Ireland would have been an amazing country had she been able to retain to her own service the best of those who left her. Dungannon, Armagh, Derry, Portora, and Trinity College, Dublin, sent out their best to the four corners of the earth. World-famous soldiers, great statesmen, judges, preachers, and leaders in the financial world hailed from that sparsely-populated isle. Leading pioneers of many lands came from Ireland, and few of them have done greater good for the land of their adoption than the subject of these notes.
Born in the north eighty-four years ago, Sir Samuel McCaughey arrived in Victoria when twenty-one years of age, and gained his first experience of the pastoral business on Kewell and Walmer Stations. His first pastoral purchase was Coonong Station, near Urana, N.S.W., in 1860. Coonong is in the centre of the best sheep-growing country of Australia, and Sir Samuel's first purchases of stud sheep made abroad came to this property. Goolgumbla, near Jerilderie, was his second purchase, and this property was managed by his brother, Mr. John McCaughey, who later went to the Darling as part owner of Toorale and Dunlop, and took up the management of these runs until he came to live at Yarrabee.
Toorale and Dunlop were purchased in the year '80 or '81, and later Rockwood and Barenya, in Queensland, were added to the list. Twenty years ago Sir Samuel purchased Yarrabee Station, on the Yanco Creek, near Narrandera, in conjunction with his brother, Mr. John McCaughey, and one of his last purchases was North Yanco, near Narrandera, which was afterwards sold to the Government of New South Wales for closer settlement, and the well-known Leeton irrigation area is now included within its boundaries. I have only listed the more important runs purchased.
Sir Samuel held Coonong, his first property, until a short time ago, when he disposed of it to his nephew, Mr. Roy McCaughey, a younger son of the late Mr. David McCaughey, of Coree.
A portion of North Yanco, on which the homestead is situated, was reserved for use during his lifetime, and now reverts to the Crown, and will no doubt become a portion of the Leeton irrigation area.
Years ago Sir Samuel recognised the value of immigrants to Australia, and he assisted large numbers of picked men to come to New South Wales, and found positions for most of them on his own stations. These men included thoroughly experienced farmers, stockmen, and engineers. He recognised that only the best were needed by the business people of Australia to increase the volume of trade, and only high-class labour was encouraged to come. These men leavened the whole, and interests generally were guarded and increased in value by their exertions.
Sir Samuel was deeply interested in the success of the country as a whole. He had intense admiration for education, recognising that it was the path to the highest power and worthiest ideals, and that without it men could seldom reach their best possibilities. He had this well in view when he devoted large sums to educational objects, already detailed in the press. Charity, too, was not overlooked by the big-hearted bachelor, and, as his friends know, he did not wait for the end before devoting large sums for the service of the poor and needy. Money in itself was of little use to him, and he did not, like many men, pay too big a price for it. Money was to him a talent and five of it he made ten or a thousand, and all his being was kept afire in the service of the best.
Sir Samuel had original views in politics, and gave valued service to his country. In the council he listened carefully to matters of value, but he was saved from oceans of platitude by his gift to sleep promptly when it commenced. With regard to Ireland, although he subscribed to anti-Home Rule efforts, he was well satisfied that the north could take good care of itself did Home Rule eventuate. He loved freedom, and when his friend, Sir George Reid, suggested that the Irish were not fit for it, Sir Samuel replied that "no country was fit for anything else."
Sir Samuel was popular with his employees, and with thousands of others in the pastoral world who gained encouragement and inspiration from his activities and honourable mode of life. From the nation he has universal regret, and from a few the suffering that comes when true affection is swept away. It is difficult to express intelligently the feeling that something more than a great personality is gone, and we must leave to time the task of placing a valued lifetime's exploits just where in history they belong.
Yandaroo, 'McCaughey, Sir Samuel (1835–1919)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/mccaughey-sir-samuel-682/text683, accessed 24 May 2013.