Inside the Kelly Cabin
Ned Kelly provided a description of what happened at Stringybark Creek in the Jerilderie Letter, saying he had killed Lonigan with a single shot. However, as discussed in my earlier post “Inconvenient Truths about Stringybark Creek” we now know that Kellys statement is not true – Lonigan was shot several times.
So now my question for Kelly sympathisers is this : Did Ned Kelly deliberately lie about what happened, or was he simply mistaken? I suggested in the earlier post that he deliberately lied, shrewdly adopting convenient parts of McIntyres faulty recollection of what happened as his own because it better suited his purposes to portray the killings as “self defence” rather than an ambush and a merciless slaughter, and to enhance his reputation as a crack shot. I doubt very much that a man as familiar with a gun as Ned Kelly would forget details about how many shots he fired from it, and at whom and when.
The truth is, Ned Kelly was a notorious liar, something about which the Kelly sympathisers are in perpetual denial. One of them publically claims to be offended by the suggestions in Ian MacFarlanes book that Kelly was a liar, and no doubt many of the rest of them are also offended and indignant that such a suggestion could be made. However, this indignation really just highlights their blind reliance on the sugar-coated Kelly myth , and their ignorance of the true story, and, remarkably, of something many Kelly authors and authorities – their own people – have been saying for many years.
Being relatively new to the Kelly story, this realization only came to me recently, when I was reading about the so called “Fitzpatrick Incident”. The way the story is told, this incident became the trigger for the entire outbreak, but that only happened because the authorities believed what Sympathisers claim were Fitzpatricks lies about what happened – that Ned Kelly and others attacked and shot him when he went to arrest Dan Kelly. In particular, his claim that Ned Kelly was there at the time is vehemently denied, and Ned himself claimed in the Jerilderie letter that he was 400 miles away at the time.
However, read what Ian Jones says about the Fitzpatrick Incident :
“First, was Ned involved? The accounts from Tom Lloyd, Mrs Kelly, Jim Kelly, Kate Kelly and Williamson suggest that Ned was present. At Mrs Kellys trial one of Neds witnesses would testify that Ned was not at the house, though he was in the Greta district the day of the brawl. Ned subsequently let slip to a Policeman that he was present during or immediately after the incident (I almost swore after letting him (Fitzpatrick) go that I would never let another go)
Did he then shoot Fitzpatrick? There is sworn evidence from two Policemen that after his capture two years later he admitted to the shooting (Yes, it was I that fired at him) This confession may be discredited as another example of Police perjury but it supports stories told by Kate Jim and Brickey Williamson ( even though as we have seen their accounts are not flawless) (Page 142 A Short Life 2008 Edition)
Close to the end of the chapter, reviewing the incident again Jones writes:
“If Ned had admitted that he shot Fitzpatrick he would also have given credence to the rest of the troopers evidence and implicated his mother, Skillion and Williamson. So he lied”
So here we have the widely acknowledged foremost living Kelly expert conceding that Ned Kelly told lies about the Fitzpatrick Incident, an absolutely astounding and sensational statement for Ian Jones to make. Jones claims Kelly told these lies to protect his family, but the reasons are irrelevant.
One has to admire Ian Jones willingness to let logic lead him to where the evidence is pointing, even though it must trouble him at times to do so, as he is clearly of the view that Ned Kelly was an admirable albeit flawed person. At other places in the story Jones clearly lets his passion overrule logic but here at least he is remarkably frank and honest. Jones is saying that not only was Kelly a liar, and therefore that Fitzpatricks version may have been a lot closer to the truth than sympathisers want to admit – but that Kelly probably DID shoot Fitzpatrick. This exposes as fatuous the Kelly sympathisers claim that Kelly was “unjustly” accused, it exposes the way in which his entire family, including his mother were involved in a huge cover-up, and it places the Police arrests and the subsequent Court cases in a much more appropriate light. It also helps to explain why Ned disappeared into the hills immediately afterwards.
Ned Kellys massive lie about the Affair is of course of huge significance, because it has enabled the blame for everything that follows – the arrest and sentencing of Mrs Kelly her baby and the others, the events at Stringybark and everything that followed in the Kelly narrative – to all be laid – unfairly as we now realize -at the feet of Fitzpatrick.
And yet despite the fact that all Kelly writers seems to have spotted it from as far back at least as 1948, Ned Kellys big lie is glossed over as if it was of no significance, or perhaps it would be better to say the significance of the lie was indeed realised and therefore it was deliberately concealed from general view. Max Brown wrote in 1948, – “Although Kelly claimed to have been out of the colony, the evidence suggests …he did in fact arrive home that night” Peter Fitzsimons technique for dealing with this problem was to tell all the versions so he wouldn’t have to admit that he also didn’t believe Ned. These and other authors along with Ian Jones in 1995, have all conceded Fitzpatrick’s version may well have been close to the truth and that Ned Kelly lied about his involvement – he wasn’t 400 miles away – he was right there, as Fitzpatrick said all along, and it was Kelly who shot at him.
It is really quite disgraceful that these authors and their sympathizer readership on the one hand become almost hysterical in their denunciation and vilification of the despised Fitzpatrick for his lies, and routinely blame him for all that followed, but on the other, even though they know about it they never breathe – or write – a single word of condemnation about Kellys big lie. To do so would of course draw attention to it and raise the very real prospect that people would realize that the hated Policeman Fitzpatrick could no longer be held responsible for the Kelly Outbreak as they like to proclaim, and instead Ned Kelly and his family themselves would be properly regarded as the real instigators of all this murder and mayhem. Such a scenario completely undermines the sympathisers “poor persecuted hard done by Ned and the Nasty Traps” narrative that they like to pedal.
But incredible as it may seem, this is the logical conclusion to Ian Jones assertion that Ned Kelly was indeed there, that he may well have fired the shots and that “..he lied” At least as far as the Fitzpatrick incident is concerned, the “poor persecuted hard done by Ned” scenario doesn’t stand up. Kelly lied to gain sympathy and put the blame on someone else, a tactic we have noted Ned Kelly employed at other times, but perhaps nowhere else as effectively and with such long range ramifications as here.
I consider it a modern day scandal, perpetrated by the Kelly believers, that this truth about the Fitzpatrick Affair has been relentlessly and dishonestly suppressed and denied and hidden from public view all these years, in favor of a narrative that they don’t really believe themselves but which they push because it favors the Kelly Gang.
Increasingly I am coming to understand why the Kelly believers would rather talk about correct spelling and how far a hut was from a road or a tree than examine the roots of their sugar-coated religion : if they did, their faith would be shaken by the realization that Ned Kelly told some awfully big lies, was directly responsible for much more of the mess he made of his life than they care to admit, and the man they love to hate, Fitzpatrick, may not have been the devil they make him out to be.
Sorry to be such a spoil sport!
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4 Replies to “The Cover-up of Ned Kellys big Lies : A Modern Scandal”
Let's not forget there are clever Kelly apologists out there. The quartered bullets are an example. So too is the theory Constable Lonigan shot himself in the thigh as proposed by barristers John Phillips (in the 1980s) and Julian Burnside (on his blogsite). The invention of the Kelly republic goes back to author Max Brown (who made it up) and Barry Jones, and latterly Ian Jones.
The Fitzpatrick incident has been presented for nearly a century as an impossible puzzle. Fitzpatrick was accused of groping Kate Kelly although no evidence for this exists. Was Ned there? Was Fitzpatrick telling the truth? The arguments have gone on ad infinitum. It was another diversion from getting at the what really happened. Most authors nowadays agree Ned was there and shot at Fitpatrick, three times if Fitzpatrick is to be believed.
Dee, please keep on being a rotten spoil sport. Give 'em hell! They've been getting away with hell for yonks!
Prof Molony's 'Ned Kelly' book had Ned speaking in an Irish brogue and inhabiting a weird Irish cultural time capsule.
Your nemesis, 'fred'(using his real nickname), blogged that Ned spoke Strine and was probably Aussie in outlook. Its not impossible he was right for once.
Molony wanted to underscore Ned's Irishness, but misled us in doing so to create a revolting Irish romance!
I've had the book for years although irked by its Irishness. A plus is that Molony had extensive access to the Kelly records in Victoria's state archives.
I wish I could afford a paid researcher there too.
It was the stolen Whitty horses that Mr Thompson (Ned Kelly) sold to the Baumgartens, and the resulting warrants issued at Chiltern for Ned and Dan, that led Fitzpatrick to the Kelly homestead. Continuity isn't among the strengths of the Kelly literature. Fitzpatrick is usually presented as part of the constant police harrassment of the Kellys and almost never as as a keen cop simply seeking to arrest Dan.
Doug Morrissey's book, A Lawless Life, is a great addition to the de-mythologising of the poor Ned story.