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O'Loghlin, James Vincent (1852–1925)

by Peter Travers

This entry is from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

James Vincent O'Loghlin (1852-1925), by Vandyck Studios, 1910s

James Vincent O'Loghlin (1852-1925), by Vandyck Studios, 1910s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23381701

James Vincent O'Loghlin (1852-1925), journalist and politician, was born on 25 November 1852 at Gumeracha, South Australia, son of James O'Loghlin, a farmer who arrived in South Australia from Clare, Ireland in 1840, and his wife Susan, née Kennedy. He was educated at John Besley's Catholic School, and the Classical and Commercial Academy, Kapunda. He then joined his father farming at Kapunda, Pinkerton and Blyth, followed by employment on the Hill River and Pekina stations. He joined the South Australian Carrying Co., a railway goods carrier, and was branch manager at Gawler until 1879 when the hired-truck system was abolished. For the next nine years he was in the grain industry, first as a wheat-buyer at Gawler with W. Duffield & Co., millers. In 1883 the company merged with the Adelaide Milling & Mercantile Co., and he became their agent at Terowie. In 1887, as manager of the company's mills, he moved to Gladstone where he was a member of the town council.

At Terowie O'Loghlin began his career as a journalist. In 1884 he was co-founder of the Terowie Enterprise and North-Eastern Advertiser, and was its managing editor and later sole proprietor until he sold the paper in 1887. In 1889 he was co-founder of the Catholic weekly newspaper, the Southern Cross, and its editor until 1896, remaining managing director and secretary of the Southern Cross Printing and Publishing Co. until his death. As lay editor of a Catholic newspaper his relationship with Archbishop Christopher Reynolds was at times uneasy. He wrote to his sister Mary on 2 June 1890: 'The Archbishop is very cool towards the paper. There is just a sort of armed neutrality between us and he does not patronise or help the paper in any way and the fun of it is that I think many people think he controls it altogether and are suspicious of it on that account'.

In 1888 O'Loghlin was elected to the Legislative Council for the Northern District, and moved to Adelaide next year. He was chief secretary and minister for defence in the Kingston government from March 1896 until the fall of the ministry on 1 December 1899. He lost his seat in 1902, but had contested the Senate in 1901, and was unsuccessful again in 1907, this time as a Labor candidate. He was elected to the Senate by the South Australian parliament to fill an extraordinary vacancy in July 1907, but the election was declared void by the High Court of Australia in December and O'Loghlin was defeated in a popular election in February 1908. He was returned for Flinders in the House of Assembly in April 1910 but lost his seat in January 1912. Elected to the Senate in 1913 he was re-elected following the double dissolution in 1914, defeated in 1919 and re-elected in 1923.

A founder of the Australian Natives' Association in South Australia, O'Loghlin was its president in 1912. But he was better known as an ardent supporter of Home Rule for Ireland. He served terms as president of the Self-Determination for Ireland League, the Irish National League, and the United Irish League in South Australia. In 1883 he took part in the welcome to the Redmond brothers and was a delegate to the first Irish-Australian Convention in Melbourne in November. His political opponents were quick to accuse him of inconsistency in October 1899 when, as minister for defence, he took part in organizing and dispatching the first contingent of South Australian volunteers to the South African War, but he replied that there was no inconsistency, since the Boers were denying home rule to the majority of the population. On 23 January 1907 he married Blanche Besley, youngest daughter of his former teacher, at Norwood.

O'Loghlin had a long involvement with military affairs from 1883: he raised and commanded the Irish Corps, 10th regiment (1901-10), retiring as lieutenant-colonel. At 62, he was the first senator accepted for overseas service and in 1915-17 was a transport officer commanding reinforcements for the Australian Imperial Force, with the temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel. At a farewell dinner given by his parliamentary colleagues in Melbourne, he was reported to have said that 'if there was a fight on, an Irishman wanted to be in it'. Nevertheless, he strongly opposed conscription. When on his return to the Senate in March 1917, he found the Labor Party split over the issue, he ruefully observed that 'there is more war here in Australia than there is at the front, and … it is being conducted more bitterly'. He himself showed a rare moment of passion in his judgement of his former leader: 'It seems to me that the conduct of the Prime Minister at that crisis was pure Kaiserism, and I am opposed to Kaiserism, whether that Kaiserism comes from Billy Hughes or William Hohenzollern'.

O'Loghlin began to show signs of tuberculosis in 1922, and his last years in the Senate were dogged by ill health. He died at home at Hawthorn, Adelaide, on 4 December 1925 and after a state funeral was buried in West Terrace Catholic cemetery. His wife, three sons and a daughter survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • J. J. Pascoe (ed), History of Adelaide and Vicinity (Adel, 1901)
  • G. Sawer, Australian Federal Politics and Law, 1901-29 (Melb, 1956)
  • Parliamentary Debates (South Australia), 1899, p 146, 357
  • Parliamentary Debates (Commonwealth), 1917, p 11360, 1926, p 10
  • Register (Adelaide), 18 Mar 1896
  • Southern Cross, 15 Mar 1901, 11 Dec 1925
  • Daily Herald, 2 May 1917
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 5 Dec 1925
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Dec 1925
  • Observer (Adelaide), 12 Dec 1925
  • Catholic Archives (Adelaide)
  • private information.

Citation details

Peter Travers, 'O'Loghlin, James Vincent (1852–1925)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/ologhlin-james-vincent-7905/text13747, accessed 20 September 2017.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012