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Trove Tuesday: Sweet Briar

Today's article involves my paternal Grandfather Mervyn James Phillip Donnelly.  Mervyn who was also known as James or Jim was a talented writer, musician and artist.  According to family stories he would use these skills to help supplement his income when older.  My father who was only twelve months old when his father died in 1943, was told by the local publican when he was older, that when he was alive they never saw Mervyn without a book or notebook on him.  Unfortunately very few of his written works have survived, we have some of his poems but many of his notebooks and written works were thrown out when he died.  My grandmothers brother who was very good friends with Mervyn managed to save some of these apparently, but most of them were thrown out when he died many years later as his family did not know what they were.  I was told some years ago however that some have survived and are being held safe by his descendants.
An interesting fact relating to this article is that my father, who never really knew his father, was a life long bird lover and would use Gould bird books to help him identify birds that he was unfamiliar with.  I never knew where Dad's love of birds and desire to look them up in order to identify them came from until I found this article.  When I mentioned the article to his last surviving sister on Sunday, I learned some valuable information that explained a lot to me.  I found out that the family had a large, beautiful Gould Book of Birds that had been Mervyn's that they treasured.  My father must of felt connected to his father through this book and a shared love of birds. Unfortunately I do not know what became of the book but I intend to try and track down to see if Mervyn's story is an archive somewhere.
It should also be noted that the teacher mentioned in the article was actually Mervyn's father John Joseph Donnelly, who I am told by family members who knew him was a very nice, kind and hardworking man.

Source: SWEET BRIAR. (1916, December 15). Lithgow Mercury (NSW : 1898 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from



(From a correspondent.)

Jupiter Pluvius has been so generous during this season that it is many years since this part of the district looked so prosperous.  The grass is growing in superabundance everywhere.
Indisposition through cold is the order of the day among most of the school children.
Shearing is almost completed: in fact it is in the immediate vicinity, though there are a few in the outskirts still gathering in the golden fleece.
The local school garden has never produced lovelier on more choice blooms than during the present season.  The teacher's supply of vegetables has been varied and abundant during the whole year.
Master Mervyn Donnelly, a member of the school 'Grey Thrush' branch of the Gould League of Bird League, has had the honor of being awarded the Gould League's first prize of ten shillings for his recent story.  Considering the young scholar is only 11 years, and was handicapped, having only a half-time school to attend during his school life, while having to compete against children from all parts of the State, up to 13 years of age, the win is a very creditable one.  Congratulations also to his capable and patient teacher, Mr. Donnelly.
Compliments of the season and wishing the 'Mercury' a very prosperous New Year, and hoping to read the joyful tidings in its columns ere this time next year that peace reigns once again, and if possible, for ever.
(Thanks for the good wishes, which we cordially reciprocate.  Peace will be welcomed by all - when victory accompanies it.  Other wise it would be a brief and delusive peace.  - Ed. L.M.)


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