Kerrymen Down Under: The Cullity Diaspora

Following the publication on this website of ‘Castleisland’s Best’: Mundy Prendiville (1900-1968), Archbishop of Perth, Castleisland District Heritage was contacted by Catherine Giles, a descendant and researcher of the Prendiville family.[1]


Remarking on Archbishop Prendiville’s departure to Australia in the footsteps of his siblings, Catherine wrote:


The siblings were following Maurice Prendiville, their uncle, an older brother of their father, to Australia.  Maurice Prendiville came to Australia, initially New South Wales, before 1874, I don’t know why but it’s interesting his brother James left for America around the same time.  Maurice lived in New South Wales and spent time in Victoria before coming to Western Australia around 1900.  He is first recorded in Australia in 1874, noted as a contributor to a fundraiser in the newspaper.  He was married in 1875 and had four daughters of which only two survived.  His wife died in 1881.


A letter included with Catherine’s communication, written by the Archbishop of Perth’s sister from St Catherine’s Convent, Williamstown Road, Doubleview, West Australia and dated 28th September 1973, provides information about the family tree.  It is reproduced with courtesy of Bernard Scallon (grandson of Mrs Scallon, the addressee) who is in possession of the original letter:


My Dear Mrs Scallon

Bishop Quinn has sent me your letter regarding the Prendiville family tree. 

First of all I must introduce myself as Sr M Laurence (Ellen Prendiville), sister of the late Archbishop of Perth, Redmond, RIP and eight years his senior.

Owing to the fact that I left home at an early age, I’m afraid I am not fully versed in my family’s long line of descendants, but I shall gladly give you all the information I have regarding my relatives, hopefully that it may prove useful.

I was born at Cordal, Castleisland, Co Kerry, and my father’s name was Garrett and my mother’s Hannah O’Sullivan of Killorglin, Co Kerry.  I often heard my father speak of his brothers and two sisters.  His brothers were Redmond, Tom, John, Maurice and James.  It was, I understand, this latter who went to Chicago and settled there.  His family used to correspond with ours, and I remember one daughter married a Mr Golding.  I never heard my father speak of William, but it is quite possible he too may have settled in Chicago.  My father’s brothers, Redmond, John and Tom settled in Co Kerry.  I know Uncle Redmond well, and Uncles Tom and John remotely.  The latter, by the way, had five daughters nuns – three Dominicans in New Orleans, US, one in Eastern Australia and one in England.  Uncle Maurice settled here in Perth, had two daughters, one of whom married Mr Giles and gave three girls to religion, and one priest.  Of my father’s two sisters, one was a nun in Presentation Convent, Dingle, Co Kerry, and the other married Cullity, related to the Mr Cullity who sent you information.

My brothers, Redmond, RIP, visited Chicago in the late fifties or early sixties.  He told me all his relatives were ‘rounded up’ and they all celebrated with great éclat his arrival in USA.  I also had a sister Nora in Chicago.  She was married to a Mr O’Leary, but she died at an early age.

This is about all I know about my relatives.  Unfortunately, all my own family died rather young, and, therefore, I have nobody to turn to for information.  I am the only survivor!

I have a niece here in this community, a Loreto pupil, I also have a niece in Rathfarnham Abbey, Dublin, and one a St John of God nursing sister.  I have six nephews doctors of science, medicine and theology, one is in Michigan, US, Dr Vincent Prendiville, and the others are in Ireland, England and Australia.  I also have four or five nephews in Australia, England and Ireland, so you see the Prendiville clan is widely distributed throughout the world.

Much of what I have written may seem irrelevant to your quest, but it gives you an overall picture of what I know.

Please do not hesitate to ask for any further information.  I’m sorry I can’t do better.

My love to you and your sister, and please pray for me always.

Yours affectionately in St Dominic
Sr M Laurence Prendiville OP[2]


Catherine’s communication continues:


The first of his [Maurice Prendiville’s] nephews to come to Australia (1888) was Michael John Cullity, son of Ellen Prendiville and John Cullity.  Maurice was working in mining at this stage and it’s believed that he was able to get work for his nephews and others coming out from Kerry.  Maurice and the Cullitys came to Western Australia around the same time.  The Archbishop’s brothers and sister and his cousins came to Australia at various stages after this.[3]


Michael John Cullity, the first to go to Australia in 1888, was born at Craganorig, Co Kerry, in 1869.[4] He married Maglass native Norah Dunne (1867-1928), settled at Fremantle,  and raised a family of seven, viz, Jack (1893), Tom (1896), Mick (1898), Ellie (1899), Con (1901), Maurice (1903) and Julia Maria (Sheila) (1910).   He died on 12 April 1938.


In 1968, his second son, Tom Cullity (1896-1977), founder of Cullity Timbers Ltd, wrote about his family and his Irish ancestry.  A copy of a section of this valuable typed document has been donated to Castleisland District Heritage by Catherine Giles and is transcribed below.


The Cullity Family by Tom Cullity – Composed in the year 1968


My father and mother were born in County Kerry, on adjoining farms in the fertile plain between Castleisland and Tralee, the very area in which the Earl of Ormond’s army, as Hooker recounts, slaughtered every living person before it when it swept through in the 16th century.  Whether my forebears lived there before this tragic episode, I know not.  In fact, it is well-nigh impossible to trace their history back further than, at the earliest, late 18th or early 19th century.


The surname Cullity is variously spelt as Collity, Culloty, Colloty, and I have even seen Collotty.  It is peculiar to Kerry and is not found in any other part of Ireland.  My mother claimed that the original name was MacCarthy and is derived from the Gaelic word Codladh – sleep or sleepy-head, and was bestowed on the descendants of a MacCarthy who was reputed to have gone to sleep whilst on lookout or sentry duty in one of the interminable wars of the country in years gone by.


My brother Maurice has come across the name Culotti in France.  This could be evidence of Gaelic origin, although I doubt it.  There is evidence of some Roman origin in the Christian name Eugene, which has been repeated in every generation that it is possible to trace.


My father, Michael John Cullity, was born at the townland of Craganorig, a few miles from Castleisland, on August 15 1869.  In common with all his brothers and in keeping with the Irish custom, his second name John was that of his father.  In fact, his brother John was buried here in Perth as J J, ie, John John, and if I remember rightly, had property registered in the same name.


My father’s eldest brother Eugene (Eugie John) inherited the farm, whilst another of his brothers, Tom, emigrated to the United States.  His brother John, as mentioned, and his sister Ann followed him to Australia, and all three dying here in Western Australia.


His father was John Cullity, and as my father was the eighth in a family of twelve, I calculate that his father was born about 1830.  His grandfather Eugene, by the same reckoning, would be born around 1790 to 1800, and beyond the fact that his wife’s name was Costello, I have no other record of him.[5]


My father’s mother was Ellen Prendiville of Cordal.  Her family trace right back to the original Normans who came to the country in the train of Raymond le Gros.  The name speaks for itself as evidencing Norman or Poitevin origin.  In the old records it is variously spelt as Pronyville, Frendevyle and Pronybil, and the latter rendering has led to the name being sometimes pronounced and written as Prendible.


There are records extant of property being registered in Tralee in 1628 in the name of Richard Prendiville.  Mary Hickson writes that ‘Richard Prendiville was evidently a man of substance and probably one of the free burgesses of Tralee in his day.  The family fortunes sank after 1641 (Cromwell’s forfeitures) but in the early part of the 18th century the name occasionally appears again in a Quarter Sessions Jury List.’


The name appears to have died out altogether in England, but there are many of the name around Kerry.  I remember last year, when I visited Castleisland, enquiring at the main store in the town for Father Tom Prendiville’s brother Eamon, who was working there.  I told the first employee I met that I wished to speak to Mr Prendiville and he replied, ‘Which one, there are five of them working here.’


I calculate again that my Prendiville grandmother was born about 1830 and her father Tom, about 1800.  The latter was married three times.  His first wife’s name was White, who died in childbirth.  His second wife’s name was Schollard,, who had two children.  His third wife – my maternal great-grandmother, was Bess Prendiville – no relation.


Taking a line through Christian names, it could be inferred that my great-grandfather Tom’s father was Garrett, born between about 1760-1770.  Again it appears no record exists of the family from Cromwell’s foray until about the mid-18th century.


My mother was Norah Dunne, born in 1867 at Maglass, BallyMacElligott, which, as mentioned previously, is between Castleisland and Tralee, her people being close neighbours of the Cullitys.  Her father was Tom Dunne and her mother, Julia O’Connor.  The surname Dunne is the most common surname in Leix (formerly Queen’s County) and my Dunne cousins believe the family came there in the train of the Crosby or Crosbie family.


Miss Hickson mentions in her pedigree of the Crosbies that the original Kerry Crosbie, Patrick, was made an extensive grant of land in Queen’s County and ‘the seigniory of Tarbert in Kerry to which he was bound to transplant various septs who were troublesome to the Pale.’[6]


The Dunnes could have been included in this migration.  The first Dunne to occupy Maglass was my great-grandfather Maurice, the family previously occupying a place a few miles away.  Maurice married Norah O’Connor.  Her mother’s name was O’Sullivan – the Ulick O’Sullivans, the family from which the Melbourne medical family of Ulick O’Sullivans are descended.


The present occupant of Maglass, my cousin Tom Dunne, remembers very vividly the account of Dr Ulick O’Sullivan operating on my mother at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne more than 70 years ago.


Again, attempting to trace the ages of the various generations, I calculate that my Dunne grandparents were born about 1840 and Maurice Dunne, between 1800 and 1810.


Maurice Dunne’s father, my great-great-grandfather, was Tom, who married Kate Brosnan.  They had four children, Maurice (my great-grandfather), Father James, who died in 1829 and is buried at Ardfert, and two daughters.  Presuming Father James was 30 when he died, his father could have been born about 1770, if not before.


My O’Connor grandmother’s father was named Cornelius.  He married Joan Herlihy.  It appears she was widowed early, because my mother was sent to live with her for some time when she was a girl.  I have no other record of the O’Connors except that the above-mentioned Joan Herlihy’s mother was a Duggan.


My Father’s Family


My father’s eldest brother was Eugene.  He was married twice and he only had one child, Mary Ellen.[7]  As the eldest son, he inherited Craganorig which has now been passed on to her, where she still resides with her husband, John Griffin and family.[8]


As mentioned previously, my father had two other brothers, Tom and John.  Tom went to the USA, and married there.  He had two sons, John and Eugene, and one daughter, Mary Alice, who was married in New York to a man named Chapman.  John had no family.  Eugene, the only one living of this family, has one son and two daughters, Katherine and Margaret (Mrs Burkhardt).  My father’s other brother, John, who went out to Perth, died here unmarried.[9]


My father had eight sisters.  The eldest, Mary, never married and died at Craganorig.  Three sisters joined religious orders.  One, my aunt Bessie (Sister Mary of the Order of St Joseph of Cluny) died in India.  The other two nuns, my aunts Kate (Sister Emmanuel Marie) and Hannah (Sister Alicia), both members of the Order of the Union of the Sacred Heart, died in convents at Portsmouth and Bristol respectively.  Another, aunt Ellie, died in New Zealand, whilst my aunt Annie, the youngest of the family, came out to Western Australia and in company with her cousin, Nell Prendiville (Mother Laurence) joined the Dominican Order.  She was forced by ill-health to resign from the Order and died unmarried at Fremantle.  I have no record of my father’s other sisters, other than their names, Norah and Julia.


It appears therefore that the seven children of my father, the one daughter of his brother Eugene, and the three children of his brother Tom – eleven in all – are the total progeny of a family of twelve.


My Mother’s Family


My mother, Norah Dunne, had four brothers and two sisters.  Her eldest brother Maurice (Mon) inherited Maglass, which has descended to his eldest son Tom who resides there.  Mon had one other son, John, and one daughter, May.  John has his own property in Kerry whilst May is a school teacher residing in Castleisland.


My mother’s brother Tom died as a youth and her other two brothers, Con and Dan, came to Australia, both dying here in Western Australia.  My uncle Con (Cornelius) married and had three children, Tom (Dr T C Dunne, PhD), Bill and Julia.  All three are married.  My uncle Dan died here in Western Australia, unmarried.


My mother’s sisters were Mary (Min) and Julia.  Mary married Tom Carmody and had a large family who all, except two, died of TB.  Her son John still resides on the family property near Castleisland and her daughter Kathleen is married to Pat Browne of Clogher.  Both have large families who all live in Ireland.


The other sister, Julia, married a neighbour called Clifford.


My Father’s Uncles and Cousins


My father’s grandfather Eugene divided Craganorig between two of his sons, John (my grandfather) and Michael, and in turn they left their respective properties to their sons, both named Eugene after their grandfather – Eugie John (my father’s brother) and Eugie Mick (my father’s first cousin).[10]


A brother of the latter, Patrick, emigrated to Australia.  He lived and worked first at Broken Hill.  I believe he was best man at my parent’s wedding.  Later on he came over to Western Australia and after spending many years around Kilgoorlie, died at Perth, unmarried, some time in the early 1920s.


Another one of this family emigrated to New Zealand and one of his sons, Dan, paid a visit to Western Australia some years ago.


My father’s uncle Maurice Prendiville came out to Australia, probably some time between 1870 and 1880, and settled in Broken Hill, where he became underground manager of the BHP, the original mining organisation which fathered today’s enormous manufacturing company.  Due to his position, he was able to provide employment for his young relatives and their countrymen and therefore it was to Broken Hill that my relatives trekked.


Maurice Prendiville afterwards came to Western Australia where he was manager of the Fremantle Smelters, now demolished.  He died at Perth and left two daughters, Margaret, mother of the Giles family, and Norah, mother of the Sweet family.


Five sons and one daughter of my father’s uncle Garrett Prendiville came to Western Australia.  They were Tom, who came out with my mother’s brother Dan Dunne and who subsequently returned to Ireland, where he died some years ago; John, who died at Perth and left one daughter, Patricia (Mrs Elgar O’Mahony); Peter, who also died at Perth, father of Ted, Garry, Pat and Redmond; Gerald, also died at Perth, father of John SJ, and Geraldine (Mrs Martin Malone); Redmond (Archbishop Prendiville) also died at Perth, and finally, Nell (Mother Laurence of the Dominican Order), who was Mother Superior of the Order in Western Australia for some years and now lives in retirement at the Dominican Convent, Bedford Park.


Father Tom Prendiville of this diocese is a son of Ned, brother of the above family, and therefore a nephew of Archbishop Prendiville and his brothers and sister.  Father Tom’s sister (Sister Ignatius of the Dominican Order) has also lived here in Western Australia but at present is teaching in Canberra.


The daughter of another brother, Maurice (Mossy Garrett) is Sister Lucillus of the Order of St John of God and she is stationed here in Perth.  Her father inherited the family property at Cordal near Castleisland.  He died last year, leaving the property to Sister Lucillus’s brother Garrett.


Paddy Prendiville, another of my father’s cousins from another branch of the family, also came out to Western Australia and died here, unmarried.


My Mother’s Relatives


I know little of my mother’s father’s family.  Her sisters Mary (Min), Mrs Carmody and Julia, Mrs Clifford, I have already mentioned, also her brothers Con and Dan.


Her mother’s brother, Timothy O’Connor, emigrated to Victoria probably about the same time that Maurice Prendiville arrived at Broken Hill.  He settled in Gippsland and endeavoured to carve a farm out of that heavily-timbered country – a heart- and back-breaking business, before the days of bulldozers and chainsaws.  Several of his descendants still live in Gippsland.  The only one I met was his son Jerry, who worked in the Victorian railways and lived in Melbourne where he died a few years ago.


My Folk


My mother and father were married at Broken Hill in 1892 where my eldest brother Jack was born in 1893.  A long and bitter strike in either 1894 or 1895, it finally being broken by the Mining Companies bringing in trainloads of strike-breakers, caused my people to leave Broken Hill.  My mother, with Jack, went to stay with her Uncle O’Connor in Gippsland, whilst my father came west to try his luck prospecting for gold around Cue and Lake Darlot.  This was probably just before the discovery of the Kalgoorlie goldfield.  He had no luck prospecting but the impetus that the rich discoveries at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie gave to the State decided him to return and bring my mother and Jack back to Western Australia.


He returned with them in 1896.  On the same ship was the Anglin family – my future father- and mother-in-law; but that is another story.


My folk settled at Fremantle where I was born in 1896, my brother Mick in 1898 followed by my sister Ellie in 1899, my brother Con in 1901, my brother Maurice in 1903 and my sister Julia Maria (Sheila) in 1910.


My father’s first job was in the Rock Bay Quarry where the stone to build the breakwater moles of Fremantle Harbour was obtained.  He built, with the help of friends, a small wooden house in East Street, East Fremantle, which was subsequently extended – no doubt in a more tradesman-like manner – and which still stands and is the house where I was born.  He built a more substantial brick house a few doors down the street, probably about 1905 or 1906.  This house has now been demolished but, as mentioned, the older wooden one is still occupied.


After a short time at Rocky Bay, my father started his own business in conjunction with a partner, John O’Sullivan, another Kerryman.  This was a cartage and contracting business – draught horses and tip-drays – long before the days of motor trucks.  Actually I was a second year university student in my 19th year before I first sat in a motor car.


After a few years, the partnership dissolved and my father carried on his own business, supplying building materials and contracting principally for roads and drainage works.  Many of the original roads in Fremantle and suburbs of Perth were built by him.  He also operated lime kilns and a building stone quarry.


My mother died at Fremantle in 1928.  My father remarried in 1934.  Curiously, he married two Norah Dunne’s.  He died April 12 1938.


For my own family’s benefit, I set out as much as I know of my wife’s forebears.  Her maiden name was Margaret Anglin, her father being Denis and her mother, Johanna Donovan.  Similarly to my parents, hers also came from the same district – in this instance from Bawn Fuan near Clonakilty in County Cork.  In fact, one of her father’s brothers married another of her mother’s sisters, the children of which marriage being her double first cousins.  We met two of them in New York in 1939.


One of her father’s sisters and two of her mother’s brothers came to Australia.  Her Anglin aunt married John Teehan and lived for many years in Kalgoorlie.  Their only son is John Teehan, a member of the Legislative Council.


Her Donovan uncles were Jim, the father of Sid (Mrs Francis) and Margaret (Mother Gabriel, deceased, of the Loreto Order).  Her other uncle, Denis, died at Kapunda, South Australia.  I know little of his family.


In 1939, we met in New York another of her father’s brothers – John, who emigrated to the USA.  He had at least one son and two daughters.  I can only recall one of the latter – Margaret (another Margaret Anglin).  Her married name is Haggerty.


My wife’s mother had 13 children, only three girls surviving to adulthood.  My wife’s sisters are Mary (Molly) – Mrs Wholley, mother of Jack, Gerald and Molly (Mrs Colquhoun), and Eileen – Mrs Cummins, mother of Patricia (Patsy).


In 1952 we visited the birthplace of both my wife’s mother and father, where families of Anglins and Donovans still reside.


My brothers and I all went to the Fremantle Christian Brothers School.  My eldest brother Jack (J M of Melbourne) joined the Customs Department and attended the W A University in the evenings whence he graduated BA with honours in Economics.  He then enrolled at the Melbourne University and without losing a day from work, graduated MA from that institution.


At the age of 16, I entered the W A University on the first day it opened in 1913 and after missing one year while on military service, graduated BE in 1918.  My brother Mick also graduated BE whilst my brother Maurice graduated BSc (Agriculture) from the same institution.


I married at Boulder on 24 July 1922 and our first home was at Yarloop, where I was employed by Millars Timber & Trading Co Ltd, in charge of the first battery of Dry Kilns operating on a commercial scale in Australia.  For my thesis for my engineering degree, I conducted original research into the artificial seasoning of timber.  Arising from this work and to enable me to continue it, I was appointed the first Technological Officer of the W A Forests Department.  This was in 1918.  In 1919, as a result of this work, Millars decided to install the Yarloop battery of Dry Kilns.  My eldest son John was born in 1923 whilst we lived at Yarloop.


Recounting briefly the highlights of my career, in 1925 I accepted an offer to take charge of a battery of Dry Kilns for Holden’s Motor Body Builders – the predecessor of the present organisation.  After less than two months in that position, I was appointed Manager of the whole of the woodworking division, then about one-third of the works.


We returned to Western Australia in 1928 when I started Cullity Timbers Ltd.


Both Tom (Brendan) and Denis were born at Woodville, South Australia in 1925 and 1928 respectively.  Margaret and Garrett (Garry) were born at Nedlands in 1931 and 1934 respectively.


[1] Catherine Giles kindly donated a number of documents to CDH archive (assigned reference IE CDH 52).  Material includes a chart which shows the offspring of Garrett Prendiville and Hannah O’Sullivan who went to Australia; also in the offspring of Redmond Prendiville and Margaret Sullivan; Maurice Prendiville and Winifred McAuley, John Prendiville and Julia Daly and Ellen Prendiville and John Cullity.   Also present a number of Prendiville obituaries and news articles relating to Archbishop Prendiville, and a letter from Sr M Laurence about the Prendiville family tree dated 28 September 1973. 

[2] Sr Mary Laurence Prendiville Op died on 20 March 1986.  She was buried in Karrakatta Cemetery, Karrakatta, Perth, Western Australia.

[3] By email to Castleisland District Heritage, 6 June 2022.

[4] Craganorig, otherwise Cragnorig, Craggnorig, Craghenorig, appears to be in the vicinity of the townland of Scart, parish of Nohaval.  In 1851, a petition was presented to the Land Commissioners by John O’Connell and Morgan John O’Connell, owners of one undivided moiety of the lands of Moyglass otherwise Maglass, called Leslie’s Division, situate in Trughenackmy, Co Kerry including Fiddane, the Middle Paddock; Ready’s South, Farm and Deady’s Holdings, Clouncarrogh, Lisapookah, Curragharadane, Red Bog, Monemore West, Craganorig, Coarse Meadow, Rahilly’s Meadow, Knockane, Mowndane and East Craganorig, requesting a partition of said lands.

It is worth noting a Crag townland in the same parish of Nohaval, bordered by the townlands of Ballyegan, Nohaval South, Doolaig North and South, Knockeen and Ballinvariscal (parishes of Ballymacelligott and Castleisland).  This should not be confused with Crag townland in Castleisland parish.

[5] ‘It must be remembered that until about 1860, no register or record of births and deaths was kept in Ireland and unless property was bequeathed, no family records exist.’

[6] Further reference,

[7] ‘Much regret will be occasioned on the announcement of the death of the above popular gentleman, Eugene John Culloty, which occurred at his residence, Craganorig, on the 23rd December 1928 after a brief illness.  Deceased belonged to an old and highly respected family, and his many sterling qualities and genial personality endeared him to all with whom he came in contact.  A devout Catholic, deceased bore his short illness with truly Christian resignation, and passed peacefully away, fortified by the rites of his Church.  The remains were removed to Clogher Church on Christmas Eve, and the funeral, on Christmas Day, to Rath Cemetery, was a striking testimony to the respect in which deceased was held by all creeds and classes’ (The Liberator, Tralee, 5 January 1929).

‘Died November 21 1958 at her residence, Craganorig, Ellen Culloty (nee McGrath), relict of Eugene J Culloty; deeply regretted by her loving daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren and relatives.  RIP. Funeral today (Saturday) from Clogher Church to Rath Cemetery’ (Irish Press, 22 November 1958).

[8] Mary Ellen Griffin died on 2 March 1986.  John Griffin, late of Glounbawn, died at Craganorig, on 28 March 1989.

[9] John Cullity’s baptism is recorded at Irish Genealogy.  John Culloty of Cragganorig, son of John Culloty and Ellen Prendvalle, was baptised in Ballymacelligott on 28 August 1873, sponsors Edmund Culloty and Honora Culloty.

[10] The following article, published in the Kerry Sentinel, 5 June 1885, may relate to the said Michael: ‘On Monday last at Nohoval National School, conducted by Mr M’Elligott and under the management of the Rev John O’Leary, PP, Ballymacelligott, a curious incident occurred.  About 11 o’clock, the rev pastor of the parish, Father O’Leary, visited the school, and calling out the sixth class, singled Denis Carmody, aged fifteen, son of Mr Terence Carmody, Fiddane, and Michael Culloty, about the same age, son of Mr Michael Culloty, of Craghenorig, and asked them whether they were members of the National League, and on their avowing the fact he, by his position as manager, expelled them from the school.’

Nohaval National School was erected in 1873 at Scart.  A new school, Scoil Nuachabháil, was built nearby and was formally opened in May 1965, the ceremony performed by Fr Michael O’Donoghue, Parish Priest of Ballymacelligott.  A photograph of the opening was published in the Kerryman, 22 May 1965.  The old school is today in ruin.  A photograph of same, taken in 2022, is held in IE CDH 52.