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For people who love, use and manage archives

Archives Outside - For people who love, use and manage archives

Your photo –> Your Name in Lights! Well, in bold lettering anyways…

You know we’ve been busy putting together our 50 Years at State Records Gallery – happy birthday to us! – but it hasn’t stopped us from adding new items to the rest of our Digital Gallery. What we’d like to know is, can you help us to finish the latest addition? If you’re interested, read on!

An Australian sporting star

The latest Gallery features a sporting star:

A swimmer.

Guess Who?

Go on, guess!

Heard of Kieran?

No, not Perkins.

The OTHER Kieran – Bernard Bede (aka Barney) Kieran to be precise.

A swimming career that spanned just two years, Barney’s achievements were so extraordinary that he was memorialised as the ‘Champion Swimmer of the World’. Barney’s life may have been unexpectedly cut short; he died at the age of 19 following an appendectomy, but it is not without success.

View the Kieran Gallery

Record breaker

He began swimming in 1904. As GP Walsh states in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, by April 1905 he had won:

six State and six Australasian freestyle titles… and set ‘world’ record times for 200, 300, 400, 500 and 1000 yards and mile, the last in the astonishing time of 23 minutes 16.8 seconds’.

…In England he succeeded in ‘lowering the record time for 600 yards by 17.6 seconds in an exhibition swim’.

A new leaf

Barney also spent time on the Sobraon – the nautical training ship (industrial school and reformatory) from the age of 13. After his father died he was:

found habitually wandering about [the] streets in no ostensible lawful occupation….the boy will not go to school, … he stops out at night and … she [mother] has no control over him.

It was on the Sobraon that his life turned around as his mentor encouraged him to take up swimming.

Bernard Bede Kieran, 1886-1905

What’s this got to do with “Your Name in Lights”?

The Kieran Gallery is not as complete as we’d like it to be

We thought you might be able to help.

A three-point social networking experiment

We know how much you love to date photos from our collection. It got us thinking that perhaps you also take photographs yourselves? And…we thought you might have an appropriate photo or two on your own Flickr account that we could link to from our Gallery? Or if you don’t, maybe you live near to where one of our requests (below) is and might like to take a Sunday afternoon stroll with your camera?

Interested? Read on.

Request 1. The tombstone

We know from newspaper accounts that following Barney Kieran’s death on 22 December 1905, the Kieran Memorial Fund was set up to perpetuate the memory of the champion swimmer. Donations from the Fund were used to erect a monument over his grave in the Gore Hill Cemetery. Anyone live near there? We’d love to know if you have a photograph of the monument which we could link to (or embed) from the online Gallery.

Request 2. The trophies

Barney Kieran’s medals are currently with Swimming Australia. We understand that the medals have been mounted with the Kieran Memorial Shield. Again, we would love to have a photo to link to (or embed) from our online display. Can you help?

Request 3. The reformatory

The boxer Joe Costa (see poster in Gallery) was Barney’s brother, Joseph Kieran. He was in the Carpentarian Reformatory (known as Brush Farm) at around the same time that Barney was on the Sobraon. Unfortunately, we do not hold the admission records for the Carpentarian Reformatory. Perhaps they are out there somewhere. We would love to hear more about Barney’s older brother. Do you know anything more?

As an aside, will have the Entrance Books for the Vernon and Sobraon available at the end of February.

Attribution to you

If your image makes it to the Gallery we will attribute the image as you specify.

Please note that we – State Records – don’t accept records (including photos) from individuals but we can link to/embed your photo into the Gallery and give you all the credit.

By the way, if you have items relating to Barney Kieran that you would like to consider donating we would be happy to refer you to the appropriate body.

Are you interested in participating in this online (and very experimental) project?

Category: Digital 2.0
  • Rhonda Cetta-Hoye says:

    Happy Australia Day Everyone,

    The Gore Hill Cemetery Records show the following two entries

    “Kieran Bernard Bede P. 153 see Kearan.”

    “Kearan ( Kieran ) Bernard
    Denomination and Section RCO E8 Plot 19
    Brisbane Day Book shows Bern Keiran ”

    I have many “Rellies” residing there. Someone will produce a photo before my next visit I’m sure.

    Regards Rhonda

    January 27, 2011 at 7:19 am
  • Bob Meade says:

    I’m ready for my close up Mr. DeMille.

    Thanks to Rhonda’s clues above, I was able to locate the monument in Gore Hill Cemetery today and take some photos.

    See them on my blog here:

    State Records NSW is free to use them in any way.

    January 28, 2011 at 11:56 am
  • Anthea Brown says:

    Nice teamwork, I love it!

    Thank you so much – Rhonda (for the cemetery clues) and Bob for the photographs (and your permission to use them).

    We’ll make sure to use very bold lettering :-D

    January 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm
  • Bob Meade says:

    The Powerhouse Museum has a 1904 Balmain Surf Club medal won by Barney Kieran:

    January 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm
  • Rhonda Cetta-Hoye says:

    Congratulations Bob, great Photos, I will say hello to Bernard on my next visit to Gore Hill
    Thanks to Everyone for the Aussie History.
    St. Mary MacKillop was buried at Gore Hill. When the Chapel was built at the Convent at Mount St North Sydney, her remaines were transferred there.
    She has since been transferred from the left hand side of the alter to the right hand side berfore the Canonisation, where pilgrims can visit her tomb.
    Gore Hill Cemetery is an Historical Site .
    One can join Friends of Gore Hill Cemetery ,
    P.O. Box 1343 Crows Nest 2065 , for $1 a year and donations for the expensive , never ongoing restoration and upkeep work is always readily accepted.
    My ashes will be going there so I wil be in good company.

    January 30, 2011 at 5:31 pm
  • Anthea Brown says:

    Hi Bob, thanks again for allowing us to use one of your photos in the gallery. Your name is in lights (bulbs) and in bold! We’ve also linked back to your own blog post which has additional links to Barney Kieran information.

    Rhonda, that is interesting to know about Mary McKillop’s remains being moved so as to be more accessible to visitors!

    February 1, 2011 at 7:55 am
  • Janette Pelosi says:

    @ Bob Meade: Great photos of Barney’s tombstone at Gore Hill!

    I’d also like to add some photographs to the Gallery of places associated with Barney.

    Barney Kieran did much of his early training at Cockatoo Island where the Sobraon boys were able to go on land. The Fitzroy Dock (472 feet = 144 metres) was used as a venue for swimming races watched by Barney Kiernan and he used the Sutherland Dock for his swimming training. The Sutherland Dock, completed in March 1890, was 638 feet (= 194 metres) when built. (His very own Olympic pool!)

    Barney Kieran is mentioned in the Australian Heritage Database entry on the Cockatoo Island Convict Site

    Information on the Dock’s history and dimensions comes from John Jeremy, Cockatoo Island, Sydney’s Historic Dockyard, UNSW Press, 2005, pp.13-15.

    February 4, 2011 at 8:36 am
  • Marcelle Jacobs says:

    Just following up on another piece of Barney Kieran history. The Department of Education School Sport Unit has a trophy in honour of Barney Kieran awarded to schools. The inscription reads:

    “Sir Harry Rawson Cup, to be held for one year by the school attended by the winner of the Kieran Memorial Swimming Race”. “In memory or B.B. Kieran, Champion Swimmer of the world. Born 1885. Died 1905. Aged 19 years and 2 months. His sun went down while it was yet day.”

    It was first awarded in 1922. I’m not sure if it is still in use. The last time I saw it, in 1993, it was being added to, with the last engraving from 1991. It has a few famous names on the list, including Jon Henricks (Fort Street), Richard Thornett (Randwick High) and John Konrads (Technical High).

    February 4, 2011 at 9:19 am
  • Christine Yeats says:

    We have been delighted by the response to our online exhibition on Bernard (Barney) Kieran. There is now a photograph of the memorial to the ‘late Champion Swimmer of the World’, courtesy of Bob Meade, on the gallery.

    We also have as a photograph of Barney standing on board a ship – perhaps it was the Sobraon – from the NSW Hall of Champions Collection. Many thanks to Marcelle Jacobs, Curator, NSW Hall of Champions for providing it for our gallery.

    The assistance of Helen Yoxall from the Powerhouse Museum is also greatly appreciated. Thank to Helen we have a photo of one of Barney Kieran’s swimming certificates for the gallery.

    February 4, 2011 at 9:27 am
  • Bob Meade says:

    “His sun went down while it was yet day.”

    Mighty fine words. {see Marcelle Jacobs’ comment above}

    February 4, 2011 at 10:52 am
  • Anthea Brown says:

    That’s such a lovely quote I think we’ll have to add it to the gallery. Thanks Marcelle and Bob.

    Janette, that’s wonderful news, thank you! We have added your image of Cockatoo Island to the gallery. The story of Barney Kieran gets more and more interesting with each addition.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:01 am
  • Hazel Brombey says:

    I have something to add to the Gallery. Among a box of old photos and documents I was given by Randwick Coogee Swimming Club to assist me when I wrote their Centenary History in 1996, was the program for Barney’s 1905(?) Farewell Concert held before he went to England to compete. That was only one of the treasures in the box! (I’m a Life Member of the Club).

    Hazel Brombey
    Randwick and District Historical Society
    (Past) President of the Cape Banks Family History Society

    February 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm
  • Anthea Brown says:

    Hi Hazel,

    That is a wonderful program and addition to the Gallery. Thank you for the ‘digital’ donation and background story; your name will soon be in lights!

    UPDATE: Thank you also to Liz Avery, from Swimming Australia, for the photograph of the Kieran Memorial Shield – awarded annually to the successful state in the Australian swimming championships.

    February 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm
  • Christine Yeats says:

    There must have been something in the water! Barney Kieran and Annette Kellermann – the Australian-born endurance swimmer, vaudeville performer and silent-era film star – were contemporaries, sharing 1886 as their year of birth. Annette went on to achieve fame, success and even a little notoriety for her famous one-piece swimming costume. She is also ‘often credited for inventing the sport of synchronised swimming after her 1907 performance of the first water ballet in a glass tank at the New York Hippodrome’ (Source: Wikipedia). Annette Kellermann is the subject of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra titled Indecent Exposure. It will be on display until 26 April 2011.

    February 15, 2011 at 9:03 am
  • Janette Pelosi says:

    Both Annette Kellerman and Bernard Bede (Barney) Kieran were honoured on the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) at Fort Lauderdale.

    Annette Kellerman (AUS) 1974 Honor Contributor

    FOR THE RECORD: Swim Champion of New South Wales: (100yd freestyle); Set many records in distance swimming in rivers of Australia and Europe; became professional high diver and stunt swimming artiste (fore-runner to synchronized swimming); Starred in motion picture as a “moving picture mermaid”.

    Bernard Bede Kieran AUS 1969 Honor Contributor

    FOR THE RECORD: First of the great trudgen crawl swimmers (1900) who set every world record from 220 yd. to the mile.

    They both put Australia on the International swimming map!

    February 18, 2011 at 8:27 am