Saturday, April 24, 2010

Amazing archive images of Ireland

We've loved flicking through some of the 34,000 photographs of Ireland in the Irish National Library Digital Collection in the National Library of Ireland.

The images taken from the photo glassplates date from 1860 to 1954 and are simply beautiful!

Photo: Customs House, Dublin. Source: National Library of Ireland

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lovely Vaucluse House

View of the estate from the kitchen garden

Original portrait of Hayes' daughter, Mary Jude

We spent the morning wandering the grounds and house of the beautiful Vaucluse Estate in Sydney's eastern suburbs, run by the Historic Houses Trust NSW.

The curators of the house have done a magnificent job in showing how the house would have looked when the Wentworth family lived there in early to mid 19th century. Thanks Gary and Ron for showing us around.

We loved seeing the stone wall that is the only visible part of the original stone cottage built by Sir Henry Browne Hayes in 1803. The cottage was built by two Irish convicts, both of who Irish Wattle has identified through colonial records. Contact us for more details.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Irish Wattle collaborates with Dublin City Library

We're looking forward to working with Dublin City Library on one of our projects in 2010! More details to follow soon.

Photo: Dublin City Library. Source: Flickr

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Irish Wattle is now on Twitter!

Get instant updates on news, reviews and the latest research as we find it. Tell us about future history events and we'll publicise them for you.

Just head to to join us on Twitter.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spotlight on: Samuel Breakwell

Or Sir Henry Browne Hayes' "fancy man", as he was otherwise called by General Joseph Holt.

You may remember that we highlighted colourful Irish convict, Sir Henry Browne Hayes, in our November newsletter. Hayes had been the Sheriff of Cork before he abducted an heiress and was transported to New South Wales on the Atlas. One of Hayes’ many reputed antics in the colony was to import soil from Ireland to fill a trench around his home in Vaucluse, Sydney, with the belief that it would keep out snakes.

Samuel Breakwell sailed to Australia from Cork as a free man aboard the Atlas, arriving at Port Jackson in 1802. He served as Sir Henry’s valet until 1812 when they departed the colony on the Isabella. Their journey back was just as eventful as their lives in the colony, for the Isabella was wrecked in the Falklands enroute to Ireland.

Breakwell was, at the time of leaving Sydney, the owner of two properties, a 60-acre land grant (the site of the present-day Rose Bay) that he named Tivoli (after a stately home in Cork overlooking the River Lee) as well as the Vaucluse House estate (pictured above, though a later building than the one Hayes had built) that Hayes had generously given him. Breakwell was probably at the time also a father.

Once he returned to Ireland, Breakwell settled in Cork. Later, in July 1830, Breakwell gave Attwell Adam Hayes (nephew of Sir Henry) Power of Attorney to sell both the Vaucluse and Tivoli estates. In 1831 Breakwell, while living at Grattons Hill in Cork, sold Tivoli to Thomas Horton James of Sydney. Hayes at that time was also said to reside at Grattons Hill, possibly in the same house as Breakwell. Hayes died a short time after in 1832.

Four years later Breakwell married Julia Crowley in the Diocese of Cork and Ross. He was listed as a business owner in the 1844-1845 General Post Office Directory as “Samuel Breakwell, glover, 38 Grand Parade”.

The probate of his will was approved in 1847, so he probably died either in that year or the year before. There is no record of his death or burial record in the Death Registry because the Registry started in 1864.

This information is supplied by Rolf Grunseit, who would like to hear from anyone with further information on Samuel Breakwell and Sir Henry Browne Hayes. He is especially hoping to find any clues as to which ship may have delivered the Irish soil to Hayes in Sydney. If you are able to help, please contact us and we’ll forward your details to Rolf.