Eulogy of Brian O'Sullivan Born 9th August 1943 Died 29th December 2010
9/8/1943- 29/12 2010
Born 9th August 1943 in Hopetoun to Jack and Sylvia and was the last remaining O’Sullivan sibling, Mick, Tim and Frances all predeceasing Brian.
Brian married Kaye Buckley in 1966 and was blessed with three children Brigid, Paddy and Luke. Kaye died suddenly and tragically almost 20 years ago.
Typically Brian regrouped and gained immense pleasure from his children’s growth to adult hood and their achievements both personally and professionally.
He often spoke of their respective partners Peta-Jane, Christie and Jon and whilst Brian was never going to be a hands on Grandfather while his seven grand children were small (don’t think Brian ever changed a nappy) everyone knew once they reached a certain age (probably about fifteen) he would have been an invaluable companion with sound advice and a host of life skills to share, as his nieces and nephews who are here today can attest. Brian was not a particularly demonstrative man with his emotions but his bias and pride often showed through when talking about Brigid, who in his eyes, was the best mother on the face of the earth.
Brian was a very congenial and gregarious host, in fact two people offering condolences made the same observation in that Brian’s door was always open, whether for advice, support or fun, he had a wide net work of friends and many relatives (the O’Sullivan, Grigg/Walch Family is huge) he could mix with any company, from the top end of town to the front bar at the Patche pub, he particularly enjoyed “Grandmas” party, our annual family reunion where the ability to argue and debate loud and long was essential.
Brian and I attended and sat together at many funerals and it was not uncommon for Brian to lean over and whisper dead pan during the eulogy; “are we at the right service” or “rubbish” when the lily was somewhat excessively guilded, so Brian if you’re up there looking down bear with us, we have a lot to say.
Brian has been described as bushman (Alan will remember) born and bred to the land he was of the land. Not only his beloved “Pine Plains” dedicated to grazing, but the large broad acre cropping areas of Patche more recently to the higher rainfall country of Tallarook and out back Australia. He loved the land.
I was a close friend to Brian and had the pleasure of spending much time in his company on “trips” to all parts of Australia. Brian was insatiable in his desire to travel the outback, the more remote and difficult to access the better.
Brian pretended to be inclusive, tolerant and bipartisan in his opinions but the O’Sullivan/Grigg genes often came to the fore and whilst he listened to others in respect to trip planning almost invariably we did what Brian decreed.
It is always dangerous to mention names for some will be omitted but some great trips were had with Yeti, Youngy, Roger Hallam, Nick, Kel, Derry, The Scott Boys, Paddy, Luke, Eamon, Johnno, Adrian, Sean, Jiles as he liked to refer to his old friend Alan, John Gillespie, Rick, Ian, Bonica, the Rainbow /Yaapeet crew, The Harris Boys and The Kiley Family. Brian particularly enjoyed travelling with his personal pilot, nephew Dan. They even included wives and partners at times when we were a bit more sophisticated with table cloths and French wine. (Thanks Debbie)
Brian was into recycling long before it was trendy, he threw little away and could fix or fabricate almost anything. Time was usually not an issue, and as he was wont to remark, he often had to fix the thing required to fix the thing! He had a tool for every occasion. Robin Yetman, described Brian in a song he wrote and sang at Brian’s sixtieth birthday – Jack of all trades master of most, very apt.
Brian loved his Ute, a silent war raged between Col Mack and Brian in respect to the number and usefulness of accessories and gadgets with neither conceding the other might be onto something. Ironically, as is often the way, Brian purchased a new top line vehicle just before he became sick, and was very disappointed not to take it on a trip, something Paddy and Luke have vowed to remedy.
Brian attended school in Patche and then boarded at St Pats in Ballarat for his secondary years. He completed his wool classing qualification and was a professional classer for thirty years. He was an altar boy until he married, not sure why he was sacked from that role, perhaps Fr Paul can shed some light. Was a married man considered to possess too much worldly knowledge?
Brian was very community minded belonging to and participating in numerous community organisations and clubs, notably he campaigned vigorously to retain the Patche ambulance and to keep the air ambulance at Essendon to service regional Victoria.
Horses and O’Sullivans went hand in hand. Brian was no exception, an accomplished horseman and amateur jockey winning his first five races, competing against, and supposedly beating his well known cousin Terry O’Sullivan in one of these. Brian even snagged a role as a horseman in the sequel to –“The Man from Snowy River”, complaining of course that much was done wrong and he would have done it like this etc. Brian was also employed several times for roles and advice in TV commercials, making great friends in a completely different industry.
Brian trained and raced horses with passion, the usual mediocre results ensued until King Artist came along, owned jointly with his good friend Geoff Hahnel, how these two intolerant, opinionated blokes ever agreed on anything, let alone a programme for a Flemington winning horse, is beyond everyone, but they did, with a great deal of fun along the way.
Brian loved music and poetry as most people do, could hold a reasonable tune and was not afraid to let people know if they had an inflated opinion of their ability. There were several great excursions to the Port Fairy Folky and other concerts. Most of us heard many times his renditions of Danny Boy and Ghost Riders in the Sky. Only last year, Brian, on yet another camping trip lamented he was sick of all the old music. I offered my IPod with several thousand different tracks most he was not familiar with, after about two days of listening he declared it all rubbish and last I heard it was back to Mary Black, The Chieftains, Kris Kristofferson and Eva Cassidy.
Brian in his words wasn’t much of a footballer and a B grade golfer who got lucky, winning the coveted MU Walch Memorial trophy, arguably the most prestigious local golf handicap event, proving in the racing vernacular “a good roughy can always get up”. A great deal of bragging right is attached to this trophy and Brian milked it for all it was worth, especially as family members, who having a much higher opinion of their golfing ability compared to Brian’s, had or had tried to win this event for decades.
Brian was a keen shooter, who according to the folklore of Brian was the best rifle shot in his youth since Annie Oakley was a girl. He insisted he could hit a thrown two bob piece six of ten times, no one person alive actually witnessed this feat. We all remember his hand eye coordination to be much more akin to Ricky Pontings current form. However he was a valued member of the Patchewollock and District Gun Club where his lasting legacy is the handmade gun rack which continues to draw positive comment.
Brian enjoyed working with his hands. Be it steel or wood he had a skill that without formal qualification was exceptional. Wood in the end was his canvas. His legacy in respect to his hand made furniture will last for generations, superb red gum tables will become family heirlooms and pine furniture milled from the property showcase his skill. Brian, for reasons best left unsaid, took great delight in poaching timber from various sources, aided and abetted by others who will remain anonymous. In fact a new friend Leigh said very recently he was the best wood poacher he had ever seen. Red gum was Brian’s first choice of timber thus his wish for a red gum casket respectfully crafted by Roger Hallam and Kevin Harris.
Brian enjoyed an occasional drink. All who knew Brian could not remember him giving up for Lent or any other reason, but as he told his boys, you didn’t need to be right on it, but by the same, you didn’t have to be right off it either. With that in mind Brian by fair means or foul acquired a certain high end bottle with the word Grange on the label. Brian and I discussed the inevitable consumption of this beverage, after he was convinced not to sell it to be replaced with however many bottles of an inferior substitute. Thus the decision reached, it was far too good to be drunk alone, and it was not to be opened unless I was present, we also agreed that two was plenty to share it with. As fate would have it we never did get to drink his special bottle and somehow Jon, Brian’s son in law now has possession, but Brian being the honourable man he was, obtained an undertaking from Jon that it had to be shared with me. Jon and I have reached an understanding, so publicly I would like to tell Paddy and Luke to butt out.
Losing “Pine” broke Brian’s heart, but ever the pragmatist, and with a living to make, Brian embarked on a new chapter in his varied life. About five years ago Brian accepted a managerial role with Peter and Sandra Gillooly on their cattle property at Tallarook, quickly immersing himself in the local community with the CFA, church and the pub. He and Peter became good friends and would discuss work and broader issues at the end of the day, leaning on the Ute, beer in hand.
They say you can judge a man by the calibre of his friends; it is testimony to Brian by your attendance today and by the constant stream of visitors and messages in these past months while undergoing treatment, and in his final weeks at Peter Mac and Caritas Christi hospice.
It is a measure of the Tallarook district and the respect Brian had for it, that while discussing his pending funeral arrangements he seriously sought advice on whether he would be buried in Tallarook or his ancestral home in the Mallee. Brian genuinely enjoyed his time in this community and was humbled to receive visitors and messages of support from this part of Victoria. I know he would want to thank you for your attendance and support today.
There are some special people to thank
• Paddy and Peta-Jane for their loving care over many months. Paddy and Peta-Jane have a very young family yet Brian virtually lived with them throughout his illness, they constantly ferried Brian to specialists and treatment and remained constantly at his side in these past few weeks, I know how much this was appreciated by Brigid and Luke.
• Doctors and nurses at Peter Mac and Caritas Christi hospice in Kew for their dedication and empathy for Brian and family.
• Debbie and Alan Jiles for so many reasons they know well.
• Father Merkovich- a family friend for thirty years.
• All who provided support, visited and rang Brian and family during his illness.
After nearly twenty years Brian is reunited with the love of his life and wife, Kaye.
As an aside I took a phone call of condolence from a National Party man who described Brian as “The Grand Father” of National Party politics in Victoria a fitting tribute indeed.
I will hand over to Peter Ryan to recount Brian’s National Party contribution.