Martin and Sarah were married in Sydney and over the years their children were born in Melbourne and Sydney.  (Three girls, Mabel, Winifred and Ruby and one son, Anthony, survived to become adults but, sadly, they lost five other children when they were infants or very young).  It was a hard life in those days in Australia.  Martin became a bricklayer and plasterer and he was involved in the building of many houses in both those towns in the early days, including the one they owned at 5, Blanche Street, Oakley, in the municipality of Kogarah, in Sydney.

When Martin was unable to find work he was forced to leave Australia in order to be able to support his family.  At that time there was no dole or assistance by the government for the unemployed, but one could board a ship and travel across the world for a fare of about five pounds.  That was one of the few ways that people were able to survive when employment was unavailable where they were living.   It is believed that he and his family went to South Africa after gold was discovered there and also, in about 1897, Martin set off for America and, although it was not easy because jobs were scarce there, too, he found work building in New York.  The pressures were very great on the workers who were helping to erect the city buildings there and the overseer would go from floor to floor extorting the labourers by telling them that those on the other floors were progressing better and that there were plenty of men in the unemployment queues on the street that could take their jobs if they did not do better.  It would seem that Sarah and their youngest child, Anthony (Sonny), stayed in Sydney, awaiting his return.

Contribution by Lucy Tarr:

Mabel Helene Nolan (who married Arthur Squires and then Percy May) was born in Sydney as you know and she and her sisters were considered extremely good swimmers. Mabel always said that Janet inherited her excellent swimming ability from her. Granny May told me that when Martin Nolan went to America he also journeyed to Alaska as the Gold rush had just begun there. He made a lot of money but was a heavy drinker and a compulsive gambler and lost most of it before he returned to Australia. His fortunes continued to fluctuate until the Gold Rush on the Reef drove him to take the family to Johannesburg. However Sarah Nolan returned with the youngest child, then about 18 months, as the altitude affected his asthma.


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Extract from email to Philip and Silvia from Ruth May 1st April, 2007:

He and his (later) wife Sarah O’Meara eloped to Australia towards the end of the 19th century (ca 1879) and their first child was born and died as an infant in Melbourne, then a second one was born and died young in Sydney (1882/3) but they were married in Sydney on 24.8.1881 and his death certificate states they had been living in Sydney for 48 years.

He was born in either 1853 or 1857  in County Mayo and his wife was born in Dublin in 1858.  Grandad’s mother was born in Sydney in 1883.  Martin was a builder and Plasterer, building houses in Sydney and Johannesburg but also buildings in New York because, when work was not available, people would get on a boat, paying a fare of five pounds, travelling ‘steerage’ to seek employment in another country.

The house he built and they lived in was at 5, Blanche Street, Oatley, Sydney and we visited it in July 1986 when Grandad recognised it as being much the same as when he saw it in 1927 except that there was a new, rather fancy gate in place.

Martin is buried in the Roman Catholic section of the large cemetery at Worona. Should you manage to get there you may have more success in deciphering the writing on the grave stone. We made out that he died 13th September, 1927 and saw something about a regiment in 1879 but, unfortunately, could not make out the regimental name.

They had nine children altogether but lost 4 baby girls and one baby boy, with only the three girls and one son lasting into adulthood.

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