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Maria O'Brien (1842–1904)

Maria O'Brien, c1888

Maria O'Brien, c1888

photo privately sourced

There were laid at rest yesterday in the Roman Catholic portion of the Cemetery, in the presence of a large concourse of sorrowing relatives and sympathetic friends, the mortal remains of Mrs. James O'Brien, Bellevue. The deceased lady who had been, for nearly half a century a respected and highly esteemed resident, passed away, surrounded by the members of her family, at 11 o'clock last Tuesday. The late Mrs. O'Brien, whose maiden name was Maria Dunn McManus, was a native of County Cavan, Ireland, and accompanied by her mother, sister, and four brothers, arrived in Australia in 1860—44 years ago. All the members of the family with the exception of Mrs. Maher, mother of our respected townsman and Mayor, have passed away. The then Miss McManus was highly educated and singularly accomplished. Just previous to leaving her native country she had left school, and it may be remarked that such culture and accomplishments as Miss McManus possessed were much rarer then, than is now happily the case. Shortly after the family's arrival, the young lady's talents attracted the special attention of the then Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, the highly cultured and amiable Dr. Polding.—

He, a keen and shrewd judge, induced Miss McManus to take the management of a Catholic Industrial Orphanage, near St. Vincent's Hospital. Here she remained for some time (about 18 months) her management reflecting credit on her administrative ability and securing the commendation of the venerable Archbishop, fully justifying his opinion in selecting her for the arduous and important appointment. About this time she meet Mr. James O'Brien, then, as now, of Bellevue, who induced the young lady, just out of her teens, to share his lot for better or worse. The marriage was celebrated in the old St. Mary's Cathedral, by the Very Rev. Dr. Sheridan, assisted by the Rev. Dean O'Brien, and the Rev. John O'Brien, brothers of the bridegroom. The young bride accompanied her husband to her new home. During a long and blameless married life she proved a worthy helpmate. Apart from ordinary household duties, and the care of a young family, Mrs. O'Brien never failed to alleviate distress, and the poor and orphans always found her a ministering angel, and for some years was one of the lady visitors for State children in the district. As is well known, Mr. O'Brien, no doubt, aided by his wife's assistance, became prosperous. This enabled Mrs. O'Brien to carry on her dearest wish of helping the weary and afflicted, not only with kind words, but more tangible assistance, and her name became a household word throughout the district among the poor and needy. She reared a family of five sons and three daughters, the eldest a step-daughter, is now the wife of Mr. H. Mallon, Merricumbene. The second daughter, Winifred (since deceased), became the wife of Mr. T. McMahon, while the third daughter, now Mrs. Austin Chapman, is the worthy daughter of a worthy mother. Of the five sons, all of whom are living, the eldest, the Rev. Father Edward, is now stationed at St. Benedict's Monastery, New Norcia, Westralia; Patrick, a barrister, resides in Sydney, following his profession; while James, John, and Michael are engaged in pastoral pursuits. Mrs. O'Brien, who as will be seen, led an active and useful life, had a stroke of paralysis about 18 months back, from the effects of which she never thoroughly recovered. A few months ago, her state of health caused grave anxiety to her friends and she became an invalid. During the last few weeks, she had the kindly care and attention of Sister Mary Clare, from Lewisham Hospital, assisted by Mrs. Austin Chapman. For some days her end was looked upon as drawing near, and fortified by all the rights [sic] of the Church, and surrounded by all the members of her family, a good woman and a loving mother quietly and peacefully passed to her rest. The concourse of sympathising friends who assembled, being one of the largest seen for a long time, testified to the esteem in which she was held by all sections of the community. The service at the grave side was performed by the Ven. Archdeacon Darcy, assisted by Rev. Father McCormack. At the conclusion of the service the Ven. Archdeacon delivered a short and appropriate address, eulogising the deceased for her consistent piety, as shown by her good work during a long and blameless life. Requiescat in peace.

Original publication

Citation details

'O'Brien, Maria (1842–1904)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Maria O'Brien, c1888

Maria O'Brien, c1888

photo privately sourced

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • McManus, Maria

22 July, 1842
Ballyconnell, Cavan, Ireland


6 December, 1904 (aged 62)
Braidwood, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.