Ancestor Stories: the Callinans
the callinans at the eureka stockade
By Leigh Callinan
Four Callinan brothers, Michael, Patrick, John and Thomas fought in the Eureka Battle. Peter Lalor, their leader, listed Patrick and Thomas Callinan amongst the injured (see plaque at the Ballarat Gold Museum and any of the references to the Men of Eureka). Michael was also listed elsewhere as injured. Their surnames are spelt Callanan in that list. Peter Lalor wrote that his list was not complete and that his spelling was approximate. So three brothers were wounded. Were there any other sets of brothers in the Battle?
It is a family belief that Patrick’s older sister Bridget distracted the troopers after the fighting, while her brothers were helped away. This story is supported by an article in the Victorian newspaper, 'The Leader', Dec 3 1904, which was on display at the Fine Art Gallery, in Ballarat in December 1994. In late 1904, The Premier of Victoria was issuing free passes to Eureka veterans, who could validate their presence at Eureka, to attend the 50th anniversary celebrations at Ballarat. John Hanrahan of Warragul successfully applied. On the Sunday after the battle John Hanrahan said he went with a sister and a female cousin to look for her wounded brothers. He counted 10-12 dead men and many wounded. The female cousin was Bridget Callinan, the brothers’ only sister in Australia. He said that 2 of his cousins were wounded at Eureka; Michael, who had 2 bullets in his thigh, and the other had a bayonet wound between the shoulders and a cut under the left breast. The latter had died at Collingwood 2 years previous (ie. 1902) of 'Miners disease'. These circumstances are exactly those of Michael and Patrick Callinan. Bridget Callinan's involvement at Eureka is recounted in Laurel Johnson's 'Women of Eureka'. 1
Michael Callinan was killed in 1867 in the #2 shaft of the 'Band of Hope' gold mine, after being pulled into the poppet head.
Thomas Callinan died at Fellmonger’s Creek near Ballarat of miner’s phthisis (silicosis and tuberculosis) in 1862. He was only 26 years. Underground mining caused much respiratory disease.
Andrew Callinan, Patrick’s son, came to the centenary of the Eureka Stockade in 1954. In an article in a Ballarat newspaper, he said that Patrick and his 3 brothers were in the Battle. The third brother must be John Callinan, the only other brother of fighting age.
There is a letter to the editor of the Melbourne Argus, 22 June 1909, from George Lavater. It is a first-hand account of some aspects of the battle and the lead up to it. But of extra interest is his reference to his dressing of Patrick Callinan’s bayonet wounds:
An Irishman named Callanan, a Clare man, was bayonetted in the right side. He worked in the next claim to me on the Eureka lead, and I used to dress his wound for him.
You can read more about the Callinan Family at Eureka in The Eureka Encyclopaedia pp. 92 & 932.
1. Johnson L. (1995). Women of Eureka. Published by Historic Montrose Cottage and Eureka Museum.
2. Corfield, J, Wickham, D & Gervasoni, C. (2004). The Eureka Encyclopaedia. Ballarat Heritage Services.