Thursday, December 31, 2009

NSW Premier J J Cahill: railwayman, unionist with strong Marrickville links

Cahill, John Joseph (Joe) (1891 - 1959) Biographical Entry - Australian Dictionary of Biography Online
CAHILL, JOHN JOSEPH (1891-1959), railway fitter, trade unionist and premier, was born on 21 January 1891 at Redfern, Sydney, son of Irish-born parents Thomas Cahill, labourer, and his wife Ellen, née Glynn. The family was part of the tightly-knit community of railway workers that had grown up around the Eveleigh railway workshops. Educated at St Brigid's convent school, Marrickville, and Patrician Brothers' School, Redfern, on 2 July 1907 Joe was apprenticed as a fitter at Eveleigh. He joined the Workers' Educational Association, regularly attended lectures and developed his public-speaking skills in debating societies.

An officer of Marrickville branch of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (Amalgamated Engineering Union from 1920), Cahill went as a delegate to union conferences. He was dismissed from his job on 14 August 1917 for his part in a railway strike and his personal file was annotated 'agitator'. There followed a lean period in which Cahill found it difficult to obtain regular employment. At one stage he was reduced to selling insurance. Prominent in the early 1920s in an unsuccessful revolt by a group of activists against the A.E.U.'s governing body, he was banned from holding office in the union until mid-1925. In May 1922 he was re-employed by the railways. At St Brigid's Church, Marrickville, on 11 November that year he married Esmey Mary Kelly; they were to have a long and happy family life.

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