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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

Go to: Early family history | Involvement with the Catholic Church | History from the 1950s | Dairying | Frank’s education | The history of the Bridge and naming of Boyle Road | Changes in the local area from the 1970s | Frank and Andrea meet | Moving out of dairying | Farmers’ markets | Rice | Raising awareness of food production | The future and the food movement | Farm forestry | Work ethic | The House

Involvement with the Catholic Church

They paid rent here but he was sort of paying for that farm. They paid rent to the church for many years, for probably 30 years. And then, eventually, the property came up. Then my father who was the youngest of his family, and the oldest of the family, Michael, his oldest brother, they worked the farm, the dairy farm over there and then this came up for sale and they bought it. Brought this part of the farm back off the church.

The actual Church at the end of the road is that on Boyle property?

Frank:  I’d say that it was originally and I’d imagine that it could have been donated by the McIntyres to the Catholic Church ‘cause it’s just a little 2 acre block down there. It’s just right in the middle, so I don’t know for sure, but I’m sure you could probably find out, in title searches. Whether it goes back that far, but I’d imagine they donated the land to the Church.

So you’re family though has continued to practice as Catholics and have a strong involvement with the Church? I know your mother teaches scripture at the local schools.

Frank:  That really amazes me, especially as I get older now. Sort of that, you know how they kept their faith, when you know they had everything taken away from them basically. And, and it seems that at the time it was very underhanded. But these are family stories that get passed down through the ages, whether that wasn’t the case. I don’t think they ever felt injustice. I think, our generation probably fells more of the injustice than they do. Cause I think they probably had the faith.

What do you think they might have got out of the church? Was it a really active church community? Was it the sort of place where people would meet and they might have had event and something like that when you were growing up?

Frank: Very much so yeah. It was, even when I was a teenager there were a lot of church events. I remember one of the biggest events of the year was the bridle races they had at Keerong. And my uncle used to organise that, and it was a huge event. You know, before the days of public liability and that sort of thing [laughs].

Andrea: Did that blend in with the other families though? There’s other prominent members of this community who aren’t Catholics, so it might have just been more of a community spirit, not necessarily driven by Catholicism and faith.

Frank: It was community.

Andrea: I get that sense that it’s a mixed community.

Frank: I think the Catholics organised a lot of stuff, but for everyone, it wasn’t separated. It wasn’t as separated when I was younger anyway. I can’t remember that.

Well, I can relate one story that I’ve been told that the men used to go to town, all the men used to go to town on Tuesdays. Ride their horses to town. The Catholics and the Protestants. And they’d go to the pub, they’d go to the cattle sales and then they’d go the pub and get fairly full and ride their horses home and they’d have stirrup fights on the way home. Like again Catholic versus Protestant. You know.

Andrea: So that would have been the people living here. There were Boyles living here, before the place was derelict for thirty years, so it would have been people like the grandparents’ generation.

Frank: Yeah my grandparents, great-great uncles. Apparently their mother, once …. Back to the history, once Grace died they moved into this house because their wasn’t another, I never saw it, but in that photo there there’s a sort of a little shack up there … It’s an interesting thing, this huge house there were two people living in it. There was a little shack up there, Mum and Dad and thirteen children. You know, so … [laughs]. It’s interesting, all that sort of thing. So they moved into this house, that family moved into this house and some of them married and went away and some of them didn’t.

Andrea: Maggie and Renie …

Frank: Maggie…. Maggie never married. Frank never married.

Andrea: Renie did.

Frank: But they stayed here and worked the farm. Family members left and sort of went off and did their own thing but some of the family stayed here and kept, sort of farming. But then eventually that’s when my Dad and Mick, his brother, took over the farm and, took over the lease and then they took over, then they bought it. And when that happened all the family from here moved to town and this house became empty then. Because I think they just wanted to, they wanted to go to town. Wanted to go to town, basically retire.

My Dad and his brother leased it off, rented it off the church. Because, well they basically took over the rental, the rental from the other part of the family.

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