|McMahon Glynn, Patrick to Glynn, Ellen, 1887
|Patrick McMahon Glynn_Letters to his family (1874-1927) [Gerald Glynn O'Collins]
|McMahon Glynn, Patrick
|Border Town, South Australia, Australia
|Gort, Co. Galway, Ireland
|Border Town S.A.
January 7th 1887.
My dear Mother
The above address is the dividing line between South Australia
and Victoria, where I have a two hours wait on my way back from
the other colonies. This day fortnight, Xmas eve, I left by boat for
Melbourne, arriving on Sunday afternoon. Fanny Glynn is keeping a boarding-House as before, enthusiastic, impetuous, good natured,
romantic, and hyper sensitive. I called on her in the evening, meeting
Maryanne, Cecilia Glynn, and Kitty Tyrrell. Maryanne is still in
single blessedness, loquacious & peculiar. Cecilia Glynn was then
living with her, on luke warm terms, having left Fanny for Cissey,
and Cissey for Maryanne. The Glynns stand to one another in a
state of chronic warfare, with intervals of suspicious peace. Kitty
Tyrrell has grown to maidenhood, tall, developing bust, slender waist,
with Nora's calm eyes, like her father, and, to my mind, possibilities
of consumption. She is gentle and affectionate, getting rid of the
waywardness in which she has been carelessly reared. John Joe
Madden was out of town, or I would have called on him.
Next day, Monday, I left by the Sydney express for Chiltern, en
route for Sydney. Louis and Tom Wall met me at the 'Springs',
whence we went by slow train, 10 miles, to Chiltern. Eva Bergin
was still with the Walls, and met me at the train. Well, Aunt Wall,
(I think you used to call her Grace) you know from early memories
yourself. Her husband is a sort of Jack of all trades, who can when
he likes drink like a dozen troopers, dresses like a laboring man, and
I believe spent a good deal of money in his time. He speaks with the
long Dublin drawl of Thomas Street slouchers, but his stomach is at
present enjoying a long vacation from spirits. They live in an
humble and unpolished way, their associations being among the
working classes who, here, are often a grade above the same class at
home. The boys are very good fellows. Joe, a good son I should
say, not very aristocratic looking, who takes his father's tip to sit
down to his breakfast unwashed with nothing on but an open flannel,
and trousers; but he is very good natured and, as I said, an excellent
son and affectionate cousin—though inclined to be jealous if there
happened to [be] a girl in the way. Tom is a working engineer, six
feet high, steady, sober & hard working, the soul of an honest fellow,
an excellent son and brother, and 23 years of age. There is a little
girl, Mary, very affectionate as a cousin, rather of a delicate appearance.
Alf Bergin, who works about 35 miles away, was there for
the night. He is tall, about 21, and slightly reminds one of Tommy.
Eva Bergin is indeed a sweet girl. She was 18 in September, and
is about 5 feet 8 inches high, erect and rather slight in frame, with a
head. Her hair is almost jet black, perhaps a very dark brown, her
skin downy white, eyes dark and large, nose short Roman, upper lip just sufficiently short to show a splendid row of teeth when she smiles
and keep the mouth at other times closed. The father and mother are
seen in Eva's appearance—he being of rather a dark Spanish appearance.
Where she got her sweetness of disposition from is another
matter. She has not been reared in the happiest or most favorable
associations; but Eva is simply one of nature's gentle-women, who
feels and acts exactly as she ought to do, as if by instinct. The Walls
are very kind, clean both in habits and character.
Here I have been interrupted by a man who knew me politically,
and said my name was flying about in relation to the land question at
a Victorian town last night.
I got to Sydney on Thursday morning Johnny Wallsh meeting
me at the train. The hotel at which I slept with Johnny is about 50
yards from Sister Bernard's convent, overlooking the harbour. We
called on Sister Bernard, then went into the city for breakfast, Johnny
leaving me until the evening when we were to go out to see Lizzy at
the suburb of Kogarah. I took a steamer down to Manly Beach, an
indent or little bay inside the heads. Sydney Harbor is indeed a
revelation. It is five miles from the Quay from which I took boat to
the heads, but on winding round to the left you could go up 10 miles
to where the Paramatta behind Sydney enters the harbor. All the
way down nothing but inlets, bays, windings, like an octopus sending
out its tentacles, the banks rising boldly up and topped with houses.
The houses look out through a continuous growth of young gum trees,
which in the distance have a velvety light round them. Here and
there in the bays you see the big ships and steamers, and vessels like
the Austral lie right up in the city, so deep is the harbor. The
harbor indeed beats all anticipations of it. It is like fairy land. The
city itself is not a patch on Melbourne. The streets are winding and
narrow—the main street almost as noisey and narrow as Grafton
Street. One would think it never could be made bright and clean like
Melbourne. The steam trains are lumbersome, dirty things. In fact
they are two storied, ordinary trains, running through the streets, the
whistle of them being heard everywhere. They did not anticipate
what Sydney would expand to, and therefore it is not what it might
have been. Some of the buildings, public and commercial, are
splendid. On the whole it is a noisey place, of dirty, sea green
aspect—that is, the city proper, not the suburbs.
But I must to my train from 2.30 p.m. to 9.25 p.m.
Sunday Jany 8th 1887
I am back here again, after a tedious journey by train in an
atmosphere for hours of about 110° in the shade. Today it is about
106° in the shade and from 156° to 166°, I should say, in the sun.
This climate, in the summer months, is not fit for Europeans at all.
I got your's and Agnes' letters, also one from Elizabeth, and was
pleased to find you were well again. It was only a few weeks ago I
heard of your illness. The cards sent by Agnes are very tasty and
neatly done. Joseph seems to have passed very creditably at the
examination. I am glad Eugene is getting some hospital experience.
But to return to Sydney.
On Johnny Wallsh's suggestion we called on Mrs. O'Neil (Elly
Glynn) on our way to Lizzy, and took her daughter, Lilly, out with
us. Elly I should say is a tartar of the Biddy Moriarty genus. She
keeps a lodging house, and by preference keeps it dirty, and relics
herself in garments that have long since lost the glow of virgin purity.
Her husband being an ultra-incorrigible drunkard and blackguard she
has kicked out altogether, and lives herself on lodgers, and creditors.
Willie, who died, seems to have been a fine young fellow; Lilly, the
daughter, is rather theatric in appearance, considerably made up,
voluble of speech, and as Johnny Wallsh says — not a bad sort.
Lizzie agrees with her, the others don't, but I, being a man, enjoyed
her company for the while. She is engaged to be married to an
unfortunate named Smith—unfortunate, because she probably cares
as much about him as most girls do for dummy sweet-hearts, and ye
valiant Smith is, of course, terribly gone on her. But this is only my
deduction from women's gossip, which I heard, but said nothing in
regard to. I did not see Smith, nor did his intended Motherlaw, as it
seems Lilly does not care to disturb his pleasing illusion that her
mama is an aristocratic looking dowager living in a palatial residence.
I would imagine that Elly Glynn is a smart woman, and would not
have a bad presence if she was less slovenly.
Lizzy is the only one that recalls old memories to me. There
was something in her face that I had seen before, though she is
worn-looking at times now. She is jolly still, and likes an outing as
well as the youngest of them. Her place is humble, but neat and
scrupulously clean, and her girls a really lovable lot. Bertha, about
15, comes next to Eva (Evelyn). She manages the house and affairs
for Lizzy, and is a bright eyed, rather quick or wild-eyed, girl, with regular features, and the soft musical voice of Eva. Lena is 13, fair
hair tending to be matty or curlish from its abundance, somewhat like
Alf, and very quiet. The little one, Grace, 4 years next month, or
this month, is a restless, extremely precocious, droll, child who talks
like one of 8 and will probably turn out a smart girl. She is a picture
of chubby health now. Jack is a harum-scarum young fellow of
about 12 or 14, Tom, the second eldest being up country at work. I
saw Bergin for only a few minutes. In the twilight he seemed a tall,
dark, rather handsome man. For the last seven years he has done'
little but drink and left his family to shift for themselves. He has
been in gaol recently for 3 months for hammering a constable—but, I
believe, were he not a drunkard, you could not call him a blackguard
like O'Neil. However, a man that prefers his stomach to his family,
requires a lot of redemption. Johnny Wallah, the essence of self
forgetfulness, good temper, and good nature, has been very kind to
Lizzy, and I sometimes help her in a very little way. One has some
hesitation in acting when a husband and father is living, strong and
capable, Frank Marlborough is the father of family in Sydney, but I did
not see him. Dee O'Farrell I saw once in the streets, but he slunk
away. He is married to some woman he picked up in a lodging
house. He also drinks, but they do not live together, as Dee is now
a man without abode or occupation who cares for nothing except
the bottle. The Nuns have been very kind to him, but it was no
I must finish, or I will tire you out. I left Sydney for Chilten
on Monday by express to Melbourne, stayed another night with the
Walls for a concert and dance, reached Melbourne on Wednesday,
and here on Saturday morning. Cecilia Glynn had returned to
Sydney same day, what to do there I don't know. Her mother I saw
once for a minute—not much of a mother.
I may write again by next mail, if I can collect in a few pounds
of costs. Law is at a low ebb here now, and I have invested all in a
mining speculation. The shares, however, have run from £4] to
£96 since I bought, and may reach £200 or 0.
With love to all,
Your affectionate Son
P. McM. Glynn