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Byrne Clan Mini-Book Excerpt
In addition to fame, a number of Byrnes and O’Byrnes have also achieved a fair degree of infamy – and no less so than the Australian outlaw and folk hero Joe Byrne, born at Woolshed, near Beechworth, in 1847, and a ‘lieutenant’ of
Ned Kelly in the notorious Kelly Gang.
Born near Melbourne in 1855, Ned Kelly was the son of John ‘Red’ Kelly, who had been transported to Tasmania in 1842 from his native Ireland after being sentenced to seven years penal servitude.
Ned and his gang of bushwhackers became infamous for a spree of bank robberies and murders that lasted nearly two years and ended in a final confrontation with the exasperated authorities at Glenrowan, in Victoria, in 1880.
Despite the protection of homemade plate armour and a helmet weighing about 44kg, Joe Byrne died in a hail of bullets that severed his femoral artery.
Kelly was captured, tried, and sentenced to be hanged. This was duly carried out in Melbourne Gaol, despite a petition signed by more than 30,000 ordinary citizens demanding that his life be spared – so popular had Kelly and
his infamous sidekicks such as Joe Byrne become.