Maria Lyons, ex Panama
Maria Lyons was from Westport. She told the Immigration Agent on her arrival in Sydney on the Panama that she was 18 years old, she could read, that her parents' names were John and Mary, and her mother was still living in Westport.
According to the Famine Orphan Girl Database, Maria Lyons held various employments in different locations after her arrival in Sydney.
In May 1851, just over a year after her arrival, Maria Lyons married Patrick Connolly in West Maitland. Patrick Connolly was from County Kildare, and arrived in Australia in 1840, aged 14, with his father, Thomas Connolly. According to Patrick Connolly's obituary, his grandfather, Michael Connolly, was secretary to the 1798 Rebel Council under Lord Edward Fitzgerald (The Freeman's Journal (Sydney), 16 July 1914).
Maria Connolly's published obituaries in The Catholic Press (6 July 1922) and The Freeman's Journal (Sydney) (13 July 1922) give much information about her life.
Maria's birth is given as 1 January 1836, which would have made her only 14 years old on her arrival in Sydney. Maria and Patrick Connolly had ten children. They lived north of Maitland in the Paterson district, where Maria is credited with saving many lives following an outbreak of diptheria. The Catholic Press described her as "one of the well-known pioneer Catholics".
Maria was also described in The Catholic Press as "an ardent patriot, with an intense love for the land of her birth, and recently she expressed to her friends how thankful she was that Providence had spared her to witness the dawn of an Irish Free State".
Maria Connolly died in Ashfield, Sydney, on 17 June 1922, aged 86.
Patrick Connolly predeceased her by 8 years; he died 4 July 1914, aged 88.
© Barbara Barclay (2015)