From The Archives

October 1, 1991: A loving embrace after 42 years

By Shepparton News

It had been 42 years since Invergordon dairy farmer Patrick Rochford had laid eyes on his sister.

Mr Rochford, 60, and Mrs Mary O'Brien, 56, were reunited last week after sha had flown in from America.

It was the first time they had seen each other since they were teenagers in Ireland.

They were born in the town of Meelick, which is in the south of Ireland.

"Mary's visit is a dream come true," Mr Rochford said.

Although the pair had kept in contact during their separation they had never managed to catch up with each other.

"It's so sad that we were separated for so long," Ms O'Brien said.

"A lot of years have gone by - too many good years."

Mr Rochford, who was the eldest of five children, left Ireland when he was 18 to search for work in London.

Unable to find work he left London in 1951 for the greener pastures of Australia.

"I came out to have a look around and ended up staying," Mr Rochford said.

Mr Rochford owns a dairy farm in Invergordon and has lived in the Goulburn Valley for about 30 years.

He is married and has four sons and two daughters ranging in age from 21 to 31.

Ms O'Brien, who was the third eldest, left Ireland to also find work when she was 17 and headed for America, where she eventually settled in Los Angeles, California.

She has six sons and two daughters ranging in age from 22 to 33.

Widowed 20 years ago after her husband suffered a heart attack, she raised her eight children on her own.

The financial problems associated with being a single mother stopped her from catching up with her big brother sooner.

Mr Rochford said that growing up in Ireland had been tough for the Rochford family because they did not have much money.

He said that the tough times had meant that the family had been very close.

"But Mary and I had the odd blue just like most children do," he said.

Mr Rochford and Ms O'Brien have two brothers and a sister who live in New York and a brother who still lives in Ireland.

While Ms O'Brien has seen her relatives in America, Mr Rochford has not seen his brothers and sisters since he came to Australia.

Ms O'Brien said she was planning to have a family reunion in Ireland.

"I've been trying to talk Pat into going back to Ireland," Ms O'Brien said.

"It would be nice for him to go back and see mum and dads' graves, and the town where we grew up."

Ms O'Brien will be in Australia for another two weeks.