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. 

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15 Replies to “Why Another Kelly Museum?”

  1. Can't help feeling the Kelly descendants love bucks – Eight million sounds OK. They could all live on that for a wee while.

    Setting up "museums' as little earners is an old gambit. A Slim Dusty Museum opened this week, but entry ain't free.

  2. Oh there's so much more to this sad little story, much of it now being played out on Facebook. How humiliating for the poor girl. Seems like everybody is starting to join the dots!!!!

  3. Everybody else is making money out of Ned. Why shouldn't we?

    SHE SAID IT. MANY TIMES TO MANY PEOPLE.

    FACT!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I also feel sorry for her but I think she’s gone about it the wrong way,and I posted on their Facebook Page to say so. I think they need to go back to the drawing board and get a consensus amongst all the Kelly people before trying again. But its such a mine-field of opinionated Kelly sympathisers that it looks like consensus is going to be impossible. And its made even more difficult by people who area not even Kelly descendants, dimwits like the moron who attacked me there just to stir up trouble, though all my Comments were constructive and positive. He will be relieved his stupid remarks have been deleted because in reply to his unwarranted attacks on me I drew attention to my Post on this Blog about his Epic fail in regard to Lonigan and for a while I got quite a few extra visitors. As usual with that creep, stuff has been deleted and censored following his ignorant intervention – personal attacks and censorship is all he knows.

  5. The following was released by the Kelly family last week……..

    'The vast majority of the Kelly Family descendants of Margaret Kelly, Kate Kelly, Grace Kelly, Jack King, Ellen King and Alice King, hereby formally state they do not sanction, support or endorse Joanne Griffiths, The Ned Kelly Centre Limited and its officers.'

  6. I will remove this unless you also supply the source of this alleged release within 48 hours. You can remain anonymous but need to verify the truthfulness of this claim.

  7. Ask any media outlet in NE Victoria. It was discussed on Edge FM last week and on ABC radio I think.

    It's a genuine statement by the Kelly family.

  8. So you heard this on the Radio? And with whom was it being discussed ? Another self appointed Representative or an actual representative of these various descendants who met and made that announcement? You’ve written your Comment as if it was an actual media release. Was it? and if so where was it Published? Or are these just your words?

  9. OK I have now received independent confirmation that It is indeed the case,that a large group of Kelly descendants of one sort or another have made a big point of disassociating themselves from another group of Kelly descendants who are promoting the Ned Kelly Center. When I suggested in my Post that there must be tensions and divisions within the Kelly community I was just making a calculated guess. I hadn't imagined they would be as deep and as wide and as bitter as they have now revealed themselves to be. But it was ever thus with the Kelly family who were fighting and attacking and taking each other to court even when Ned was alive!

    This means without a doubt that Joanne Griffiths scheme is doomed , exactly as I predicted on her website in comments that were quickly deleted, a bad sign in itself – being unable to respond to criticism except by censorship. Their Web Page is still not up and I am starting to think it won't ever. In fact I won't be surprised if her Facebook page disappears before too long and we never hear another word ever again about a charity museum devoted to the memory of Ned Kelly. I think it's rather sad they couldn't get their act together as a group united around their famous ancestor.

    There's one other thing that intrigues me about these people – do any of them regard Ned not as a hero but as a villain? Are there any among them who are ashamed and embarrassed that their famous relative was a violent killer notorious liar and probable psychopath?

  10. It is public knowledge now that the majority of descendants are disassociating themselves from Joanne's publicity stunt to raise money for her 'Ned Kelly Centre'. Many are bitter over her bad treatment of others involved with the Ned Kelly burial, and are especially concerned now because of what appears to be her continued harassment of institutions, museums, descendants and others to repatriate artefacts under her so called 'Ned Kelly' trust name.

    Yes, the proposed museum has been set up as a 'Not For Profit' campaign but you can guarantee if it is ever built there will be paid wages and kickbacks for certain people only – if you get my drift! There is no indication yet that the Ned Kelly Centre would be created out of respect for the whole 'Kelly' family and include others equally in management roles and decision making.

    In my view Joanne (who claims to be a 'True Kelly') is trying to capitalise by using our anguished family story to seduce present day Kelly sympathisers for cash, but it appears she is going around this all the wrong way. Unfortunately a fairly desperate act that most descendants have little tolerance for.

    If this Centre is supposably to honour her Grace Kelly line then why not create a Grace Kelly museum using her families artefacts and photos (if any exist) rather than plunder other collections with the attitude that she owns the Ned Kelly brand.

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  12. I dare say no artifacts etc exist in her line which explains her aggressive behaviour towards those museums and institutions who boast substantial Kelly holdings.

    This is about one woman controlling how the Kelly story is told. And it's about her acquiring items of immense value by using threats of violence.

    There is much more of this story to come to light. The general public and her few dimwitted supporters are obviously unaware of how this woman is universally despised throught NE Victoria.

  13. One has to ask the question of the kelly descendants : What the hell is wrong with you all that in 135 years you never managed to agree amongst yourselves on doing something together for your famous relative ? I’ll say one thing for that woman though : at least she had the courage of her convictions and actually tried to make something happen! Sadly for her, all she has achieved is to expose the internal divisions within Kelly ranks, a fact which will destroy any public support for her project which is virtually stillborn.

    The other even bigger problem she was facing was the status of the Kelly Legend itself, which has taken some massive hits in recent years thanks to Ian MacFarlane, Morrissey and now Dawson. The reality is that the truth about Ned Kelly and the Outbreak is
    finally being revealed and there is declining interest in the fairy stories spun about him, and growing understanding that he was not Australias Robin Hood but a notorious liar and a violent killer and psychopath camouflaged by flamboyant language, clever use of Public relations, gimmicky armour and acts of bravado. The heyday of the Jones-Kelly mythology has passed. The Kelly people missed their chance to capitalise on it, and they would be better to get used to it, and give their support to the Kelly Vault.

  14. Agree entirely Dee. Serious researchers are now being able to access material that has been in dark cabinets etc. for years. As well, they are applying hard logical analysis to their findings which many Kelly supporters have never done; anecdotes becoming accepted as 'evidence'. The more I read about the Kellys and their criminal cohorts, the more I am convinced of the genetic criminality and pure stupidity which ran through their veins. Were they alive today I suspect they would be rebirthing stolen motor vehicles and running meth labs on the side.

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