Ned Kelly Presentation - The Man Behind The Armour

By Steph White

Who Really Was The Man Behind The Armour?

Ned Kelly was a very controversial man. He lived a life as a hero to some, a victim to some and a villain to others. Some people feel very strongly about their point-of-views. But how can we be completely sure that all the events that shaped their views were really as bad as they were? How can we be sure that they weren’t just exaggerated by either side? There are reasons why the story of Ned Kelly will never truly be known, including the fact that recounts of events differ depending on your source, that there were no computers back then to record information and that any witnesses from that time would have died years ago.

Firstly, accounts differ from book to book, and site to site. People who made a life out of following the story of Ned Kelly in that time may have been biased for some reason. For example, most of people who had jobs in the city in those times, such as the reporters, were British, meaning that they really disliked the Irish. This lead to the unfair treatment of the Irish in Australia, and one-sided reports of events being published in newspapers. Ned, being, Irish was always being targeted by the British, and this was reflected in the reports filed about the events that occurred in his life. Even if a reporter wanted to write an article stating that Ned was the victim in the situation or that he gets treated unfairly, their publishers would never allow it, as they were British also. How are we to know the full story of Ned Kelly when the people who wrote the reports filed were on the enemy’s side?

Back in the 1800’s, when Ned Kelly was alive, there were no computers to record information. Everything from official documents to school reports were written on paper. Computers make sharing stories today very easy, while paper was harder as you couldn’t duplicate a document or simply save a copy of it on your USB. If you wanted multiple copies to give to the town, you had to rewrite them, which took time and cost money. This made it tough for the poor Irish people to get their side of the story out, as they all had very time consuming jobs that didn't pay very well, such as farming or clearing land on properties. Also, many of the poor people were illiterate or poorly educated, unlike the rich businessmen who wrote in the papers everyday. As they were unable to write about the events from their point-of-view, their side of the story was never reported, and therefore never heard by the public. Who are we to judge this man (called a ‘cold-blooded killer’ by some) when we may not even know his full story?

If people today were to conduct an investigation on Ned Kelly’s true story, it would be practically impossible, as there would be no eyewitnesses to give evidence. Even the grandchildren of Ned’s relatives would have passed away by now. All the evidence would have been passed on through generations, and may have changed overtime. We will never be able to fully work out exactly what people the people on Ned’s side of the battle against the police were thinking. Take the Glenrowan Shootout for an example. After the shootout, the only Kelly Gang member still alive was Ned Kelly, who was sent to Melbourne straight away. No one will ever know what they did between the killings at Stringybark Creek and the Shootout because they were all killed recently afterwards.

In conclusion, I believe that Ned Kelly’s full story will never truly be known. How are we supposed to know exactly what life was like for him or how he was feeling during certain events when all the newspaper reporters in that time were against him, all documents were written out onto paper and all the eyewitnesses died many years ago? I believe that we need to accept the fact that some parts of Ned Kelly’s story are still a mystery and will remain that way forever. We will never fully know the story of the man behind the armour.

The area in the red circle is known as 'Kelly Country'

Perspective - Factual Recount of Fitzpatrick Incident

On 15th April 1878 Constable Fitzpatrick was left in charge of the Greta Police Station. He went to arrest Dan Kelly at the Kelly home, even though he didn’t have an arrest warrant. When Fitzpatrick reach the home Dan, Ellen, Kate and Alice Kelly were home (Ned was over 200km away). Mrs. Ellen Kelly insisted that Dan doesn’t need to go with the officer, as there was no warrant. Fitzpatrick, (who was known to be a heavy drinker), then pulled out his revolver and threatening to shoot Mrs. Kelly if she interfered and assaulted his sister Kate. Dan then looked out the window and pretended that Ned Kelly was coming to try to scare off Fitzpatrick. Dan Kelly then shot the officer in the wrist but, as they didn’t want to get into any trouble, Ellen bandaged the wound and sent him off thinking that nothing more would be said. She was very wrong. Fitzpatrick rode back to the police station and told all the officers that Ned had shot him, Dan was armed with a gun and that Ellen had hit him on the head with a shovel.

Constable Fitzpatrick's Perspective

Today is the day! I’m very excited for today, as Constable Strachan (the head of Greta Police Station) is out, which means I get to do relief duty in his place! I wonder what I shall do as head officer for the day? I’ve got it! I will go and arrest Dan Kelly for horse stealing. Those filthy Irish immigrants, always stealing and disobeying. I don’t even need an arrest warrant, people will believe he stole the horse straight away when they find out the origins and last name of the suspect.

Well that didn’t go as I had planned. Dan and Ellen both insisted that he need not go, as there was no warrant. I told Ellen politely that I was having a conversation with Dan and that she did not need to interfere. Then out of nowhere Dan concerned me, Ned appeared and shot me in the hand, an Ellen got up hand hit me on the head with a large shovel. What a horrible family! Injured and bleeding, I rode straight back to Greta on my horse and told all the police my story. The worst thing about it though, was the fact that the Kellys told all their Irish friends that I assaulted their sister, Kate. What reason would I have for assaulting a 14 year-old girl, when I was clearly just trying to arrest her criminal of a brother? Those Irish people are so very horrendous.

Kate Kelly's Perspective

I really do feel that some police officers are completely clueless. They always discriminate against us because we are Irish Catholics. Today, (15th April 1878), one named Fitzpatrick came to our house wanting to arrest Dan for horse stealing.

I was sitting down, looking after baby Alice when he barged through the door and demanded that Dan must go. He smelled like alcohol and obviously had no clue what he was doing, as he didn’t even have an arrest warrant on him. Mum told him that there was no way she would let him take Dan without the warrant, which made him really angry.

He pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot Mum, which was very scary. I wish Ned could have been there. The police are scared of him and I always feel safe when he’s around. Then Fitzpatrick turned around and assaulted me. That scoundrel! Dan then came up with a brilliant plan, to look out the window and pretend to see Ned coming, and then quickly shoot him in the hand. This worked, but resulted in the officer threatening to tell the authorities that we all tried to murder him. To prevent this from happening, Mum bandaged up the wound and he agreed to not tell the authorities. This was a complete lie, as he rode as fast as he could to tell everybody that we tried to murder him. I hate that horrible officer!

Quick Facts On Ned Kelly

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