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McCarron, Bernard (Constable)

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth c. 1860
Place of birth Kinawley County, Fermanagh, Ireland
Date of arrival 1875


Date of death 1925
Place of decease Adelaide

Bernard McCarron was born in Kinawley County, Fermanagh, Ireland, the youngest son of Phillip McCarran. However, we know little about his life there. On October 31, 1878 a Bernard McCarron was admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. According to the admission records, Bernard was a 20 year old labourer from Hindmarsh who had been in the colony for three years and had arrived on the ship, North. The passenger list for North, however, shows no sign of Bernard McCarron. The only man named “Bernard” is a 20 year old single man from Ireland who is registered as “Bernard Kalaher”. It is probable that Bernard Kalaher and Bernard McCarron are the same man. Bernard McCarron possibly had lied about his age and his name in order to avoid parents who may have been looking for him.

Bernard’s life is otherwise unknown until 1881, when he was appointed as a mounted constable on December 14. He was stationed in the north of South Australia at such places as Port Augusta West, Gladstone and even at Parakylia near Roxby Downs. Bernard gave evidence at the enquiry entitled by contemporary newspapers as “The Illtreatment of Jacky”, a case where a missionary had accused one Mounted Constable Bannigan of inhumane treatment when escorting an aboriginal man under arrest for murder from around Farina to Adelaide. Bernard’s evidence in support of MC Bannigan’s restraint practices was as follows:

I remember having two blackfellows in custody three years ago for sheepstealing. I took them from Kingunnya to Condambo. I secured them by handcuffs to the legs coupled together, also leg irons with long chains, I got a strong back-chain off a dray, secured it to great heavy bucket, run the handcuffs through the large link of the chain, and coupled the blackfellows with another pair of handcuffs coupled side by side. To relieve them I released the handcuffs from the legs, but leaving the leg-irons on. Notwithstanding these precautions at night they got away with the weighted bucket and all. They carried the bucket 14 miles, then broke the fastening with ironstone. About two miles further on they broke the leg-irons. Within two days of their escape they travelled 124 miles, and have never been arrested yet.

Bernard was stationed in Strathalbyn in 1887 and then Normanville, where he married Mary Elizabeth Atkinson, daughter of Joseph Atkinson on January 19, 1889. During his time in Normanville, he was called on to assist Constable Thomas Tuohy with the rescue efforts of the Star of Greece shipwreck. For what the Police Commission called his “gallant efforts”, he was awarded £2 at a monthly inspection of the Police Force at the Adelaide Barracks.

Bernard and Mary Elizabeth had one child, Mary Adeline, who was born on June 20, 1889 in Adelaide, where Bernard was stationed. Sadly, Mary Elizabeth died a month later, on July 20, probably from childbirth complications.

Bernard returned to the north and was stationed at Hawker, where he was appointed Bailiff of the Court in 1895. While in the north, he married Kathleen Roche on January 21, 1891 at St Rose Church in Kapunda. Bernard and Kathleen had two children, Margaret Massilla (b. November 8, 1891, died 1894) and twins, Muriel Magdalen and Clarence James (b. July 2, 1895). Unfortunately, Kathleen died of pleurisy on October 13, 1896 at Hawker.

Bernard then moved to Port Broughton. He married Margaret Anne Blanche Barry at St Patrick and St Francis Xavier Catholic Church, North Adelaide on November 1, 1898. Bernard and Margaret had three children while stationed in Port Broughton, Phillip Bernard Alphonsus (b. August 29, 1899), Blanche Esther (b. 8 November, 1900) Mary Ethel (b. April 13, 1902 d. April 18, 1902). Bernard was a regular at gatherings to play chess when off-duty.

In 1903, the McCarron family then moved to Redhill. Zita Inez Bridget (b. April 20, 1905) and Veronica Blanche (b. May 24, 1907), were born in Redhill while he was posted there. When the news of their posting in Willunga was communicated to the Redhill community, Bernard and Mary were guests of honour at a farewell social, where he was given a travelling rug and she was given a silver teapot.

Bernard was stationed at Willunga from June 27, 1908 to December 12, 1911. He and Mary had one child in Willunga, Joseph Keyon (b. August 17, 1909). It is apparent that Bernard was generally disliked in Willunga. During a local court case, one barrister noted that: The police officer was a "mute, inglorious tyrant" - at least he was certainly inglorious and certainly a tyrant, but he was anything but mute. Nobody in the district dared to pass him without making an obeisance of some kind. In fact, he felt that he was in jeopardy himself when he came into the presence. (Laughter.)

No trace can be found of any event to farewell Bernard and his family from Willunga. This may mean that no event was held or that the local correspondent failed to record it.

He was transferred to Gladstone in December 1911, and was replaced at Willunga by H. Bayley. When Bernard and his family left Gladstone in 1914, the Justices of the Peace with whom he had worked presented him with a silver mounted pipe. Among the comments made by the JPs were:

....he had carried out the duties of his office intelligently, fearlessly and impartially. .... During his short residence in Gladstone he had brought to bear on his work ability and commonsense above the ordinary... By his firmness and tact he had secured the respect of all law-abiding residents

There was a strong hint in all the comments made by the JPs that they believed that Bernard McCarron was being denied promotion unfairly. This must have been heartening at what became a difficult time. World War 1 saw two of his children enlist. Mary Adeline enlisted in November 1914. She was a professional nurse and was posted to Cairo. Clarence James, formerly a clerk, enlisted in May 1915 and became a driver in the 14th Field Artillery Brigade.

Bernard was promoted to Senior Constable on October 1, 1916, while in Port Augusta West, and was then posted to Kapunda in July 1917. His leave taking of Port Augusta West was heartening. A large crowd gathered and speeches complimentary to Bernard and Margaret were made. It is clear that some of the residents had known Bernard when he was a stationed there as a young constable around 35 years previously. Margaret McCarron was noted as being active in the church.

After being in Kapunda for a year, he was promoted to Sergeant. Sadly, also while in Kapunda, Bernard and his family received the news that Clarence had died of his wounds in Belgium on March 21, 1918. Clarence was buried at Dranoutre Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Bernard finally retired on June 30, 1922, with the rank of Sergeant, while stationed at Kapunda.

Bernard McCarron died in Adelaide on June 26, 1935 at the age of 75. He is buried at the West Terrace Cemetery with other members of his family.

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