Mary & Ben

The girls have been very quiet for a bit, you see we have lost the elders of our mob, and the girls are heartbroken. Aunty Joan steps up to tell a tale about Mary and Ben, the grand royalty of The Aunties. Thanks Aunty Joan. Love the Valet.


Aunty Joan

I was ten when I met Mary and Ben. It was 1955 and Ben had just bought the house next door to us in Hargreaves St, Bendigo. Ben would sometimes walk into our home for a visit and say hello. Mary was there occasionally at first and then they married in November 1955. I went to see their wedding at the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Mary was so pretty with her beautiful black hair and Irish complexion. Ben was really handsome. I was really intrigued by their accent, for me this added to their beauty.

Then they both lived next door. I loved to visit. I never felt I was intruding or a nuisance. They were always happy to see me. I had a Irish Nun teaching me in grade 6 in 1956. She was pleased to know Mary & Ben also. She engaged a school friend to teach me how to sing The Mountains of Mourne, then I was to go home from school and sing it to Mary. That all went well I am pleased to say. I think Mary had a little cry, but I was too young to realize why. I would now of course. Mary gave me a gift of a beautiful emerald green Bracelet. I am sorry to say I don’t have it now.

Mary & Ben were very much into gathering  all the Irish people to their home. I met many of their friends over the years. They would often take me to visit their friends. Sometimes I wanted to be their child, even though I had a beautiful Mum myself. Loved being around Ben, I can say it now I have the words, they both had such a incredible energy. I was so absorbed in their lives and they allowed it. Lucky me.


Aunty Joan and Aunty Lush.

Then came their first born Kerry (Aunty Lush), a beautiful little girl. My Mum took me up to see Mary at the Hospital but as I was young I was not allowed into visit. In those days you were in Hospital for about 14 days, when you had a baby (crazy) and that was a long time for me to wait.  So Mary came to the window and waved to me with Kerry in her arms.  That is what Mary would do of course.

I spent much time over at Mary and Ben’s playing with the new Baby. As Kerry grew older I was allowed to feed her and rock her off to sleep, I was very good at this. Amazingly. I would clean out the cupboards and help with anything. I was doing the ironing one day and the cord caught on fire, without turning the iron off I ran out the back door and down the driveway screaming. Mary simply said you could have  turned the iron off.

I loved playing with Kerry. One day I was on Mary’s push bike and Kerry put her little finger in the chain. Opps that was not good. Lucky not too much damage. Mary was very understanding, I felt unhappy about it though.

Mary & Ben stayed with my Aunt Eileen & Uncle Arch at Edithvale in the early years. They became really good friends too. I had to have my appendix out one Summer, Mary was there to help out. 1959.

When Ben worked away sometimes I would stay and sleep with your Mar, so she had company. That was really good. I was so influenced by the Irish fun and laughter and singing I took up Irish dancing, and would dance for them when they had visitors. One Song Ben would sing and I loved was the Irish Rover. I loved it.


Darling Ben, Aunty Lush and Aunty Joan

At my home my Mum & Dad played cards, and Ben and Mary would come to our home. My Dad used to cheat, I caught him out once. None  of that. So I continued to visit and bring Kerry into my house to play by now I was 12 years, and Donna (Aunty Verve) was born in the November,  then Colleen (Aunty Darling) and Siobhan (Aunty Beads) loved this name as they told me it was Irish for Joan.

Then Erin Margaret (Aunty Mod), Margaret is my second name too, this was all so amazing. By now I was grown up and  went to work and went out socially. Also my older sisters were married and having babies now too so I spent more of my time there.

Mary & Ben were always looking out for me regards a romance. In 1966 Tony McEniry came to work for Ben. Right next door. Brilliant! We began dating the following year. Tony used to take Tyrone (Uncle Tige) with him in the ute.

He really liked Tyrone, so much so that it gave me the idea that Tony would be a great father  to our children. I remember when Paul (Uncle Paulus) was born and went to visit at the hospital.

Ben bought a ski boat, the first one was Raheen, and the second one was Tiger Paw. So we all began our wonderful times out at Lake Eppalock learning to ski. Such great fun. Then the times we would visit when you were at the beach house in Rosebud.


Uncle Johnny, little Aunty Joan and Queen Mary with Aunty Verve as a babe.

How fortunate was I to have such fun in my childhood.

Tony and I were married in May of 1970. Donna was one of my Bridesmaids.  We left Bendigo and moved to Kerang. We returned in the August of the next year

Mary and Ben moved out to Strathdale.  I think. We did visit a couple of times when they were there. Then they went to Ballarat, and we visited them there a few times. I think I just became busy with my children and our working life. This was all a bit sad.

Now. The last time I saw Ben was in April of last year when he visited us in Bendigo and took Tony & I out for lunch. We spoke to him on the Phone a few times. We didn’t get over to Ballarat in the later years though. Our loss.

Thanks Erin, writing this has been quite emotional. I am so grateful to Mary and Ben, I know they loved and cherished me, I hope I fulfilled a need  for them as a surrogate younger sister.

Mary and Ben  certainly left a truly amazing legacy in all of their children.  As you say Erin darling heart, I can hear Mary saying this.

Much sincere love to you all and many thanks for asking me to write. My life was truly enriched I will treasure it more for the rest of my life.

Love Aunty Joan

Facey Comments

9 Responses to “Mary & Ben”
  1. Aunty Joan says:

    Dear Erin,
    I am grateful to you for having posting this to the family. I am so pleasantly overwhelmed by the responses. Thank you all so much. I would like you all to know I feel blessed and loved by your responses. My other story.

    Thursday the 10th March I sent the above to you. Friday the 11th I drove to Melbourne on my own, (had a workshop in Melb. ) With Foster and Allen Playing all the way including the (Mountains of Mourne) I cried and sobbed all the way to Melb. This was a very good thing this was grief.

    Hope this helps you all Darlings My intention we will all meet in Bendigo Melbourne or Ballarat before the 16 th May Love Auntie Joan xxxxxxx

    • Erin says:

      Such a beautiful story Aunty Joan, you crazy fabulous woman. My memory of you is eternally young, in short skirts, flicking your dark haired bob and laughing. Now I hear i’ll have to add Irish Dancer – you remain an inspiration chickie.

  2. Donna says:

    Beautifully written Joan McEniry. What a great story – i remember you as a very happy, carefree, loving and kind girl – some things don’t change!

    • Aunty Joan says:

      Hello Beautiful Donna Thank you for your message. I have posted a response under Erin’s post please let me know if you see it or not Love Auntie Joan x

  3. Colleen says:

    What a beautiful story about our parents. A heart felt thanks.

  4. Siobhan says:

    How beautiful Joan….brought a tear to my eye

  5. Lyn says:

    Have just read your lovely story and replies from the Aunties…….. such lovely times for you all to remember.
    – Lyn

  6. I don’t know Aunty Joan but she sounds like a lovely person. It was nice to read about my glamorous sister in her youth. She was a very sociable person and always on the go. When she told me that she walked around the lake every day i found it hard to imagine her in sensible shoes, as my memories of her are slim waisted dresses and very high heels! Lots of love to all the gorgeous aunties- we are always thinking of you so no more crying. Auntie Margaret

  7. Kerry says:

    What a beautiful story Joan McEniry or Joan Hayes, as we knew from our early days of Hargreaves Street. I remember her popping in nearly every day and having a cuppa with mum. I was at home studying my final year of high school and I could hear her voice and mum’s laughter coming from the kitchen. Always looking for an excuse to not ‘study, I’d pop down for a cuppa too and mum would say, ‘just a quick one Kerry and then back to the books’… the memories are so clear.
    This was also where Joan met her husband Tony, he worked for our dad and their romance blossoms to this day. Joan that is a beautiful story and I know that my mum and dad loved you and Tony to the day they left this world.
    Aunty Margaret, I’m sure you have some beautiful stories of our mum and maybe one day you and Michel will come to Australia to visit and we get to learn more about our mum’s childhood. xxxxx

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