FHACT Member receives Award

21st July 2021
By Engagement Committee
FHACT Member Bernadette Thakur awarded this year's T. T. Reed Family History Award.

FHACT Member Bernadette Thakur has been awarded the 2020 T. T. Reed Family History Book Award for her book Irish Settlers in South Australia: The Hayes and O’Toole Families.

The T.T.Reed Family History Award is presented annually by the South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society Inc. to the person or persons producing, in the opinion of the Society, the best family history in a given calendar year.  The book must be published by a South Australian, or be about the times and lives of a predominately SA family with three or more generations that are or were substantially resident in this State. The award is named after Thomas Thornton Reed (1902-1995), a former Archbishop of Adelaide and a founder of the South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society in 1972.

Irish Settlers in South Australia is the story of two families: The O’Tooles who arrived in South Australia from County Wicklow in 1840 and the Hayes family from County Galway in 1849. From their origins as impoverished tenant farmers in Ireland, they became respectable landowners in South Australia.

Using a diverse range of sources, Bernadette documents her ancestors’ untold story. The sheer sweep of their lives as they endured hardship and misfortune to create a better life for themselves and their descendants is a story worth telling. This book is more than a family history, for the story of the Hayes and O’Toole families is part of the larger history of South Australia in the nineteenth century

The citation accompanying Bernadette’s award reflects the time and effort that she put into both her research and her writing …

Bernadette Thakur has crafted a well-rounded family history volume reflecting a great combination of research and storytelling. From the outset there is a good selection of consistent print styles, a good balance of images and maps to complement the text, all well supported by endnotes and an excellent bibliography. While there is good storytelling throughout the book, in relating the story of the Hayes family, the author showed real strength and artistry with the storytelling from her research. The history marries the family history with South Australian history, with excellent and comprehensive endnotes, reflecting the depth of research. The lengthy Appendix is quite complementary to the book and adds real value.

Sadly, because of Covid-related border closures, Bernadette was not able to travel to Adelaide for the announcement: But she was able to join the presentation ceremony on 18 July 2021 via Zoom. In accepting her award Bernadette noted ….


All 16 of my great-great-grandparents were Irish and they all emigrated to South Australia in the 1840s  and 1850s. I grew up knowing a lot about my mother's family, the Dempseys and Howards, but very little about my father's family, the Hayes and O’Tooles.

One of the outcomes from writing this book I wasn't anticipating when I started out has been its warm reception from distant cousins. It has made me realise that there is a great depth of interest in the community among people who want to learn about their family history. Writing a family history can build bridges and connections among the descendants of our ancestors and I feel is a very worthwhile undertaking.


Irish Settlers in South Australia is available to read in the FHACT Library, or a copy can be purchased from the author for $60 (inc postage). Contact Bernadette.

Congratulations Bernadette!


Website: T. T. Reed Family History Award

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