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Meehan, Michael (1838–1917)

The late Mr. Michael Meehan, whose death occurred recently at Wellington, was one of the pioneers of the west, whose ranks are rapidly thinning. When he first viewed the district in which he ultimately made his home, it presented a different aspect to what it does at present. The pastoral industry was then at its zenith throughout the west, and with the railway gradually creeping out to Bourke, great developments in the production of wool were anticipated. Certainly the railway effected a revolution, but it was not in the way expected. It led to the displacement of the pastorialist by the farmer, and the late Mr. Meehan lived long enough to see the district grow from what it was to one of the largest wheat-producing centres in the State. Like so many of the pioneers, Mr. Meehan was born in Ireland, the particular part from which he came being the County of Limerick. When he had attained manhood the discovery of gold in Australia was attracting worldwide attention, and with many others he decided to seek in the new continent a wider scope for his energies. With a number of relatives he sailed in the ship Peerless for Australia, and landed in Sydney. Amongst his fellow passengers was the lady who afterwards became his wife, and with whom he had gone to school. This was over half a century ago, as 52 years ago their marriage was celebrated in the old St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, which was afterwards burnt down. Very early after his arrival in the State, Mr. Meehan engaged in railway construction work, and had many contracts on many parts of the western line. He was engaged in the construction of the Zig-Zag, and also the Clarence tunnel, and these works go back far enough to testify to the wonderful development of the western country that Mr. Meehan witnessed. In addition to his railway work, he carried on hotels at various centres as the line was extended, and established one at Red Hill when the line from Orange to Wellington was under construction. Later he had a hotel at Hill End, and was at that centre at the time of the gold rush, being there when the celebrated nugget was found by Byers and Holtermann. In the meantime, however, he had selected a considerable area of land at the Red Hill, where he had determined to make his future home, and had stocked the land with sheep. He had not then taken up his permanent residence on the land, but came over to carry out the first shearing, which ended with a disaster that might have discouraged a man with less fixity of purpose. The old building was still standing on the land, and was used as a shearing shed, the wool being stored, after being shorn, in what was at one time the old billiard room. When everything was finished, Mr. Meehan left to make arrangements for a railway truck to carry the wool to the metropolis, and during his absence the building by some means caught fire, and the whole of the product of his labour was destroyed. Some time afterwards Mr. Meehan amd his wife and family came to reside on the property, and from that time carried on farming and grazing pursuits with a considerable amount of success. He was well known throughout the district, and, being possessed of many of the good qualities common to his countrymen, he made many friends. He leaves a widow and a grown-up family, the members of which are Mr. M. Meehan (Wellington), Mr. P. J. Meehan (Dripstone), Mrs. F. Bowhay (Orange), Mrs. Read (Nowra), and Mrs. King (Yeoval).— R.I.P.

Original publication

Citation details

'Meehan, Michael (1838–1917)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/meehan-michael-16785/text28678, accessed 19 May 2019.

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