McShane clan celebrates 200 years

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McShane clan celebrates 200 years

A Tasmanian family who trace their origins back to two convict brothers and were involved in the building of Catholic churches at both Colebrook and Pontville gathered to celebrate 200 years since their family arrived in the state.

More than 300 of the descendants of Hugh and Michael McShane attended the gathering which was held during the long weekend in June, including those who travelled from Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales for the event.

Beginning with a Mass at St Matthew’s Church in Pontville, celebrated by Emeritus Archbishop Adrian Doyle and Fr Denis Allen, family members also visited the nearby Catholic cemetery where a number of the McShane family are buried.

During the homily, Archbishop Doyle spoke about the faith, hope and love which fortified the lives of those early settlers during the difficult times they experienced, being isolated from home, family and sacraments.

The idea for a reunion had been carried and given shape by a committee of family members resulting in activities throughout the weekend including visiting St Patrick’s Church in Colebrook, meeting at MACQ01 Hotel – the landing place of the convict brothers who arrived aboard the ‘Minerva’ in 1818 – and a trip to the original family homestead.

At the Pontville Memorial Hall family members examined family trees which were lining the walls.

Although not all the family are Catholic, the Church has been well served by a number of religious vocations from among the descendants including to the Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Mercy, Little Company of Mary, Good Shepherd Sisters, Little Sisters of the Poor and the Missionary Sisters of Service.

Sr Frances McShane, a Missionary Sister of Service, was one of the many family members to attend the gathering and described the reunion as “wonderfully big”.

“There was a big number and they were all talking together. It was difficult to get their attention even for a minute – they had too many people they wanted to talk to!” she said.

“Each person I’ve spoken to said it was just lovely to be there and be part of the celebration.”