Maude O’Connell

Maude O’Connell (1884 – 1965) trade unionist and religious Sister
Maude O’Connell, early in the century, threw herself into the advancement of the struggling Labor Party. In 1915-16 Maude O’Connell was active as a unionist on the Trades Hall Council. The politician R. H. Solly commended her for travelling through the heat and drought of the Mallee to discover the settlers’ wants, ‘a new thing in politics at this stage’.

Maude O’Connell trade unionist and religious Sister, was born on 30 June 1884 at Beaufort, Victoria, daughter of Patrick Martin O’Connell, storekeeper, and his wife Rosina, née Hosking. Her father was a cousin of (Archbishop) Daniel Mannix.

Working as a teacher, Maude O’Connell became involved in social work with Sister M. Bernardine of St Vincent’s Hospital and Sister M. Monica of the Good Shepherd Sisters. To experience the working conditions of the women she met through these activities Maude O’Connell went to work in the factory of the British Australasian Tobacco Co. Pty Ltd and also became one of those dedicated women who, early in the century, threw themselves into the advancement of the struggling Labor Party.

The politician R. H. Solly commended her for travelling through the heat and drought of the Mallee to discover the settlers’ wants, ‘a new thing in politics at this stage’. In 1915-16 Maude O’Connell was active as a unionist, representing tobacco workers on the Trades Hall Council and at Political Labor Council conferences. Perhaps in an effort to combat her zeal, the B.A.T. Co. offered her an executive position; she replied, ‘I’m not up for sale’.

A loyal Catholic, Maude O’Connell spoke at a large meeting at the Melbourne Town Hall on 28 April 1915, arguing for state aid to independent schools, in opposition to the Labor Party to which she continued to belong.

When, under the guidance of Fr Lockington, the Catholic Women’s Social Guild (Catholic Women’s League) was formed in 1916, she became its first treasurer and also joined with Dr Mary Glowery in arranging accommodation for girls unemployed as a result of strike action.

She began nursing training at the Eye and Ear Hospital and during the influenza epidemic of 1919 worked with doctors nursing the sick in their own homes.

Complete article : http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110057b.htm

Many Australian Christians contributed to the establishment of the Australian Labor Party and the Trade Union Movement including William Guthrie Spence ‘the founding father of the AWU’ : https://atributetoaustralianchristians.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/william-guthrie-spence/

Image : Melbourne Trades Hall around the turn of the 20th century.
Source : http://www.answers.com/topic/melbourne-trades-hall
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