Patrick Donnelly

Patrick Joseph Donnelly (Paddy)

Blocks 98C & 98D Gungahlin District - Property Name 'Iona'

Patrick Joseph (Paddy) Donnelly enlisted a month after the outbreak of World War 1 and along with his older brother Jack Donnelly, embarked the next month with the 1st Division Headquarters. He dislocated his shoulder in May 1915 while in Egypt although, according to Donnelly, he was able to reach Gallipoli before the evacuation in December 1915. He transferred to the 2nd Pioneer Battalion and served at Pozières, France where he suffered from trench foot and was evacuated to England for treatment.

Returning to France in April 1917, Donnelly was soon in action at Bullecourt where he was awarded the Military Medal "for excellent work in charge of a party putting in a block and machine gun position." He was shot in the shoulder at Broodseinde Ridge in Belgium later that year and then spent much of the remainder of the war in training roles in England.

Patrick Donnelly in uniform

Patrick Joseph Donnelly in uniform. Photo courtesy of Cathy Dwyer.

After the War, Donnelly worked for his uncle Gerald Massy at Gundaroo. He applied for a Soldier Settlement block on the 20th December 1919. He described himself as 25 years of age, six feet one and half inches tall (1.86 m), occupation as a stock and station agent and noted that the reason for his discharge was the "declaration of peace." He had £300 in cash which he stated was "insufficient for profitably working the place" even though he intended to farm on a small scale and deal in sheep.

In January 1920, Donnelly was offered Gungahlin Blocks 98C (179 acres - 72 hectares) and 98D (409 acres - 166 hectares) in the Ainslie Subdivision. These two blocks and the neighbouring Gungahlin Blocks 98A and 98B had been offered to Henry Stoker, a Major in the Medical Corps who was the Medical Officer at the Royal Military College, Duntroon (1919 to 1926). However, he was already sixty years old and had rejected the offer of the land.

Plan of Gungahlin showing location of Block 98C

Plan of Gungahlin showing location of Block 98C.

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Google Maps image of area c2013 with Gungahlin Block 98C boundary in red

Google Maps image of area c2013 with Gungahlin Block 98C boundary in red.

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Donnelly's leases were bounded on the west by Flemington Road and ran eastward across Exhibition Park to the site of the former Starlight Drive-In. The area covered the old home of the last freehold owner of the land, Joseph Cooper. It also included his three roomed weatherboard cottage, three sheds (one with a straw roof, another had a bark roof and the third an iron roof). Donnelly called his property Iona, or "I own 'er" as he would tell his neighbour and paid annual rent of £147.

Google Maps image of area c2013 with Gungahlin Block 98D boundary in red

Google Maps image of area c2013 with Gungahlin Block 98D boundary in red.

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In the late 1920s, the Federal Capital Commission (FCC) sought to resume blocks in the Ainslie Subdivision for a proposed abattoir and a hog farm. Donnelly was offered land in the vicinity of Mulligans Flat in Gungahlin. Because of the uncertainty created by the administration of leasehold in the Territory and the short term of the leases, Donnelly decided to buy his own freehold property in NSW. In 1930 he purchased a property near Blayney, NSW.

Donnelly married his cousin, Jeanne Massy, on the 23rd December 1920 in Queanbeyan, NSW. He moved to Newport north of Sydney in 1946 after separating from Jeanne. Patrick Donnelly died at St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney in December 1953 and was buried at Rookwood Cemetery.


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