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Community & Business

12 April, 2023

Ancestral ties bring families together

On Saturday, 25 March, around 70 members of the Keenan and Booth family gathered in Clifton to remember their ancestors with a particular focus on the John and Bridget Keenan and Minnie Booth/Kelly and Jim Kelly families of Clifton and nearby Talgai.


The book presentation to Clifton Museum, from left: Mary Washburn (Museum President), Bill Keenan, Pauline Peel nee Booth (author), John Keenan and Joy King (Museum Family history researcher). Publicity Officer Helen Gillam said the book will be valuable to the museum as it will greatly assist those doing family history research.

The day began at the Clifton Cemetery with a ceremony to remember and celebrate members of the Keenan family buried in the cemetery, then the group moved to the Jam Factory for lunch. 

In the afternoon attendees visited the Clifton Museum for the official photo, a tour of the museum and an opportunity to share stories, photos and memorabilia. 

A copy of the history of the Keenans and the Booths, The Family From Elagh Hill, was presented to the Museum in memory of the Keenans and Booths from the Clifton area. 

In the evening, a large group had dinner and a singalong at O’Shanley’s pub. 

Visitors came from Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Toowoomba, Clifton, Nobby, Warwick, Tenterfield, and the Sunshine Coast.

John and Rosemary Keenan, Bill Keenan, Pauline Peel and Jim and Maria Booth helped to organise the event. 

The support from the local community including the Clifton Museum, the Jam Factory, the Clifton Jockey Club and others has been tremendous.

Who are the Keenan and Booth family?

It all started with their common ancestor, Mary Ann Campbell (1846-1928) from the Townland of Elagh, Ardboe, County Tyrone, Ireland. 

In 1865 at the age of 18 Mary Ann married John Keenan Snr (1832/33-1875). 

John and Mary Ann established their farm on
a small farm holding in Elagh. 

They had four children John Jnr, Elizabeth, Helena, and Patrick. 

Sadly, John Snr died in February 1875 leaving Mary Ann widowed with four young children. 

In February 1876 Mary Ann married George Booth, the son of John Booth and Mary Devlin from a neighbouring farm in Kilmenagh Townland, County Tyrone.  

In July 1876, together with Mary Ann’s four Keenan children, George and Mary Ann migrated to Queensland on the City of Agra

They settled in Swan Creek, near Warwick where Mary Ann’s five siblings (Jane, Margaret, James, Bridget, and Susan Campbell) had previously settled.  

Mary Ann had another 7 children with George Booth: William, Joseph, George, Ellen, Mary (Minnie), James and Edward. 

In 2018 a history of the Keenans and Booths, The Family from Elagh Hill was published and launched at a gathering at Swan Creek. 

The book documents where they came from in Ireland, and their life in Australia. 

The Keenan Booth Clifton connection

John Keenan Jnr was born in County Tyrone in 1866 and was Mary Ann Campbell’s and John Keenan Snr’s eldest son.  

John married Bridget Stapleton at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Warwick in 1897. 

They settled in Clifton and had ten children: Mary (Tops), Sarah (Rene), John, Francis, James (Eddie), George (Paddy), Agnes, Joseph and Theresa. 

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school at the Rural School and St Francis De La Sales. 

Several of their sons learned the butchering trade in the Stapleton’s butcher shop, Mary (Tops) had a haberdashery shop at one stage. 

Mary (Minnie) Booth was born in 1886 and was the youngest daughter of Mary Ann and George Booth Snr from Swan Creek. 

Minnie married James (Jim) Kelly in St Mary’s Catholic Church, Warwick. 

They made their home on the property Golden Vein in West Talgai and had seven children: Mary (Maidee), Yva, Christopher, Patricia, Mildred, Margaret, Merle. 

Their youngest child Merle who passed away in 2019 was a great source of information for the research for The Family from Elagh Hill with great recall of her childhood and the connection to the Keenans in Clifton.

The Clifton Cemetery plaque project

Since the Keenan Booth family gathering in 2018 the extended Keenan family have worked together to have new plaques placed on the graves of several of their ancestors in the Clifton Cemetery. 

This includes John and Bridget Keenan, John Joseph Keenan, Joseph (Joe) Robert Keenan, Theresa Mary Keenan, and Mary (Tops) Keenan and her husband John Schriek.

Several other family members: James (Eddie) and Mary Keenan, Paddy and Josie Keenan and Sarah Irene Keenan/Kuhn are buried in the cemetery. 

Bridget Keenan’s (nee Stapleton) parents Mick and Sarah Stapleton are also buried in the cemetery. 

John and Bridget’s other 3 children, Agnes, Mick and Frank are buried in Centennial Park, Adelaide, and the Nudgee and Pinaroo Cemeteries in Brisbane. 

For more information contact Pauline Peel (nee Booth) on 0409 769 515 or paulinepeel1@gmail.com 


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