Mary Byrne              1797-1873

Mary O’Brien was born to John and Betty O’Brien about 1797 in Limerick, Ireland. She married Patrick Byrne in 1820 in Limerick. Mary Byrne was about 76 when she died in 1873. Mary and her daughters, Catherine Beaumont and Jane Gleeson, seem to be the only family members buried at Hopetoun Catholic Cemetery.

On 26th November, 1853 the ‘Medway’ sailed from Southampton arriving at Melbourne on 22nd February, 1854. On board were Patrick and Mary Byrne and their family: Patrick, Margaret, Matthew, Mary, Jane and Catherine. Patrick (senior) went to work for Mr James of Bacchus Marsh for wages of sixty pounds and thirty shillings. Patrick Byrne is shown on the West Burke Electoral Roll for 1856 as a farmer (leasehold). Two sons, Patrick, aged 24 and Matthew aged 19 also went to work for Mr James. Margaret, aged 21, went to work for Mr Connolly and Mary stayed at Emerald Hill to work for the Ross family. Jane, 15, and Catherine, 10, accompanied their parents to Bacchus Marsh.

Their first son, Patrick, married Margaret Mallahon. He died in 1894 at Melton. Their eldest daughter, Margaret, married John Shea at the home of her parents in 1858. John was from Tipperary. Matthew Byrne married Mary Waddington in 1870. Mary Byrne married Michael Griffin, from Kilkenny, Co Clare, in 1864. Jane Byrne married Timothy Gleeson from Tipperary in 1863 at Bacchus Marsh. Jane had been married only eight years when she died in 1871. Patrick and Mary’s youngest daughter, Catherine, married an Englishman, Henry Beaumont, in 1869 at Blackwood.

An early resident recalled Pat and Mary Byrne having land adjoining the Hopetoun Cemetery on the Bacchus Marsh side. ‘They were on the opposite side of the road to the Densley family also known as Carters because they carried provisions from Melbourne to Bacchus Marsh. The family lived in a wattle and daub slab hut with a shingle roof.’  Further words described the Byrne family as ‘the oldest living race of people that ever left Ireland and very honest people’. The same resident knew that son, Patrick, opened a blacksmith’s shop at Melton.  This Patrick, a man with an inventive mind, was also a gunsmith. He was able to make a part for almost any farm machinery. He was credited with giving the land for the Church of England somewhere near the Melton Railway Station.