Priest’s ancestor was rebel leader’s sister
A LITTLE BIT OF IRELAND: Richmond parish priest Fr John Hogan finds family links in convict rebellion Photo by David Rankine
The parish priest at St Monica’s, Fr John Hogan, has a family link to Fr John Murphy, the Irish priest who lit the fires to call members of the United Irish political movement to rebel against the British on June 21, 1798.
“I was born in Sheffield in England, but my parents are from Enniscorthy,,” says Fr Hogan.
“And Vinegar Hill, where the battle was fought, is right in the middle of the town, and as a child visiting Ireland, I remember playing on the hill.
“Most of the rebels were killed in the battle, but some were tried and transported to Australia, where a few years later they decided they still didn’t like the English, or the way they were being treated.
“So they fought a second battle here in Australia, and this was known as the Battle of Vinegar Hill because it involved some of the same men and the same ideals as the battle fought in Ireland.
“When I came to Australia in 1995 I knew there was a Vinegar Hill here, and I thought it would be in NSW, but I was surprised to find it so close to Sydney.
“When my parents came out in 1996 I took them to the Mean Fiddler hotel at Rouse Hill and they were thrilled to see the sign saying ‘Vinegar Hill Woolshed’.
“In Enniscorthy there is a strong consciousness of Vinegar Hill and its role in the Irish uprisings, and Fr Murphy is a real local hero and anyone connected to him is considered special.
“Fr Murphy’s sister, Catherine, is my great-great-great grandmother.
“Fr Murphy became a rebel because of an earlier English betrayal.
“The United Irishmen were Catholics and Protestants who were working together to force the English to leave Ireland.
“They organised rebellions across the country to try and destabilise the English, who couldn’t have troops everywhere at once.
“The English military leaders said that if the people handed in their weapons, like pikes, swords and clubs, then they would be protected.
“Fr Murphy encouraged his parishioners to disarm.
“And then the British came and burnt their farms and were quite brutal.
“Fr Murphy was incensed at the betrayal and he became a leader of the rebels.
“His brother Patrick was killed at the Battle of Vinegar Hill, but he (Fr Murphy) escaped and led another rebellion in neighbouring County Carlow, where he was then caught and tortured and killed by the English.”
– The Hawkesbury Gazette