Named by a drunken Irishman named O’Kennedy (who claimed descent, as all Kennedys and O’Kennedys do, mostly incorrectly, from Brian Boru), Ormond today is a smallish suburb of predominantly middle class houses. But when Seamus O’Kennedy first set eyes on it, it was a lightly forested woodland from which you could see the ocean (well, Port Phillip Bay) – at least, you could if you were willing to climb one of the trees. O’Kennedy was immediately struck by how much it resembled the land of County Clare, back in the old country, and named it for the ancient kingdom that had once ruled that area. That said, O’Kennedy also thought that the wattle was a species of pine tree, and remarked more than once on the keen resemblence of horses and kangaroos.
The early history of Ormond, Victoria, is one comprised primarily of O’Kennedy’s increasingly desperate attempts to set up a whiskey distillery in the area. This was hampered by several things: a lack of proper ingredients, a lack of the needed equipment, and O’Kennedy’s complete lack of experience in distilling. Most accounts also list O’Kennedy’s drunkenness as another problem, although Al Stimson, raconteur and frequent drinking buddy of O’Kennedy, claimed that the Irishman was smarter and better drunk than most men were sober (although he did note that O’Kennedy seemed unable to distinguish between the jumpers worn by the players of the North Melbourne and Collingwood VFL clubs). Whatever the truth of this claim, it is true that Seamus O’Kennedy possessed a level of business acumen approaching genius – so long as he was not dealing with a fellow Irishman, when sentimentality would overhelm him, and he would make ludicrously lopsided deals, much to his own diadvantage.
O’Kennedy eventually drank himself to death, although the process took longer than anyone – O’Kennedy included – thought it would. As late as the 1970s, he was still often seen heading to what he believed to be a sly grog shop behind the florist on North Road, and on his death in 1976, the local council honoured him with a quick shot of Tullamore Dew after a council meeting one night.
Suburbs near Ormond: