The historic connections between Quin and a famous gold-mining region in Western Australia were celebrated today when the Mayor of Kalgoorlie Boulder visited the County Clare village.
One-hundred and twenty years ago on 17 June 1893, a discovery near Kalgoorlie by Quin native and gold prospector Patrick "Paddy" Hannan set off a gold rush in the area.
Today, Kalgoorlie’s main street is Hannan Street, the railway station is Hannan Station, there is the Hannan Hotel and in the local pub you can drink a pint of Hannan lager.
Mr. Ron Yuryevich, Mayor of Kalgoorlie Boulder, accompanied by his wife Linda, today visited a recently renovated plaque dedicated to the memory of Paddy Hannon in Quin. The Mayor later visited Áras Contae an Chláir and the De Valera Library in Ennis to view a bust of Paddy Hannan that was presented by the people of Kalgoorlie to County Clare 25 years ago in 1988.
Speaking on the occasion of the Mayor Yuryevich’s visit, Mayor of Clare Cllr. Joe Arkins said: “History has recorded Paddy Hannon as the discoverer of the richest goldfield in Australia. His discovery came in the depth of a national depression in Australia which is probably why he is still remembered today. Like so many thousands of Clare people who left Irish shores during the 19th century, Paddy Hannan adapted to the ways of life in his adopted land and contributed to the development of what was at the time a young country.”
“I am delighted to have been able to welcome Mayor Yuryevich to County Clare. In honouring the memory of Paddy Hannan, we are also celebrating the contribution of Clare men and women to Australian society,” added Mayor Arkins.
Patrick Hannan was born in 1840 at Gorteen in Quin Parish, the son of John Hannan and Bridget Lynch. He emigrated to Australia in 1863 and was the first of six brothers and sisters to do so. He took part in some of the great gold-rushes of that era, to Terama in New South Wales, Teetulpa in South Australia and to the rich fields around Southern Cross in Western Australia.
In 1892, Hannan heard rumours of a find a considerable distance into the Australian desert. He set out from Coolgardie with Tom Flanagan and soon met up with Dan O'Shea. At what is now Kalgoorlie, one of their horses strayed. During the search for the horse they found gold in some quantity. On the nearby ridge of Mount Charlotte they found water, an essential prerequisite for their work. Then Paddy found a series of gullies where gold was clearly visible. Within two days they had unearthed 100 ounces of gold. Paddy Hannan rode to Kalgoorlie to register his claim and was awarded the space of ground which is still known as "The Hannan Award".
News of the find spread like wildfire, within two days they were joined by 400 men and in a week this had grown to 1,000. The gold-rush was the greatest in the history of the country. The towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder were born. By 1895 the mines that constitute the Golden Mile had begun to reveal their riches and a great promotion boom started in London. Hundreds of mining companies were floated to speculate on the rich reefs. The mining and investment boom reached its climax in the years 1897-1903. In 1896 a railway line from Kalgoorlie to Perth was opened, thus connecting Perth with the "City of Gold". In 1903 a pipeline brought water 350 miles from a reservoir near Perth. Not only did it bring water to parched towns of the goldfields, it also nurtured the wheatbelt towns along its route.
In July of 1897, Paddy Hannan came back as a visitor to Kalgoorlie. He was recognised and was entertained officially by the Mayor. He was driven in a coach drawn by five horses for a tree planting ceremony at the spot where he had first camped in June 1893 and where he had found his first gold. "The Kalgoorlie Miner" reported that Paddy was accorded a welcome at Hannan's Club and elected an honorary member.
Paddy Hannan died on November 4th 1925, leaving an estate valued for Probate at only £1,402. The Sunday Times of Perth wrote "The annals of our goldfields history will ever remember at the pinnacle of the roll of honour the name of Patrick Hannan, the discoverer of the richest goldfield in the world, to which fluctuated in an incredibly short time the most cosmopolitan crowd that riches ever beckoned from the far corners of the earth..... The State owes today to Hannon and the kind of men who were contemporaneous with him in the discovery and all the hardship that it meant, a debt which it can never pay".
There is a monument to Paddy Hannan in the street named after him in Kalgoorlie. It is a statue of a gaunt, bearded man with a miner's water bag - the water bag is a drinking fountain. Paddy is buried in Melbourne's general cemetery. In recent years the grave was restored by the Chamber of Mines in Western Australia.