Friday, March 25th, 2011
From links to Brisbane barmaids to law enforcement in Victoria, our future Premier boasts a colourful family history no matter who wins

Despite the stark contrast in political views, it appears that the 2011 NSW State Election candidates have more in common than what they might think – their Irish past, with each having ancestors who arrived in Australia from Ireland aboard ships during the 18th Century.

In celebration of the upcoming election,, Australia’s number one family history website , today revealed the family history of Kristina Keneally and Barry O’Farrell.

While it is well known that the current Labor leader, The Hon Kristina Keneally was born in Las Vegas on 19 December 1968 to an American father and an Australian mother, it’s not widely known that the Premier’s mother, Catherine Nary Powell, originated from Brisbane and is the daughter of William Powell and Patricia Anderson.

Ms Keneally’s comes from a long line of Maroon heritage as her great-grandparents, Neil Anderson and Ellen Colwell, were Brisbane born and bred. Ellen Colwell was a 24-year-old bar maid when she wed Neil Anderson, a 25-year-old iron maker at St Mary’s Church, South Brisbane.

Research uncovered that Ms Keneally’s great-great-grandfather originated from County Covan, Ireland and migrated to Australia on board the Warwick, arriving on 7 July 1880, while her great-great- grandmother Catherine Colwell was born in Gatton, Queensland. Despite Keneally’s ties to Australia, research could not uncover any ties to New South Wales, the state that she now governs.

Interestingly, the incumbent Liberal leader, The Hon. Barry O’Farrell, can also claim Irish heritage as well as strong connections to the neighbouring state of Victoria. Born on 24 May 1959 in Melbourne, Mr O’Farrell’s paternal grandfather was William O’Farrell, a Victorian police constable. revealed that our potential Premier Elect’s great-great-grandparents Patrick Farrell and Mary Farrell (nee Silva) were born and wed in County Clare, Ireland and migrated to Australia on board the Omega in January 1854.

It appears that the luck of the Irish followed both Keneally and O’Farrell to Australia, where each leader boasts successful political careers. Keneally and O’Farrell join the ranks of other successful Australian Federal politicians with Irish ancestry, which includes former Prime Ministers’ John Curtin, Ben Chifley, Sir William McMahon, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd. Content Director Brad Argent comments: “Much emphasis has been placed on the differences between Kristina Keneally and Barry O’Farrell, with the Premier having obvious links to America, despite being an Australian citizen however research reveals that their backgrounds are remarkably similar, with both leaders claiming early Australian associations through their Irish ancestors.”

“Researching your family history is a journey of twists and turns and in this case it is fascinating to see that the Keneally and O’Farrell families followed similar paths, which has led them to be in direct competition for the title of NSW Premier today”.

To find out more about your family’s heritage, please visit:

Contact Profile

Australia’s leading family history website, contains more than 930 million records in its Australian and UK collections, including the Australia Birth, Marriage and Death Index, Australian Convict Transportation Registers, Australian Free Settlers, Australian Electoral Rolls, New South Wales SANDS Directories, as well as the most complete online collection of England, Wales and Scotland Censuses and the England and Wales Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes. was launched in May 2006 and belongs to the global network of Ancestry websites (wholly owned by Operations Inc.), which contains six billion records. To date more than 20 million family trees have been created and 2 billion profiles and 50 million photographs and stories uploaded. (Figures current as of 5 March 2011)

Erin Copping
P: 02 8281 3848
M: +61 421 831 160

Keywords, Irish, O'Farrell, Keneally



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