1880 to 2022: Stories of Death And Gin
Image: 19th Century building with gable and fronts steps. Harvey, J. H. (1875). Entrance Steps. Lunatic Asylum, Sunbury [picture]. Image source State Library of Victoria
Not just Bush rangers
Irish-Australian families are not just stories of famous bushrangers. However, there are common experiences of intergenerational trauma, attributed to a result of the disapora from Ireland to Australia after the Great Famine (Irish: an Gorta Mór [anˠ ˈɡɔɾˠt̪ˠə ˈmˠoːɾˠ]), also known as the Great Hunger, the Great Starvation, the Famine (mostly within Ireland), or the Irish Potato Famine (mostly outside Ireland).
Image is one of the Brady family’s headstones at Kilmore Cemetery that reads: Sacred to the memory of JOHN BRADY Native of Cavan, Ireland who departed this life Oct 29th 1888 Aged 47 Years. Also BRIDGET BRADY who departed this life March 4th 1874 Aged 2 years 6 months. JOHN BRADY who died in infancy. BERNARD FRANCIS BRADY who departed this life April 16th 1889 Aged 23 years. Beloved Children of the Above. Also BRIDGET wife of the above JOHN BRADY who departed this life May 11th 1982 Aged 50 years. Requiescant in Pace.
What is the Deadline?
“The Deadline: Of Death and Gin”; is a hybrid arts project about one of those families: exploratory literature (through both storytelling, oral history and spoken word and blog posts) that will culminate in a community stage performance in 2022.
The Deadline combines autobiography, anthropological ethnography and comedy to discuss mental health and addiction taboos. It will tell quirky darkly humorous stories of inter-generational family resilience, Irish-Australian migration and family business to explore if we really have learned any lessons about how we treat mental health and addiction issues over the last 200 years. It will combine research, family history, religious and political commentary to look at changes over time.
The legacy of the Goldrush
For a family who had such success but untimely and deaths in the times from goldrush to post WWII Victoria and much of this social and mental health history lies unexamined and the time to unpack mental health stigma seems well overdue; it’s 2021 not 1821.
Content warning: discussions of suicide and addiction. Image is death ledger from October 29th, 1888 at Kilmore Shire. John Brady. Brewer. Male age 49 years. Result of inquiry – Death from a wound in the throat, inflicted by himself while in a state of insanity. Inquiry held Oct 31st 1888, Patrick O’Neill J.P.
Brady founding ancestors, John and Bridget were goldrush brewery owners in Kilmore, Victoria, Australia. John died in 1887 from “a wound to the throat after being in a state of insanity”. His wife, Bridget, died a few years later with an enlarged liver, what could have been an substance use related death for the time. My great grandmother Jane Brady, was left in Sunbury Mental Hospital to die in 1945.
Research is saying this trauma could partly be inherited, which led me to ask, am I doomed?
“SEANABHEAN IS EA MISE NOIS GO BHFUIL COS LÉI INSAN UAIGH IS AN CHOS EILE AR A BRUACH.” / “I AM AN OLD WOMAN NOW WITH ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE AND THE OTHER ON ITS EDGE.”Peig Sayers Opening Gambit, 1936 – and kind of how the author of this page feels
Image above is an 1888 newspaper script reading: …the deceased being a kind-hearted and indulgent father. Mr Brady was about fifty years of age at the time of his death, and he had been one of the oldest members of the local H.A.C.B (Hibernian Australian Catholic Benefit Society), the members of which marched in procession to the cemetery.
This project is a living work in progress. Watch it evolve!
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