Thomas Walsh was 24 years old when he arrived in New South Wales in 1844 and in 1847 he was sponsor at the baptism of Patrick Walsh’s first daughter (Mary) at Yass. In 1851 he travelled from Grenfell to Gawler Town in South Australia to visit his friend, Thomas O’Shaughnessy Jr. On 7 August 1855 the two friends went to the Mudgee races where O’Shaughnessy’s horse (Coramin) won two races. After the races Tom Walsh bought Coramin for ₤300.

Thomas Walsh managed Goolagong Station for his brother-in-law (Edward Neville) for some years and on 20 April 1858 Thomas applied for a publican’s licence for the Lachlan Inn, Nanima. In June 1858, when Thomas was 38 years old he married Hannah Middlemis, aged 19, at Cowra. This was the second marriage registered in Cowra, after that of Thomas’ sister Ellen, to James Markham. Also in 1858 Thomas took over a store in Kendall Street, Cowra, and built the Royal Hotel in front of it. This was a well-constructed brick building situated beside the Old Royal Hotel and was licensed to Bridget Neville (Walsh’s sister) between 1866 and 1867.

Thomas  was also appointed Postmaster of Cowra in 1858 and employed Sam Corry as postman.the mail came from Carcoar on horseback. A small building at the rear of Messrs Squire Pepper and Co’s new drapery shop was the first official post and telegraph office[1]

Thomas Walsh was licensee of the Court House Hotel in Kendall Street in 1869 and purchased the building about 1874. This building was a long, low, single-storey building with verandah posts and horse rails. It was a neat building with rubble stone walls, but of very limited proportions.  Cowra Free Press Editor wrote in ‘Cowra in days Gone Bye’ that

” With such a very excellent manager as Mrs. Walsh at the head of affairs, business prospered from the start, and eventually, to meet the insistent demand for further accommodation, additions had to be erected from time to time, and as the demand for more rooms continued, the fine edifice, now owned by Mr. Peter Links, ultimately completely extinguished the original building. While presiding over the destinies of the establishment, the charitable and kindly instincts of Mr. and Mrs. Walsh were manifested in a very marked degree.”

Thomas Walsh 1820-1899

Thomas retained this hotel until his death in 1899 and his wife (Hannah) continued to run it until 1900. Thomas was also licensee of the Junction Inn on the Canowindra Road and became a member of the Cowra Hospital Board. other hotels in Cowra were Mr Robert Daly’s Australian Arms, Henry Dennis’ Fitzroy Arms, then a single storey building, and Mr Nicholas Challacombe’s Royal.

Cowra’s population in 1878 was between 500 and 600 and on 28 August 1878 the Cowra Free Press announced”

 “It is with deep regret that we have to announce the death of a son of our respected townsman, Mr T Walsh. The deceased, who was about 16 years of age, was deservedly a general favourite. For some years he had suffered from the effects of a serious accident, by which internal injury was sustained, and although he occasionally a freedom from actual pain, yet the injuries were of such a nature as to preclude ultimate restoration to health. He was a promising young man and his early death is deeply lamented by all who knew him. We need scarcely say that universal sympathy is expressed for the bereaved parents.”

Extracts from Ryall’s ‘Cowra in Days Gone Bye’ reveal that Thomas Walsh was involved in many town activities.  Cowra Free Press of 5.10.1878 recorded that subscriptions taken at the laying of the foundation stone of St Bridget’s Convent Cowra on Sep 15, 1878 include Thomas Walsh  £20.  His sister Bridget Challacombe also  gave £20. In 1880 he was elected to the first committee of the Cowra Agricultural Society. In 1881 he was a member of the Irish relief Committee which met at Slattery’s Roral Hotel. In 1882 he was one of the trustees for the provision in Cowra of a hospital. he was elected in 1886 in the town’s first municipal elections.

Thomas  set up liquor booths at the various racetracks in the Cowra district and on 12 April 1886 he had a booth at the Cowra Showground races. When about to leave the booth at night, Mrs Walsh gave Thomas the bag of money to take home, but a man who was standing nearby took the bag, crawled under the counter, cut the bag and took out about ₤30  in cheques and notes – leaving some silver and notes behind. About fifteen days later the thief came to Tom Walsh and tried to cash one of the stolen cheques. He was arrested and after trial was sentenced to three years hard labour at Bathurst Gaol.[2]

Hannah (Middlemis) Walsh (1841 – 1910)

The Cowra Free Press reported that the Cowra Hospital could not cope with the number of sick people during an epidemic and had to refuse admissions.Thomas Walsh had built a spacious brick hall, the Centennial Hall, next door to the Court House Hotel in Kendall Street. This later became the Cowra Theatre where  films were shown. Ryall recorded the generosity of Thomas and his wife Hannah (nee Middlemiss) that :

” In about 1888 becoming known to Mrs. Thomas Walsh that lady’s inherent charitable instincts prompted her to convert a room at the rear of  the Centennial Hall into a temporary ward. This room was provided with two beds, bedding, and other furniture. In addition to all this good kind work, Mrs. Walsh attended to the nursing and maintenance of the patients. Ifever there was a good Samaritan of the Scriptural type on this earth, the late Mrs. Walsh was one of the superlative order.”

Ryall further noted that :

“Mrs Walsh also used the Centennial Hall for annual balls to raise funds for the hospital, as well as giving handsome donations herself. Her daughters also helped in charitable works, one daughter kate being a nurse at the hospital. It was only through the generosity of Mr and Mrs Thomas walsh that the hospital was for many years able to continue.”

Thomas was also a part owner with his brother (Patrick Walsh) in Cowra’s first steam-engined flour mill in Vaux Street which was opened in 1861.This is now The Mill restaurant.

Thomas and Hannah had two sons and five daughters. Patrick who died in 1877 aged 15 years was described in the newspaper at the time as a “….remarkably fine and popular lad“.  The August 1878 obituary is quoted above. Later, in 1879 their three year old son Thomas died. The Cowra Free Press noted:

  • “Sudden Death: On Saturday night last, an interesting boy of about three years of age, a son of Mr Thomas Walsh, our respected fellow townsman, expired suddenly after a series of attacks, stated to have been internal convulsions. Mr Lewin [Cowra pharmacist] was in attendance and did all that skill dictated to combat the fatal result. Dr Smith of Carcoar was telegraphed for but did not arrive until after death had ensued. Much sympathy is felt for the bereaved parents on the death of their idol – their only son.”

Their five daughters were  Hannah, Catherine, Margaret, Ellen and Martha.

Hannah married Thomas Ryan of Northwood, Darbys Falls Road and had three children:  Darcy, Roland and Nell.  Newspaper reports of her marriage and death are appended at the end of this story.

Margaret married Philip Kearins of Kildary Station, near Temora and had six children:  Thomas, Mary, Margaret, Patrick, Hannah and Catherine. A report of the wedding is appended.

Ellen (1874-1919) married R. Pepper of Squire & Pepper’s store, Cowra and had four children, (Ian (Jack), Alec, Norman and Mary), and

Catherine (Kit, 1869-1948) and Martha (Matt, 1881-1964) remained single. On 5 October 1928, Editor Charles Ryall wrote of the former,in his Cowra Free Press :

“With a competent Matron in control the institution won the confidence of the sick of the district, consequently the daily average of beds occupied daily materially increased, hence it became imperative to increase the strength of the nursing staff. This was accomplished on the most economical lines, by the appointment of a couple of probationers at a nominal salary. Amongst the first appointees of this stamp were Misses K. Walsh and Nora Leary, both of whom under Matron Chave’s excellent instruction: in a very brief space of time became very excellent nurses: and quite capable of taking charge of the institution when the Matron was absent on holidays or indisposed. To Nurse Walsh’s consistent kindness over an extended period the management was enabled to overcome many difficulties. Whenever there was a large influx of patients through epidemic or other causes, or when a vacancy on the staff occurred, Nurse Walsh could always be relied upon to fill the breach. This is evidently a trait in this very estimable lady’s nature which she inherited from her much revered late mother. Before passing on, I deem it my bounden duty to aver that it was mainly through the generosity, kindness, and good offices of Mr and Mrs Thomas . Walsh and the persistent efforts of their daughter, Nurse Walsh, that the Hospital was for very many years able to keep its doors open for the relief of suffering humanity.


Margaret Walsh (back rtow – R), Catherine Walsh (front row – R). Grand-daughters of Thomas and Hannah Walsh.

Thomas Walsh Snr. died 27 January 1899 aged 78 years and his popularity was evident as over 100 vehicles and many more people on horseback attended the funeral. His wife (Hannah) died 12 February 1910 aged 71 years.

Cowra Free Press – 2.2.1899. (extract)


“Another of the old pioneers of the district, and one who took a very deep interest in matters affecting the welfare of his adopted country, in the person of Mr Thomas Walsh, the genial and widely esteemed host of the Court House Hotel in our town, passed away to that bourne from which there is no return, at 9.30 pm on Friday last (27.1.1899) at the ripe old age of 78 years.  For some days preceding his death his many friends were aware that his condition was extremely critical.  On the Tuesday preceding his death he became unconscious and from that condition he never rallied, his spirit taking flight without a struggle while his head rested on the arm of the beloved sharer of his joys and sorrows.  A deep gloom pervaded our entire community when the sad news became generally known. 

On Saturday relatives and familiar old friends came from Grenfell, Goolagong, Carcoar, Cargo, Cannowindra and other distant localities to evince their sorrow and sympathy.  The cortege comprised 95 vehicles and 100 horsemen, the largest funeral yet witnessed in our town.

The late Mr Walsh was born near Kilteely, County Limerick, Ireland, and arrived in Sydney in 1844, being then a young, vigorous and active man.  After spending a short time in the Yass district he came to this district and later on undertook the management of the Goolagong station for his sister, the late Mrs Challacombe (then Mrs Neville) and continued there for some years.  In 1858 he married Hannah, eldest daughter of the late Mr David Middlemis and then went to reside at Nanima, where he embarked in business as a hotelkeeper.  When the Wood’s Flat (Woodstock) goldfield was in its prime he started there as a storekeeper.  He afterwards conducted a hotel at the Junction, which then gave every promise of being a permanent and extensive goldfield.  About 25 years ago he purchased the present Court House Hotel at the time merely consisting of bare walls without a roof and since then he has continually resided there and his good, consistent life has been an open book to all old residents.

One brother, Mr Wm. Walsh of Forbes and one sister, Mrs Markham of Milburn Creek, are now the sole survivors of a once large family of enterprising colonists.  Besides a sorrowing widow the late Mr Walsh leaves five grown up exemplary daughters out of a family of eleven, four daughters and two sons having died many years ago.  His good qualities won him a host of sterling friends and he was never known to have an enemy.”

Hannah Walsh, later  Ryan (1867-1943)

  • Cowra Free Press 21 Feb 1901 “A quiet wedding was solemnised at the residence of the bride’s mother, Cowra, on Wednesday 12th Instant, by the Rev D O’Kennedy, when Mr Thomas Ryan of Springvale, near Cowra was united to Miss Hannah Walsh, eldest daughter of our esteemed and much lamented townsman, Mr Thomas Walsh. With one or two exceptions only members of the respective families of the contracting parties were present on the occasion. The wedding presents were both numerous and valuable. The happy couple left Cowra by the southern train the same afternoon en route to New Zealand, where they propose spending their honeymoon. A large number of relatives and friends assembled at the station to bid them ‘bon voyage’ and every happiness. We heartily join with their legions of friends and well wishers in hoping that Mr and Mrs Ryan may be long privileged to enjoy health, happiness, prosperity and every blessing.”
  • Cowra Guardian August 1943 “Mrs H Ryan (Hannah Thomas ): By the death of Mrs Hannah Ryan on July 30 at her home ‘Northwood’ Cowra has lost one of its oldest and highly esteemed residents. Her maternal grandparents, the late David and Hannah Middlemiss, arrived in Cowra over a hundred years ago, and the grandchildren of the deceased are the fifth generation to claim Cowra as their birthplace. Mrs Ryan, the eldest daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Thomas Walsh, was born in 1867. She received her early education from the Sisters of Mercy at Carcoar, and subsequently from the Dominican Nuns at West Maitland. After her marriage to the late Thomas Ryan, she went to live on the Northwood property. He predeceased her by 26 years. Mrs Ryan was noted for her kindly and charitable disposition , and was an exemplary Catholic. During her last illness she was constantly visited by the Rev Frs P Casey PP, P Masterson,and T Healy (of Cowra) also the Rev Fr T Eviston (Carcoar) and was fortified by the rites of the Holy Church. Two sons, Messrs Darcy and Roland survive, as well as one daughter Miss Nell Ryan, and three grandchildren, as together with Mrs P Kearins, (Mudgee), and Misses Kit and Matt Walsh, Sydney (sisters). The interment took place on 1 August, and was representative of all classes. Fr Casey and Fr Eviston officiated at the grave.”

Margaret Walsh, later  Kearins (1872 – 1945)

  • Cowra Free Press 19 June 1902: “WEDDING BELLS” Mr Philip Kearins, of Kildary Station, near Temora, eldest son of Mr Patrick Kearins, of Templemore Marengo, was wedded on Tuesday last at the residence of the bride’s mother, near Cowra, to Miss Maggie Walsh third daughter of the late Mr Thomas Walsh, the ceremony being performed by the Rev D O’Kennedy. The wedding party was solely confined to the near relatives of the bride and bridegroom, and being thus of a private character we are not in a position to describe any of the bridal costumes. We are nevertheless aware that the wedding presents were exceedingly numerous and comprised many very handsome and costly articles. The happy couple left the same evening for Sydney per train on their honeymoon trip. The occasion was seized by lady and gentleman friends to  give Mr and Mrs Kearins a most enthusiastic send-off at the railway station, confetti and other emblems of good luck being largely in requisition. The bride who is a native of Cowra, has succeeded by very many estimable qualities in establishing herself a general favourite in our community, and the bridegroom during his residence at Wattamondara became deservedly popular throughout the district, consequently their well wishers here are legion. Their future home is Kildary Station, in the fine Bland district. We heartily join with their very many friends in wishing Mr and Mrs Kearins a bounteous measure of happiness and prosperity.”


….. 1 Thomas WALSH b: 1820 in Caherconlish, Co Limerick, IRE, Arr. Australia: 31 Jul 1844 “St Vincent”, d: 27 Jan 1899 in Cowra NSW

….. + Hannah MIDDLEMIS b: 1839 in England, Arr. Australia: 1840 from Scotland, m: 02 Jun 1858 in Cowra NSW, d: 18 Feb 1909 in Randwick NSW

……….. 2 Unnamed Male WALSH b: 17 Jun 1861 in Cowra NSW, d: 17 Jun 1861 in Cowra NSW

……….. 2 Patrick W WALSH b: 1862 in Carcoar NSW, d: 23 Aug 1878 in Cowra NSW

……….. 2 Mary Therese WALSH b: 1864 in Carcoar NSW, d: 25 Jul 1876 in Cowra NSW

……….. 2 Sarah WALSH b: May 1866 in Carcoar NSW, d: 26 Oct 1867 in Cowra NSW

……….. 2 Hannah WALSH b: 14 Sep 1867 in Cowra NSW, d: 1943

……….. + Thomas RYAN b: 17 May 1858 in Binalong NSW, m: 1901 in Cowra NSW, d: 03 May 1917 in “Northwood” nr Cowra NSW

…………….. 3 Hannah RYAN b: 1902 in Cowra NSW, d: 1902 in Cowra NSW

…………….. 3 Mary RYAN b: 1902 in Cowra NSW, d: 1902 in Cowra NSW

…………….. 3 Thomas D’Arcy Walsh RYAN b: 1905 in Cowra NSW, d: 06 Jul 1975

…………….. + Josephine Eileen RYAN m: 1936 in Sydney NSW, d: 1945

…………….. + Kathleen NEEDS

………………….. 4 Margaret RYAN

………………….. 4 Carol RYAN

………………….. 4 Tony RYAN

…………….. 3 Roland John (Roly) RYAN b: 06 Jul 1909 in Cowra NSW, d: 15 Sep 1978

………………+ Betty Purcell

………………….. 4 Suzanne RYAN

………………….. 4 Thomas RYAN

………………….. 4 Pauline RYAN

………………….. 4 Leo RYAN

………………….. 4 Judy RYAN b: 1947, d: 1959

………………….. 4 Barbara RYAN

………………….. 4 Martin RYAN

………………….. 4 Michael RYAN

………………….. 4 Peter RYAN

………………….. + Marcia NOWLAN

…………….. 3 Nellie Mary (Nell) RYAN b: 21 Jan 1909 in Cowra NSW

…………….. + Norman Walsh PEPPER b: 14 Nov 1911 in Cowra NSW, m: 1949 in Sydney NSW, d: 04 Oct 1989 in Gosford, NSW

………………….. 4 Patricia Ann PEPPER b: 19 May 1946

………………….. 4 Julie Clare PEPPER

………………….. + Gregory John MOODIE b: 07 Jun 1951 in Cowra NSW, m: 09 Oct 1969 in Cowra, NSW

……….. 2 Catherine (Kit) WALSH b: 1869 in Carcoar NSW, d: 1948

……….. 2 Margaret WALSH b: 1872 in Carcoar NSW

……….. + Philip KEARINS m: 1902 in Cowra NSW, d: Mudgee NSW

…………….. 3 Thomas P KEARINS b: 1903 in Temora NSW, d: 1982

…………….. 3 Mary W KEARINS b: 1904 in Cowra NSW, d: 1936

…………….. 3 Margaret M KEARINS b: 1907 in West Wyalong NSW

…………….. 3 Hannah M KEARINS b: 1908 in Young NSW, d: 1980

…………….. 3 Patrick KEARINS b: 1911 in Randwick NSW, d: 1962

…………….. 3 Catherine M KEARINS b: 1913 in Randwick NSW, d: 1974

……….. 2 Helen WALSH b: 1874 in Cowra NSW, d: 1919

……….. + Richard PEPPER b: 1873, m: 1905 in Cowra NSW, d: 1926

…………….. 3 Ian H (Jack) PEPPER b: 1906 in Cowra NSW

…………….. 3 Alexander A (Alec) PEPPER b: 1908 in Cowra NSW, d: 1929

…………….. 3 Mary Eleanor PEPPER b: 1915 in Cowra NSW, d: 1928

…………….. 3 Norman Walsh PEPPER b: 14 Nov 1911 in Cowra NSW, d: 04 Oct 1989 in Gosford, NSW

…………….. + Nellie Mary (Nell) RYAN b: 21 Jan 1909 in Cowra NSW, m: 1949 in Sydney NSW

………………….. 4 Patricia Ann PEPPER b: 19 May 1946

………………….. 4 Julie Clare PEPPER

………………….. + Gregory John MOODIE b: 07 Jun 1951 in Cowra NSW, m: 09 Oct 1969 in Cowra, NSW

……….. 2 Thomas Alexander WALSH b: Sep 1876, d: 21 Dec 1879 in Cowra NSW

……….. 2 Martha May (Matt) WALSH b: 1880, d: 1964

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To go to Chapter SIX, click here.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1.   History of Cowra 1859-1922 W H Martin
  2. Thomas O’Shaughnessy’s Diary 1835 – 1903