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Sydney John (Syd) Kearney (1870–1923)

Syd Kearney, n.d.

Syd Kearney, n.d.

Sydney John Kearney, one of Armidale's best-known citizens, passed away in the Armidale and New England District Hospital at about 8.15 p.m. on Tuesday, and the news of his death, which quickly circulated, evoked many sincere expressions of regret.

Born in Sydney 53 years ago, he came with his parents to New England when he was quite young. His father, the late T. J. Kearney, practised his profession as a solicitor for many years in Glen Innes and Armidale, and later in Sydney. Deceased followed his father in the choice of his profession, and served his articles with his father and with Messrs. Abbott and Dodds, then one of Sydney's leading legal firms. Mr. Kearney's father served his articles with Mr. Abbott, of the same firm, strange to relate. The deceased was educated at the old New England Grammar School, and later at St. Joseph's College, Sydney. His scholastic career was characterised by close attention to study and a keen desire to improve. This spirit marked his subsequent rise to professional status and the call to the Bar. "When practising in the Police Court, he was regarded a sound and capable pleader, and many Armidale residents have recollections of listening to his logical arguments. In 1903, the glamor of polities caught him, and he fought the byelection, defeating Ald. Watson and Mr. C. G. Wilson. In 1904, he had to fight again, and was victorious over Mr. M. J. McMahon, of Uralla. He was a fair fighter, and so won the esteem of his opponents. After forsaking politics, he took up the work of land agent, and continued at that work until the time of his death. At the last Federal elections he contested New England seat against Mr. V. C. Thompson and Major Hay, and put up a good fight—in fact it was generally conceded that he was the only Labor nominee who ever had a chance of winning the seat for Labor. He was alderman of the city, having been elected in 1908, 1911, and 1914. He retired in June, 1917. In 1918 he occupied the position of of Mayor, and his peculiar aptitude for the position was exemplified by the manner in which he upheld the dignity of the office during the Municipal Jubilee celebrations, which took place in that year. He was also associated with Mr. Joseph Scholes and Rev. A. H. Garnsey in the editorial work in connection with the very fine souvenir issued at the time of the celebrations.

In public life, it would be much easier to mention bodies or associations with which Mr. Kearney was not connected, but the following may be cited as being among the more important. He is a past-president of the Eight-Hour Association, president of the A.L.P. for the past three years, a committeeman of the Show Society, Coursing Club, Rugby Union, Cricket Association, Hospital Committee. Irish National Association, Armidale City Band (secretary for seveenten years), and president of the Rugby League since its inception. He has been a good worker for the town, and almost every public movement has benefited by his backing. For about 20 years he was secretary of the Armidale District Hospital.

In the realm of sport be was particularly popular, and as a referee of the Union code of Rugby he was regarded as having no equal in the North and North-West. 

In his younger days he was an athlete of no mean ability.

Many expressions of regret were made at the annual Football League, when the office of president was being filled. The retirement of Mr. S. J. Kearney from the presidency of the New England Football League, after three years occupancy of the position, completed a long series of services in the football circles of the North. Mr. Kearney was one of the earliest secretaries of the New England Union, when the Union's jurisdiction covered Guunedah, Tamworth, Glen lnnes, and Inverell. For many years he was president of the Union and prominent as a referee, officiating in most of the final matches played in the towns between Newcastle and Tenterfield. On the League game coming into vogue, three years ago, Mr. Kearney helped to form the League, which, under his guidance, has become firmly established in Armidale. Largely to his initiative is due the creation of the players' accident insurance scheme, which has proved of so much benefit to footballers locally, and which other football leagues hare appreciated and copied.

The late Mr. Kearney became ill about April 7, and on Monday, April 9, was admitted to the hospital, suffering from a bad attack of pneumonia. He gradually became worse, but gave no indication himself that he was on the brink of death. The strenuous election campaign in December last, in which he participated, sapped much of his strength, and was probably responsible for the weakness of the fight at the last.

Mr. Kearney was a learned man, and even his opponents had great admiration for his ability. His scholarly phraseology was the subject of frequent comment. It is apparently the usual thing to praise the departed to the highest, but it can be truthfully said that the late Mr. Kearney was in his home life, a fond and devoted husband and father. He was a gentleman.

Much sympathy is felt for the bereaved wife and family. There are six children, namely, Victor, Frank, Timothy, Kathleen, Lucy, and Joan. The eldest child is about 18 years of age, and the youngest about eight.

The funeral will take place to the Armidale cemetery this (Wednesday) afternoon from St. Mary's Cathedral, where the body has been lying since mid-day on Tuesday. Representatives of most of the associations with which the late Mr. Kearney has been connected will be represented.

The Armidale City Band will be in attendance, and the Mayor and Aldermen and Town Clerk of the city will attend officially. The cortege will leave the Church at 3.30 p.m. The arrangements are in the hands of Mr. T. Crowley.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Kearney, Sydney John (Syd) (1870–1923)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

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