The Barry family


My Barry family can be traced to Ireland.  My first known ancestor is John Barry from that region of Ireland where the counties of Tipperary, Limerick and Cork are all closely associated. John seems to have lived in County Limerick in the townland of Geeragh, civil parish of Kilbeheny (Roman Catholic parish of Kilbeheny and Angelsboro) and later in County Tipperary in the village of Clogheen, located in the Roman Catholic parish of the same name.

Click on the link below to see a map of the civil parishes in Tipperary, South Riding (off-site link):

Civil Parishes

John's father was Thomas Barry, a weaver about whom nothing is so far known.  John was a boot maker and shop keeper. In 1869 at the age of 30, he married Margaret McGrath, the daughter of John McGrath (a farmer) and Bridget Walsh in the Church of the Assumption, Ballyporeen, Tipperary.  Ballyporeen is a village located in the civil parish of Templetenny and in the Roman Catholic parish of Ballyporeen which adjoins that of Clogheen.  In 1871, a daughter - Hanna - was born to John and Margaret, at which time John gave his address as the townland of Skeheenarinky, also in the civil parish of Templetenny.  His occupation was stated as "farmer," however there is no evidence to support this in the land records for the townland.  Hanna's birth was followed by that of a further two daughters - Margaret Mary Agnes and Bridget Josephine, both born at Skeheenarinky.  By now, John's occupation was given as shoemaker.  John and Margaret's youngest surviving child was a son named Thomas Joseph. When Thomas was born in 1876 the family had moved and were living in the village of Clogheen.  It is believed that their daughter Hanna died in Ireland as a child, some time before 1879.  A second son was also born to John and Margaret, however little is known about this child who appears to have died as an infant.

Church of the Assumption, Ballyporeen, County Tipperary.

At some point John Barry's fortunes took a turn for the worse, for in 1878 he died in the Mitchelstown workhouse, over the border in County Cork, leaving his wife and young family to consider their future alone.  In 1879 Margaret Barry (McGrath) and her two younger children migrated to Queensland, Australia as remittance passengers aboard the Earl Derby.  It is not known who sponsored their passage, but it seems likely that it could have been Margaret's older sister Honora who had migrated to Queensland some years earlier.

To learn more about the McGrath family follow the link below:

Click on the link below to see a site which shows a picture of the Earl Derby (off-site link).

The Earl Derby departed London on 10th March and arrived at Brisbane on 20th June, 1879.  There is no indication that Margaret's eldest surviving daughter and namesake travelled with her mother and siblings, however she also migrated.

Little is known about the family's early years in Australia.  Margaret Barry (McGrath) lived until 1933, spending her final years at the the Catholic, Villa Maria nursing home, St. Paul's Terrace, Fortitude Valley in Brisbane.




The first of the Barry children to marry was Bridget.  She married William Alfred Stafford, the Australian born son of Irish Catholic 

Bridget Stafford (Barry) (left) and her sister Margaret Cannon (Barry).

immigrants, at St. Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane in 1898 and the first of their four children (Alma) was born about three and a half years later in 1901.  Alma's birth was followed by that of John - Jack - Bernice and Thomas - aka Barry.

For further details of the descendants of Bridget and William see my Stafford page:

After the birth of Bernice, the family moved to Rockhampton, where Bridget - a very social and pious woman - became involved with her parish church, at that time under the auspices of Father James Duhig, later to become the Archbishop of Brisbane.

The family eventually returned to Brisbane where William and Bridget lived at Highgate Hill until their deaths in 1945 and 1946, respectively.  They were buried in the same plot at the Nudgee Catholic Cemetery in Brisbane, adjacent to the grave of Bridget's mother Margaret.


Little is known about Margaret's life.  In 1900 she married Walter Cannon.  The couple raised two children, Thomas Harold and Maurice Albert.

Maurice did not marry.  His brother, known as Harold moved to Sydney, New South Wales with his wife Olive, where they ran a millenary business.




Mother Christina, later known as Sister Alma Barry.
Thomas Joseph Barry (North Queensland Register, 1905)

The best known of the Barry children would have to be their son Thomas Joseph.  In 1898 he and a colleague (Sam Roberts) founded a department store in George Street, Brisbane, undercutting other retail merchants and rapidly making a name for themselves.  Barry and Roberts soon opened other Brisbane stores and also moved into major regional centres such as Rockhampton, Toowoomba and Ipswich.  Barry and Roberts remained a household name in Queensland until the 1980s.  The shop front of the Barry and Roberts Queen Street store can still be seen today forming part of the Myers facade.

Four years after founding his successful business, Thomas married Catherine Anne (Katie or Kit) Little, the daughter of Robert Little and Mary Mathers).  The couple raised eight children:  Joan (married Kevin Crosby), Evelyn Margaret Mary (married Thomas Cathrae Laidlaw Gamin), Eileen Agnes (married Owen Brendan Woodbine), Alma Catherine (took vows as a nun with the Ursuline order, Armidale, religious name Mother Christina), Madeleine Birkdale (married Reginald (Rex) Brown), Marie Josephine (married Sir Clive Wentworth Uhr, radiologist), Paul Thomas (married Evelyn Courteney - Eve) and Kevin John (married Helen Margaret Wilson - Peg).  Several of their children also had sizeable families so Thomas and Kit became the grandparents of thirty-one children.



Paul Barry (Brisbane Courier Mail, 1992)

Thomas died in 1938 and was buried at the Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane.  Kit, survived him by almost forty years, living until 1977.  She died at the age of 94.

Following their father's death, Kevin and Paul Barry continued to run the business, occupying the role of managing directors of the company throughout their respective careers, Paul eventually retiring in 1980.  He died a little more than a decade later in 1992.  His brother Kevin died in July, 2000.








The rapid growth from very small beginnings of this well-known Brisbane grocery firm, affords a striking illustration of the familiar adage that, "nothing succeeds like success."  In 1898, Messrs Barry and Roberts opened a small shop in George Street where they soon startled the trade and the public, by the cheapness of their goods.  Old-fashioned retail merchants were horrified to find an infant competitor selling established lines at a shade less than wholesale prices.  With rapid strides the business outgrew the unpretentious George Street shop, and to-day Messrs Barry and Roberts, (two young and energetic men...), have four large branch establishments, employ over a hundred hands, and have their delivery carts in almost every street.  To what is this marvellous success to be attributed?  In the course of an interview the partners assigned four primary reasons:  (1). They buy their goods for cash only and thus secure big reductions:  (2).  They buy direct from the manufacturers and producers, thus saving middlemen's profits, and ensuring fresh and new goods:  (3).  They transact big business in every town in Queensland, the output enabling them to purchase large parcels and get special concessions:  (4).  They sell for cash only and thus contract no bad debts.  The firm's country order department is a feature of the business.  Every day large carefully packed cases leave for different parts of the State, orders being daily received from western stations, pearlers, government officers, pilot stations, mining camps, costal towns and even islands in the Pacific.  All these goods are packed by expert packers and the firm rarely receive a complaint of breakage or error.  They country customer has simply to send a list of goods required, prices and brands, and in due course, his case will arrive as complete and fresh as if he lived next door to their Queen Street shop.  Cheques should be crossed payable to Barry and Roberts, and it is advisable when sending bank notes to register the letter.  The latter need not of course, be done in the case of money orders or postal notes.  Customers should be careful to send their full names and addresses as failure in this respect often leads to disappointment and delay.  The firm direct attention to advertisement on another page and invite comparison of prices.  A test order, be it for 5/- or L5,000 worth of goods, will receive prompt and careful attention.

The North Queensland Register, Monday May 15, 1905

If you have information to contribute, would like further information on the Barry family or if you think you might be related please contact me:

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