Cyril Herbert O’Neill (1904-1959)
Margaret Mary Mowle (1906-1977)

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A History of Cyril Herbert O’Neill & Margaret Mary Hanna Mowle as told by their daughter Mary

Cyril Herbert [known as Sid] was the sixth child of 13 children of John O’Nell & Minnie Crimmins of NSW. He was born at Hillgrove NSW 1894 and lived at Metz NSW. This was a Gold Mining district close to Hillgrove NSW. [For further description of Metz, click on the link above to Sid’s parents.] Dad went to school there until his father and mother moved to “Clarens” at Georges Creek where they had a Wine Saloon, some cattle and farming. A fire grate was brought from Metz by my grandfather and used at “Clarens” before it was given to my mother’s sister, and would you believe that my cousin’s daughter Vickie Evans has recently given it back to me, only last year 2010. It is a real treasure in my home. My memories of growing up at Georges Creek are sketched below.

When Dad’s father and mother died in 1921 and 1922, he took over the property.  Dad married Margaret Mary Hanna Mowle (known as Mary), on 08 Dec 1926 in Kempsey. She was the fourth child of Owen Charles Mowle and Alice Elisabeth Herbert, of the Macleay River NSW.

At first my father had a hard time with the property but he learnt by his mistakes. He developed a strong reputation for being a gifted bushman. He was good at caring for the horses, at butchering, branding calves, milking cows, farming corn and chopping wood. In other words he was a successful bushman and always listened to his friends. Mum was the Post Mistress who also looked after the house and made people welcome to the home.

My dad always loved cricket and tennis. I can remember him and Mum going to Sydney to see Don Bradman play in a Test Match in 1932. He used to love playing cricket and taught the boys to play, they all used to have fun on the verandah while Dad played with them. Dad had built a tennis court on the property and he and Mum played with their friends from up and down the river. They entered other tournaments at Lower Creek, Comara and Bellbrook (all on the Macleay River NSW). I always remember Dad and Mum being in charge of the Sports Day they ran each year for the Ambulance Station in Armidale NSW, it was a great success and everyone had a really good time.

Dad loved fishing and would go whenever he had the time. Most of his time was spent with the cattle and farming corn as well as small jobs around the house. He was a very quite man, you could ride with him for a few hours and he would not say a word to you. I often wondered what he thought. He never spoke to me about his parents. It must have been sad for him when he thought about them, though on many occasions I did see him happy.

Dad and Mum used to have card games for their friends and we were allowed to join in and have lots of fun. Christmas time was a very happy time followed by Dad’s birthday on Boxing Day.

The cattle used to be mustered each year for the cattle sales in Armidale NSW or Kempsey NSW. The trip to Petroy, which was part of the property, was twenty miles up George’s Creek. It was something to watch from the outside looking in, Dad and the men took about a week to get ready for the camping trip, shoeing the horses and packing all the things that they needed to take with them. After about a week away we would see them arrive with the cattle and there was so much excitement at the homestead. Dad spent the next few days attending the cattle, branding the calves and getting them ready for sale. Dad usually did well at the sales. He never overstocked the property after the mistakes he made in the beginning of owning the property.

We spent lovely holidays at South West Rocks NSW where Dad came with us for part of the holiday. We surfed, played games and we watched Dad and Mum play tennis with their friends. They all enjoyed themselves.

After a number of trips to Sydney for his kidney problem and treatment, he died in Lewisham Hospital Summer Hill NSW in 1959 and is buried at The Field of Mars Cemetery, Ryde NSW. Mum passed away in 1977 at Kempsey.

Cyril & Mary’s family:

01. Monica Dawn (b. 23 Jun 1927, d. 18 May 2005)

02. Mary (b. 22 May 1929, d. 01 Jan 2016)

03. Cyril John (b. 18 Oct 1930, d. 1973)

04. Peter (b. 04 Apr 1934, d. 16 Apr 2008)

05. Terrence Phillip (b. 04 Feb 1938)

06. Paul (b. 02 Dec 1948)

Cyril and Mary are pictured front centre in this wedding photo of Peter (front, far right) to Dorothy (Dot) Ajani (front, far left). The others, from left to right, are Pat McQuade, Pat’s wife Mary, (Cyril) John, Monica and Peter O’Neill:

Mary, Monica and Peter O’Neill with cousin Joan Murray


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