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Robert John (Bob) Cassidy (1880–1948)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

Cassidy, Robert John (Bob or ‘Gilrooney) (1880-1948) journalist, poet and labour activist

Birth: 18 December 1880 at Coolac, New South Wales, son of Stephen Cassidy (1848-1897), a carpenter and miner, born at Derry, Galway, Ireland, and native-born Rose, née Dominick (1854-1897). Marriage: 29 May 1926 at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, Randwick, Sydney, to native-born Lucy Maria Sullivan (1878-1958), nurse and Labor activist. They had no children. Death: 26 September 1948 at Waverley, Sydney. Religion: Catholic. 

  • In his youth a keen cricketer and billiard-player and worked as a bush labourer, miner and carpenter in western NSW. Became a member of the Australian Workers’ Union. Was a member of the Coolac branch of the Political Labor League.
  • Joined the staff of the Australian Worker in 1908. Briefly worked for the Barrier Truth (Broken Hill) and edited the Broken Hill Sport then returned to the Worker under editor H. E. Boote.
  • For a number of years contributed verse and prose to the Worker under his own name and under the pen-name ‘Gilrooney’. Was effective opponent of conscription during the conscription campaign of 1916.
  • His work also included in other publications, including the Bulletin (Sydney), Gadfly (Adelaide), Worker (Brisbane) and the Gundagai Independent.
  • His two books of verse were Land of the Starry Cross (1911) and Gypsy Road (1919). Also wrote a novel, Chandler of Corralinga (c.1913).
  • With Tom Mutch founded the NSW Artists’ and Writers’ Association, which in 1909 merged into the Australian Journalists’ Association.
  • Described as “a loyal trade unionist to the end".
  • His wife Lucy was also a labour activist and a friend and long-time supporter of Australian writers.

W. H. Wilde, Joy W. Hooton and B. G. Andrews, Oxford Companion to Australian Literature (1994).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Cassidy, Robert John (Bob) (1880–1948)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Bob Cassidy

Bob Cassidy

Bulletin (Sydney), 20 January 1930, p 52

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Gilrooney

18 December, 1880
Coolac, New South Wales, Australia


26 September, 1948 (aged 67)
Randwick, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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