Tales of adaptability, tenacity and change underpin the 150 years the Deeran family have spent at ‘Woodlawn’, Bromelton.
About 150 people from across Queensland and beyond gathered on Easter Saturday to remember 150 years since Irish immigrant James Deeran Junior purchased one of the first 320 acre lots of freehold land at Bromelton.
See photos by Skye Watt Photography at end of story, below.
James Junior’s great grandson Tim Deeran, wife Janet and their children continue to farm the property, which has evolved from potato, maize and dairy to poultry, hay and silage.
Mr Deeran emceed the family’s sesquicentennial celebrations on 8 April, acknowledging the Mununjali people as the traditional owners of the land his family called Woodlawn.
He spoke alongside local ex dairy farmer and former Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation President Trevor Fields, great grandson of James Deeran Junior, Michael Schneider, and Division Four Councillor Michael Enright.
Mr Deeran spoke of young James Deeran’s tenacity, borne of hardships the family endured in Ireland and on their journey to Australia.
“How is it a 21-year-old James was successful where others were not? I think you need to go back to his childhood to explain this,” he said.
“Like many other Irish immigrant families, the Deerans’ lives were in turmoil back in their home country. A potato blight disease caused failed crops, which led to famine, which led to their eviction from the farm,” he said.
“Now homeless, the Deerans needed help and that help came in the form of the Catholic Church who had established an immigration program with the developing state of Queensland. On 7 February 1862 along with 400 free settlers, the Deerans James Senior 37, second wife, Catherine 26, and children, James 11, Mary 10, Richard 8 and Michael 1, all set sail on the ship named “Erin-go-Bragh”. The voyage was difficult, twice as long as predicted, and 51 died due to disease including Catherine and Michael Deeran.”
Cr Enright presented the Deerans with an Australian Century Farm and Station Awards plaque to celebrate their sesquicentennial.
Mr Deeran expressed confidence for the future of Woodlawn.
“I think we had to adapt and change like many others on the land. The most important thing is the family farm is strong,” he said.