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John Martin (Jack) Cullinan (c. 1871–1951)

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Cullinan, John Martin (Jack) (c.1871-1951) shearer, trade union official, Communist 

Birth: probably c.1871 Dungarvan, Ireland son of John Cullinan, store and hotel keeper, and Mary Ahern. Never Married. Death: 7 July 1951 in Callan Park hospital, Lilyfield, Sydney. 

  • To Australia as youth and trained as teacher.
  • 1890 became itinerant shearer, took prominent part in 1891 and 1894 strikes, Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) pioneer and active in Australian Labor Party.
  • Organiser for AWU, Bourke branch, for 7 years. Closely allied with Arthur Rae in these initiatives.
  • Anti-conscriptionist during WWI, again working closely with Rae. AWU organiser, Armidale, but fell foul of right-wing leadership of union for exposing fraudulence and became ‘the most detested rebel of …all’. Apparently carried revolver to protect himself from AWU right-wing.
  • Contested ALP preselection for the House of Representative seat of Gwydir in 1919 but was defeated by L. L. Cunningham, who won the seat.
  • Removed from position with AWU Western (Armidale) Branch by administrative fiat. Found work on waterfront, joining Waterside Workers’ Federation.
  • In 1948 joined Communist Party of Australia as it was ‘the only party that is honest in my eyes’.
  • Cause of death: myocardial degeneration and arteriosclerosis. Old age pensioner in 1951, Death registered under the name Cullivan.

Ernest Lane, Dawn to Dusk (1939), chapter XX; joins CPA, Tribune (Sydney), 13 October 1948, p 4-5 []; Common Cause, 21 July 1951.

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'Cullinan, John Martin (Jack) (c. 1871–1951)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 16 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Cullivan, John Martin

c. 1871
Dungarvan, Waterford, Ireland


7 July, 1951 (aged ~ 80)
Lilyfield, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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