(The master version of this biography, which includes images, is maintained at http://www.dorneyfamilyhistory.net/famtree_web/History_dorney.pdf)
Marie was born in Melbourne, the 7th of 12 children.
Marie’s father, John Joseph Kiernan was born in Dublin and came to Australia in 1854. He was 38 when he married Marie’s mother, who was 16. Marie’s mother, Margaret nee McDonald was the daughter of a drill sergeant with the 99th Regiment stationed at Anglesea Barracks in Hobart.
Marie spoke French and German quite fluently and Latin less so. Marie loved the Greek and Roman myths so much she taught herself to read Greek and Latin so as to read the myths in the original and delighted in recounting these stories to her male children and grandchildren. She was also proficient at playing the piano. Earl remembers his uncle Hugh said she used to entertain musical greats like Yehudi Menuhin in her home.
The family bought their first car in about 1912, which was a Mitchell. A few years laters the family were involved in a car accident where they were swiped by the Frankston express, an incident which apparently made the first page of a Melbourne newspaper.
A letter to Marie’s sister Margaret in 1912 referred to Marie and the car –
"...I suppose time goes fast now that Mrs. D has a car. I have heard that a great black monster, such a beauty, more beautiful than my language, is often seen in A. Vale streets – “to the terror of the passers”. My word how things change and how people change with them; to think that Mrs. D always so wrapped up in the cloudy atmosphere of the poets."
At this point the next page is missing but on the following page there is more – "...to convey to Mr and Mrs Dorney my kindest regards..... that despite motor cars and other aristocratic matters.... that I may still claim the friendship of an old and valued acquaintance"
James and Marie were a good match for each other. James was a very quiet, gentle and calm person, which he much needed if married to Marie. Marie was a nice person, but very strong willed and it was apparently easiest to get on with her if you agreed that she was right. Her daughter Dorothy said that Marie loved everybody until she knew them well. James and Marie were separated in later life.
She was a strict mother and Dorothy told me stories about how the boys would try and sneak in late at night after curfew. Dorothy would sometimes change the clocks so that Marie didn’t know what time it was. However, one night when Kiernan climbed in through his window he found Marie sleeping in his bed, waiting for him!
After James’ death Marie moved to Tasmania. Her son Esmond designed a house for her at Tiger Head near Hobart, and all three sons pitched in to buy it for her. She lived there for some years and gained a reputation as a local eccentric and her house had several bookshelves filled with books in Latin.
Her grandson Peter, regularly visited her during these years, mowing her lawns and shopping for her. He recalls her being very interesting but could see that she would be a formidable opponent.
A bit of a dragon, some of her grandchildren remember being scared of her. Marie moved to Melbourne after a stroke, where she lived for a few years before finally moving to Townsville where her son Kiernan looked after her.
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