Comedian and writer John Doyle, best known for his persona Roy Slaven in Roy and HG, returned to his Lithgow roots on Wednesday, October 18, to observe a piece of family history.
John and his three siblings, Deanna, Cathy and Tony, who grew up in Lithgow have donated historic items from their trove to Lithgow & District Family History Society, as well as paid for their archiving and preservation.
"I had these items around the house for most of my life so they evoke memories"John Doyle
“I just inherited it from my mum, I didn’t know what to do with it,” Deanna Browning (née Doyle) said, referring to a collection of her grandmother’s embroidery work.
“They go back to the early 1900s, created by Martha Foley, my mother’s mum.”
Cathy Fink (née Doyle) can remember wearing the jacket, initially handmade by her great-grandmother for her grandmother, to her own graduation from St Patrick’s Primary School.
“So it’s gone through three generations,” she said.
The embroidery and clothing have now been carefully preserved in frames and protective coverings by the Family History Society.
“It’s a significant collection because it goes back to an early pioneer family, the Foley family, of Rydal as well as the Doyles and Cullens,” Jan Saundercock, the society’s publishing officer said.
“We actually did a workshop with the Power House Musesum on preserving textiles, it was the first time we were able to use that knowledge. The Power House helped with that and the preservation of the letters.”
One part of the Doyle archive is a collection of letters sent between Martha and John Edward Foley, dating to the late 1800s. They are the Doyle siblings’ maternal grandparents.
“Part of the treasure of the collection are the letters between Martha Cullen and John Foley. John was a drover and he was droving in Black Springs while Martha was in Rydal and Lithgow,” Ms Saundercock said.
“The only way they could communicate was by mail and they wrote regularly. The amazing thing is she [Martha] kept them, people don’t keep their letters any more.”
John Doyle said he was impressed with his family’s collection, now on display in the family history society rooms.
“It’s fabulous, wonderful. I had these items around the house for most of my life so they evoke memories,” he said.