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KEENAN FAMILY in Australia

Ivy E A Morris (nee Keenan) (1892 - 19??)

Last updated 29/8/2021


Australian Generation:  Second

Born:  February 1892         Parents:  Aaron Keenan and Elizabeth Jane Morton
Married:  John Morris in Tumut. Reg No. 12240
Occupation:  Farmer
Residence: "Clearstream" ?, Batlow, NSW
Deceased: 28 August 2003
Where buried:  (?)


  • Hazel Elizabeth Ann Colliss (nee Morris) (b.19?? - 19/1/2007)

  • George John Morris (1923 - 2011)

Photograph:   Click here for the other Photographs page.

John Kerr of Coleraine, Northern Ireland, has in his possession two letters written in May 1913 and August 1914 by Ivy Keenan of Batlow to her aunty Elizabeth Kerr (nee Gamble) of Lislea, Northern Ireland.  (Elizabeth Kerr/Gamble was John's grandmother. She was born in 1858 and died in 1935. Between 1882 and 1894 she had 8 children.)  In August 2018, while visiting John, I was able to read these letters and dictate copies of them. Transcripts of these appear below.


Miss Ivy Keenan, Batlow via Gilmore, New South Wales, Australia

4 May 1913

Dear Auntie (Miss Elizabeth Kerr (nee Gamble), Lislea, Northern Ireland)

You will be surprised to get a letter from me, but my grandmother (your sister, Mrs Hopson) asked me to write to you in place of and for her to let you know how she is. My father is her second son. His name is Aaron.

Well I must now tell you that grandmother is away from home and will be away for a few months. She took her daughter, Grace (who has been an invalid for several years) away to home where she has to leave her. Poor grandmother has had a terrible a burden looking after her, waiting on her hand and foot, even to cutting the food up for her, and she has not been to bed for nine months, but sat in a chair by the fireside all night. And grandmother had to be up and down all night, looking after her after (... illegible ...) and as she is in her 69th year. It is too much for her to do. Grandmother was well but was worrying herself about having to part with aunt Grace. Uncle Stuart, her single son who lives with her, is also well.

Grandmother, after taking Grace to the home, went to stay with Uncle Jack, her third son who lives not far from the place. She cannot see aunty for a month after she was admitted.

I am the eldest of our family. I was 21 last February. My eldest brother is 19 years, next 16, the next 14, the next 12 and the next 9, and my only sister is 6 years, and my baby brother is 9 months old.

Batlow is only a small town yet we have only two general stores, one butcher shop and one butcher shop and blacksmiths, and one hotel. But the town is lighted by electricity and our nearest railway station is 16 miles away, but there is talk of getting an electric railway. But I suppose it will be a long time before we get it.

I will now draw to a close, hoping that you and all of our relations over there are well.

With best of love from your sister and all of us, I am yours loving great niece, Ivy Keenan.

If you write to me, I will be able to show your letter to grandmother when she comes home. She is going to send you a photo of herself when she gets a good one taken. There is no photographer in Batlow, only one visits here sometimes.


Miss Ivy Keenan, Batlow via Gilmore, New South Wales, Australia

25 August 1914

Dear Auntie (Miss Elizabeth Kee (nee Gamble), Lislea, Northern Ireland)

I ought to have answered you're welcome letter long ago. It is about 5 or 6 weeks since I received it. I started to write before, but when I heard about the War. I thought it was no use writing when the ships were not travelling between Australia and Great Britain. But I saw by the paper that they are running again now. I also got the papers you sent and we like them. My brother Henry is reading a Herald now.

You said in your letter that June was your busy time getting in the crops. It is the other way around here: December and January are the harvest months accept the potatoes; they are digging them now. Father is starting to plough for the maze. There is 25 acres to plough and sow.

I hope this letter finds you all well. We are well a present. Grandmother is away again, staying with her son, John. She told me to send her love to you and to tell you she hopes you are well and that all the trouble over the Home Rule would end soon (that was before we heard of the other war ).

Thank God it did not get any worse, but is not the other great war terrible? It has caused the great excitement out here and they're calling for volunteers all over Australia. Some have left for the war already. Three young men have gone from our town already. They joined the Light Horse, and there are likely to be 45 members of the Batlow Rifle Club called any day (that is, if that many volunteer). They received word just after the war was declared that 45 of them were to be ready as soon as they were called.

Father and George, my eldest brother, and Henry, my second brother, belong to the rifle club, so if they are called I suppose one will have to go. George says he would go, but I do hope none of them will have to go, that the war will be all over soon.

You wanted to know how many uncles and aunts I have here. Here are grandmother's three sons, beside father: Uncle James, Uncle John and Uncle Stuart Keenan and their two sisters, poor Aunt Grace and Aunt Mary. Aunt Mary lives in Victoria. Her married name is Houston and her husband is a coal miner. His name is Jock Houston. He is Scotch. Mother send your address to Aunty Mary and she asked for it and I said she wanted to write to you. Have you heard from her yet? Lina is just two years younger than I am. I was 22 in last February.

You wanted to know how Aunt Grace is. She is no better, getting worse instead of better. Indeed it would be a blessing if God would take her. But then He only knows what is best and does everything for a purpose.

I will tell you how many of mother's brothers and sisters there are. There is Uncle David, Uncle James, Uncle Robert, Uncle Francis and Aunty Emma (who is married to father's brother, John) and Auntie Lina, and she is single yet. So you will see that I have plenty of uncles and aunties on both sides.

I'm glad you liked the photo, but am sorry it was not a very good one. I must persuade grandmother to get her photo taken again and send you one.

You said you thought my brother was a bit like grandfather. Mother says, and father too, that my second brother Henry John, is more like grandfather. That is why he bears his name.

George is more like father I think, although father is more like grandfather than any of his brothers or sisters. I'm supposed to be a good deal like grandmother.

I will now end this letter and I hope you will excuse if it is a bit jumbled up, but I am not very good at explaining.

With love and best wishes from all out family to you and all of yours. I am your loving niece, Ivy Keenan.

I am always glad to get your letter and will not keep you waiting for an answer so long again.

Mother's maiden name was Morton. Her Christian names are Elizabeth Jane. Her father is alive still. He will be 88 years of age next February. He is a native of Armah in Ireland. His people live there still.

I received the postcard you sent and I was very pleased with them. Is the church the one that was there when grandmother left?

Another thing grandmother said to tell you was that ever since she came home last September, until a week before she went away this month, she has been out nursing and has helped 11 babies into the world, that is an average of 1 a month.

Peter Keenan note regarding these letters:

Ivy Keenan's paternal grandfather (and my great grandfather), Henry John Keenan, died in 1889, before Ivy was born. So her references to him in her 1914 letter - for example, mention of the likeness his grandson, Henry John, bears to him - probably came from her mother and father, Aaron and Elizabeth Keenan. Elizabeth Kerr/Gamble's remark that one of Ivy's brothers looks "a bit like grandfather" (i.e., Henry John) probably comes from Elizabeth Kerr/Gamble having grown up with him back in his homeland of Glenone.