Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

John Flood A[euro]" an Amazing Man of Conviction; Family Visits City Where History Was Written

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

John Flood A[euro]" an Amazing Man of Conviction; Family Visits City Where History Was Written

Article excerpt

Rowena Robertson

RETRACING the steps of their great-grandfather brought John Martin and Colleen Wright to the foot of an imposing tombstone in Gympie Cemetery this week.

Reading the inscription to the exiled Irish patriot laid to rest more than a century ago, the brother and sister were moved to discover John Floodas headstone had been erected two years after his death by his friends and admirers, an estimated 3000 of whom crowded into the cemetery for its unveiling.

The Celtic cross, hewn from dark green Aberdeen granite and standing four metres tall, commemorates Floodas work in the cause of the Irish nationality.

It was the second memorial raised on Australian soil to perpetuate the memory of Irish patriots a the first was erected in Sydney in memory of the aheroes of a98a.

John Flood, who became a Widgee Shire Council chairman and Gympie newspaper owner/editor, began the long journey from his native Dublin to his final resting place when he was arrested in 1868 for his part the Irish Republican Brotherhoodas ill-fated attempt to supply arms and ammunition to Ireland by raiding Chester Castle near Liverpool.

Identified by informers as the top man in the Fenian movement, Flood was held at Mountjoy prison, sentenced to 15 years penal servitude and, on September 20, 1867, set sail with 279 other convicts, including 65 Irish patriots, for Fremantle, West Australia.

On board the Hougoumont, John Flood and his compatriots produced a weekly newspaper called The Wild Goose to keep their spirits up.

With Flood as editor, seven hand-written editions were produced during the 89-day voyage and were read aloud to the Fenians in one of the holds of the ship on each publication Saturday.

aThe Irish prisoners werenat kept with the other prisoners and were allowed to travel around the ship quite freely,a Colleen said. aFrom all reports, the Irish prisoners were really well-behaved.a

Copies of The Wild Goose are today held in the Mitchell Library.

aOur great-grandfather was a political prisoner who came out on the Hougoumont, the last convict ship to come into West Australia,a John said.

aThese days youad call him a fanatic, back then he was known as a Fenian.a

Since starting their search for their great-grandfather, John, of Wagga, and Colleen, of Brisbane, have learned much about the man who would go on to become a major a and highly respected and admired a figure in the history of Gympie.

Once pardoned, Flood eventually settled permanently on the goldfield in 1880 and carved out a successful career that included share broking, insurance agent and proprietor of the Gympie Miner newspaper. He was Widgee Shire chairman from 1891-93 and twice stood, unsuccessfully, for the Queensland Parliament. …

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