Tribute to Patrick Thomas O’Dwyer

VALE: Patrick O'Dwyer
VALE: Patrick O'Dwyer

PAT O’Dwyer was born May 22, 1924 to Wil and Maggie O’Dwyer, the first of seven children; Tom, Kitty, Jack, Mary, Peg and Bill. They lived at Woodlands Methul, 20 miles from Coolamon, Ganmain and Ariah Park. Pat commenced his schooling at Methul with the O’Brien, Heir, McCaig, Nolte, Harris families, and completed his education at St Michael’s, Wagga, where he boarded with his Great Ellen and Tom McCaig, a man he greatly admired.

Pat’s life was full of sporting engagements. As most local farms were 640 acres and families were large, there were plenty of young people to fill teams for cricket, tennis and football. The O’Dwyer, Moller, O’Brien, Guthrie, Dunn, Leah, McCaig, Manglesdof, Irivine, Grinter, Gilmore and Dyson families produced many talented sportsmen, but Pat claimed he wasn’t one of them. Pat took up lawn bowls at 82 which he also “no good at” but he enjoyed being part of a team and having a go because he hated to lose.

Pat was a very keen and graceful dancer. He would travel up to 40 miles to attend the regular community dances and balls. He met Marie at a dance in Ardlethan in 1950 and swept her off her feet. He was overly modest about his abilities, but was never heard to say he was an ordinary dancer. Marie was his perfect dance partner as anyone who saw them dance together could attest. Pat would travel 30 miles to visit Marie every couple of weeks until they married on May 9, 1953. They commenced their married life at Methul Vale in a pise house built by his grandfather Thomas Butts.

Then the treasured babies arrival; Cate, 1954, Annie, 1956, Mary, 1957, Peter, 1958, John, 1960, Joan, 1962, Robert, 1964, Lisa, 1966, Damien, 1968, Luke, 1971 and Nick, 1973.

Pat and Marie were married for over 65 years and their partnership they overcame many adversities. Aside with being blessed with 11 children, they have 20 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Pat and Marie sacrificed many luxuries to ensure the children had the best education. Everyone went to St Michael’s School in Coolamon, Coolamon Central School, and then to Goulburn boarding schools. Pat and Marie supported the kids as they furthered their education and Pat was particularly proud of Damien achieving his PhD.

Pat had a close bond with his siblings and his in-laws. He worked closely with Bill on the farm until Bill’s retirement. Christmas was an epic family occasion, the day spent with the enormous Carroll side of the family and then back to Methul in the evening for the O’Dwyer celebration. Years later Pat would dress up as Santa for the grandchildren with Mrs Claus by his side.

Pat was a generous person, giving time, energy and financial help to the wider community. This is demonstrated by the groups and organisations to which he contributed, including Methul Rural Bush Fire Brigade, Trustee of the Methul Hall, Methul Landcare Group, St Michael’s Parish Council, Coolamon Council representative in the Northern Riverina, Member of the Ariah Park Football Club.

Pat had an amazing ability to recall family connections of every person he’d met between West Wylong and Katamatite. He and Marie had a double act that could place everyone within their family trees, who they married, who were their children were and who their children married.

One of Pat’s greatest pleasures was winning the NSW state hard wheat competition of 1993. A favourite pastimes of Pat’s was attending clearing sales. He loved to reuse and repurpose but most of all he loved a bargain. Bruce Edis would “go shopping” in Pats shed as he always had just what was needed. The force is strong in Pat’s children and grandchildren who op shop around the world, always proud of the acquisition. Luke has become the king of auctions and we have enjoyed the cars, wine and great stuff he sources on our behalf.

Pat was very broad minded – sliders, chopsticks and chiropractic, he took all in his stride. Pat was not willing to except a GP’s advice to sell the farm and prepare for life in a wheelchair. Always willing to try anything (even trying Peter Stuyvesant for treating hay fever), he went to a chiropractor. That decision cured his back problems and his allergies, but also influenced the lives and careers of Peter and Damien and subsequent generations. He also welcomed many international visitors into his home – even Pommies! In a recent speech he said, “Ten years ago I had not met anyone from South America. Now I have two daughters- in-law from Peru – and they are not bad sorts either”.

Pat retired to Methul Street, Coolamon in 2006, when he was 81. He enjoyed his retirement to Coolamon, but maintained a strong interest in all things farming and a concern for well being of farmers. He loved hearing the statistics of rainfall, crop yields, lamb and wool prices right up to the end.

Pat was one of the world’s greatest story tellers, but he never the hero of his own stories. That’s okay, because he has always been the hero of our story.

This story Patrick O'Dwyer, the hero of others’ stories | tribute first appeared on The Daily Advertiser.