Ive been saying for a while now that the public squabbling between Kelly factions can only harm their cause and I think the responses to these articles confirms it. It also confirms that appealing to the Public with a Petition for public support for a Kelly Center is doomed, as was the previous attempt using Crowd Funding. Admiration for Ned Kelly has had its hey-day and now its in decline – if there was ever a chance for something big, it was 10 years ago. ThankfullyAustralia is moving on, and when the big Ned topples over at Glenrowan nobody will ever put up a new one, because by then it will be realised by everyone that Ned was a crook. The Kelly Vault will become a weird memorial to someones creepy fascination with a psychopath, a ghoulish collection of mementos of a delusion shared briefly with uninformed romantics.
The headline in the Australian of last weekend, January 14th 2017 said it all : “Kelly Gang descendants at war over bushranger lore and legacy” This article referred to the fact that since the Weekend Australian had published ‘that photo’ and an article about it a month before, “the letters page of The Ovens and Murray Advertiser has run hot with claims and counter-claims about who should call the shots for the latter-day Kelly Gang.” Read it HERE.(If that link just takes you to a pay wall, Google Kelly Gang descendants at war ) Today, a week later there have been 46 comments added to the Autralians story and the clear majority are not supportive of the ‘war’ or of the Kelly story generally – those comments are the ones that received the greatest number of “likes”. This Comment is one of my favourites :
7 DAYS AGO
Why is this news? Let them fight amongst themselves, who cares! The fact remains that Ned Kelly was a criminal and murderer. 41LIKES
Another good one :
7 DAYS AGO
Amazing. The descendants of robbers and police-killers fighting over who gets to be recognised for it. I wonder if 100 years from now we’ll see the descendants of the current crop of grubs and murderers doing the same? The way the media treats them as celebrities I wouldn’t be surprised. 26 likes
Nobody on any of the Kelly Facebook pages dared to mention it, but in the SAME edition of the Australian last weekend there was a SECOND article about Ned Kelly. It was called “Truths need to be told abut Australian Bushranger Ned Kelly” and written by Gerard Henderson. Read it HERE ( If that Link just taks you to a Pay wall , Google Ned Kelly Gerard Henderson and you’ll find it) The reason none of the Kelly fan sites mentioned it is obvious, even in its title: Henderson was making a plea for the facts about Ned Kelly to be told instead of the baseless myths and delusions of the “Legend”, such as the ones repeated in Peter Fitzsimons book
Henderson writes “The problem with so many of the Kelly Gang fan club, including Carey and Fitzsimons, is that they believe what Kelly said in his Cameron Letter (1878), Jerilderie Letter (1879) and elsewhere. But Kelly was a congenital liar whose accounts warrant critical scrutiny.”
Henderson knew about Morrissey’s book, and mentioned it positively – I am guessing he became aware if it because it was shortlisted in the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Australian History. He mentions McDermott as well, as a person who has challenged the Kelly myths but rather regrettably has completely missed ‘The Kelly Gang Unmasked’ by Ian MacFarlane, something that I am sure wouldn’t have happened if it been part of the bibliography of Fitzsimons book. Fitzsimons disgracefully pretended that work didn’t exist when he published his book, ignoring it at the behest of Ian Jones, the arch Kelly mythologizer. Henderson expresses a hope that the upcoming book by Grantlee Kieza about Ellen Kelly wont also perpetuate the Kelly myths.
The article was followed by over 200 comments and again, the majority – by a big margin – were supportive of Henderson’s view, that Ned Kelly wasn’t a heroic revolutionary but a criminal murderer. As usual, Kelly defenders mmostly repeated myths and fairy stories about Ned Kelly and demonstrated their ignorance of the detail of the story.
I have no idea if any of the any of the comments were submitted by people who read this Blog, but I read many of the very same ideas that I have been promoting here for more than 2 years, such as that the ‘body straps’ story is unsupported, the Republic story is a myth, that Glenrowan was akin to a ‘terrorist’ plot, and that Kelly was a notorious liar.
Delightfully, there were a couple of responses from Grantlee Kieza himself, and they gave me great encouragement because they seem to indicate he is clearly very well aware that Kelly was a liar, and that much of the modern story is Myth:
“Thanks Gerard for mentioning my new book Mrs Kelly, out next month. Rest assured that I debunk many of the myths about the Kelly family including the absurd notion that the very honourable Sgt Michael Kennedy was the head of some sort of hit squad sent to kill the Kelly brothers and that they were only defending themselves at Stringybark Creek. Ned Kelly had many noble qualities but he was also a dangerous criminal who had little regard for human life if someone crossed him. But my book also tells the personal story of Mrs Kelly and all her tragedies – a poor, illiterate Irish woman with a dozen kids, surrounded by criminal relatives on all sides. Her three sons kept the police hammering on her door until it exploded on one afternoon in April 1878. Yet one of Mrs Kelly’s sons also became a well respected policeman and world famous horseman and she was known as a very beloved resident of her village in her later years. Best wishes. GK “
So , all in all the Kelly myth is off to a rotten start for 2017. The Kelly descendants are scrapping amongst themselves and trashing their public image, they’ve banned me from some of their sites but the true story is emerging anyway, I am getting unprecedented numbers of Hits on the Blog and even The True Story Facebook page has finally started to take off. And in Australias most widely distributed newspaper, in the first two weeks of the year not one but two articles have trashed Ned Kelly the hero. It looks like the new book on Ellen will continue the dismantling of the Kelly myth, but at the same time reveal what I expect will be the fascinating and complex story of Mrs Kelly. Bring it on!
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