Luke Sheehan

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Luke Sheehan was born in County Galway, Ireland.

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

Luke Sheehan was wounded during the Eureka Stockade.

Mr. W. G. Madden writes as under:
As the Eureka Stockade Jubilee is now attracting a good deal of attention, I would draw your attention to the fact that Geelong is represented at the celebrations in Ballarat by Mr. Henry James, aged 78, of Geelong, an old Stockader. He found things a "bit slow" at the sports there on Saturday, and created some diversion by singing "The Death of Nelson." My father, Mr. John Madden, of the Geelong railway, is also in Ballarat at present, being granted a free pass by the Government. His father, Wm. Madden, arrived in Victoria in the ship Mangertun in 1852, and was living with his family at the Black Hills, near Ballarat; for about two years previous to the riot. He and his two mates. Patsy Gettings and John Hines (both of whom were, afterwards killed by his side during the fight) had two rich claims on the Eureka Lead. On the Saturday night they went into the Stockade, and next morning (Sunday), they were attack ed, the soldiers attacking in the front, and the mounted police at the rear. Wm. Madden cut his way out through the ranks of the police, and escaped to the bush, where a trooper followed, and with drawn sword called upon him to surrender. He said, "No, I won't surrender; get you away to the right, or left before I fire," with that bringing his gun to his shoulder. The trooper wheeled round and galloped of.
We have our grandfather's gun now. On reaching his house he told his sons, John and James, of what had occurred, and they went and inspected the Stockade, and saw the blacksmith, who made the pikes, and a Portuguese, who used to sell sherbet, etc., lying dead. Mr. Madden senr's shipmate, Luke Sheehan, was wounded, and was afterwards sentenced to be shot. Mr. John Madden re members seeing the stone thrown by Mr. Gullan, and the burning of the hotel. He took a ball away from the skittle alley, but had it taken away from him by a man to throw at some one. He is now living a good time in Ballarat, where he has met several shipmates whom he had not seen for nigh 50 years./ref>Geelong Advertiser, 07 December 1904.</ref>

Post 1854 Experiences


A Birthplace of Freedom.
The Government officials at first completely lost; their heads in face of the difficulty of dealing with the thousands who were drawn to the goldfield. £3 was charged at length for a license to dig, and so brutal was the inquisition to which people on the field were subjected that a crisis was inevitable. Other phases of stupid tyranny, such as not allowing a digger to cultivate a vegetable patch on his ground, &c, were not wanting to intensify the feeling of dissatisfaction. At length, when respectful representations to Governor Sir Charles Hotham (a retired naval officer) had beenrepulsed in true quarter-deck style, an indignation meeting was held, under the presidency of a genial and popular Irishman — Mr. Timothy Hayes — at which 12,000 diggers con signed their licenses to the flames of a bonfire as a protest against the intolerable tyranny of Of ficialdom. Four of the principal speakers at the meeting were Messrs. Lalor, Quinn, Murnane, and Brady. Next day an unexpected 'digger hunt' — the last — was made under a military display. The diggers, unprepared for, and not desiring, active hostilities, were driven to their camp, from which a number of men were removed as prisoners. The result of that day's work was open war between the gold-fields' population and the Crown, No sooner had the police and the military returned with a number of prisoners to the Govern ment Camp, than the diggers assembled en masse on their old meeting-ground, Bakery Hill, ap pointed a council of war, and elected Peter Lalor (son of the late member for the Queen's County, and brother of the present member) as their commander-in-chief. A declaration of independence based on the American model was drawn up and signed, and a new silken flag — the Southern Cross — five silver stars forming- a cross on a blue ground — was unfurled to the breeze. Beneath this diggers' standard, Lalor, as commander-in-chief, took his stand and administered the following oath to his men : 'We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties.' It was in that portion of the goldfields known as the Eureka, and principally inhabitated by Irish diggers, that the fortified camp of the 'rebels' as they were now officially described, was erected. It consisted of an entrenched stockade, that was capable of being made a place of great strength if the diggers had had time to utilize its natural advantages, and place it in a proper state of defence. It occupied an area of about an acre, rudely enclosed with strong slabs. Within the stockade drilling now became the main business of the hour; the diggers council of war sat almost continuously; blackssmith were kept at work night and day forging pikes. 'Let those who cannot provide themselves with firearms procure a piece of steel five or six inches long, attached to a pole, and that will pierce the tyrants' hearts,' were the words of the com niander-in-chief to his men. Patrick Curtain was the chosen captain of the pikemen, and and Michael Hanrahan was their lieutenant. Early on the morning of Sunday, December 3rd, 1854, the assault was made by the combined forces oi the military and the police under the command of Colonel Thomas, of the 40th regiment. The insurgent diggers, commanded by Mr. Peter Lalor, made a brave and desperate resistance; the pikeman (an almost exclusively Irish detachment) stood their ground in double file around the enclosure and repelled several charges of cavalry ; volley after volley was poured into the stockade and answered by the diggers, until their want of ammunition and comparative unpreparedness became apparent. After half an hour's desperate hand-to-hand fighting, the Eureka stockade was surrounded and carried by storm. Subjoined are some of the names of the Irish men who fell [[or were wounded in this first struggle for freedom on Victorian soil: Killed. — John Hynes, County Clare, Patrick Gittings]], Clare ; Thomas O'Neil, Kilkenny ; George Patrick Mullens, Kilkenny; John Diamond, Donaghy, Donegal; Edward Quinn, William Quinlan, Cavan. Mortally Wounded. — Thaddeus Moore, County Clare ; James Brown, Edward McGlynn, Wexford. Wounded and Subsequently Recovered.— Peter Lalor, Queen's County; Patrick Hanafin, County Kerry ; Michael Hanly, Tipperary; Michael O'Neil, Thomas Callanan, Patrick Callanan, Clare; James Warner, Cork; Luke Sheehan, Michael Morrison, Galway; Denis Dynon, Clare.[1]

See also

William Madden

Further Reading

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


  1. Freeman's Journal, 31 March 1888.

External links