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Lucy Maria Cassidy (1878–1968)

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Lucy Maria Cassidy, née Sullivan (1878-1968) nurse, trade union official and Labor activist

Birth: 7 May 1878 at Wandiligong, Victoria, daughter of Eugene Sullivan (1850-1935), an Irish-born miner, and native-born Ellen, née Kelly (1855-1930). Marriage: 1926 at Randwick, Sydney, New South Wales, to Robert John Cassidy (1880-1948), known by pseudonym as 'Gilrooney' (1880-1948), Australian Worker poet and journalist. They had no children. Death: 26 February 1968 in hospital at Randwick: usual residence Flood Street, Bondi. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Moved from Melbourne as a young woman to work as nurse at Waterfall, Callan Park and Rookwood.
  • From 1900 was active in Australian Labor Party circles, especially in Surry Hills and Bondi; was present at meeting to welcome Ramsay McDonald in 1900.
  • 1904 helped form Labor Women's Organising Committee. 1910 founder of Hospital and Asylum Employees' Union, working as nurse at Waterfall where conditions were 'pretty bad'. (Employees were allowed four days a month leave.)
  • Union's first delegate to Eight Hour committee, 1915, representing New South Wales at Tasmanian Eight Hour Committee celebrations in Hobart. With Jean Daley, in 1924 the only women members of All Australian Trade Union Congress.
  • Active in anti-conscription struggles during World War I.
  • 1928 established Fellowship of Australian Writers. Prior associations with Henry Lawson and Bertha McNamara influenced her campaign for 'Henry Lawson's Day' to be proclaimed in schools in New South Wales, achieved 1927 as well as subsequent lobbying for production of postage stamp to honour Lawson, which appeared in 1949.
  • Remained committed Labor activist for more than 50 years. Friend of poet Rod Quinn and nursed him in his final years.
  • Appointed OBE 1958.
  • Cause of death: cerebral thrombosis and arteriosclerosis.

Westralian Worker (Perth), 15 February 1924; Health Standard, November 1958; ALP Woman Magazine Special Diamond Jubilee Issue, February 1964.

Additional Resources

  • photo, Labor Daily (Sydney), 30 November 1929, p 8
  • profile, Smith's Weekly (Sydney), 10 September 1949, p 13
  • tribute, Journalist (Melbourne), September 1952, p 2

Citation details

'Cassidy, Lucy Maria (1878–1968)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Lucy Cassidy, caricature, 1949

Lucy Cassidy, caricature, 1949

Smith's Weekly (Sydney), 10 September 1949, p 13

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Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Sullivan, Lucy Maria

7 May, 1878
Wandiligong, Victoria, Australia


26 February, 1968 (aged 89)
Randwick, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations
Political Activism