Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Literature : The Inner History of the Kelly Gang Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature


 

J.J. Kenneally's

The Inner History of the Kelly Gang

J.J. Kenneally's 'The Inner History of the Kelly Gang' mightn't have the grand sweeps of history of Manning Clark, but for passion, intrigue and historical significance it has few rivals. In 1929, long before Ned Kelly became the darling of mainstream historians, Kenneally (grandfather of Melbourne writer and comedian Mary Kenneally) declared Kelly a hero and the police, judiciary, squatters and government, the villains.

Replete with quaint turns of phrase such as 'loaded dice' and 'outrageous Miscarriage of Justice' to explain the Kelly family's string of legal transgressions, and drawing heavily on evidence from the damning 1881 Royal Commission into the Kelly outbreak, Kenneally's book is a stark reminder of how mainstream historians had buried the real Kelly story.

The place where the trouble began when Constable Fitzpatrick grabbed young Kate Kelly

Throughout the book are alluring, intricate moments gleaned from the memory of Kelly's cousin, Tom Lloyd. In Kenneally's world the oral tradition assumes a privileged status. So privileged that the real facts regardingthe crime that led to Ned's father Red being transported are buried in the anti-British narrative.

With Lloyd as scout we climb the Beechworth Ranges, cross the Murray and Ovens rivers, camp under the stars a cooee from the police 'pursuers' and crane our neck to better hear and understand the words spoken by this strange collection of recalcitrant farm boys.

Tthe Kellys would have shared the Petty family's love of Queen and Country. William is buried not far from Tom Lloyd in the Greta cemetery .

Even those who see in Kenneally the partisanship of an Irish Catholic ally of the Kellys have to admire his courage and his research. Seldom in history has the judiciary been treated to the accusations of prejudice saved for judge Redmond Barry. That Barry had been feted by the establishment for his alleged philanthropy was no impediment to Kenneally's attack. Quirky in style, Kenneally's book broke the orthodoxy and flagged the dark secret of Constable Fitzpatrick's assault on Ned's sister, Kate.

Thankfully, it changed the writing of Kelly history forever and sent me out back of Greta in search of the real Ned. So even though it offered only a passing reference to Kelly's masterful polemic, the Jerilderie Letter and provided no direct excerpts, Kenneally's book is treated like gold in my bookshelf.

Philip Cleary



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