THE HISTORY OF THE SYKES FAMILY IN AUSTRALIA
Mary Martina (Stella) Sykes (fourth generation)
Mary Martina, the third daughter of Stephen and Charlotte Sykes, was born on 9th October 1882, and was better known as "Stella" to avoid confusion with the other Mary Sykes (her cousin, daughter of George, third generation) living in the area. Her education was gained at the local Currawang Public School, although gifted with talent for music and painting there was very little opportunity for tuition in the country at that period, and she was almost entirely self-taught.
After leaving School Stella assisted in running the Post Office situated at her home Telegraph Hill . On 1st November 1905, she married Patrick O'Brien (see below) and made her home at Clarevale , situated about one mile away. Her happy disposition and unfailing hospitality endeared her to a wide circle of friends.
Three sons and five daughters made up her family, most of whom were comparatively young when her husband died in 1927.
For more details of Mary, Patrick and descendants, see Stephen - Mary line.
A major sorrow occurred when her second son Terence was accidentally drowned in 1930 when only 20 years old. Her life was spent in unselfish devotion to her family and after a long illness born with fortitude, she passed away on 19th August 1948 at the age of 66 years. She was buried in the Spring Valley Cemetery.
In the words of the poet John O'Brien: "The great ones of the earth shall stand aside, When a little Irish Mother in her tattered faded gown Shall receive the crown too long to her denied."
Patrick F. O'brien
Patrick O'Brien was the third son of John and Bridget O'Brien, pioneer settlers in the Currawang district. He married Stella Sykes on 1st November 1905, and with three sons and five daughters lived at Clarevale .
His main interest apart from his home and family was local government, being a Councillor with the Mulwarree Shire since its inception in 1908 until his death in 1927, serving several terms as President and Delegate to the Shire's Association. He was a man of vision and had a deep patriotism to Australia, always interested in all sport, perhaps tennis, rifle-shooting and horsemanship were his favourites.
An emergency operation for appendicitis failed to save his life and he died on 15th October 1927, leaving his widow and young family to mourn his loss. He is buried in the Spring Valley Cemetery.
Terence O'brien (Fifth Generation)
Terence John, the second son of Stella Sykes and Patrick O'Brien , was born at Clarevale on 13th April 1910. He was educated at Currawang Public School and later worked on the family property.
His gift for making friends, and his love for true sportsmanship, made him a popular young man and his untimely death by accidental drowning on the Clarevale property at the age of twenty was a great tragedy for his family. He died on 7th November 1930 and is buried in the Spring Valley Cemetery.
Jennifer Margaret O'brien (Fifth Generation)
Jennifer Margaret Goodwin was the only daughter of Isaac Goodwin and Kathleen O'Brien (daughter of Stella Sykes and Patrick O'Brien). Her early childhood was spent with her parents and brother Geoffrey at Hunter's Hill. The Marist Sisters, Woolwich, were responsible for her primary education, and Monte Sant Angelo College, North Sydney, her secondary.
It was whilst attending a business course, after leaving Monte, a grave illness, plexiform neuroma, began to deprive her of movement. The last two years of her life, as an invalid, were an inspiration to her doctors and nurses and all who came in contact with her. Her love of beauty in all its forms, a keen sense of humour and outstanding courage and fortitude were qualities that will live in the memories of those privileged to know Jennifer.
She died at the age of eighteen at her home at Lane Cove, on 19th October 1964, and is buried at Northern Suburbs Cemetery.
Thomas Francis Sykes (fourth generation), brother of Mary