05 April 2012

WDYTYA Australia: Kerry O'Brien

Another quick trip to Australia to view the second in their series of WDYTYA featuring investigative TV journalist Kerry O'Brien. Again he's not someone I'd heard of before.

Unsurprisingly the episode was about his Irish ancestry of which he had more than he was aware. His O'Brien line, headed by Charles, migrated in the barque "Emigrant" arriving in August 1850, via the quarantine station at Stradbroke Island as the ship had many typhus cases. He became a successful hotel proprietor, managed to go bankrupt three times in hard times, finally ended his days as caretaker for the state high court thanks to connections with other more successful "Emigrant" passengers.

On his maternal father's side it was a classic convict story, the father transported for stealing a cow, the mother for stealing a pig. They left the arduous life of a farm labourer after release and moved to Sydney setting into an urban slum and frequent trouble with the law.

I suspect for Australia the research was fairly routine. BMD registrations appear to have pride of place in the absence of census records, with court records and newspapers taking on more prominence than I am accustomed to. Very little seemed to be digitized, although you can never tell whether maybe they're showing you original records as it makes for better television.

The episode held my attention, likely helped by my ignorance of Australian history.


Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

definitely the usual WDYTYA practice of flourishing documents as if from a hat. I did stop muttering after the first 10 minutes and went with the flow. Possibly we do use different docs but then our BDM records are superb. not quite as simple a project as it may have seemed though indexes do exist. I noticed they didn't try to tackle the back to Ireland aspect. Kerry O'Brien would not be known internationally but he's a high profile TV journalist.

Linda said...

How did you get to watch this in North America?