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McSweeny, Edmund (1861–1929)

News of the death of that staunch Irishman, Mr. Edmund McSweeny, which occurred at his home, "Bay View," Canberra-street, Randwick, on Sunday, the 24th ult., came as a sad blow to his numerous relatives and friends. He had been in failing health for months prior to his decease, and had known for some time that his days were numbered; yet he faced death as he faced life, cheerfully and unafraid. The prophetic words of Joseph Plunkett, written in 1916, could be aptly applied to him:

Because I know the spark
Of God has no eclipse,
Now death and I embark,
And sail into the dark
With laughter on our lips.

The late Mr. McSweeny was a man of sterling character, and an exemplary Catholic. In every activity that furthered Irish freedom or culture, he was an earnest advocate and worker. Two things particularly characteristic of him were joy in serving Ireland, and unobtrusiveness in rendering service. He never sought praise or reward for anything he did. In association with his lifelong friend, the late Dr. Chas. W. MacCarthy, he was an active member of the committee which erected the magnificent '98 Memorial in Waverley Cemetery, under which lie the hallowed remains of Michael Dwyer (the Wicklow Chieftain) and his wife. He was at one time secretary of the Irish National Foresters, and was a foundation member of the Irish National Association, of which he was for many years president. During the stirring days in Ireland, when Sinn Fein was fighting for the liberty of small nations, Mr. McSweeny 's patriotic efforts to aid his fellow-countrymen at home earned for him six months' internment as a political prisoner in Darlinghurst Military Gaol.

The late Mr. McSweeny was born in County Tipperary 68 years ago. His parents belonged to Ballydonohoe, County Kerry, mid-way between picturesque Ballybunion and Listowel, to which place they returned when Mr. McSweeny was eight years of age. On reaching manhood he went to New Zealand, where he taught school for a while at Auckland. After spending a few years at various occupations in both North and South Islands, he came to Melbourne and thence to Sydney, where he engaged in business. Mr. McSweeny married Miss O'Connor—a distant relative of The O'Rahilly—who was killed in the 1916 Rising; four of Mrs. McSweeny's sisters entered religion in Sydney, joining the Sisters of Charity. During his last illness he was nursed by his devoted wife and her sister, Miss Teresa O'Connor. He was attended by Rev. Father Smith, M.S.C, who administered the Last Sacraments, by other Sacred Heart Fathers, by his sister-in-law, Sister M. Malachy, and other Sisters of Charity, and by many relatives and friends. The funeral, which took place at Waverley Cemetery, was largely attended, the number present bearing eloquent testimony to the high regard in which Mrs. McSweeny was held by the Irish and Catholic community.

The chief mourners were Mrs. McSweeny (widow), Mr. W. J. McSweeny (son), Mr. Henry McSweeny (brother), Miss Kate McSweeny (sister), Miss Norah McSweeny (niece), Mr. Bertoli (nephew), Mr. Edward O'Connor, Mr. Timothy O'Connor, Mrs. O'Connor, Miss Nellie O'Connor, and Miss Marianne O'Connor. Others present at the graveside included Mr. M. Candrick, L.C., Mr. David Broder (Newcastle), Mr. J. Woods, Mrs. M. Woods, Miss Gillet, Mr. M. Mullaley, Mr. J. J. O'Brien, Messrs. W. and B. Stack, Mr. and Mrs. J. Sheehy, Mr. W. Dignam, LL.B., Mr. J. Doyle, LL.B., Mr. Mulholland, Mr. and Mrs. P. O'Halloran, Mr. L. O'Doherty, Mrs. J. Murphy, Mrs. Wallace, Miss M. Neville, Miss S. Cochrane, Mrs. Bohun, Mrs. and Miss Dempsey, Mr. and Mrs. Saint, Mrs. Moloney, Mr. W. Kane, Mr. Wilfrid Conroy, Mr. Fitzgibbon, and Mr. P. Gallagher. Members of the Irish National Association acted as a bodyguard, and carried the body of their late esteemed president from the hearse to its last resting-place. They also placed on the grave a permanent wreath, done in the Irish colours (orange, white and green). The burial prayers were read by the late Mr. McSweeny's nephew, the Rev. Father Reginald O'Connell, C.SS.R., of Pennant Hills, assisted by the Very Rev. Father E. O'Brien, P.P., V.F. (Mosman), cousin of deceased.—R.I.P.

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'McSweeny, Edmund (1861–1929)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/mcsweeny-edmund-32704/text40642, accessed 27 November 2022.

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