Cyril Francis O’Neill (1899-1947)
Katherine Mary Henry (1909-1975)
Cyril Francis O’Neill was the eighth of Patrick Joseph O’Neill & Anne Mary Hough‘s twelve children, born on 26 Jan 1899. As a young lad he emerged as promising athlete; in fact he won the Under 7 Age Handicap in 1906, as described in The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate on Sat 10 Nov 1906. [Unless otherwise stated, the references to newspaper dates all come from The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate.]
In 1938 when Cyril was 39 he married Katherine Mary Henry, known as Kitty. She was born on 09 Sep 1909 to Robert Henry &Elizabeth Egan. The wedding was described on Sat 04 Jun 1938:
O’NEILL – HENRY.
Cyril was a fine athlete as a younger man. In 1906 he came first in the Under 7 age handicap races in the Public Schools’ Sports event (PMN, Saturday 10 November 1906). Later, in 1918 at St. Joseph’s College, he won an honour as champion athlete of that year. He played football, the PMN reporting, on Saturday 12 May 1923, on an accident that briefly sidelined him:
The altar and sanctuary were beautifully decorated with white chrysanthemums and autumn leaves.
The bride, who entered the church on the arm of her father, wore a gown of cloque satin, and carried a bouquet of chrysanthemums. Miss Claire Henry, sister of the bride, was bridesmaid, and was daintly frocked in blue organdi and silver, and carried a bouquet of pink carnations.
The best man was Dr. J. B. McElhone, of Kempsey. Little Pam Bannerman, of Long Flat, train bearer, was daintily frocked in blue georgette, and carried a basket of pink carnations.
The reception was held in the spacious Long Flat Hall, where the guests, numbering 140, were received by Mrs. Henry, mother of the bride, and Mrs. F. Moses, Kempsey, sister of the bridegroom. Mrs. Henry wore a gown of black georgette, and carried a bouquet of red roses, while Mrs. Moses wore a tailored navy costume, and carried a bouquet of red carnations.
The hall was very nicely decorated with palms and coloured streamers, and the tables with pink carnations and rose buds.
Father O’Mahony presided at the wedding breakfast.
After the toast of the Pope and King was honoured, the Reverend Chairman read a large number of congratulatory telegrams. These included messages of felicitation from His Lordship, Dr. Carroll, Bishop. of Lismore, and Sister May Clare, of St. Joseph’s Convent, Port Macquarie, sister of the bridegroom.
The ‘Bride and Bridegroom’ was proposed by Mr. George Jeffrey, of Kempsey, who, in a very happy speech, wished long life and happi ness to the happy couple. The bridegroom, in his response, said his bride and he were very much honoured by the presence of friends in such numbers.
‘Parents of the Bride and Bridegroom,’ was in the hands of Councillor George Hollis, who referred to the fact that he had known them for a great number of years. They were held in the highest regard by all who knew them. The uniting of two families bearing such honoured names was a great event in the whole district.
Mr. Henry, in his response on be half of his wife and himself, said they shared in the happiness caused by the union of the families.
Mr. P. J. O’Neill said it had been mentioned that this was the happiest day in the lives of the bride and bridegroom. He could also say that it was one of the happiest days of his life. The marriage had given much happiness to his own family and himself.
Dr. J. B. McElhone proposed the toast of the ‘Bridesmaid.’ In the course of his speech he stated that it was a great pleasure to him to have assisted at the marriage of his very great friend, Cyril O’Neill.
The ‘Reverend Chairman’ was proposed by the bridegroom, who also thanked Father O’Mahony for many personal acts of kindness tendered to his wife and himself.
During the function vocal items were rendered by Mrs. D. O’Neill, Kempsey, Mr. Nanscombe, Long Flat, and Mr. G. Jeffrey, Gladstone. Mrs. J. B. McElhone was the accompanist.
On leaving en route for New Zealand where the honeymoon will be spent, the bride wore a navy tailored costume and silver fox fur.
A notable feature of the occasion was the presence of Mr. John (‘Uncle Johnnie’) Coombes and Mr. Keran Leahy, both of whom have been residents of the Hastings River district for a great number of years. Mr. Coombes, notwithstanding his 94 years, is still mentally and physically active, while Mr. Leahy, with his 85 years, is the oldest living native of the district. Both gentlemen have been closely associated with the parents of the contracting parties for a great number of years.
Cyril was a fine athlete as a younger man. In 1906 he came first in the Under 7 age handicap races in the Public Schools’ Sports event (PMN, Saturday 10 November 1906). Later, in 1918 at St. Joseph’s College, he won an honour as champion athlete of that year. He played football, the PMN reporting, on Sat 12 May 1923, on an accident that briefly sidelined him:
All Blacks v Telegraph Point.
A victory’ was recorded by All Blacks (Wauchope) over Telegraph Point, the score being 15 to 5. The latter’s ground was the scene of the contest, and a good game was the result. The pleasure of the match was marred however, by a painful accident, Mr. Cyril O’Neill being the victim. When on the point of scoring, O’Neill collided with the goal post sustaining a broken collarbone.
The week later this appeared:
We hope soon to see Mr. Cyril O’Neill about quite well again. Football is alright while things go right, but accidents will happen.
His early years were spent assisting his parents in the management of the hotel in Kempsey and in running their grazing property Yarras. Like his parents, Cyril was active in community, as demonstrated in The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate :
He was one of several ratepayers who publicly and successfully encouraged a Mr John Downes to stand for council (PMN, Saturday 11 November 1922). He must have spent some time at Telegraph Point, as evidenced by the advertisements, and because a correspondent, writing from there, had this to say on Sat 02 Feb 1924:
On Friday evening last the friends of Mr. Cyril O’Neill gathered at the hall to say farewell to this young gentleman, who is leaving these parts very soon. The assemblage was large thus testifying to the popularity of Mr. O’Neill. The entertainment took the form of a social, and a light hearted company tripped the light fantastic until the wee email hours. Upon Mr. E. A. Taylor fell the duty of making a presentation, and in a concise speech he wished Mr. O’Neill God speed in his new sphere, and, on behalf of the residents of Telegraph Point, presented their guest with a gentleman’s travelling outfit. Mr. O’Neill suitably responded.
In the Dungog Chronicle on Tue 3 Nov 1931 came a report of a court case involving Cyril and his father P. J. O’Neill, the latter having been accused of, and fined for, selling alcohol to an unauthorised person. The case was described more fully a few days later when the convictions were quashed:
KEMPSEY LIQUOR CASE.
At Kempsey on the 21st October, the police proceeded against Cyril O’Neill, licensee of the Hotel Kempsey, for allowing an unauthorised person on the premises after hours, and the unauthorised person was also preceeded against for being there. Both were fined. Mr. E. T. Oram, P.M., who heard the case said they were trivial but in the case of the licensee he had no option but to record a conviction against the house. Both defendants appealed against the conviction, and this was heard before Judge Mocatta on Monday last. Mr. Neil McTague, instructed by Mr. W. H. Sheridan, of Kempsey, appeared for the appellants. During the course of his remarks through the hearing his Honor said “I don’t think we’d think much of a hotelkeeper if he didn’t ask us to have a drink if we’d been out together all day.” He added that a police officer had told him that if the police like to carry out the Liquor Act in its entirety they could make it impossible for any hotel keeper to carry on. His Honor up held the appeals and ordered that the convictions be not recorded.
KEMPSEY QUARTER SESSIONS.
Appeals Against Convictions.
A TRIVIAL AFFAIR.
Before his Honor Judge Mocatta, Charles Barsby appealed against his conviction for being found on the licensed premises of the Hotel Kempsey during prohibited hours.
John [sic] Patrick O’Neill, through his son Cyril O’Neill, appealed against a conviction of having a person on his premises during prohibited hours.
Mr. McTague, instructed by Mr. W. H. Sheridan, appeared for the appellants, and Mr. Treatt for the Crown.
It was decided to hear both cases together. Sergt. Smede’s evidence at the lower Court was read over and assented to.
To Mr. McTague: Witness did not know Barsby before the night in question. No reference was made by Barsby as to a visit to his sister until late in the conversation. He had no doubt that she stayed there. He saw the licensee next day. It was not a fact that he did not refer to the glasses until next day. Yes, witness did make a suggestion that the entry for Lowrey was not authentic. Witness was not satisfied that it was right. He would suggest that during the conversation Lowrey’s name was written in the book. The entry appeared to be only recently written, and both dates at the same time. It was not correct that a constable was in the office the whole time. He was quite sure O’Neill said that there was no one else there but Lowrey.
To His Honor: Witness was talking to O’Neill and walking to where he saw Barsby, and it was only a few moments.
This concluded the case for the prosecution.
Charles Barsby’s previous evidence was read over. He added that he had known the O’Neill family for 10 to 15 years. Clare O’Neill’s coming of age party was held at his home, and his sister stayed at O’Nelll’s.
To Mr. Treatt: Witness’ sister had the ‘flu. She was back at work on the Monday morning. Yes, he went to see her.
His Honor: Oh, don’t ask him to say that. It seems a pity that there was a prosecution. In reality when people go for a picnic down to Port Macquarie, and come home late, well (smilingly) – let him who has not sinned first cast a stone. He did not blame the police, but it was rather a pity.
Cyril O’Neill deposed that he was the son of the licensee. They had all been to Port Macquarie for the day. Witness was Barsby’s guest.
To His Honor: They were witness’s oysters. Yes, it was the general practice to put the oysters in the bar.
His Honor: To associate them with stout?
Witness: No, for safety.
To Mr. McTague: There was no drink served, and there were 10 or 12 empty glasses on the counter ready for washing next morning.
His Honor: These people are all out for the day. What would they have thought if they were not asked to have a drink? The law was made to punish people who commit offences against the Liquor Act, and his own view about that Act was that any publican could be prosecuted any day if the police stringently exercised their powers under that Act. However, the police did not, he was glad to say. He felt that the Act should be exercised in flagrant breaches, and therefore it was a pity there was a prosecution in this case.
Mr. McTague submitted that O’Neill believed that he had discharged the onus thrust upon him by the legislation. There was no probability that if a drink was served there would be any payment in the circumstances.
His Honor: No, he would merely ask them to have a drink. He considered that perhaps the police had made a mistake regarding the ringing of the cash register. The act followed the ordinary rules of hospitality at the end of a day’s outing. The unfortunate part of it was that, of course, the police came on the scene and it was illegal.
Mr. McTague asked that in view of the circumstances his Honor exercise his powers under the Crimes Act with regard to a trivial offence and dismiss the charge. It would be a shocking state of affairs to have a mark against the house under the circumstances.
His Honor added that had the whole circumstances been pointed out in the first place to the police, he would hope that there would have been no case. It was a most human kind of thing to do on O’Neill’s part. He would hold that the information had been proved, but in view of the circumstances would extend the provisions of section 556A of the Crimes Act, and dismiss both cases, with £2/10/- costs in each instance.
Following his marriage his father-in-law signed over to him the Long Flat Hotel (Sat 6 Aug 1938):
PORT MACQUARIE, AUGUST 2.
Before Mr. R. Solling, L.M.
An application for transfer of the license of the Travellers’ Rest Hotel, Long Flat, from R. Henry to C. O’Neill was granted.
Wauchope Show … Mr. Cyril O’Neill, of Long Flat, conducted the publican’s booth.
Rodeos and horse eventing became Cyril’s predominant interest. He was a racehorse owner and breeder of horses for rodeos and stock drafting, including Dinty, winner of many events. He was instrumental in setting up rodeo events in the Central Coast, and was heavily involved in establishing the rodeo ground at Long Flat; from the PMN:
LONG FLAT RODEO
Upper Hastings Sports and Rodeo Association held its big day on Saturday, and some fine equestrian events were witnessed. Long Flat, cosily centred in the heart of the Upper Hastings cattle country, put on a most unique and entertaining show. Horses and horse men were present in astonishing numbers and all of splendid standard. Frequently there were half a hundred horses in the ring, any one of which a horseman would be proud to have in his stable. The animals were splendidly conditioned and well turned out. The horsemen were a splendid body of men, mostly lean and supple fellows well versed in the handling of horses and cattle, with a sprinkling of athletes who have been prominent in many fields of sport. One reason for the great number of splendid riders among the men of the Upper Hastings is perhaps their desire to equal the Upper Hastings womenfolk in horsemanship, for the girls of the cattle country there can all show ’em how to handle a stockhorse and a bad bullock. The R. Gamack Novice Flag Race attracted a field of 30 starters, resulting in a win for J. K. Martin, of Monkerai, who rode an exceptionally smart Radium mare, Lady, which won the plaudits of the crowd by her ability to pivot at full gallop. Mr. E. Patterson secured second place; whilst other heat winners were Messrs. B. Coombes, M. G. Kirkma.n, B. Kirkman, G. Duck, T. Lyon, V. Flanagan and B. Young. Mr. J. Martin was second in the novice bending race.
The Cyril F. O’Neill North Coast Championship Stock Draft of £30 with F. Trotter Cup: Mr J. Martin’s Rainbow (96)
Mr. Martin made suitable response, wishing the Long Flat Rodeo Committee continued success in their patriotic efforts.
REMARKABLE RODEO AT LONG FLAT.
Equal to Anything in the State.
GREAT MUSTER OF CRACK HORSES AND RIDERS.
LARGE ATTENDANCE OF LOCAL RESIDENTS AND VISITORS.
Long Flat eclipsed its previous efforts with a wonderful Rodeo on the very fine ground on Saturday, 22nd inst., when there were competing horses and riders from near and far, which gave magnificent exhibitions in all events; and the handling of the programme to schedule was a great achieve ment by the organisers.
Long Flat goes from success to success in promoting Rodeos on their delightfully situated and well appointed ground, and Saturday’s fixture set a new standard, the equal to anything of its kind any where. The leader of this band of great organisers and workers was the Secretary, Mr. C. Tiedeman, with Mr. C. O’Neill (President),
Supply of Cattle Used.— Messrs. J. Henry, B.Henry, P. J. O’Neill, Geo. Hollis, Jim Lyon, Dick Cutler, and Frank Noakes.
The winner of the Championship Stock Draft secured 96 points (100 possible), but was closely followed by the placed horses. Mr. C. F. O’Neill donated £25 towards the prize-money (£30 and cup), and the cup was presented by Mr F. Trotter, who won the event at the last Rodeo on his mare Roma.
while Mr. C. O’Neill did good business at the publican’s booth.
Also competed: C. F. O’Neill’s Dinty,
The Judge, Mr. Robert Gordon, of Lismore, said: – “I would like to express my admiration for the perfect organisation, strict adherence to schedule, the number and quality of the horses, and the outstanding sportsmanship of all competitors at your Rodeo. I have just completed a tour of judging at Queensland Rodeos, and have had the pleasure of judging at most coastal towns and the Royal Show, and I am very sincere in stating that your horsemanship and stock work would compare and hold its own anywhere in the Commonwealth. It gave me great pleasure to be your Judge, and to meet such a talented and hospitable lot of people. In future years I will be very interested in your Rodeo, and hope that it will become the largest in the State. I wish you every success.”
Though the good sports competing in the various events at the several district centres needed little encouragement, the big prize money for the day was an added inducement, so entries were good, and competition very keen throughout. The main event – the Open Camp Draft – was won by Mr. C. Lyon on Charlie (Mr. Lyon won this event last Sports Day on Mr. Cyril O’Neill’s Dinty with which he held the lead this time up to the last three of competitors with 76 points).
SPORTS & RODEO
After a week of bitter westerly winds, Rollands Plains Sports and Rodeo on Saturday last were blessed with a perfect day of bright sunshine, and slight breeze, whilst the ring was in the best of order for the many competitions.
In the rotunda were Messrs. R. Gamack (President), R. W. Wilson (Secretary), and W. Warlters (Ass. Sec), with Mr. Cyril O’Neill as Judge and Mr. Herb Dodds (Kempsey) as his Assistant; these officials had a great team on the Committee and in charge of various departments, and all played their parts well.
8-HOUR DAY SPORTS.
A well attended meeting in connection with the annual 8-Hour Day hospital sports was held in the Masonic Hall on Tuesday evening, the chairman of the hospital, board, Mr. W. T. Fowler, presiding.
Resolved to [ask] Messrs. Cyril O’Neill and Harold’ Coombes to act as judges
On Sat 10 Jun 1939 Cyril was among a group of revellers celebrating a local identity’s birthday:
‘Uncle Johnny.’ Ninty-fifth Birthday.
Written for “P. M. News,” by “Fitz.”
Yes, they built them big and strong nearly 100 years ago. Like old soldiers, many of them never die – they just fade away. “Uncle Johnny” Coombes, of the Upper Hastings, is one of the toughest we know of – and Matty Maher, of William Street, Wingham, is another:
You’ve read it, I’ll bet,
In “The Hastings Gazette” –
The report of the rollicking party;
‘Uncle Johnny’s’ alive,
And he’s just ninety-five
With an appetite solid and hearty.
Nice speeches were made
When the tables were laid –
And the glasses, boys, they were clinking;
And the hair on the head
Of Dick Cutler, ’tis said –
Was nodding and winking – and blinking.
Were stacked on the floor –
And George Hollis, as Chairman, presided;
But the ‘stuff with a sting’ –
It was fit for a King –
And I’m told it was freely provided.
Keiran Lahey, so they say,
Looked happy and gay –
As fresh as a lark in the morning;
He’s about eighty-four,
And he’ll see eighty more –
In the home that his photo’s adorning
The toast of ‘Our Guest’
Was one of the best –
Accompanied by cheers and much laughter;
And Cyril O’Neill
Gave the boys a fair deal –
When they drank the toast first – and twice after.
Mr. D. J. O’Dell,
You all know him well –
Delivered a speech that was ripping;
And Dick Cutler swore,
By the socks that he wore –
That the whisky and rum were most gripping.
Mr. Pountney, I guess,
Represented the Press –
And spoke in a way that was bonny;
And Marchment, no doubt,
Knocked ’em all up the spout
In his praises of good ‘Uncle Johnny’
‘Uncle Johnny,’ of course,
Eyed the candles across –
Then blew till he blew them to blazes
And O’Neill’s stumpy cat
Heard the blows at Long Flat;
The achievement just simply amazes.
I might go for a week –
Yes, I could so to speak –
Like the sting from a painful carbuncle;
But in closing this rhyme,
I’ll say it in time:
Good Luck to you, Johnny – our ‘Uncle.’
May you live long, old boy,
And always enjoy
The friendship of friends here to greet you;
And when you go hence –
Just over the fence –
May the Lord grant, Uncle, we’ll meet you.
A few days ago on his 86th birthday, that grand old veteran, Mr. P. J. O’Neill, now residing with his son, Cyril, at Long Flat, was overcome by a sudden illness, says Macleay ‘Argus.’ Inquiry elicits the fact that happily, the illness was not of a serious nature, and ‘PJ’ as he is familiarly known in Kempsey, is now out and about again, enjoying the sea breezes at Port Macquarie.
LOST, Green Eiderdown Quilt, between Port and Wauchope, 14th May. Reward on returning to C. F. O’Neill or News Office, Port.
It was an unfortunate few years for the family. Cyril’s wife Kitty was admitted to the hospital at Port Macquarie (Sat 29 Jan 1944), and the family moved there briefly;
Mr. and Mrs. Cyril O’Neill and family, of Long Flat, have come to Port Macquarie to live, and have taken up residence in Mr. Fenwicke’s cottage, Gaol Hill.
Cyril is mentioned in an article on Fri 30 Aug 1946 bewailing the recklessness of timber lorry drivers and alluded to an accident that befell Cyril:
The bigger timber lorries, which carry logs and poles, are causing anxiety amongst the residents and motorists by the pace they travel, when empty or loaded. The “very near misses” which motorists are recounting to one another are not always going to be near misses, and a re-echo of the Hastings Shire Gazette editor’s footnote to Mr. Cyril O’Neill’s accident seems necessary. Some drivers of these big trucks apparently are oblivious to the rest of the travelling public and do not realise how easily an accident may occur on these narrow roads.
Cyril named as executor of the will of Thomas Egan (Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 13 Dec 1945), of his cousin Thomas O’Neill (Fri 25 May 1945) and of his father-in-law Robert Henry, who had died on 23 Jun 1946 (Thu 20 Mar 1947). In the latter case probate had been granted the previous September, but Cyril died fairly suddenly before the final distribution could occur.
The Dungog Chronicle carried his obituary on Friday 18 April 1947:
MR. CYRIL O’NEILL
Hastings and Macleay folk were deeply shocked and saddened when the death was announced of Mr. Cyril O’Neill, a fine young man particularly well-known and highly respected. Deceased, aged 46 years, was a son of Mr. P. J. O’Neill, of Yarras, and the late Mrs. O’Neill. Messrs. John O’Neill (Sydney) and Dom. O’Neill (Kempsey) are brothers, while sisters are Sister Mary Clare (Lochinvar Convent), Mesdames Downing (Dubbo), Hayes (Artarmon), Newley (Tamworth), Riley (Canberra), F. Moses (Long Flat), Ashby (Grafton), Matthews (Brisbane), and Miss Maud O’Neill (Long Flat). The late Mr. O’Neill finished his education at St. Joseph’s College, and in 1918 won an honour as champion athlete of that year. For some years he assisted in the management of his father’s hotel at Kempsey, and then went to Yarras to manage his father’s grazing properties. There he married Miss K. Henry, daughter of the late Mr. Robert Henry and Mrs. Henry, of Long Flat, and his wife and five children (Jon, Timothy, Patrick, Frances and Madeline) survive him. Shortly after his marriage he took over the management of Long Flat Hotel, and then moved to Port Macquarie for a year. He then built a house at Stoney Creek, Long Flat, and devoted himself to the management of the family grazing properties, specialising in the breeding of stud stock under the guidance his father, Mr. P. J. O’Neill, who is now in his 90th year.
In years gone by Cyril took a keen interest in racing, and raced Wallace Allora in conjunction with Dr. Elhone. In latter years he took an active interest in rodeos and stock drafting, and bred Dinty, winner of numerous stock drafting events. He originated the running of rodeos on the Central Coast, and was largely responsible for the construction of the fine rodeo ground at Long Flat. Ever courteous, considerate of others, and noted for his genial good-fellowship, deceased had won a wide circle of friends, and much deep sympathy is extended Mrs. O’Neill and family, in their sad bereavement. Deceased had only been ill a few days, and the end came with shocking suddenness.
Requiem Mass was celebrated in Port Macquarie Catholic Church on Saturday morning. The funeral, under direction of Mr. Jos. T. Walker, took place to Port Macquarie Catholic portion of the cemetery on Saturday afternoon, the Rev. Father Curran, assisted by Rev. Father Bird, officiating at a service in the Church of St. Agnes and at the graveside. Rev. Father Curran spoke impressively and most feelingly of deceased’s many, outstanding good qualities. The funeral, one of the largest ever held in Port Macquarie, was attended by many friends and relatives from the Macleay, and Messrs. Jack, Patrick and William O’Neill, cousins of the deceased, came from Sydney. – ‘Macleay Chronicle.’
We desire to join with others in the district wide expressions of sympathy extended to the bereaved family.
Cyril & Kitty’s family:
01. Jon (b. 02 Mar 1939)
02. Timothy (b. 1941, d. 08 May 2012)
03. Madeline Sophie (b. 1943, d. 01 Aug 2012)
04. Frances Clare (b. 1945)
05. Patrick (b. 1946)
06. Kevin (b. 1947)