Tuesday, July 25, 2017




OMR (One Minute Reads)
Pat Ritter

A Long Long Time Ago In A Far Off Place

A baby boy born to Irish parents on 26th July 1860, this child’s life began a journey which channelled into Australian history.
Joe Ryan grew to twelve years old when he decided to become a shearer. His parents disagreed with this occupation and needed him to help them on their farm growing potatoes. On a still night he decided to leave his family to seek his dream to be a shearer. He left a note for his family stating his claims to become a shearer after informing them he loved them both.
Before daybreak arose across the horizon Joe’s plan to become a shearer developed in his mind when he met a Shearing Contractor who promised him a job as ‘tar boy’. Over the next decade he worked in various shearing sheds taking him to Cunnamulla in outback Queensland. Instantly he fell in love with the town and fellow shearers. His common place of residence whilst staying in Cunnamulla he rented a room at Ma’s Guest House. She treated him like a son she never had.
Joe travelled to shearing shed after shearing shed displaying his skills with blade shears. At one shearing shed he met a beautiful lady and fell in love at first sight; unfortunately his love, the daughter of the property owner where he sheared. This beautiful lady felt the same about Joe. She told her father who denied her from ever seeing Joe again. ‘No daughter of mine is ever going to marry a shearer.’ He’d say.
Alas Joe and Hannah wanted to be together so without the wishes of her father she decided to stay with Joe. Unfortunately in 1890 shearers formed a union to have their wages and working conditions improved, Hannah’s father formed a pastoral association to hold off the shearer’s claims.
To stake their claim ‘The Great Shearer’s Strike of 1890’ where shearers from across Australia stopped shearing sheep until their claims accepted. This strike went on for five months.
Property owners hired non-union shearers to shear their sheep. Shearing sheds burnt to the ground, non-union shearers punished. Because of lack of money by the shearers they stopped the strike to return to work.
Joe Ryan is my great grandfather and Hannah my great grandmother - Joe the instigator of the strike in Cunnamulla being imprisoned for four months for his part in the strike.

© Copyright Pat Ritter - 2013

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