25 July 2014

From the Newspapers: - A Famous Ride

Below is an interesting newspaper article that I came across on my search for family information on the New Zealand history website "Papers Past".

Otago Witness, 28 July 1892 (page 20)

Michael Egan (1844 - 1928)
The Michael EGAN mentioned in this article was the brother of my maternal great, great grandfather, William EGAN. Michael was born in Tipperary, Ireland and came out to New Zealand in 1867 on board the "Elizabeth Fleming".  He married and settled at Wairio in Southland. Here Michael and his wife Margaret (nee DWYER) raised a family of six sons and one daughter. 

For those that aren't familiar with the particular section of road mentioned in the article, the Devil's Staircase (part of S.H.6) even now-days is a road that requires care. It is a winding road, quite narrow in places, that is carved out of the rock cliffs and sits high above Lake Wakatipu in the Queenstown Lakes District. In places it is a very long drop down into the cold, dark lake below. 

Back in 1892 I would imagine the road wouldn't have been much more than a rough dirt track which is what makes Michael's ride such an incredible feat. He was either very brave, or perhaps a wee bit stupid, to attempt this ride on horseback, ..... in the middle of winter, ..... in the dark !!!

As mentioned in the article, the purpose of his ride was to attend a funeral. It was the funeral of his niece, seventeen year old Margaret DWYER (daughter of Matthew and Ellen DWYER), who had died from tuberculosis at Frankton on the 16th of July 1892. 

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