There were three brothers in the Gough family from Ballymoodranagh in Country Waterford, Ireland, who came to Australia in the mid-nineteenth century. One of them was proved invincible. I told a version of this story on West Bremer Radio.
There was George Gough who in the 1840s ran a business in Ipswich in the northern colony that would become Queensland. Then there was David Gough who from the 1860s farmed in the same district out at Mount Walker.
And then there was the younger of the brothers Maurice Gough who arrived in Australia as a fourteen-year-old in 1849. Maurice led charmed life while disasters beset those around him.
To start with, Maurice left Ireland at the peak of the Irish Famine. He escaped and found his way to Australia. Of those who remained behind, over one million people died.
On his way to Australia, Maurice’s ship got wrecked off the coast of China. Passengers perished, but Maurice survived that too and worked his passage to Sydney.
He travelled north to Ipswich where he worked with one of his brothers. Maurice then went prospecting in the Queensland goldfields. In the Worrego district in south-west Queensland, his party was attacked by Aboriginals and Maurice got speared, but again he survived.
He returned to the Ipswich district and went farming out at Mount Walker and got married in 1872. It was there that Maurice was chopping down a tree. When the tree fell, it hit his wife on the head, killing her instantly. But the tree missed Maurice completely and he escaped unscathed.
That left Maurice with two young daughters to raise on his own. He never managed to marry again.
Meanwhile, a man was charged with trying to burn down Maurice’s barn. Maurice and the barn survived, but the man was committed to the mental asylum.
One of Maurice’s daughters got married, but the husband died suddenly not long afterwards.
Come the end of the century, the daughter got married for a second time and had a couple of children. But this time the daughter herself died shortly thereafter.
In the meantime, both of Maurice’s brothers had died. It should be noted that amid all this carnage, Maurice Gough was still going strong.
When Maurice was eighty-five-years-old in 1921, he checked into St Florence Hospital at Rosewood. Things were looking pretty dire, but he recovered and went home.
It took a further twelve years before Maurice was in hospital again. It was 1933 and Maurice was ninety-eight-years-old when he entered the Ipswich hospital. This time Maurice slipped quietly away after just five days and was buried in Ipswich cemetery.
The old Waterford man had outlived all of his brothers, wife and children, and was survived by two grandchildren.
The carnage around him hadn’t finished though, because Maurice’s granddaughter was killed in a car accident near Forest Hill.
Maurice’s invincibility had passed onto his ten-year-old great-grandson because the boy survived the accident unscathed.
This incredible story is dedicated to History Out There follower Owen O’Brien and his ninety-one-year-old father Johnny who is going great guns at Butlerstown in County Waterford – just like fellow Waterford man Maurice Gough all those years ago.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO A VERSION OF THIS STORY TOLD LIVE ON RADIO.
A Waterford flag at the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final 2008 – Ray McManus, Sportsfile.
Maurice Gough aged 95 – Telegraph, Brisbane, 27th November 1930, page 10.
Maurice Gough’s headstone, Ipswich General Cemetery – Find-a-Grave, Tony Price 2021.