Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Fr. Donald Shaw

Aunt Margaret recalls a family reunion in 1937 triggered by the arrival of two catholic priests. It was a long time ago but she thought there was some sort of Irish/Australian connection. The younger priest was called Donald and the elder one was his uncle. Donald was a relation of some sort but his uncle wasn't related to the Shaws. Earlier this year I tried to find a likely Irish priest that might fit but without success.

Having almost certainly tracked William Marshall Shaw to Australia I suddenly had the thought that maybe his son Donald could bethe missing priest. William's wife, Ellen O'Grady, though born in Australia, was quite likely of Irish stock and could well be catholic. Perhaps she had a brother who was a priest and perhaps her children were brought up as catholics and Donald followed his maternal uncle into the priesthood?

Searching the Internet (again!) I found a reference to Fr. Donald Shaw who became a parish priest in Devonport, Tasmania in 1932. He helped found a school there and in more recent times a college there was named for him, St. Brendan-Shaw College. I e-mailed a head-and-shoulders shot of the younger priest to the school at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Devonport and two days later the school office confirmed that the photograph was 'their' Fr. Donald Shaw! When prompted, Aunt Margaret said that she thought that O'Grady was the name of the elder priest, she remembered him as having slightly red hair.

Having established that Fr. Donald Shaw was the visiting priest this must surely confirm that the William Marshall Shaw that went to Australia was from our family. Also the family group photograph taken at the time of the visit (28 August 1937) that Margaret Murrie had a copy of shows many people that would be first cousins of Donald Shaw. Quite likely the photograph was taken by my grandfather James Shaw (his wife, son and daughters are in the picture but he isn't). The photograph was taken at Ramoan Farm, Glenboig, run by Joseph Shaw and his wife Agnes. Other cousins in the photograph are Thomas Shaw, Agnes Flemming and Annie Main. Some of the unknown people in the photograph may also be cousins, childen of William Marshall Shaw's brother Joseph perhaps?

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