James and Sophie McGrath
The second star on the Ri-con Christmas tree is for a local Cooroy family James and Sophie McGrath and is sponsored by their descendant and well know local, Kennedy McGrath.
“The Sponsor a Star on the Ri-con Christmas Tree is such a great way to honour someone special in your life. Our family felt that as we descended from two pioneering families in Cooroy it was a great way to recognise them,” said Kennedy McGrath.
James McGrath grew up in New South Wales and from his early boyhood, was closely connected with the breeding and improving of cattle, particularly AIS cattle and Ayrshire dairy cattle. James won in all the leading shows in New South Wales including Sydney with his biggest success gained with the Ayrshire bull, Loftus.
James also went on to become a noted judge at Sydney and other main shows in NSW at different periods. He was also appointed Judge of the AIS and Ayrshire breeds at many Queensland shows. His advice, which was always freely given, was sought by many of the leading dairymen of the North Coast.
At age 35 he married Sophie Mary Badans, of Jamberoo NSW, with whom he went on to have a beautiful family. James and Sophie moved from Nowra NSW, to Bundaberg in 1906 as manager of the dairy cattle for ‘Buss Estate’ at Bundaberg with their children Myra, Rita Jane, James Clyde, William Mark, Percy Mervyn. In Bundaberg they had another child, Herbert Wesley.
The family moved to Cooroy in 1907, camping in the railway yards behind where the post office now stands. In 1908 the final addition to the family, Charles Phillip Crawford, arrived. The family then settled in the Happy Jack Creek area where they developed a dairy farm.
Of their seven children two sons, James Clyde and William Mark, served in World War I. Sadly, James Clyde did not make it home. The Gympie Times reported that J. C. McGrath had been killed in action on Tuesday 22 October 1918 and the news was broken to his parents by Reverend J Gaunders. James had been on the front for three years and was just shy of twenty-one when he died. In 1919 William Mark returned home to his family, hailed by the Gympie Times as a Returned Hero.
The grief Sophie endured at the loss of her child never left her and she passed away four years later in Cooroy on Saturday 29 July 1922 and is buried in the Cooroy Cemetery. At almost 80 years of age, on Friday 10 June 1938 James passed away in the Cooroy Private Hospital. The funeral took place at the Cooroy Cemetery and the Methodist Reverend W. Lawton officiated at the graveside.
The McGrath family is today remembered as a pioneer family of Cooroy and the incredible lives they lived are truly valued by those who live here.