Timothy Shanahan

From eurekapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Samuel Thomas Gill, Refreshment Shanty, Ballarat, 1854, watercolour and gum arabic on paper.
Art Gallery of Ballarat, gift from the Estate of Lady Currie, 1963.
Walter E. Pidgeon, Illustration from The Eureka Stockade by Raffaello Carboni, Sunnybrook Press, 1942, offset print.
Art Gallery of Ballarat, purchased 1994.


Timothy Shanahan was born c1802 at Carigeen, County Tipperary, Ireland, to James Shanahan and Bridget Shanahan nee Kennedy. Timothy was often been referred to as Teddy Shanahan. He was often called Tagd (pronounced Taidie) which is the Gaelic equivalent of Timothy. His brother was Edward Shanahan.[1]

Timothy married Bridget Kinnane (from Upperchurch, County Tipperary, Ireland). The Ballarat Courier reported that Timothy had told them that while the Irish evictions took place at Carigeen seventeen homes were burnt down. The Shanahan family emigrated on the James T. Foord arriving at Port Phillip on 1 May 1851. They spent Christmas of 1851 at Geelong, then he decided to go to Ballarat. With the Glenn family their party made up a group of seventeen. Shanahan described to the Courier reporter that upon their arrival in Ballarat three inches of snow fell and he said “we were hardly landed on the Eureka when up came a commissioner and a trooper and demanded our grog; we had ten gallons of brandy, and had to give it up, and we had got it at the Post Office below, but we did not tell where we got it, though the commissioner knew". [2]

Timothy and Bridget had the following children: Bridget born 10 December 1839 at Carigeen, Ireland (married Thomas Kirby at the home of her father on 27 March 1856 at Eureka aged 16. Bridget died 1922 at Ballarat age 91); Judy born 24 January 1842 at Carigeen, Ireland. (Died in Ireland); James born 6 March 1845 at Carigeen, Ireland; Judith born 9 March 1848 at Carigeen, Ireland (Died of measles aged 3 at Sea on the James T. Foord on 28 February 1851).[3]

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

Shanahan signed a letter to the Colonial Secretary written on behalf of Ballarat Catholics expressing their complaint concerning the treatment of Father Patrick Smyth’s servant, Johannes Gregory. Shanahan had a store within the stockade that was burnt by troopers. He was still listed as a storekeeper at Eureka in 1856.[4]

Post 1854 Experiences

W.B. Withers' Account

Teddy Shannahan, whose story about the Eureka Stockade will be found further on, gives some touches of the times when the first rushes had set the colony ablaze. From notes furnished by gentlemen on the staff of the Ballarat Courier after an interview with Shannahan, the author culls the following:
My party arrived at Buninyong in 1851, just after Esmond and Dunlop, and we went on Golden Point a few days afterwards, where we got 8 oz from a bucketful of stuff. I saw one poor fellow killed by the fall of a tree which he had undermined recklessly, so anxious was he to get the gold. One day a commissioner and a trooper demanded my license, and, as I had not one, they took me, with a lot of others, to the camp, where we were guarded by eight or nine blackfellows, and they, with their polished boots, were looking as proud as possible. I got my license, after telling them my mind, and had to pay £10 in all. We went to Mount Alexander and Fryers' Creek and on to Bendigo, where we had our pick of a squatter's flock of sheep for 9s. a head. We were the first to sink in Long Gully. At Eaglehawk you could see the gold shining in the heap of dirt, and every man sat on his heap all night with pistol or some weapon in his hand; I thought they would be making picks and shovels of the gold, it was so plentiful. It was there the first nugget was found, one 9 lbs. in weight. We only got £3 an ounce for our gold. In a week or two we started for Geelong, where my family was, and “home, home," was the cry. Each of our party took about 8 lbs. weight of gold to Geelong. We spent Christmas of 1851 there, and soon after that decided to go again to Ballarat, taking our wives — Glenn and I — and families with us — seventeen in all. Three inches of snow fell in Ballarat on our arrival, and we were hardly landed on the Eureka when up came a commissioner and a trooper and demanded our grog; we had ten gallons of brandy, and had to give it up, and we had got it at the post office below, but we did not tell where we got it, though the commissioner knew, for the bullock driver, we believed, had told him. The trooper wanted a digger to assist him with the grog; “if you do," said I, "I'll smash your head," so the digger, gave no assistance. Next day the commissioner came back to my mate, and got him to take the keg to the camp. We paid the post office man £1 a gallon for the grog, and he gave us back the £10. We started digging on the Eureka, near where the stockade was afterwards. One day, when the troopers were license hunting, I saw Thomas Maher get into a hollow log to escape the troopers; when he got in he found a snake there four feet long; it went to one end of the log, and Maher remained till the troopers went away. The diggers were wearied out of their lives by the troopers. They were tormented every-where. Our party from first to last on the diggings must have paid about £500 in license fees.
Shannahan, who is now 86 years of age, may be pardoned if his memory is not exact as to the number of pounds. His notion of the "tormenting" troopers is honestly Hibernian, and was thoroughly characteristic in one who began his narration to the Courier interviewer with the words : —
' No, it was not the gold discovery that brought me out. In Corrigeen, Barony of Kilmarney, where I lived, seventeen houses were burnt in one day by way of eviction. I at once made up my mind to be under Parker, our landlord, no longer, and I came out here.
The ever recurring wail of the Saxon-hating Irish Celt was thus most naturally echoed by Shannahan as soon as he found the inconvenient officers of the law crossing his path in this new land. Shannahan had a store within the Stockade, and there the declaration of independence, mentioned in a subsequent chapter, was drawn up.[5]


Shanahan, in whose store the dream of anti-British freedom was sketched out by the red-hot insurgents of the fiery period between the burning of Bentley's hotel and the military attack of the 3rd December, tells the following story:
The diggers were granted no redress, and their complaints gradually grew louder until a climax was reached in October, when the murder was committed (Scobie's) near Bentley's hotel. I was at Bentley's just before it was burnt. Bentley ran out and got off, or the diggers would have lynched him. I know who set fire to the hotel. The poor fellow is dead now, and I am not going to mention his name. On the Saturday afternoon before the attack on the Stockade a deputation, consisting of Captain Ross, Black, Manning, Hayes, Curtain, and myself, and about five others, went up to the Camp to see if any redress would be given to the diggers. Those in charge at the Camp promised everything to the deputation, who then left. On the way back to the Eureka we met the Creswick contingent of diggers, several hundred strong, and when they were told that a fair settlement had been promised, they laughed at it, and said the promises were only given to catch the diggers in a trap. Their words came true. On Saturday night there was a large number of diggers in the Stockade. I kept a store within the Stockade. Lalor was in charge, but large numbers of the men were constantly going out of the Stockade, and as the majority got drunk, they never came back. Esmond, like a gentleman as he was, got powder and shot from a shop down the Main Road, and paid for it out of his own pocket. The 500 or 600 from Creswick had nothing to eat, and they, too, went down the Main Road that night. The men constantly going out — it was dry work in the Stockade — [now some long thirsty months away from the days of ten gallon grog kegs at £1 a gallon] — and Lalor seeing that none would be left if things went on, he gave orders to shoot any man who left. Vern cleared out immediately, and order was given to shoot him, but he got away. It was about two or three o'clock on Sunday morning when Vern went away. Those in the Stockade had anything but a pleasant time of it, as the accommodation was not sufficient even for the small number of men that remained. Any-way, after the promises received in the afternoon from the Commissioners, it was thought that there was no danger, and the diggers did not know whether to go on with the armed resistance or stop. About three o'clock in the morning there were about 150 pikemen inside the Stockade, and some others. McCullagh and Glenn, two diggers, were seen prowling about the Stockade, and they were taken prisoners as spies. They roared for their liberty, and were let go, it being too much trouble to keep them.
My wife and one or two other women were in the Stockade, and I was in bed, when I heard shots, crack, crack, in quick succession. Got up and seized my gun, and went to the door. The soldiers were about a hundred yards away, and I could see some of our poor fellows lying dead, nine being killed by the first volley. The diggers were up, and a lot of them had evidently made up their minds to fight to the death. When Captain Wise and his regiment saw that the diggers were awake and meant resistance, he sang out, "Fortieth! are you going to retreat?" I am sure he said that. Orders had been given to pick off the leaders of the soldiers, and Captain Wise was shortly afterwards shot. The shooting on both sides then went on, and it was only the bags of flour that kept my wife and me from being shot. A lot of the diggers commenced to run away, and after the shooting was done I saw Ned Flynn run into an old chimney, and a soldier ran up to him and stuck him in the neck with a bayonet. Everyone they caught they slaughtered. It was not in the Stockade that they killed the majority of the diggers, but in the running away. I took refuge in an outhouse, and the troopers and soldiers did not see me. They commenced setting fire to every tent on the ground, using a pot of burning tar. Our tent was set on fire, but my wife put it out before it was all burnt.
Mrs. Shanahan was much interested at this part of her husband's narrative, and took up the story herself, saying:
I heard the firing first. My husband was not long gone to bed, and I pulled him out and told him the firing was on. He got up, and, said I to him, take out your gun. There is the little gun (pointing to an ancient fire arm against the wall). He went out, and must have hid himself in a small outhouse. There was a knock at our tent door, and a trooper and a soldier came in. "Shoot that woman," said the trooper. The foot soldier said, Spare the woman," and the trooper said, "Well, get out of this, the place is going to be burnt down." They set fire to the place, but before it was much burnt I managed to put it out.
"The soldiers did not stay long," continued Shanahan, and galloped away at once. I went out and had a look round. There were dead bodies here and there.  :I would never like to see such a sight again. The poor fellows who had fought for their liberty! If all the people saw what I saw, there would soon be a grand monument up to those poor fellows. [The old man, say the interviewers, was here much moved.] We found Peter Lalor down a hole with his arm broken. We got him out, and he was taken away on Father Smyth's horse. I counted twenty-two dead. The Pikemen suffered most."[6]

In the News

A GATHERING OF STOCKADERS. - The Ballarat Courier, in referring to the gathering of Eureka Stockaders at Ballarat on Friday, says :- Several had come from great distances for the express purpose of viewing the spot once more. The whole of the Stockaders had, of course, reached a considerable age, but each and all were in excellent health. There was Thady Shanahan, eighty-two years of age, who can tell many an interesting anecdote of old times. He remarked to another Stockader-"Sure it was elegant to be there in 1854. Was it not?" Mr. Shanahan, who has not been favored by fortune, is now living at Warrenheip. His son was also on the ground, having come some forty miles to see the event. Esmond, the gold discoverer, was also there. He, too, was in good spirits, and looked well. Mr. S. Cuming, who harbored the commander-in-chief of the diggers after he was shot, and Messrs. Wm. Delahunty, James Scammel, Thomas Martin , Oscar Skoglund, Peter Lawson, C. Zillies, and others, were all present. The Stockaders were a hardy-looking lot, and seemed to enjoy nothing so much as a discussion on the events leading up to the Stockade, and the Stockade itself.[7]

See also

William Delahunty

John Dunlop

James Esmond

Timothy Hayes

Peter Lalor

Bridget Shanahan

Edward Shanahan

Conrad Zilles

Further Reading

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


  1. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  2. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  3. Withers, William History of Ballarat 2nd Edition Ballarat Historical Society, 1980.
  4. Wickham, D., Gervasoni, C. & Phillipson, W., Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat Heritage Services, 1999.
  5. Withers, W.B.,The History of Ballarat: From the First Pastoral Settlement to the Present,1887, p.32-3.
  6. Withers, W.B.,The History of Ballarat: From the First Pastoral Settlement to the Present,1887, p.32-3.
  7. Ballarat Courier,1884)

External links