Augustinian Connection with Ned Kelly the Australian Outlaw

The Augustinians and Ned Kelly the Outlaw

An interesting snippet from the archives with a Drogheda connection. In 1844 a young Augustinian priest arrived in Drogheda. He was Charles O’Hea who was born in Cork in 1814. He was to pass four years at the Low Lane Church as the Augustinian was popularly known. From Drogheda he moved to Rome and in 1853 volunteered for the mission in Australia. He spent the rest of his life there until his death at the age of ninety in 1903.
O Hea had a long and eventful pastoral life. One episode stands out. In 1855 he baptised a baby boy named Edward Kelly. Edward , known to history as Ned, is famous as the best known outlaw in Australian history. Little did O’Hea know as he poured the water on baby Kelly that their paths would cross again twenty five years later. On November 11 1880 Ned Kelly was hanged at Melbourne jail. The man now an Australian folk-hero was accompanied to his death on the scaffold by none other than the Augustinian Fr Charles O’Hea. He who had baptised Ned Kelly was glad to comfort him in his last few moments of life.

Fr. Ignatius O’Donovan OSA

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