Shanahan family history re-told after historic family photo shared online

It was the photo of two best friends, one from Crookwell, the other from Goulburn, which garnered online attention Bryan Shanahan never expected.

It was a captivating black and white photo published on the Goulburn Early Days Facebook page of his grandmothers, Katie Lyons and Catherine Hearne. 

In it, Ms Lyons casually lounges on a chair looking out, beyond the camera with grace and equal comfort. Beside her is Ms Hearne, slightly more serious in her countenance, with a paintbrush poised and a painting propped in front. 

Taken in 1910 at the Rozelle Studios in Goulburn, descendant Mr Shanahan said he was surprised at the volume of feedback from the photo.

Born in Goulburn in 1951, his parents Carmel and Thomas Shanahan, were childhood sweethearts and had two sons, Bryan and Marcus.

At 19, his father contracted polio when he was in Brisbane but managed to complete his pharmacy degree by 1936. He was to later own a pharmacy in Trundle, dying in 1957.

Mrs Shanahan was a nurse at Goulburn Base Hospital, graduating in 1938. According to Bryan, their romance was interrupted in WW2 when she joined the army and served in the Middle East and Pacific.

They were married in 1946 and returned to Goulburn in 1961.

There have been five generations of Thomas Shanahan’s in the family.

The first was Thomas Shanahan, an Irish convict who arrived on the shores of NSW in November, 1822, along with 189 Irish convicts.

The laborer from Tipperary, Ireland, was arrested for forging banknotes, found in his possession, and received a 14-year sentence. 

His son, Thomas Shanahan Jnr, shook off his father’s shadow and was remembered in Bungonia for capturing a notorious bushranger named Holloway. 

According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (April 26, 1844) Mr Shanahan was on his way to Sydney with a horse team at about 2pm on April 25, 1844.

About four miles from Bungonia, Holloway, “well mounted, and armed with a gun.. wearing a large blue cloak” approached the group.

Holloway demanded hay for his horse. Mr Shanahan did not comply.

When Holloway “showed his piece… swearing that he would blow his brains out” – Mr Shanahan still did not comply.

“[He] said that he'd be damned if he would give his money to any ruffian like him, and rushed in upon him,” the article read.

The bushranger pulled the trigger and it misfired giving Mr Shanahan and the group time to capture the bandit and his accomplice. 

“Shanahan had the satisfaction of bringing the scoundrel, lashed to his cart tail, into Bungonia, and delivering him over to the police,” the article continued.

“Mr. Shanahan is deserving of the thanks of the community; and it is to be hoped that the Government will take some notice of his gallant conduct.”

Bryan, who now lives in Canberra and works in the computing industry, said he has “fond memories” of the district and enjoys returning whenever he can. 

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