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Australian outlaw Ned Kelly funeral held 132 years after his death

posted 18 Jan 2013, 04:30 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 18 Jan 2013, 04:31 ]

Australian outlaw Ned Kelly is given a funeral ceremony, 132 years after his death.

WANGARATTAAUSTRALIA (JANUARY 18, 2013) (NINE NETWORK) -  The remains of Australia's most famous outlaw, Ned Kelly, were finally laid to rest on Friday (January 18), 132 years after he was hanged for murder.

Around 200 of Kelly's descendants, who received the bushranger's remains after they were exhumed from a mass prison grave, gathered at St Patrick's Church in the town ofWangaratta, north-east Victoria for the funeral ceremony.

"Have treasured the man and everything he'd done for most of my life, so yeah, it's a hell of a thing to be here today," said Trent Cupid, a Ned Kelly fan.

"I feel quite happy now. I was very stressed before. It's a very emotional time for everyone," said Joanne Griffiths, a great-grand niece of Kelly.

"To us, he's a beloved family member. If you remove his armour, there's a person there," said Brendan Cook, great-grand nephew of Kelly.

Kelly's descendants said the service was held in private, in keeping with the outlaw's requests.

A priest who led the service said, "today we bring to a closure what has been denied to the family, denied to his mother, Ellen."

The homemade armour and helmet Kelly wore during his last violent shootout with police and his reported final words before he was hanged at Melbourne Gaol on November 11, 1880 -- "such is life" -- helped make him an iconic figure in Australian history.

His family, the Kelly Gang, became a symbol for social tensions between poor Irish settlers and the wealthy establishment at the time, and Kelly himself became a folk hero to many for standing up to the Anglo-Australian ruling class.

One Australian media outlet reported that Kelly will be buried on Sunday at Greta, nearWangaratta, north-east of Victoria, where his mother is buried in an unmarked grave.

Kelly's remains have made a circuitous journey to their final resting place.

They were first buried in a mass grave at Melbourne Gaol. When that closed in 1929, Kelly's bones were exhumed and reburied in another mass grave at the newer Pentridge Prison.

All the remains buried in Pentridge yard were exhumed in 2009 and Kelly's skeleton was positively identified in 2011 by scientists after DNA tests against a descendant. TheVictoria state government said in August it would return the skeleton to the family.

Kelly's skull remains missing. It was believed to have been separated from his skeleton during the transfer.

His life story inspired the novel "True History of the Kelly Gang" by author Peter Carey, which won the 2001 Booker Prize, and the late actor Heath Ledger played him in a 2003 movie.