1.1                SIMON COUGHLAN                      

Simon is the son of Bridget Brown and John Coughlan.   John had died in Ireland and Bridget remarried - John Brown.  

SIMON AND MARY married on the 9th of May 1871 in Timaru.  She was 20 and he was 27.  Simon was listed as being age 27 and a farmer/bachelor.  Mary was listed as being age 20 and a servant girl/spinster.  Few personal details are known of those early years.

There were thirteen children of the marriage.  My own mother, Helena (Lena) was the 13th child and I am the youngest of her children and the last grandchild of SIMON and MARY COUGHLAN.

The children of Simon and Mary Coughlan:

1.1.1    John Coughlan - Died in Infancy in 1874

1.1.2    Bridget Coughlan  m. William (Baldy) Fitzgerald

1.1.3    Michael (Mick) Coughlan m. Isabella (Bella) Keenan

1.1.4    Julia Coughlan m. Michael Gaffaney

1.1.5    Simon (Sam) Coughlan m. Margaret Agnes (Peg) Scannell

1.1.6    Mary (Minnie) Coughlan m. Brian Flynn

1.1.7    Margaret (Mag) Coughlan

1.1.8    Catherine Coughlan - Sister M. Germaine

1.1.9    Agnes Coughlan - Sister M. Olive

1.1.10  Elizabeth (Liz) Coughlan m. Cornelius (Con) Hailes

1.1.11  Lucy Coughlan

1.1.12  Clare (Clara) Monica Coughlan

1.1.13  Helena (Lena) Esther Coughlan m. Thomas (Tom) Perry Sheen

The Coughlan family c. 1903 in Kerrytown, South Canterbury, New Zealand.

Back Row:  Margaret, Michael, Bridget, Simon (Sam) and Julia

Second Row: Mary, Agnes (Sister Olive), Mary Coughlan, Simon Coughlan, Elizabeth, Catherine (Sister Germaine)

Front Row: Clare, Helena and Lucy

SIMON COUGHLAN and MICHAEL COUGHLAN, his younger brother, were reputed to have travelled to New Zealand from Australia ahead of the rest of BRIDGET BROWN'S family, to make their way to the Otago gold fields in either the late 1850's or early 1860's.    How much gold they were able to retrieve and how much money they were worth at the conclusion of this venture is a matter of conjecture at this time.   However, their earnings were though to be quite considerable.

There is some information that can be gleaned from the newspapers of the time.  We learn that in June 1879 Mr. Simon Coughlan bought Mr. Denis O'Keefe's farm on the Temuka-Point Road.  This was where their Kerrytown residence was established.   So we can deduce that the house in Kerrytown was where their large family grew from 1879 until they left Kerrytown in April of 1915.  

Simon also acquired land at Seadown and this sale was also reported in the newspaper of July 22, 1896.   “Mr. S. Coughlan purchased from Mr. Hugh Corbett his farm of 103 acres at Seadown, at $16 an acre - a good stone house and all necessary out-buildings were erected on the property.   And, Mr. S. Coughlan was previously had a lease on this farm”.

Below is a very early picture of the Coughlan Kerrytown house which was probably taken in the late 1880's.  It shows MARY COUGHLAN and three of her girls on bicycles.  It is the only photo I have of my grandmother when she was relatively young.   This photo was left to me by Sister Olive and it was in her personal photo album.

I do not know if the house still stands but below is a picture of the house that I took in the 1980’s.

This house was on the Point Road, now known as Arowhenua Road.  It was situated directly opposite the house which belonged to WILLIAM DODDS FITZGERALD (W.D.  FITZ or BALDY) who had married BRIDGET COUGHLAN - a daughter of SIMON and MARY COUGHLAN.

SIMON died on June 24, 1906 at age 69.  He is buried in the Temuka Cemetery.  His Will was executed in April of that year and Michael Coughlan (his oldest son) and William Dodds Fitzgerald (mentioned above) were the executors.  SIMON bequeathed to MARY all these sections, situated in Kerrytown, Levels County, being numbers 15606, 15607, 21433, 16996, 15685, 18182, 20552 - about 247 acres.  He left his wife the house, furniture, cattle, sheep, horses, implements and money.  He instructed that the property at Washdyke, Levels County, numbers 10828, 10337, 13626 be sold and the money obtained divided as follows:-

“(each one was prefaced with the words "to my daughter" for the girls)  Bridget 100 pounds;   Julia 100 pounds;  Catherine 100 pounds;  and "to my son" Simon £600.   The remainder of the money from that sale was to be divided between "my other daughters" Mary, Margaret, Agnes, Lizzie, Lucy, Clara, Lena.   Fr. Kerley, the parish priest in Temuka at the time, manually wrote this Will. “

Naming W.D. Fitz as co-executor of his Will indicates that W.D. had a very special relationship with the Coughlan family, apart from he being married to BRIDGET COUGHLAN.  JACK COUGHLAN (a first cousin who lived with the Fitzgeralds) told me that W.D. Fitz was a regular visitor of the Coughlans after they moved from Kerrytown and that he would always visit with them after Church on a Sunday morning when the family moved to Temuka.

When I read Simon Coughlan’s Will, I could not help but think that SIMON probably had a very special relationship with his girls, especially the younger ones.  This is evidenced in the lovely memorial card that was produced for his remembrance.

This is the loving tribute by the family to their father on his Memorial Card.  

     “We miss thee from our home, dear father,

    We miss thee from thy place;

A shadow o’er our life is cast,

    We miss the sunshine of thy face.

We miss thy kind and willing hand,

    Thy fond and earnest care;

Our home is dark without thee --

    We miss thee everywhere,”

The author is unknown.

Report from the NZ Tablet, July 1906:

Great regret was expressed in Temuka and the surrounding districts last week when it became known that Mr. S. Coughlan, a well-known and highly respected resident of this district, had died after a long illness.  The funeral took place on Tuesday, and was largely attended by relatives and friends from all parts of the district.  Rev. Father Kerley officiated at the graveside.  The deceased leaves a widow and 12 children to mourn their loss. - R.I.P.”

SIMON was a most generous man of faith who took good care of his family who I believe, loved him dearly.

The timeless tangible memorial to SIMON COUGHLAN, is the pair of stained glass windows that he donated to the Catholic Church, St. Joseph's, in Temuka.

One window shows St, Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland, in very rich dress, and with depictions symbolic of his overthrowing heathen idols and destroying the reptiles in Ireland.  The other figure is that of the learned St. Thomas Aquinas, in a simple costume with an open book.  This representation is the faithful copy of an original painting.


One rather surprising revelation about MARY was found in "The Fitzgerald's of Arowhenua" by Bro. Paul Scott and Pat Scott.  It seems that my grandmother MARY COUGHLAN assisted at the birthing of children at home in Kerrytown.   Apparently MARY acted as a midwife for her neighbors.

For the record, I must mention another incident related in the Fitzgerald Family chronicle "When John would visit William, he would often carry a bag of lollies, and when he did not produce them would simply say "the lolly  man did not call today."  Odd, because my mother told almost the exact same story about her father.  She used to run to the gate when he came home and if SIMON COUGHLAN did not have lollies, he would say "the lolly man is dead."    My mother was only seven when her father died.

MARY COUGHLAN and the remainder of the family who were living with her (Margaret, Mary, Elizabeth, Agnes, Clare and Helena) remained in the house at Kerrytown until April 1915.  At that time there must have been a farewell function in Kerrytown because they were presented with a lovely silver tea service.  I remember that my mother had possession of that tea service, all except the teapot.  My Aunty Liz (Elizabeth Hailes)  had the teapot.  I don't know how my mother finally got the teapot to complete the service but she did.  I vividly remember the hours and hours my Aunty Clare (Clare Coughlan) put in cleaning that tea service.  She took to the lovely scroll work on the tray with a tooth brush as I remember.  It always looked lovely and was lovingly cared for.   The tea service currently held and preserved by  a relative in Wellington.

The inscription on the tray reads:

                “Presented to Mrs. Coughlan’s Family on their Leaving Kerrytown, 5.5.15

This piece was published in the Timaru Herald on Monday May 10, 1915:

“On Wednesday evening last, the residents of Kerrytown assembled at the residence of Mrs. Coughlan, who after living upwards of forty years in the district, is removing to Temuka, and showed in an unmistakable manner their high appreciation of her many good qualities as a friend and neighbour.  Mr. M. Fitzgerald presided and a very happy evening was spent, in the course of which Mr. John Fitzgerald on behalf of the people in the district , presented Mrs. Coughlan with an exceptionally fine silver tea and coffee service, which she was asked to accept as a token of the esteem in which she was held and a momento of her long association with the life of Kerrytown.   Messrs W. Spillane, J. Scott, D. Foley, A. Scott, F.D. O’Connell and several others spoke expressing the kindly feeling which all felt towards the departing guest whom they wished much happiness during the declining years of her life.  Mr. M. Coughlan replied upon behalf of the recipient.  A number of songs were sung, and before dispersing all sat down to a delightful supper provided by the subscribers to the presentation.”

     The family moved into this house in 1915 in Temuka.  It was located across the main entance to the park.  This is the house where my two brothers and I were born and where MARY COUGHLAN died.

MARY COUGHLAN died on April 2, 1921, of cancer.  Her Will appointed W.D. Fitzgerald (her son-in-law) and her son Michael as co-executors of the estate.   The original Will was executed in October 1920.  MARY bequeathed the property and house on High Street in Temuka to Margaret, Elizabeth, Clara and Helena as tenants in Common.  Specific sums of money was also bequeathed to her children. All other money and property was bequeathed to Simon (Sam) Coughlan.   The trustees received £50 each for their service.  MARY amended her will at a later date to designate that lesser amounts of money be shared by the girls as follows:   Margaret, Elizabeth, Clara and Helena were to receive £500 each.  MARY is buried in the Coughlan family plot (the one with the large Celtic Cross).  MARY had been sick for the two years prior to her death.

The Coughlan Family c. 1915

Back Row: Simon (Sam), Julia (Mrs. Gaffaney), Bridget (Mrs, Fitzgerald), Margaret, Elizabeth (Mrs. Hailes), Mary (Mrs Flynn), Michael (Mick);

Middle Row: Agnes (Sister Olive), Mary Coughlan, Catherine (Sr. Germaine);

Front: Helena (Mrs. Sheen), Clare.

Absent: John, died in infancy 1874;   Simon, (Father of the Family) died in 1906;  Lucy died in 1908.

And a photo of the family taken in Temuka in 1920 when Mary Coughlan was ill with cancer. This was surely a momentous occasion as it marked the final visit of the nuns to see their mother before she died the following year. (From Sister Olive's photo album)

Back Row:   Elizabeth, Sister Germaine, Helena, Sister Olive, Margaret

Front Row:  Julia, Clare


We know quite an amount of information about my grandfather SIMON COUGHLAN'S ancestors  but there was never much said about who MARY COUGHLAN (nee BARRETT) was.  The search for Mary's ancestry is ongoing.  I remember my mother saying that Grandmother Barrett would come and tuck her into bed at night and that is the only reference ever made to "Grandmother Barrett."  I did gather that the family were very fond of her.  From Mary Coughlan's death certificate I learned that Mary Coughlan came from County Kerry in Ireland.  Her mother was Julia Barrett and her father Michael Barrett.  JULIA BARRETT (NEE LOUNEY) AND MICHAEL BARRETT were married in Tralee, County Kerry.  JULIA BARRETT lived at The Levels and died in 1903. She is buried in the Temuka Cemetery. As more information becomes available, it will be recorded here.

It is possible that MARY COUGHLAN (nee BARRETT) came out from Ireland on the HIMALAYA in 1867.  There was a Mary Barrett on that ship and it arrived in 1867.   Also on board were the two Brosnahan girls, Margaret and Johanna, both from Country Kerry also.  A Barrett Family lived at The Levels in the second half of the 1800's and it is thought that MARY is part of that family.  Much more information needed on MARY COUGHLAN’s ancestry.