An Irish inspired monument with a Gaelic inscription in the West Kempsey Cemetery often arouses attention and interest in the story behind it.
The monument is for Kempsey's first town clerk, Hubert Patrick Macklin (1835-1904) and his wife Kate (1837-1889).
What was known was that schoolmaster Hubert Patrick Macklin emigrated from Ireland to Victoria with his wife and two daughters around 1857 and taught firstly in Beechworth, Victoria, then in New Zealand before moving back to Australia in 1881 where he was teacher at Belmore River School.
He became prominent in town affairs as editor of the Macleay Chronicle, treasurer of the hospital and becoming the first Town Clerk of the newly formed Borough of Kempsey. He retired from public life following the death of his wife in 1889. Hubert passed away suddenly in 1904 at his son-in-law's residence at Macksville and was buried alongside his wife at West Kempsey.
The only known photograph of Hubert shows a tall, top hatted man outside the Star Hotel which was next to the Macleay Chronicle Office. Over recent months however, we were to learn a lot more about this enigmatic character.
Hubert's great-great-grandson, Dr Jonathan Wooding of Sydney University visited our Museum early in 2017 to research Hubert and his monument. My mention of Jonathan and his connection to Hubert Macklin in our May 2017 Newsletter drew the attention of Dr Breandan Mac Suibhne of Centenary University New Jersey in the United States. Breandan was the author of The End of Outrage, which was the Irish Times Non-Fiction Book of the Year in 2017.
The central character in Breandan's book, which deals with the post-Famine era in rural Ireland, was Patrick McGlyn, a schoolteacher from Donegal. Breandan had traced Patrick to Beechworth where he had changed his name to Herbert Patrick Macklin.
Following the launch of The End of Outrage, Breandan was contacted by an Australian researcher who had established that Herbert Patrick Macklin had in fact become Hubert Patrick Macklin who was buried in West Kempsey Cemetery.
After Breandan made contact with Jonathan, both worked on the subject during a visit to Ireland and concluded that there was absolutely no doubt that Hubert was Patrick McGlyn.
Hubert's life in Ireland (as Patrick McGlyn) was briefly as follows. He was born around 1832 and began his teaching career at Letterbrick school in County Donegal, Ireland.
He was later appointed to the school at Beagh in west County Donegal in 1853 and it was here he joined the secret nationalist society, the Molly Maguires. The Molly Maguires sought to violently redress grievances relating to land usage among the rural poor.
In 1856 Patrick (Hubert) informed on the Molly Maguires, he said, to protect James Gallagher, a large local landholder. This resulted in the arrest of twenty-two men, and Patrick was put under police protection then helped to leave the country for Australia.
Breandan's book The End of Outrage is well worth a read. The full Irish Times article on Jonathan and Breandn's work can be found at https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/the-informer-who-disappeared-in-1856-and-has-shown-up-again-1.3522569.
As Breandan said, even in death Hubert Patrick Macklin had shaken off two historians; one missed his end, the other his beginning.
The Macleay River Historical Society is pleased to have played a small part in this intriguing story.