From Ireland to Australia, the story of Raymond ‘Ray’ Pentony

Declan McAteer Posted by
Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Modern day: Saint Clare's Avenue, Newry and Reservoir Melbourne, Australia

This is the story of Raymond ‘Ray’ Pentony (16th September 1924 – 4th November 2011), originally of Saint Clare’s Avenue, Newry and lately of Reservoir Melbourne, Australia. Below are the edited extracts from his memorial service held in Reservoir close to Melbourne, New South Wales.

Ray was one of seven children to James and Lily Pentony. He had five sisters Lily, Madge, Kathleen, Ellie, Bernadette and an elder brother Leo. Their mother Lily took care of the family home and raised their children while their father James worked as a labourer as well as spending many years in the Merchant Navy.

Ray was educated in the Christian Brothers School in Newry. These of course were the years of the Great Depression during which the majority of families struggled, not just in Ireland but indeed around the World. World War II soon followed, in 1945 Ray, at the young age of just 21, joined the British Army where he was part of the Occupation Forces in Egypt. He was discharged from the Army in 1947.

With few work opportunities in the Newry Area and feeling there were many more opportunities available in Australia, Ray decided to emigrate there and so he bravely set off by himself on the adventure of a lifetime on what was known as a ‘ten pound pom’ at the time.

He arrived in Australia in 1948 when he was still in his early twenties. Having docked in Perth he eventually made his way to Melbourne where he found work in the construction industry. Ray then met a young lady named Joan, as her family was also Irish; they found that they had much in common. They both fell in love and married. Ray was thirty-four when he married. Having married, in 1958 they moved in to what would become the family home until 2009 in Reservoir.

In time Joan and Ray were blessed with six sons; Raymond, Adrian, Gerard, Patrick, Leo and Brendan. Joan was a loving Mother and Ray like his father before him was an excellent provider. Ray continued his work within the construction industry, however he later took work with AG Coombes Air Conditioning. At the time the company was based at Tullamarine which was some distance away from Reservoir, which before the advent of reliable public transport, forced Ray to hitchhike to and from work each day which made it a long, hard day for him.

After Ray had settled in Australia his elder brother Leo emigrated there also. Over the years they enjoyed the times they spent together. They often recalled how they dug the trenches for the sewerage system for the family home by hand. Ray was laid off from the AG Coombes work force in 1985 due to the lack of work. But he felt he wasn’t ready to retire. When the industry picked up again he secured work back with the company and worked there until 1991 when he retired voluntarily at the young age of seventy-seven.

Most weekends he would get involved at the family home, particularly in his vegetable garden. He grew enough vegetables to support the family all year round. He also had a great variety of fruit trees, plums, pears, peaches, apples and of course he learned very quickly that these fruits could be used to make delicious wines. Cherry and Pear Wine and Apple Cider were two of his favourites. Ray enjoyed music, particularly traditional Irish and The Dubliners. He liked to read anything about history, particularly that relating to Ireland. Indeed he probably learned more about the history of Ireland from what he read than he did by living there.

Two years ago both Joan and Ray became residents at the Eden Terrace Nursing Home with both of them suffering from dementia. Sadly Joan passed away thirteen months ago. Ray continued on at Eden Terrace but over the past thirteen months his health deteriorated, eventually seeing him peacefully pass over, so ending his life journey. He never wanted a lot in life, his needs were very simple. Providing his family were happy, he was happy. He was a man with very strong morals and always believed in doing the right thing by everyone. Ray was happy with his journey through life and left this world with maybe only one regret which was that he never got the opportunity to return to Newry to see his sisters and their families.

In many ways we will miss Ray, but a small part of him will live on in each of you as his family. Sadly missed by his sister Lily and the Kane family, Barcroft Park and the Hughes Family, Hillhead Road.

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