James O'Brien

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Background

Settled at Kanowna.

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

THE EUREKA STOCKADE. GATHERING. AT KALGOORLIE. ... 'Mr. J. O'Brien, a sturdily-built man from Kanowna, made a decided hit with the crowd. He gave his recollection of the mass meeting at Bakery Hill. Apparently the advocates of peaceful measures for obtaining the redress of wrongs had not had his sympathy, for he joined with the party he believed in the now historical words of one of the speakers on Bakery Hill "Moral persuasion is all a humbug, there's nothing convinces like a lick in the lug.' He gave a good description of the arms of the diggers. He showed how companies were formed which elected their own officers, including sergeants. There was the rifle company, the musket company, the pistol company, and the pike company. The true heroes of the stockade in his opinion were the men who were armed with pikes only - the men who stood patiently awaiting the advance of the soldiers who kept pouring in musketry fire upon those diggers who were not in a position to fire back. Mr. O'Brien paid a tribute of praise to Captain Wise; who climbed the stockade and shouted to his men, only to fall "among the pistols." Mr O'Brien believed Captain Wise was to gallant a soldier to fall in such "a squabble". The speaker got rounds of applause from the spectators on account of his displays with his walking-stick of the use of "the pike and improvised bayonets of the diggers. [1]


THE EUREKA STOCKADE. GATHERING. AT KALGOORLIE. The jubilee of the Eureka Stockade, where the diggers of Ballarat made a stand for liberty on the now historic Sunday, December 4, 1854, was celebrated on Sunday in the several States of the Commonwealth in diverse manners. The principal ceremonies eventuated as a matter of course on the very scene of the struggle, where the celebration partook of the nature of a religious observance of the event - ministers of religion taking part. Many years ago, shortly after the Ven. Archdeacon Julius came to take up his duties at the Anglican 'Pro-Cathedral of the Garden City, a massive memorial of stone was set up to mark the locality of the stockade. There was a long procession of pioneers of the early digging times of Victoria to the spot, including a number of those who had borne a hand in the short and suddenly terminated fray. The archdeacon (now a bisthop in New Zealand) was chosen to deliver the address of the day. On Sunday there was another procession to the site of the memorial. The jubilee was observed in Kalgoorlie on Sunday in a somewhat different but none the less interesting manner. It was bereft of all appearance of a religious celebration, but it was alike to the Ballarat jubilee proceedings in one respect at least - Kalgoorlee could boast of the presence of three men who had either in their youth or early manhood been associated closely with the events of '54. They are Messrs. A. J. MacPherson, O'Brien and Knuckey. On Sunday a gathering was initiated by the massing of the four brass bands of the district at the Palace Hotel corner, in Hannan-street, and the playing of a lively marching air to the "Kaloorlie Recreation Reserve, where a fairly large crowd foregathered in 'orderto hear the speeches and musical items from in the programme. - Mr. Con. Lowry, of Coolgardie, acted as chairman. He set forth that the gathering was the outcome of a recommendation by the last A.N.A. °conference at Albany, when the desirability of holding jubilee celebration was affirmed. The 'Mayor of Kalgoorlie (Mr. Norbert Keenan), who emphasised - his opinion that the diggers of Ballarat had had justification for making an emphatic protest against the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the privileged few, moved the first resolution, as follows : "That this mass meeting desires to express its grateful remembrance of those heroes who, 50 years ago, advanced the cause of freedom by their noble action in sacrificing their lives for the love of that democratic freedom which Australians enjoy to-day." Mr. P. J. Lynch, M.L.A., who was the seconder, proceeded to argue that Australian natives ought not to forget that people of many nationalities were associated with the struggle for liberty in '54, and that they should learn to view with a tolerant spirit the people of other places who had made Australia their adopted country. Mr. J. J. Wilkinson, then supported the motion, described his impressions of a visit he had paid 27 years ago to the site of the Eureka Stockade, and to the Ballaarat Old Cemetery, where the graves of those who had fallen on both sides were situated. The chair man called upon the three veterans to speak. Each man was received with cheers. 'Mr. J. O'Brien,. a sturdily-built man from Kanowna, made a decided hit with the crowd. He gave his recollection of the mass meeting at Bakery Hill. Apparently the advocates of peaceful measures for obtaining the redress of wrongs had not had his sympathy, for he joined with the party he believed in the now historical words of one of the speakers on Bakery Hill "Moral pursuasion is all a humbug, there's nothing convinces like a lick in the lug.' He gave a good description of the arms of the diggers. He showed how companies were formed which elected their own officers, including sergeants. There was the rifle company, the musket company, the pistol company, and the pike company. The true heroes of the stockade in his opinion were the men who were armed with pikes only - the men who stood patiently awaiting the advance of the soldiers who kept pouring in musketry fire upon those diggers who were not in a position to fire back. Mr. O'Brien paid a tribute of praise to Captain Wise; who climbed the stockade and shouted to his men, only to fall "among the pistols." Mr O'Brien believed Captain Wise was to gallant a soldier to fall in such "a squabble". The speaker got rounds of applause from the spectators on account of his displays with his walking-stick of the use of "the pike and improvised bayonets of the diggers. In other words Mr. O'Brien gave a realistic illustration of Goldsmith's old soldier "who shouldered his crutch and fought his battles o'er again." He related that he himself was possessed of a rifle and revolver at the time the diggers made their stand. He likened Peter Lalor to a man who was every inch a man. Mr. J. Knucky, who claimed to be a participant in the stirring scenes of '54, was carried away by a rush of reminiscences of the period, and spoilt an otherwise capital- narrative by a risky story of the doings of an ignor ant mayor who had been created a justice of the peace. Mr. A. J. Macpherson, whose narrative of his recollections of the troublous times of '54 has already been published in these columns, contented himself with a brief remark or two. He was given a splendid re ception by the crowd. The first resolution was carried by acclamation. Mr. Thos. Jenkins, president of the Goldfields Trades and Labor Council, moved the second resolution, as follows:-'"That the Government be approached and urgently requested to have an authentic account of the Eureka Stockade placed in the school books of the State." The mover advocated that the workers of the fields should not lose sight of the lessons of the Eureka Stockade, where the men had stood shoulder to shoulder to demand the principle for which they fought. Those outside the trades unions ought to join those, organisations, and by the influence of numbers secure concessions to which they were legitimately entitled. They might then obtain concessions from the Labor Government, which, he was sorry to say, was not giving them any satisfaction. Mr. A. Campbell, president of the A.W.A., who was the seconder, strongly urged: that Australian history should be included in the school books. The resolution was carried. Mr. Morgan Field, secretary to the organising committee, moved a vote of thanks to the speakers, brass hands, and chairman for their services. The vote of thanks was passed in due form. - Three cheers were given for the three Eureka veterans. Mr. O'Brien poked vigorously wi:h his stick at his nearest neighbors in deprecation of the compliment. A round, of cheers. was also given for Peter Lalor. During the proceed'ngs the A.W.A., the Boulder City, the Kalgoorlie, and Federal Bands played selections of music. Mr John Boileau, it should be mentioned, was the drum-major of the procession.[2]

Post 1854 Experiences

See also

Ballarat Reform League

Henry Wise

Further Reading

Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.


References

  1. Kalgoorlie Western Argus, 6 December 1904.
  2. Kalgoorlie Western Argus, 6 December 1904.

External links



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Caption, Reference.