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John Joseph (Jack) Behan (1876–1947)

On Saturday, August 30, over 200 friends of Mr. John Joseph Behan assembled in the Emerald Hall, South Melbourne, at the invitation of the Daniel O'Connell branch of the I.N.F. to fittingly celebrate the guest of honor's half-century of service as secretary of the lodge. A very happy evening eventuated. Although it was noted by his oldest friends that illness had left its mark on the once robust and genial John, all speakers, in the course of their remarks, expressed the wish that Mr. Behan would be restored to normal good health to enjoy the fruits of a long and active life.

None in the assemblage that night was prepared for the shock which fell 10 days later, when Mr. Behan passed away at his residence, Glenhuntly road, Glenhuntly.

One of the district's oldest and best-known residents even prior to his elevation to municipal ranks in 1921, when he succeeded Cr. A. L. Page in Normanby Ward, deceased could be truly classed as 'a 100 per cent South Melbourneite, and one of its noblest sons.' He represented Normanby Ward for nine years, when he retired. He was Mayor in 1926-27, and the fruits of his term of office are readily recalled by those who will not easily forget the distinguished service which he and Mrs. Behan rendered the municipality.

For many years he resided at the Emerald Hall, and it was appropriate that the recent I.N.F. celebration in his honor should have taken place in the hall which, as Mr. Behan said, revived so many happy and unforgettable memories.

His great work for Irish National Foresters was the subject of eulogy at the celebration social held so shortly before his death, and it is not inappropriate to recall the proceedings of that occasion, when amongst those who assembled to pay tribute to the grand work of John Behan was the then Mayor of South Melbourne (Cr. J. P. Barry), the Mayor of Port Melbourne (Cr. M. Fennell), Crs. P. K. Sutton and J. Casey, ex-Cr. R. Cogan and other associates of his municipal days; Rev. Frs. Power, P.P., Cleary, Mulligan, Ryan, Roch Allen, O.F.M. Representatives of C.Y.M.S., Y.C.W., N.C.G.M., St. Vincent's Old Boys' Association, E. de M., South Melbourne U.F.S., the Trades Hall, and the entire Board of Directors of the I.N.F.

In 1896, it was recalled, at the request of the I.N.F., John Behan, a young man of 22, accepted the position of 'temporary' secretary of the Daniel O'Connell branch, South Melbourne. In 1946, because of ill-health, Mr. Behan relinquished the 'temporary' position after 50 years.

Mr. Behan told the audience many amusing anecdotes and little-known stories of early South Melbourne. He brought to the notice of the audience the days when the Emerald Hall was a riding school, and of the desire of the late Monsignor Collins to secure the building and reconstruct it into a hall for parish activities. He told also of how, during his Mayoralty, he arranged a gathering of clergymen of all denominations, who dined with him at a special banquet in the Town Hall. One of the most memorable nights of his term of office followed, and so happy were his guests that it was not necessary to provide professional entertainers to amuse them. They proved to be not only excellent guests, but splendidly entertained each other.

In making a presentation of a wallet of notes, the High Chief Ranger of the I.N.F. stated that Mr. Behan was not only closely associated with the local branch, but had held all positions on the general executive and was H.C.R. in 1913. He also held the position of senior' trustee of the society.

Cr. J. Barry remarked that Mr. Behan's long association with the South Melbourne Council was one of notability. He had been a councillor for nine years, and Mayor, for one year. He was also a chairman of all committees, and a resolution had been recorded in the books of the Council of his great work. As well as being an executive of the I.N.F., Mr. Behan was a J.P.

He was also for 33 years with the Trades Hall Council, and secretary of the Carters and Drivers' Union, since incorporated under the Transport Union.

Mr. and Mrs. Behan were regular visitors to Daylesford, and annually it was Mr. Behan's custom to arrange a concert in aid of the Daylesford Hospital. He personally drew up the programme, visiting all the guest houses and enlisting the assistance of outstanding entertainers — professional and amateur. In this way he was not only responsible for the raising of a great sum of money for the hospital, but his annual concerts were accepted as one of the brightest features of Daylesford's social life.

At the funeral which followed Requiem Mass at St. Anthony's Church, Glenhuntly, on Thursday, many old South Melbourne friends of the Behan family were amongst those who gathered to pay their last respects. The Council was represented by the Mayor (Cr. J. A. Jamieson), and Cr. H. A. Layfield. The remains were interred at the Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton.

Deceased is survived by his wife (Mrs. Catherine Behan), and daughters Carmel (Mrs. O'Sullivan) and Olive (Mrs. O'Toole).

Original publication

Citation details

'Behan, John Joseph (Jack) (1876–1947)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


2 February, 1876
Bendigo, Victoria, Australia


8 September, 1947 (aged 71)
Glenhuntly, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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