Honouring Honora with new town naming

The Carney family in the 1890s. Back row: William, John, Ellen, Johanna. Front row: Mary, Honora, Thomas and Alice. (Supplied)

Cardinia Council has put forward ’Honora’ as the proposed new name for Pakenham East, after a divisive discussion throughout the area about the preferred name for the new suburb.

As detailed in the agenda for the council meeting planned for Monday 15 July, the council would vote on a motion to name the new suburb Honora and liaise with the family and Geographic Names Victoria if a suffix is required.

The motion would also change the name of Mount Ararat South Road to Alice Road, while Mount Ararat North Road would be renamed to Mount Ararat Road.

Over a five week period, the council received a total of 1840 valid surveys, with the majority of each category of voter voting for a different preferred name, with those living or owning land within the suburb area preferring Alice Park, residents living in Pakenham, Nar Nar Goon or elsewhere in Cardinia preferring Honora and those who live outside of Cardinia but have friends or relatives within Cardinia preferring Debra.

However, the council officers have decided to use Honora due to Honora receiving the most first preferred votes at 636, compared with Alice Park and Debra both at 399, Honora was the second most preferred name of those responding who own property within the suburb, and Honora has the stronger link to place than Alice Park with the family name appearing on parish plans and the family still owning land and living within the suburb area.

Honora Ryan was born in County Tipperary, Ireland in December 1836.

On the ship to Australia, Honora Ryan met a young Irish man named Michael Carney.

Living in the late 19th century and through to the turn of the 20th, Honora laid down the roots with her children which would see the Carney family own and farm a significant part of the land which Pakenham East is designated to be today.

Honora Carney and her husband Michael leased a large parcel of land between Pakenham and Nar Nar Goon on the south side of Princes Highway from 1869.

They had seven children and ran a farming business together before Michael passed away in 1880.

Honora purchased the land south of the highway in 1887 and the land north of the highway in 1902.

She continued to run the family farming business with her children until her death in 1912.

Bunyip Ward councillor Graeme Moore initially put forward an alternative motion at the council’s April meeting to add the name of Honora to the list of names being considered following correspondence from the Carney family.

“She was 44 when her husband Michael died in 1880, while raising seven children, Honora was not only determined to keep the family farm, but enhance it,“ Cr Moore explained.

“She was a very strong, determined and smart woman in the male-dominated world of those days.”

The descendants of Honora still live in the area today, representing five generations of farming.