authors of the book, who are members of the Maryborough Historical Society, would love to receive a copy of the written account you speak of (as would I).  They may also be able to supply you with a copy of their book.  The addresses I have are: Kay Gassan, P O Box 988, Maryborough, 4650, Queensland, Australia, and Judith Grimes, P O Box 40, Nanago, 4615.


Sorry I haven't been able to help you much.



Peter Keenan


note by Peter Keenan on 9/12/2008: subsequent correspondence establishes that the grandfather's family name was elvins, not levins.  see correspondence on 8/12/2008 from christine  Conwell, of  Brisbane  Queensland, Australia. the elvins name DOES appear in the book"Tall ships on the River: Prince Consort 1864 and other voyages", by Judith Grimes and Kay Gassan.


From Gordon Elston of Isle of Man 15 April 2008



A friend of mine ran a factory in Birmingham UK many years ago and had a worker who one day produced an exercise book in which was written an account by his Grandfather of the voyage he made as a first class passenger in Dec 1863 on this packet boat to Queensland. The daily account ends at April 2nd 1864 at Maryborough.  


My friend arranged for a neat typed copy to be produced for the worker and kept one for himself, being very interested in all things concerning sailing.  


Recently my friend's widow asked me to do some research on the vessel and the major google hit was your family site who had been on the same voyage.  


The grandfather's family name was Levins.  


Did your family account's mention him at all.



Gordon Elston"

note by Peter Keenan on 9/12/2008: subsequent correspondence establishes that the grandfather's family name was elvins, not levins.  see correspondence on 8/12/2008 from christine  Conwell, of  Brisbane  Queensland, Australia. the elvins name DOES appear in the book"Tall ships on the River: Prince Consort 1864 and other voyages", by Judith Grimes and Kay Gassan.

From Robert Keenan of Engadine on 10 December 2007

Thanks Peter.  Sorry it's taken me so long to get information to you of my family ... My Mum and Dad, John Robert (Bob) and Thelma Emily (nee Champion)  Thanks for the good job you're doing ...

Attached:  Photo of Robert Keenan and copy of his family tree

From Rachelle Nofz (nee Keenan) on 4/7/2007


"Hello Peter and Margaret,


My maiden name was Rachelle Keenan and I am the eldest granddaughter of Neil and Edith Keenan (nee Denson).  I found your information to be very good. However Neil Keenan, my grandfather, was the youngest son in his family. He used to tell me many stories, including in the early 1980s that Aunty Ivy used to write to relatives, (cousins, I believe) in Belfast. Thank you for taking the time to make this wonderful information available online.


Warm Regards,

Rachelle Nofz (nee Keenan). "

Reply from Peter Keenan to Rachell Nofz on 7/7/2007

Hi Rachelle,

It’s great to hear from you. I’m glad you got some enjoyment out of my website. I’ve still got a lot more information to put on it, so please visit again from time to time.

I hope you don’t mind but I have now added your name to the website. I would love to receive any more information that you have about your line of the family, especially if it can be published on the site. If you would like to write something and email it to me I could put it on a special page.

I have been writing to a distant cousin and her niece in Northern Ireland, and another relative in Scotland, for several years now. The cousin in Ireland is May Keenan, who is about 85. There is at least one photo of her on my website. It was taken on a trip Margaret and I made to Northern Ireland in 2002. May lives in Innishrush, near Portglenone, in County Derry. This is where the Keenans of Batlow and Bunbury, Western Australia, originated. May is the only cousin left in that country, most having gone to Australia, USA and New Zealand in the mid-to-late 1800s. I have also been communicating with distant relatives in the USA and Canada.

Best wishes, and thanks again.

Peter Keenan

From Rachelle Nofz (nee Keenan) on 12/7/2007

"Hello Peter and Margaret,

Last night, I read your email after flying home to Gladstone from Sydney. Just have attached a pic taken yesterday at the AMP building in Sydney at Circular Quay. It is of my brother Mathew Keenan and myself. We also have two younger brothers, Darren and Andrew, who live in Melbourne; and a "half sister" Jemma Lee Horton.

Our father, Des Keenan (4th son of Neil and Edith) had been in a farming accident at Batlow last week and has a head injury. While I waiting at home (in Gladstone QLD) for news, I found your site, so it was lovely to see such a wonderful site.

Last Friday after I flew to Sydney, Mathew and I drove to see Dad. We also saw our uncles and cousins (all of them "Batlow Keenans"). I told some of them about your site. If you would like, I could probably pass on some useful Batlow contacts some time.


Warm Regards,

Rachelle "