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Richard Ignatius (Dick) Loughnan (1864–1947)

This article was published:

Dick Loughnan, 1924 [caricature]

Dick Loughnan, 1924 [caricature]

Labor Call (Melbourne) 24 January 1924, p 12

Loughnan, Richard Ignatius Patrick (‘Big Dick') (1864-1947) bricklayer, trade union leader, Labor party founding member 

Birth: 27 April 1864 in Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria, fifth son of Richard Loughnan (1824-1865), a farm labourer, born in Boytonrath, Tipperary, Ireland, later a tobacco merchant in Victoria, and Ellen Louisa, née Pike (1831-1896), who had been born at Caher, Tipperary. Marriage: 1886 in Victoria to Victorian-born Winifred Bridget Kearney (1863-1940). They had four sons and two daughters. Death: 2 February 1947 at Caritas Christi hospice, Kew, Melbourne. Religion: Catholic. 

  • In 1886 was president of the Richmond United Laborer’s Union, which united with the Melbourne United Laborers’ Union.
  • Stalwart of the Political Labor Council [Australian Labor Party] at its inception in Victoria. Originator, Builders’ Labourers’ Federation [BLF] and member in 1903. Was organising secretary to first member for Yarra, Frank G. Tudor, in March 1901.
  • Walking delegate, then organiser, BLF Victorian Branch. In 1932, ousting Percy Smith, Loughnan became Victorian branch acting secretary and was then elected secretary of the Australian BLF.
  • Foundation member and first secretary of the Building Trades Federation.
  • Inspector of scaffolding, Building Trades Federation and Richmond Municipal Council.
  • For many years was councillor and officer, Richmond Council; mayor in 1890s.
  • Active in the Criminology Society, succeeded in obtaining the release of more than forty men from prison.
  • Though McQueen rejects the specific insinuations of illegality and violence — and alleged control by John Wren — which Frank Hardy laid at Laughnan’s door, the regime, was notable for incompetence and corruption. In 1939 a reform group, including Paddy Malone ousted him from control of the BLF.
  • Father of Richard (1887-1952) and Cornelius Anthony “Con”(1899-1954) Loughnan, also mayors of Richmond.
  • Paddy Malone, then secretary of the BLF, several Labor politicians and John Wren were among the pallbearers at his funeral held in St Ignatius’s Church, Richmond.

ALP Victorian branch central executive report 1946-7; Australian Worker, 30 January 1924 p 1; Janet McCalman, Struggletown: public and private life in Richmond 1900-1965, (Melbourne, 1984), p 39; Humphrey McQueen, We built this country: builders’ labourers and their unions, 1787 to the future (Port Adelaide, 2011).

Additional Resources

  • profile, Australian Worker (Sydney), 30 January 1924, p 1, column 5
  • profile, Labor Call (Melbourne) 24 January 1924, p 12
  • funeral, Herald (Melbourne), 4 February 1947, p 11

Citation details

'Loughnan, Richard Ignatius (Dick) (1864–1947)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Dick Loughnan, 1924 [caricature]

Dick Loughnan, 1924 [caricature]

Labor Call (Melbourne) 24 January 1924, p 12

Life Summary [details]


27 April, 1864
Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


2 February, 1947 (aged 82)
Kew, Melbourne, Victoria, 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.

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