Saturday 28 November 2015

A stunning expose of Kelly Mythology

The rusting dead-in-the-water Kelly Myth takes a direct hit!

Redeeming Fitzpatrick: Ned Kelly and the Fitzpatrick Incident

Dr. Stuart E. Dawson(Monash University) 

Abstract: In April 1878 Constable Fitzpatrick was wounded by Ned Kelly while attempting to arrest his brother Dan for horse stealing. The incident triggered the ‘Kelly outbreak’ that elevated Kelly to the status of Australia’s most notorious historical figure. Ever since the event Fitzpatrick has been almost universally labelled a liar and perjurer, and the various records of his testimony in two trials and a Royal Commission have been assailed as fanciful and unlikely concoctions.

This article reconstructs and vindicates Fitzpatrick’s version of events after some 140 years of denigration. Ned and his associates’ various statements and denials about the event emerge as a series of self-serving fabrications that, together with other evidence, raise doubts about much other prevalent Kelly mythology.
                                                    (click here to read it for yourself)


This article was so good I read it twice, and have to say that its a sensational must-read for anyone interested in the Kelly story. Its an absolutely devastating microscopic cross referenced examination of the entire “Fitzpatrick Incident”,  that most central of all Outbreak incidents, the one always blamed by Kelly sympathisers as the trigger for everything that followed, and in the middle of it, the man Kelly sympathisers love to hate more than anyone else, the endlessly despised Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick. 

Ian MacFarlane  seems to have been the first author to question the vilification of Fitzpatrick, quoting in 'The Kelly Gang Unmasked'  a petition that was presented to Chief Commissioner Standish, asking for his reinstatement. Fitzpatrick had been dismissed from the Force on the grounds of “inefficiency and insubordination” but the people of Lancefield regarded him as “zealous, diligent, obliging and universally liked, while we never saw him in company of any but the best citizens. Had he been what the report was said to allege it could not have escaped our attention. He made several clever captures and appeared to us as one of the most efficient and obliging men in the force”

In this paper Dawson reveals that a SECOND petition was drawn up a year later, asking that a board of enquiry be held so that Alexander Fitzpatrick could answer the charges made against him” but this request was denied, as had two earlier similar requests, one made by Fitzpatrick with support of an MP and another by a Lancefield Justice of the Peace. Kelly sympathisers looking for someone denied natural justice and the opportunity to defend himself need only look at Fitzpatrick. 

Predictably, neither of these petitions is mentioned anywhere in Ian Jones book or in Peter Fitzsimons book, but both authors repeat the claims that originated with Fitzpatricks fellow Constable Mayes, who among other things alleged Fitzpatrick  had associated with the "lowest persons in Lancefield and could not be trusted out of sight”. They also contaminate the conduct of Fitzpatrick during the Outbreak with allegations and assessments made about him in regard to things that happened AFTER the outbreak. This reminded me of my own observation of Jones bolstering his claims of police persecution of the Kellys BEFORE the Police killings by mentioning  their behaviour AFTER them. This is pretty rotten scholarship.

Theres much more in this Paper, and reading Dawsons reconstruction of Fitzpatricks journey to the Kellys is almost a thing of beauty, as its simple logical clarity shreds so much of the rubbish thats been spun round this event. Equally forensic is his cataloguing of the way in which Ned Kelly and his associates and family contradicted each others versions of events and told outright lies in their campaign to vilify Fitzpatrick. Dawson is rightly critical of the way in which authors from then till now continued the character assasination  with unwarranted embellishments culminating in Fitzsimons unsupported claim that Fitzpatrick drank himself "into a stupor” on his return.

Once again we are seeing the power of real academia at work, and the enlightenment that can come from proper exhaustive research and analysis. We saw it in Ian MacFarlanes incredible book, in Doug Morrisseys work, even in Ned Kelly Under the Microscope, and now with this devastating expose, the Kelly Myth will never be the same again.

As he writes in his conclusion, referring to Kelly myth makers such as Jones and Fitzsimons, “the maltreatment of Fitzparick by so many hands suggests a  rigorous reappraisal of much  other kelly mythology is in order  

Click on the link above, or here, print it off and prepare to be stunned by what you read.  Its brilliant.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

The Kelly Gang were not “Boys"

Burning Icons and False Gods
Today, November 25th is National White Ribbon Day in Australia, a day in which we are supposed to be reflecting on the dreadful scourge of mens violence against women. So far this year in Australia, 78 women have been murdered by men, and countless thousands bashed intimidated and traumatised by their intimate partners. Last night many of us will have watched Part One of journalist Sarah Fergusons gut wrenching investigation into this horror on ABC TV, and if we can stomach it will watch Part Two tonight. This morning I was listening to a discussion on the radio on the same topic and heard that the Federal Government has released "disturbing research which finds dangerous attitudes about violence towards women are deeply entrenched.It shows women are often blamed for attacks against them, men are excused with phrases like "boys will be boys" and the severity of the violence is played down.

Hearing the phrase “boys will be boys” made me immediately recall how common it is to read the Kelly Gang being referred to as “Boys” and just as immediately I realised that the use of this term has an exactly similar effect on perceptions of the behaviours of the Kelly Gang, who were not cuddly scallywags and larrikin “ boys" at all but were grown mature men. Calling them “boys” is a device that somehow excuses much of their violent and murderous behaviour in the same way as people sometimes excuse men who bully women with the same label, implying that as “boys” they are not fully responsible for their actions. The Kelly Gang were adults, they were grown ups, they were men not boys. They were entirely responsible for everything they did and for the consequences of those actions - ( and that includes the death of hostages )

Its interesting see that the modern Kelly myth conforms remarkably closely to the findings of the research mentioned above : victims are blamed ( Kelly blamed the SBC deaths on the victims) men are excused as boys (a popular term in the Kelly world) and the severity of the violence is played down (the planned massacre at Glenrowan is always glossed over)

This “ excuse making” is really what the entire pro-Kelly sympathy network is predominantly engaged in, in making excuses for a life of extreme violence that grew out of an environment of hatred and prejudice. We excuse Neds bullying and thieving and murder by saying he was one of the boys, he was hard done by, his father died when he was 11, the Squatters were greedy, he was poor, the Police were corrupt, he was actually a great guy who knew the Bush and was a skilled rider, he never really meant to kill anyone, it was self defence, he had a great way with words, he was charming to women, his trial was unfair, he was a revolutionary planning a Republic of North east Victoria....endless mostly fabricated excuses for a life of horrible violence that led to the death of three Policemen, his brother, three friends, two hostages and of Kelly himself, not to mention the trail of traumatised victims of his robbery and hostage taking. Wake up Australia, this was a life of horrendous violence!

And this indisputably violent man and proven serial liar, receiving the benefit of all the doubt and the endless string of excuses is promoted as an Icon in Australia! Surely, this is ridiculous and has to stop!

The truth is that if women are going to be protected from violent men, men are going to have to be made accountable, the excuses are going to have to stop, and all violence and intimidation  must be universally and unreservedly condemned. The same has to happen to Ned Kelly.  Regarding Kelly as a hero and making him an Icon is undoubtedly part of the mix that contributes to the violence in our society, and to the violence against women - how could making a violent Killer a hero and national Icon have any other effect ? - its a farce and the great Australian romance with this man needs to end : his violence needs to be called out for what it was : inexcusable, unacceptable, wrong and only worthy of condemnation. The excuses of people who want to claim him as an Aussie Icon and hero need to be challenged - their justifications are all based on fabrications and fairy stories about him, as I have discovered in the last 18 months on this Blog. Its all here for anyone to read, and for anyone to challenge - but of course, there have been very few challenges - the sympathisers make endless excuses about why they won’t challenge but the real reason is clear : mostly they know they haven’t a leg to stand on, so they resort to bulling and abuse.

What this means for me is that I am no longer going to accept the tactic that sympathisers use to keep Ned in the headlines, by saying the jury is still out on the man, that we can never know if he was really a  hero or a villain or something in-between. This is just a dishonest ploy that takes advantage of the average Australians reasonable  fair-mindedness when faced with a question about something they don’t know much about. The truth, as I have discovered and revealed on this Blog, is that we most certainly CAN answer that question : Ned Kelly WAS a villain. He was a bank robber and hostage taker who planned mass murder. He was a violent killer. He was a liar. Most of the popular beliefs about him are wrong. There was never a Republic of North east Victoria. None of the excuses offered for him are acceptable.

The other thing it means for me is that I am going to be a lot less tolerant of the rubbish heaped on me by Kelly sympathisers.  I am not going to be bullied and I am going to make their bullying and intimidation Public whenever I get the opportunity, so everyone will be able to see what these thugs are really like, and what Kelly Sympathisers are capable of. The truth is that Kelly idolatry is simply wrong, it is misplaced and based on ignorance; it promotes violence and thuggery; there is no place for it. I’m over it!

And I am starting here, right now, with this Comment from an anonymous Sympathiser that I received today, a typical example of Kelly thuggery and vulgar intimidation: 

"You are a real piece of sh*t, man the f**k up you gutless dog, you seriously have no idea about who knows who and have helped them out in the Kelly community. You are nothing but a gutless Bowral butcher. I'm coming up your way next week with a portfolio of defamation which I intend to produce at you in your office in front of your clients. YOU ARE A C**T OF A HUMAN BEING AND AS LONG AS YOU HAVE MODERATION ON YOUR SH*T BLOG EVERYONE KNOWS IT IS JUST YOU POSTING.” 

And heres vision of a man from todays paper, a man engaged in violent racist protest, another great advertisement for Ned Kelly:

I realise there are a few reasonable Kelly sympathisers out there. They are mostly harmless, but by supporting the elevation of Ned Kelly to Hero status and not questioning his status as an Icon, the ground is kept fertile for idiots like these. 
Instead for the sake of women in our community, lets no longer accept a violent killer as an Australian Hero. Instead lets dispose of this unfortunate icon and make it crystal clear that we regard his life style and behaviour as totally unacceptable, and there were no excuses for it. Getting rid of Kelly idolatry will make Australia a better place.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Your Turn

A few weeks ago, a Kelly sympathiser wrote a Comment that began like this : "I know you won't publish this because you are nothing but a gutless turd , but I will write it anyway...” 
and then the anonymous Sympathisers rant proceeded to accuse me of being sick twisted and biased, and of having an “anti Ned agenda” before finally concluding: “In are nothing but an ignorant hypocritical lying  c**t

This person was right about one thing : I wasn’t going to Publish obscene personal attacks. There have been many of a similar kind over the past year or so, so they don’t trouble me in the least, because  all that Comments of this kind achieve is to reveal the ugly and petty shallowness of Kelly sympathisers, and confirm the rightness of my decision to Moderate Blog Comments. The thing is, calling me sick and twisted and biased, a gutless turd and a liar achieves nothing, but if that person instead wrote WHY they regard me as ignorant  and hypocritical and possessed of an “anti-Ned  agenda”, refrained from vulgar abuse but instead made a case, then we might all learn something and I WOULD publish it whether or not I agreed with it.  I am not afraid of criticism or correction or the expression of alternative opinion - in fact I welcome it.

I have had another thought about the Moderation process : it actually makes it possible for any reader to communicate with me directly, like Anonymous did rather than through the Public pages of the Blog. All someone needs to do is state that their comment is not for Publication, and then they can say to me whatever they want. So feel free to do so. 

In fact what I have decided to do is to invite anyone who wants to write something more than just a comment, to submit it to me as a Guest Post. If Anonymous wants to write an Essay explaining WHY I am ignorant and where I have gone wrong, or  someone else wants to explain exactly why they believe Ned Kelly is a hero and icon, or why Ned should be remembered as a Revolutionary leader then send it to me for publication as a Post not as a Comment,  and I will turn it into a Blog Post. Then everyone else can comment on whatever it might be that the Guest has decided to write about. The Post can be anonymous if the Guest wishes, and I promise not to alter it in any way, though if it is vulgar or abusive it won’t be Published. Communication would be helped by including a return email address but thats not necessary either.

So Readers this is your chance to really get it off your chest. Ive posted 102 times, which is more than enough - though I still have more to do - but I would like to open up the Blog to other contributors and points of view, and I’m particularly interested in hearing from the people who regard Ned Kelly as an Icon and Hero.  Among the 150 plus people who read this blog every day there  must be quite a few with issues or complaints or ideas they would like to put out there - Bill, Mark, Sharon and the two Brians, Bob and everyone else on the NKF and elsewhere consider this a formal request! Send in your Reports, Declarations, Accusations, Investigations, Theories, Arguments, Guest Posts, whatever you’ve got...this is your chance to defend the Kelly Legend.  But if you don’t, what is there to stop me declaring Game Over?

So, is there ANYONE out there willing to make a defence for Ned Kelly? To say why he SHOULD be an Icon, why he WAS a Hero, why he is NOT a Villain? Anyone ??

Sunday 15 November 2015

Why Another Kelly Museum?

The Big News this week  has been the announcement by a Kelly descendant of plans to set up a Ned Kelly Museum. According to a spokesperson for "the family”  who says Ned Kelly was her great great Uncle, and another elderly relative who says Ned Kelly  “was a rascal but also a bit of a hero” the time has come "to tell the untold story”. They plan to raise $8 million , by Crowd Funding, to get this museum up and running as some sort of Charity. 

I must say I have a kind of sympathy for the Kelly descendants and can understand why they might want to do this. After all they are just everyday innocent people who, because of an accident of their birth  have been dragged into the middle of this controversy about a  famous ancestor who has been endlessly promoted and paraded as an Icon and either a Hero or a Villain, whether or not they wanted to be. The Kelly descendants  are constantly reading  about Ned in the Press and in new books, hearing commentary of all kinds in the media on TV and yes on Blogs like this one, hearing self-appointed experts like Fitzy and Trent of the Ned Kelly Forum, and Brad Webb on Iron Outlaw  claiming to speak on Neds behalf, parading their ignorant opinions and boorish behaviours and in-fighting for all to see, dragging the Kelly name deeper and deeper into the mud. Worse still, other people with no “skin” in the game are setting up their own museums, tourism trails and touring routes, “neducation"websites and junk souvenir shops, memorials and shows, plays, displays, “weekends" and exhibitions - you name it they're all there trying to cash in on the reputation of their famous relative. I get the feeling that the Kelly descendants themselves feel pushed aside by the rush and perhaps feel if anyone is going to profit from Ned, it should be them. Maybe they feel no-one should profit from Ned? In any event,  as the saying goes, 'Blood is thicker than water’ so inevitably they feel compelled to defend him.

Its clear however that within the ranks of Kelly descendants themselves all these external pressures have caused bitter divisions and disputes and controversy. Who has the right to speak for Ned, who should make decisions and give permissions, what should be done with his memory, his remains, his story? No doubt there are rivalries and jealousies and differences of opinion about who gets to be the spokesperson, who gets the Publicity, who decides what the truth is, what the “family” thinks and wants.  It must feel like a curse at times.

So, understandably, they’ve decided - or more likely one faction of the Kelly descendants has decided - that they will tell the story they want to tell, and tell it their way in  a space they have control of themselves. 

Inevitably though the story they will tell will be the fairy tales of Ned, and not the truth about him. The spokeswoman proved this in her interview where the two examples of stories that she said were “untold” were the untruths about what happened to the money Ned stole, and the blame shifting of responsibility for the deaths of human shields at Glenrowan from the Kelly gang to the Police. Her museum is going to tell the Public that Ned  gave the money he stole to the poor but that is  simply untrue and there is no evidence to support that idea - instead he used it to repay his family and the network of people who protected and supported him, and the Kellys were the ones seen in flash new clothes and new saddles after the robberies. The idea that Ned was Australias Robin Hood is a complete fantasy - but her museum won’t be saying that!  Neither is her museum going to tell the truth about Glenrowan, that if  Thomas Curnow and the Police hadn’t frustrated Ned Kelly's plans not three but dozens of innocent people would have died there, that Ned Kellys plans for Glenrowan were for it to be a horrendous bloodbath. No, instead she wants to tell the Australian public that innocent deaths were the fault of the police and nothing to do with Ned Kelly. This is another fantasy.  

As I said, I have sympathy for the Kelly descendants, and can understand where they are coming from. One would hardly expect them to willingly embrace the idea that their famous relative was a notorious liar, a thief and callous murderer, possibly a psychopath who, though charismatic, colourful and larger than life, was a not a playful “ rascal” but a dreadful villain. Instead they have swallowed the much more palatable Jones-Kelly Myth and are probably beyond ever seeing things any differently. They have the right to believe and promote whatever they like about him, but I think they will find that almost no-one is interested in Kelly mythology outside their extended family, and the crowd funding effort will prove it.  This is why the Ned Kelly Weekend has failed. This is why the Ned Kelly Forum has failed, why Iron Outlaw has failed and why even their Facebook pages are all in decline. Its also why the Ned Kelly Vault is so popular: “We are NOT a SHRINE. We are  a MUSEUM" - 

People are over the Myth. 

Wednesday 11 November 2015

The Execution of Edward Kelly : As Announced in The Argus November 12th 1880

This  Newspaper report is a mostly accurate recounting of the story of the Kelly Gang, and of Neds execution 135 years ago today. Kelly sympathisers are busily posting their “RIP Ned”s on Facebook today, not realising that the person hanged was not the one they adulate in their imaginations. The real Ned Kelly was hanged, but the Myth had only just been born in Novenber 1880, and though these days is terminally sick, still hasn’t died. 
The Full text of this article is below:

Much has been written during the last two years about the career and crimes of the bloodthirsty Kelly gang of bushrangers, and it will be with a sense of relief that the public will now read the final chapter of their history. At last the majesty of the law has been vindicated; for, at a few minutes past   10 o'clock yesterday morning Edward Kelly, the leader and only survivor of the gang, was executed in the Melbourne Gaol. However weary the public may be of the Kelly affair, it seems proper that, before relating the particulars of the execution, some account should be given of the crimes which brought the condemned man to his miserable end. This we shall relate as briefly as possible.
The gang first attracted public attention about two years ago by the perpetration of a tragedy unparalleled in the history of the colony. It consisted of four men—Edward  Kelly, Daniel Kelly, Joseph Byrne, and Stephen Hart—who were known to the police as notorious cattle-stealers. In April,1878, an attempt was made by Constable Fitzpatrick to arrest Daniel Kelly, for horse- stealing, when that officer was overpowered at the house of the Kellys by the outlaws, their mother, and two men named Williams and Skillian. The constable was shot at and wounded, and the criminals escaped. Mrs. Kelly, Williams, and Skillian were, however,   subsequently captured, and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment; but the two Kellys   eluded the vigilance of the police, and found hiding-places in the ranges.  
After a search of some months' duration, the police ascertained that the gang washiding in the Wombat Ranges, near Mans- field. Four officers stationed at Mansfield,namely, Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Scanlan, Lonigan, and McIntyre closed in upon the haunt of the criminals in October, 1878; but so far from taking the   gang unawares, as they had anticipated, the police were taken by surprise, the outlaws rushed upon them and demanded instant surrender. Almost before the officers had time to realise their position, Constables Lonigan and Scanlan were murdered in the most cold-blooded manner,   and Sergeant Kennedy, after fighting bravely, was wounded and captured. Kennedy, when   lying wounded, pleaded that his life might be spared for the sake of his wife and children;   but Kelly, turning a deaf ear to his entreaties, placed the muzzle of his gun to his breast, shot him dead, and then robbed the body. 

Constable McIntyre alone escaped to   tell the narrative of a tragedy that sent a thrill of horror through the whole colony. From many centres of population in the district search parties went out to assist in the capture of the perpetrators of the dastardly outrage, and the Government despatched re-inforcements of police in charge of Superin- tendent Nicolson. A reward of £8,000 was offered for the capture of the murderers. A measure passed by the Parliament of Victoria declared the marauders outlaws, and rendered all who sympathised with them liable to imprisonment, and other means of encouraging the pursuers of the outlaws and of putting a check upon their sympathisers were adopted. The ranges in which the murderers were hid, however, abounded in almost inaccessible fastnesses, the neighbourhood swarmed with friends and sympathisers of the outlaws, and the gang were able to set the police for a long time at defiance. In December, 1878, they descended on Faithfull's   Creek Station, under the shadow of their ranges, bailed up all the hands and many visitors, broke down the telegraph wires, plundered the bank in the neighbouring township of Euroa of £2,000, and made     prisoners for a time of all the men, women, and children on the establishment. Returning to their secure hiding-places, the outlaws were again lost sight of for a month or two. In February, 1879, they made their appearance at Jerilderie, New South Wales, taking   possession for the second time of a town,reducing a population to a state of helpless   terror; plundering at will, and escaping with impunity without a hand being raised or a shot fired against them. More than 12 months elapsed without any fresh outbreak. It was well known to the police that the outlaws had returned to their old haunts; but, owing to the assistance they received from sympathisers and friends, they continued to elude the hands of justice. A party of black trackers, hired from Queensland, had evidently the effect of deterring the gang from showing themselves openly, and as time wore on the police, under Mr. Nicolson, were, unknown to the public, drawing nearer and nearer to the culprits.
After being kept at bay for upwards of a year, the Kellys turned their attention to  those whom they suspected of betraying them, and commenced what was probably intended to be a series of reprisals by that desperate and dastardly act of revenge—the murder of Aaron Sherritt. Sherritt lived, with his wife and mother-in-law, in a hut at Sebastopol. On the night of the 27th of June last a man, who had been made a prisoner by the gang, was taken by them to his door, and compelled to call Sherritt out to show him the way home. No sooner did Sherritt show himself at the door than he was shot dead without a moment's warning. There were four police men in the hut at the time, but they were unable to stir without a certainty of being also shot down. The gang remained for some   time in the vicinity, and attempted to burn the hut down; but in this they failed, and they then hastened off before daylight toGlenrowan, a lonely wayside railway station, for the purpose of wrecking a special train with police which they knew would be sent up to pursue them as soon as the news of the fresh murder was known. They reached Glenrowan next day (Sunday), bailed up all the people there, and imprisoned them in Jones's Hotel, tore up the railway line   and awaited the passing of the expected train. They also clad themselves in bullet- proof armour made of plough-moulds.   and, as their leader stated, they intended visiting the wreck of the train, and shooting down any survivors. As they had anticipated, a special train was des- patched. It contained Superintendent Hare and a party of police, Sub-inspector O'Connor     and the black trackers, and representatives of the metropolitan press—in all 21 souls. 

Providentially, however, one of the prisoners of the gang—Mr. Curnow, the local schoolmaster—escaped and stopped the train by a   signal before it reached Glenrowan, and thus what would have been the most appalling tragedy of all was averted. The gang were attacked in Jones's Hotel at 3 o'clock in the     morning. The fight was commenced by the gang firing a volley on the police as they approached the house. Superintendent Hare was wounded, and had to retire. He continued long in a precarious state, but is now, we are glad to say, out of danger. The fight   was continued for three hours in the darkness before police reinforcements arrived,  but at 6 o'clock assistance came from Wangaratta and Benalla. At the commencement   of the fray the leader of the gang was wounded in the foot and arm, and he retired into the bush. At daylight, however, he returned, attacking the police in the rear, and after a desperate fight, which proved that his armour was bullet proof, he was brought down by firing at his legs. His wretched companions perished in the house. Byrne was shot in the groin whilst in the act of drinking at the bar, and died immediately.
It is not known when the other two were killed, but that they were also shot there is  little reason to doubt. In the belief that they were still alive, the police set fire to the house to drive them out; but on the building being entered, just before the flames had taken full possession, the three murderers were seen lying dead. Byrne's body was removed, but the other two could not be reached, and they were burned to cinders. Thus perished three of the murderers, two of them at least coming to a horrible end—an end with which they had often threatened others, for they were accustomed to declare that they would roast certain members of the police force. But one, then, remained to be dealt with—the arch offender Edward Kelly. 

He had been outlawed, but he was allowed a fair trial before his fellow countrymen. The verdict of the jury was, of course, "guilty of wilful murder," and there could not possibly have been any other result. Although he was convicted of but one murder, he was guilty, according to his own admissions, of three;   and to his action was due the deaths of no fewer than nine human beings. He murdered Constable Lonigan, Constable Scanlan, and Sergeant Kennedy; he or his gang murdered   the man Sherritt; through his illegal proceedings the old man Martin Cherry and the boyJones were shot; and it was he who led his brother Daniel and the two other outlaws, Hart and Byrne, into the crimes which brought them   to their tragic end. It was on behalf of this man that Mr. David Gaunson, M.L.A., and  his brother William were fomenting agitations and scandalising the city. The Executive, however, stood firm and directed that the law should take its course.
Immediately after sentence of death was passed on Kelly, additional precautions were taken to ensure his safe custody in the Mel- bourne Gaol. He was placed in one of the cells in the old wing, and irons were riveted upon his legs, leather pads being placed round his ankles to prevent chafing. The cell had two doors—an outer one of solid iron, and an inner one of iron bars. The outer door was always kept open, a lamp was kept burning overhead, and a warder was continually sitting outside watching the prisoner. During the day he was allowed to walk in the adjoining yard for exercise, and on these occasions two warders had him under surveillance. He continued to maintain his indifferent demeanour for a day or two, professing to look forward to his execution without fear but he was then evidently cherishing a hope of reprieve. When he could get anyone to speak to, he indulged in brag, recounting his exploits and boasting of what he could have done when at liberty had he pleased. Latterly, however, his talkativeness ceased, and he became morose and silent. Within the last few days he dictated   a number of letters for the Chief Secretary, in most of which he simply repeated his now well-known garbled version of his career and   the spurious reasons he assigned for his crimes. He never however, expressed any sorrow for his crimes; on the contrary, he always attempted to justify them. In his last communication he made a request that his body might be handed over to his friends—an application that was necessarily in vain. 

On Wednesday he was visited   by his relatives and bade them farewell. At his own request his portrait was also taken for circulation amongst his friends. He went to bed at half-past 1 o'clock yesterday morning, and was very restless up to half-past 2, when he fell asleep. At 5 o'clock he awoke and arose,   and falling on his knees prayed for 20 minutes, and then lay down again. He rose finally at about 8 o'clock, and at a quarter to   9 a blacksmith was called in to remove his irons. The rivets having been knocked out, and his legs liberated, he was attended by Father Donaghy, the Roman Catholic clergy- man of the gaol.

Immediately afterwards, he was conducted from his cell in the old wing to the condemned cell alongside the gallows in the new or main building. In being thus removed, he had to walk through the garden which surrounds the hospital ward, and to   pass the handcart in which his body was in another hour to be carried back to the dead-house. Making only a single remark about the pretty flowers in the garden, he passed in a jaunty manner from the brilliant sunshine into the sombre walls of the prison. In the condemned cell the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church were administered to him by Father Donaghy and   Dean O'Hea. In the meantime a large crowd   of persons had commenced to gather in front of the gaol, and the persons who had received cards of admission assembled in the gaol yard. A few minutes before 10 o'clock,   the hour fixed for the execution, Colonel Rede, the sheriff, and Mr. Castieau, the governor of the gaol, proceeded to the condenmed cell, followed by the persons who had   been admitted. The latter numbered about 30, and included Superintendent Winch, Subinspector Larner, several constables and detectives, three or four medical men, a number of justices of the peace, and the representatives of the press. 

The gallows is situated in the centre of the new wing, and consists simply of a beam of timber running across the transept over the first gallery,with rope attached and a trap-door in the gallery floor. Warders were arranged on the side galleries, and the onlookers stood on   the basement floor in front of the drop. The convict had yet two minutes to live, but they   soon flew away. The sheriff, preceded by the governor of the gaol, then ascended to the cell on the left hand side of the gallows, in which the condemned man had been placed, and demanded the body of Edward Kelly.
The governor asked for his warrant, and   having received it, in due form bowed inacquiescence. The new hangman, an elderly   grey-headed, well-conditioned looking man,     named Upjohn, who is at present incarcerated for larceny, made his appearance at this juncture from the cell on the opposite side of the gallows, entered the doomed man's cell with   the governor, and proceeded to pinion Kelly. At first Kelly objected to this operation, saying, "There is no need for tying me;" but he had   to submit, and his arms were pinioned behind by a strap above the elbows. He was then led out with a white cap on his head. He walked steadily on to the drop;  but his face was livid, his jaunty air gone, and there was a frightened look in his eyes as he glanced down on the spectators. It was his intention to make a speech, but his courage evidently failed him,and he merely said, "Ah, well, I suppose it has come to this," as the rope was being placed round his neck. He appeared as in court, with beard and whiskers, never having been shaved. The priests in their robes followed him out of the cell repeating prayers, and another official of the church stood in front of him with a crucifix. The noose having been adjusted, the white cap was pulled over his face, and the hangman stepping to the side quickly drew the bolt, and   the wretched man had ceased to live. He   had a drop of 8ft., and hung suspended about 4ft. from the basement floor. His neck was dislocated and death was instantaneous; for although muscular twitching continued for a few minutes, he never made   a struggle. It was all over by five minutes past 10 o'clock, and was one of the most expeditious executions ever performed in the Melbourne gaol. Half an hour afterwards the body was lowered into the hospital cart, and taken to the dead-house. On removing the cap the face was found to be placid, and without any discolouration, and only a slight mark was left by the rope under the left ear. The eyes were wide open. The outside crowd had increased by 10 o'clock to about 4,000—men, women, and children;   but a large proportion of them were larrikin- looking youths, and nearly all were of the lower orders. When the clock struck 10 the   concourse raised their eyes simultaneously to   the roof of the gaol expecting to see a black flag displayed; but they looked in vain, for no intimation of the execution having taken place was given. One woman, as the hour   struck, fell on her knees in front of the entrance, and prayed for the condemned man. As the visitors left the prison the crowd     dispersed also, and no disturbance occurred.
An inquest was subsequently held upon the body, and the jury returned a verdict that de-   ceased had been judicially hanged, and that the provisions of the act for the private   execution of criminals had been properly   carried out. The remains will be interred   in the gaol yard this morning.

Sunday 8 November 2015

One Hundred Posts about Kelly Mythology

With this commentary, we have now reached the milestone of 100 Posts,  close to 58,000 visits, and 1342 Comments, as good a place as any to reflect what the Blog has achieved in its 18 month existence, on what I have learned, and to contemplate the future of  Kelly mythology. 

Survival has been the first achievement! My first two attempts to create an alternative Kelly space on the internet -  two ProBoards forums  - were sabotaged in a matter of weeks by Pro Kelly  internet bullies who vowed they would do the same to this one. Happily, they have failed, though numerous attempts to wreck this Blog were made in the early days last year. The worst they’ve managed to do was to have one post removed from the Australian version of this Blog, but it can still be read by changing the Blog address from  to and look for the post in June 2014 “Site Guide Part one: The NKF”.

In fact, the Blog has not merely “survived” – it has thrived and grown steadily to become by far the most lively “Ned Kelly” place on the Internet, as evidenced by the growing numbers of daily reads, and by the amazing number of thoughtful contributions by readers. When I reviewed the numbers at the end of 2014 there was an average of 1225 visits and 22 comments per month. This year the monthly averages are 4745 visits and 116 comments, a gratifying increase in activity and interest in the demythologizing of the Kelly story. At the same time that this Blog has been expanding, the other Internet Kelly places have all been shrinking, a decline that I would like to think has something to do with this Blog. However I cant take credit for that because as I showed in my February 2015 analysis of  activity on the Iron Outlaw site, as a proxy for interest in Kelly mythology generally, the decline has been continuous since 2009:

The Chart of Iron Outlaws decline is a Proxy for Interest in Kelly Mythology  

This year Brad Webb’s much vaunted Iron Outlaw web site, inspite of a lackluster makeover, is continuing its decline into irrelevance and is on track to record its lowest ever number of reader letters, about 20; there has been NO activity on the Ned Kelly Forum for over six weeks; the anti Kelly Gang Unmasked Book Facebook Page has had NO activity for four MONTHS and we have now been waiting for his “Lonigan Part Two” for almost 150 days.  The NKF and IO Facebook Pages are only kept going by reposting of news items with vague connections to Ned Kelly, but nothing original takes place on them, and the 13 year run of Ned Kelly Weekends has come to an end with bitter infighting between factions of Kelly sympathisers. It would seem that among others the NKF Key Master has been shown the door by the BHRG who have once again restated their intention to focus on their original aim of performing historical re-enactments and move on from Kelly worship. 

Alongside all these “own goals” by Kelly sympathisers intent on wrecking their Brand, the demythologizing of Ned Kelly has been continuing apace this year, not just on this Blog but in the world of Publishing, with Morrisseys book “Ned Kelly : A lawless Life”, and Trudy Toohills “The reporting of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang.” (to be reviewed by me soon) Even the Arts have been looking  a bit more critically at Ned with the Imagining Ned exhibition and Morrissey book launch linked at Bendigo. I noticed quite recently that my review of the Morrissey Book Launch has been reposted on a Blog related to an Arts course centered on the Imagining Ned Exhibition

A site Ive often enjoyed visiting but have barely mentioned that is also engaged in the demythologizing of Ned and seems to be thriving is the Facebook Page of The Ned Kelly Vault. It prominently declares itself to be a history museum and “NOT a SHRINE” making a determined point that its not about Kelly mythology but about Kelly history, I would imagine in part to distance itself from the Kelly sympathizer thugs on other sites; a very wise move! Kelly history is endlessly fascinating, and the Museum itself seems to be very popular but I think its clear people are sick and tired of having the Kelly religion rammed down their throats by intolerant know-alls. I plan to visit it sometime soon.

But what of this Blog?

Essentially, Death of the Legend Blog is the record of my own explorations, experiences and discoveries within the Kelly world. Ive been surprised at how all the prominent Kelly Sympathisers, Blog and Facebook spokespeople for Ned Kelly and self proclaimed “ Neducators” have been unwilling - with a few notable exceptions - or more likely unable - to defend their Mythology. In fact they made a point of  excusing themselves from the debate with pathetic excuses about being offended by the grammar and the use of American spelling, or  the tone of the Blog, and the like.  I continue to receive vulgar abuse from Anonymous commenters who “ Dare” me too publish their obscene garbage - as if! But if they don’t want to take the opportunity offered here to defend their hero and critique my Posts, its the Kelly Sympathisers loss, not mine. 

So far in 2015 I’ve read and reviewed the following :

I am Ned Kelly by John Molony,
Ned Kelly Our Historic Outlaw You Tube Video by John Molony
Glenrowan by Ian Shaw,
Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life by Doug Morrissey,
Ned Kelly Man and Myth edited by Colin Cave, and
The Kelly Outbreak by John McQuilton.
Ned Kellys Trial the 60 Minutes re-enactment
The Last Outlaw  the Ian Jones produced TV Miniseries from 1980 
  (Part 2 and Part 3)

Ive reviewed in detail in a series of Posts Ned Kelly’s entire criminal record, (starting here) the tragedy of the Police murders at Stringybark Creek, the details of Lonigans murder, the murder of Sergeant Kennedy,  the murder of fellow selector Aaron Sherritt and the debacle at Glenrowan. (Part 2 and Part 3)

Ive exposed the pathetic behaviour of modern Kelly sympathisers in various ways this year. I posted a review of the Iron Outlaw site on the occasion of its 20th birthday, challenged the NKF member who claimed to have solved the riddle of Lonigans injuries, critiqued The Beechworth Ned KellyWeekend, and a magazine article about a TV programme on Ned Kelly that was supposed to be historical. I also discussed Capital punishment at the time of the execution of two Australians in Indonesia, and the over-reaction by Sympathisers to the discovery of a letter written by a Banker in 1879.

I wrote about my two visits to Bendigo, firstly to the Imagining Ned exhibition, and  later to the launch of  Doug Morrisseys book, Ned Kelly : A Lawless Life. Meeting Leo Kennedy, a direct descendant of a central figure in the Outbreak, at that same book launch was quite special.

We’ve examined the origin of Kelly myths in general and the particular mythology of Ned Kellys supposed devotion to his mother, the myth of his so-called straight”years, the myth of his claim that everything originated from Police Persecution, the whereabouts of Ned Kellys skull, and the biggest myth of them all, The Republic of NorthEast Victoria. Lastly Ive been discussing the profound implications of the letters  (and here) Ned Kelly wrote in Melbourne Gaol before being hanged, letters which demonstrate finally and unequivocally the mans unredeemed villainy.

For me it has been a fascinating year of non-stop learning and discovery, not just of the life and times of Ned Kelly but of the world of the modern Kelly sympathizer. Something that has amazed me almost more than anything, was discovering the way in which the Kelly scene has been so completely dominated by Ian Jones and his version of Kelly history for most of the last 50 years.  So pervading and powerful has been his influence that only two years ago Peter Fitzsimons declared that when writing his huge pro-Kelly biography he refused to read or reference “The Kelly Gang Unmasked” because Ian Jones “hated it”. A truly professional Journalist would have seen Jones “hate” as an alert to issues that warranted investigation, and would have made that book required reading. Instead the supine Fitzsimons dedicated his book to Ian Jones saying “He, more than anyone has kept the Kelly story alive in modern Australia” In that, Fitzsimons is correct but he missed an opportunity to discover that the version Jones has been keeping alive is a  wildly romantic and gross misrepresentation of the truth about Ned Kelly.

Jones’ domination over the decades was undoubtedly greatly assisted by the TV miniseries he produced in 1980, The Last Outlaw which was beamed into the living room of every Australian home. It was a masterstroke by Mr Jones that  I suspect made Ned Kelly a household name and cemented in peoples minds the unhistoric Jones vision of an heroic Ned Kelly that  many still believe is the truth about him today. I have been surprised as I have done my own reading and thinking, at how very easy it is to see through the Jones mythology of Ned Kelly, to spot the mistakes, the distortions, the almost complete lack of evidence for much of it, the misrepresentations and the fallacious reasoning that props it all up. My findings are the content of my Posts and the point of the Blog, what I called “truth telling” about Ned Kelly.

This has led me to wonder why it was that until the publication of The Kelly Gang Unmasked in 2012 nobody seriously challenged Mr Jones.  I have come across a few names of people who appeared from time to time to challenge him – Christopher Bantick and Alex McDermott for example – but they have more or less disappeared without trace and the Jones Kelly Myth has continued on. 
I have wondered if perhaps the Kelly sympathiser tactic of claiming that it is impossible to be sure if Kelly was a villain or a hero had discouraged us from even trying, thinking that it would be a close run thing and difficult to decide.

But its not! When you look as I have in this Blog at what Kelly actually planned for Glenrowan, when you look at how, in the Jerilderie letter he displayed as an adult no insight into his foolish  larrikin behaviour as a youth, when you see how often he told outrageous lies, how he allowed Aaron Sherritt to be murdered, when you read his boasting about being a horse thief and being able to beat people up with his fists and how threatening he was with a gun in his hand and how even at the end of his life he wrote long rambling untruthful letters that mentioned none of the things he was supposed to have stood for - such as family, such as a Republic, such as the poor and the oppressed - the hero disappears and you are left with a villain.

And when you properly check out as I have done, the claims that are made for him, such as  that he was Australias Robin Hood,  that he wanted to establish a Republic of North East Victoria, that he was driven to criminality by Police persecution, and that he was honest - again, because the evidence supporting these claims is so pathetically weak, the hero disappears and you are left with a villain. 

He was of course unique, colourful, larger than life, passionate and with a clever turn of phrase, physical prowess and charisma, but a  villain never-the-less. The misfortunes in his life, such as losing a father at age 11, or being poor were not exceptional or extreme and in no way excuse the course he chose for himself. And neither is he less of a villain because he was charming to women hostages, was a clever horse rider, wore unique home-made armour and confronted overwhelming odds at Glenrowan. None of this compensates for the terror he inflicted on hostages, the economic losses he inflicted by his thieving, and as a direct result of his choices the deaths of three Police, a former friend, two innocent hostages, two fellow Gang members and his own brother. No, a proper accounting of the truth about Ned Kelly identifies him as a villain. No doubt about it.

Finally  I want to thank all the people who have contributed to the success of this Blog by reading and especially by posting all sorts of helpful interesting and learned comments, as well as many gentle corrections of my own mistakes. Its all greatly appreciated. I haven’t finished yet, but somehow don’t see another hundred Posts in me but I still have a few ideas left stay tuned!