DNA test may solve mystery

Cr Paul Tully standing at the site in the Ipswich cemetery where Dan Kelly, Ned’s brother, is thought to be buried.
Cr Paul Tully standing at the site in the Ipswich cemetery where Dan Kelly, Ned’s brother, is thought to be buried. David Nielsen

THE TRUTH about whether bushranger Dan Kelly, brother of Ned, is truly buried in the Ipswich Cemetery is now one step closer to being revealed.

Ipswich councillor and historian Paul Tully has raised the prospect of an exhumation of the remains of James Ryan, who claimed to be the bushranger Dan Kelly until his death in 1948.

Cr Tully's call has come in the wake of news that remains exhumed from Pentridge Prison in Melbourne are those of Ned Kelly, who was hanged in 1880. Doctors and scientists at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine confirmed the find.

The standard history is that Dan Kelly died in the fire at Glenrowan Inn along with fellow bushranger Steve Hart on June 28, 1880.

But that was turned in its head when a man walked into the offices of The Truth newspaper in 1933 claiming to be Dan Kelly.

He maintained the story until his death - that he had escaped the fire and made his way to Ipswich - and convinced many locals of his story in the Fernvale area, where he lived.

Tully, who has been hot on the trail of the possible Queensland connection to the Kelly Gang for more than 20 years, said yesterday's DNA confirmation of the identity of Ned made the exhumation of the Ryan remains at the Ipswich Cemetery an issue worth exploring.

"This now gives us the definite opportunity of comparing the DNA,"; Cr Tully said.

"The state government needs to give approval.

"There was a claim that Steve Hart was buried in Toowoomba and there was an exhumation of a grave up there years ago - so it wouldn't be the first time a supposed bushranger's grave was reopened.";

Tully said the bodies that were retrieved from the Glenrowan fire were burnt beyond recognition and never officially identified.

The man claiming to be Dan Kelly always said that he and Hart had been taken in by a German couple before heading north.

In light of other information, Cr Tully said the final resting place of Dan Kelly could well be in the pauper's section of the Ipswich Cemetery "where the Ipswich Council has erected a memorial to this man who died penniless and without any family or friends".

Topics:  mystery

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