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Margaret (Peggy) Errey (1915–2002)

by Rebecca Huntley

This article was published:

Errey, Margaret (Peggy), née Ryan (1915-2002) kitchen hand, cleaner, trade union official and community activist

Birth: 1 June 1915 in County Cork, Ireland, daughter of Michael Ryan and Margaret née Quirk. Marriage: 1937 at Battle, Sussex, England, to Harold Gilbert Errey (1913-c.1995), bricklayer. They had a daughter and a son. Death: 1 December 2002 at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Arrived in Sydney with her husband and children aboard the SS Dorsetshire in October 1950.
  • Errey’s involvement in trade unions began in 1952, when she started work as a cook at the Fairy Meadow Commonwealth Hostel, north of Wollongong, New South Wales. Before long she became a workplace delegate for the Restaurant and Catering Trades Union (RCTU).
  • In 1953 was a RCTU delegate to the South Coast Labor Council. In the sixties, she worked as a cleaner at the Wollongong Tertiary College and joined the Miscellaneous Workers Union (MWU), again becoming a delegate to the South Coast Labor Council.
  • Involvement with the MWU (later the LHMU) was extensive; by 1980 she was a life member of the union, and had served as a state and federal councilor, executive member and vice-president of the NSW branch.
  • In 2000 Union set up advanced delegates course in her honour.
  • One of the South Coast’s most loved and respected unionists and community activists. Helped establish the South Coast Medical Centre. Integrally involved in the Stewart Street Women’s Centre, the Jobs for Women program and the Migrant Resource Centre.
  • Life member of the South Coast Labor Council and the South Coast May Day committee.
  • Commitment to women’s working rights was equally as strong. Involved in the ACTU’s working women’s charter committee and was a delegate to the ACTU’s women’s conference.
  • Supported other progressive causes including the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, anti-apartheid protests, Aboriginal land rights and migrant women’s rights. Instrumental in uniting various committees into one umbrella organisations, Australian Aid to Ireland. Commitment to the Republican cause, which stemmed from childhood in the south of Ireland, continued throughout her life.
  • Cause of death: insulin dependent diabetes, multiple organ failure and stroke.

Ian West, ‘Obituary, Margaret Errey’, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 2003, p 28; Alison Errey, ‘Peggy Errey – fighter for the rights of all’, The Illawarra Mercury, December 7 2002, p. 12.

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Citation details

Rebecca Huntley, 'Errey, Margaret (Peggy) (1915–2002)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Ryan, Margaret

1 June, 1915
Cork, Ireland


1 December, 2002 (aged 87)
Coffs Harbour, 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.

Passenger Ship
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Political Activism