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The worst April Fool's joke

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

A recently erected headstone stands in the lonely cemetery of Mount Morgans in Western Australia. It was put there by a descendant of Patrick Dooley in his memory. At only 37 years old Patrick had become the victim of an accidental shooting while out with a friend hunting turkeys.

Photo 1: Patrick Dooley. Contributed: John James Maloney

On that fateful day - April 1 - Patrick and his friend Thomas Booth had headed down what was then the Australia United Road, a few miles out from Mount Morgans, to go turkey hunting in their sulky. They were blacksmiths at the Westralia mine. Both men had their guns loaded as they watched for their target. One unlucky bird came into their view and Patrick immediately aimed and shot his gun. The bird was only wounded and continued to run. The men gave chase.

It wasn't a smooth ride as the sulky jolted along with the bumps in the road. Thomas was driving the horse as Patrick had readied his gun, resting it between his knees as the sulky followed the injured turkey.

Thomas had been watching carefully for the elusive bird when he heard a sudden bang. What he saw when he turned to see where Patrick was, would have turned his stomach. One of the jolts had caused Patrick's gun to slip and as Patrick went to replace it, he accidently caught the trigger.

Patrick's face was torn away from neck to temple. He died almost instantly. He was only 37 years old.

Thomas never got over the death of his friend. After the inquest, a funeral was held at the Catholic Church and the cortege was large with representatives across the whole community. It included members of the Hibernian Society and rifle club members. It was a sight to be seen. Upwards of 200 men walked two abreast followed by thirty vehicles.

On the first anniversary of his death, a memorial appeared in the Kalgoorlie Western Argus from Thomas in memory of his friend:

In the bloom of life death claimed him,

In the pride of his manhood days

None knew him but to love him

None mentioned his name but to praise

Photo 2: The headstone placed in Mount Morgans cemetery by Patrick Dooley's descendant John James Maloney. Contributed: John James Maloney


* 'Mount Morgans Notes', The WA Record, Saturday 17th April, 1909, Page 5

* 'Mount Morgans Cemetery Reserve 7391 Western Australia', Outback Family History,, accessed 11th March, 2020

* 'In Memoriam', Kalgoorlie Western Argus, Tuesday 5 April, 1910, Page 16

* 'Fatal Gun Accident', Mount Morgans Mercury, Wednesday 7 April, 1909, Page 3

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