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Denis (Dinny) Guihen (1878–1917)

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Guihen, Denis (Dinny) (1878-1917) tramway employee, trade union official and alderman 

Birth 1878 at Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales, son of Irish-born parents, Patrick Guihen (1846-1919), a farmer, from County Leitrim, and Mary, née Dooley (1845-1916), from Kings County (Offaly). Marriage: 1903 at Sydney, to native-born Olive Agnes Shanaghan (1882-1956). They had five daughters and one son. Death: 31 October 1917 in hospital at Camperdown, Sydney, usual residence English Street, Camperdown. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Joined Newcastle Tramway Service in 1900. Transferred to Sydney. Prominent in Tramway Employees Union. Retrenched after tramway strike 1908.
  • Became assistant secretary of Trolley and Draymens Union; delegate to the NSW Trades and Labor Council (TLC) and 8 Hours committee. Secretary Hospital and Asylum Employees Union in 1913.
  • Elected alderman on Sydney City Council in December 1915. He was vice president of the NSW TLC in 1914-1915 and in January 1916, unopposed, he was elected president.
  • Was an important early influence on Bill McKell. Controversially preselected for Bathurst in the March 1917 elections, Guihen withdrew “on account of pressure of work” and was replaced by Carlysle (Carl) Johnston, who won the seat after Guihen visited Bathurst and spoke eloquently in support of him. Publicly opposed conscription, and with Arthur Ray, May Matthew, A. C. Willis and others was one of the leading speakers at the great anti-conscription gathering in Sydney Domain on 13 August 1916, but was a moderate in the industrial and political crises in the ALP in 1916 and 1917.
  • Officer in charge of TLC’s Arbitration Department, he was eulogised by Justice Heydon as ‘having earned trust and respect in this court’, showing ‘great zeal and energy on behalf of his clients’.
  • Warm supporter of Catholic movements, he was known in St Benedict’s parish for his adherence to the principles of his faith.
  • Cause of death: cardiac failure and lobar pneumonia.

H. J. Gibbney & Ann G. Smith, A Biographical Register 1788-1939, vol 1 (Canberra, 1987); The Railway and Tramway Record, 13 November 1917; Labor Council of New South Wales, Half Yearly Report to 31 December 1917; Christopher Cunneen, William John McKell: boilermaker, premier, governor-general, (Sydney, 2000), pp 40, 42, 48 & 59.

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'Guihen, Denis (Dinny) (1878–1917)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Denis Guihen, 1916

Denis Guihen, 1916

City of Sydney Archive, A-00041192

Life Summary [details]


Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales, Australia


31 October, 1917 (aged ~ 39)
Camperdown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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