Almanac History: Are there any Leahys out there?

Recently John Harms mentioned Conelius and Noel Leahy in a story about golf. Peter Fuller contacted him about being related to the Leahy family. I put Peter in touch with JJ Leahy from Up North.

Family history is fascinating as this email from JJ Leahy shows:


Leahy is not a common name, but it is reasonably common in parts of rural Queensland especially on the Darling Downs and further out into south western Queensland.


When I was a kid, there were not many Leahys in the Brisbane telephone book. My father’s name was Leonard (Len) and the only other first name with the letter L was a Les Leahy who was a private investigator. Occasionally, we got an interesting phone call.


There was a John Leahy from Thargomindah who was a member of Parliament in the late 19th-early 20th century.


There were Leahys in the pastoral industry around Roma/Wallumbilla and also further north.


There were also the Leahy brothers – Mick, Paddy, James and Dan from Toowoomba who explored Papua New Guinea in the 1930s and settled there. They had many children with their wives and the local ladies.


When, I was at school in Brisbane in the 1960s, there was a coffee coloured Leahy who was a very good Rugby player at St Joseph’s College, Nudgee. About 7 or 8 years ago, I was at Nudgee College with my youngest son for the annual Terrace-Nudgee Rugby clash which is a big rivalry is school sport in Brisbane. I ran into a bloke I used to work with in the 70s. He also spent some years in PNG. He told me that there were a group of Leahys who had chartered a plane to fly down to see Angus Leahy captain the Nudgee First XV. There were also Leahys at St Brendan’s College in Yeppoon in central Queensland.


In 2013, I met three Leahy brothers originally from the Goldburn district at the cricket Test at Lords. One of them was from Melbourne and was involved with the Victorian Rugby Union.


One of my retirement projects is to trace my ancestry. I have found more than a thousand English ancestors going back centuries.


However, on the Irish (Leahy/Dwyer) side, I have had little luck. I know they were from Kilkenny, but I cannot find how they arrived in Australia let alone anything much about their Irish roots.


My great grandfather and grandmother came here in the 1870s, and married in Toowoomba. They settled in Muckadilla just west of Roma where he was a ganger on the railways. I still have his pick with the Queensland Railways markings and his union badge. He was killed in 1919 when he was hit by a train. He was on one of those little rail cars that were operated by pumping a lever up and down. The newspaper reports say that he was slumped over the lever when the train hit him. He may already have been dead as he had just returned to work after being ill with the influenza epidemic that swept the world in the aftermath of World War 1.


My grandfather and namesake. John Joseph Leahy, attended Nudgee College in its early years in the 1890s. This must have been a financial struggle for his parents. He was a good cricketer and later captained both North Brisbane and South Brisbane clubs. He was still playing for Toowoomba Brothers in the 1920s when he was in his 40s. He became a magistrate and was the Brisbane City Coroner for many years.


His brother Denis became a public in country Queensland and New South Wales. He also was the licensee of the Royal Exchange Hotel at Toowong in Brisbane in 1919. The RE was the pub of choice in my student years and my 20s. I ended up living in Toowong from my late 20s to mid 30s. In a previous email, I think I said it explained why I had a mystic attraction to the place.


My father had a younger brother ,Bill, who was also a publican. In the early 1950s, he had the Tattersall’s Hotel in Toowoomba. The grog got him, and he died early, poor and penniless.


My father had an older brother Jack who was a very urbane character, always well groomed and full of bs. He had never left Australia but was fluent in French, Italian, Latin, German and Spanish. He used to hang around with the then small migrant communities in Brisbane. In his late 40s, he decided to study for the priesthood and went to Sydney. He did not complete his studies, but married a very attractive younger woman, and ended up working for a fund raising organisation that specialised in churches and schools (good job for a silver tongued bull artist).


My father worked for the National Australia Bank around Queensland all his working life except for 5 years in the army in WW2 including a period in New Guinea. Neither of my Father’s brothers had children, so it is my family that carries the Leahy name for this branch of the clan.


Enough of this early morning ramble. If you want to know anything more, please let me know.


Kind Regards


  1. Hi john, I know my grandmother was a leahy. I’ll share the post with mum…she’s more than well versed in our Irish ancestory

  2. Mark Duffett says

    Clearly deep roots in the deep north, but any connection to South Australia, in particular footy legend Tom Leahy? Pretty hard to top this record:

  3. I played cricket with a Roger Leahy in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. A mild mannered off spinner with the most outrageous white line fever.

  4. There was Brian Leahy who came down from North Albury to play VFL footy with Melbourne. In his first season , 1960, he played in a flag winning team .He is the second youngest premiership player in the history of the competition.


  5. I was married to Les Leahy private investigator in the mid sixties!!

  6. Shane O'Loughlin says

    I’m in SA and my mother’s aunt Margaret married Leo Leahy who I think had several siblings. I have over the years had contact with some of them and could put you in touch with someone more closely connected, I think. I believe they all came from our North (mid) around Jamestown / Terrowie and married into the Erwin, Morris and probably several other rural SA families. Not sure what part of Ireland they came from.

  7. Felicity Savage says

    Hi I am desc from Connor Leahy came to SA in 1840. Probably related to Shane above. Have done dna and found connect to the John Leahy in 1901 in Clare at Ballyvrislaun near cliffs of moher and liscannor.
    Some of ours went to NSW – another Cornelius. To Burke and Nyngan. Also think threr is a connect to the Michael Leahy in Rockhampton. How do you know yours were from Kilkenny. Anyone wanting to do dna can contact me. [email protected]

  8. marianne nisich says

    I was married to les Leahy “private investigator” in Brisbane 1966 . We have two children now in their late forties ..
    After I divorced from Les I moved to west australia where I currently still live [email protected]

  9. David Leahy says

    I have documented the Leahy / Lahy / Lahey family of County Cavan (and neighbouring counties) origins in a new publication available here:


    David Leahy

  10. Richard Jones says

    STAN Leahy coached Golden Square in the 1992 Bendigo Footy League grand final against Castlemaine.
    But the Maine won.
    As I’d served 13 years in PNG and knew of the Leahy brothers in the NG Highlands Stan informed me he was related to them.
    By 1993 Stan was a Fitzroy talent scout and spent a lot of weekends watching under-18 State footy.
    He recommended Brent Crosswell’s son Tom Kavanagh — a ’92 C’maine premiership player — to the Roy Boys and they drafted Tom that year: 1993.

  11. Lesley Leahy says

    To Kate, from Oct.27,2015
    My husbands family immigrated to New York from Ireland in the mid 1800’s. I’ve started working on his fathers family line and have only been able to get back 3 families. When I read your post I tarted wondering if some of his family could have immigrated to Austrailia? You mention that your mother has researched your family in Ireland. I would be grateful to hear of any research tips she might offer.

  12. See Some pages on my family LEAHY (John Leahy was my grandfathers cousin, Speaker House Parliament early 20th century). L.Egan

  13. John Leahy says

    Thank you all for your responses. Sadly, none of them are my family.

    When I was a kid, we would sometimes get calls for Les Leahy, the private investigator.

  14. Hi John,
    I work with a bloke named Norm Leahy.
    Lives in Altona, grew up in Sunshine.

  15. Rocket Singers says

    Glen has nominated Brian Leahy, known as “Wrecker” because of the carnage he left on a football field. His brothers, Terry and John also played at Melbourne.

    Terry went to South Melbourne with Norm Smith, and after his VFL career coached Grong Grong Matong in the South West league in southern NSW.

  16. Bernie Leahy says

    No results found for My Dad, George Leahy, who grew up in Yarraberb Vic, west of Inglewood and Bridgewater. His parents were George senior Margaret. He had a sister Marlene, now in Long Gully, Bendigo, married Bernie Hinton (dec) and also had a brother whose name I can’t remember. They later moved to Eaglehawk where George Senior passed away. Margaret lived in Long Gully, then California Gully (Cal-gully) before passing away. Previous to this, Dad married Joan Walker (Wheelhouse) from Inglewood and they had 7 children. Garry (Eaglehawk), John, Wayne (Melbourne), Julie (Eaglehawk), Peter (dec), Bernard (Kyabram, married L Hitchcock, child Callum Leahy dob 2013) and Roger (Eaglehawk North). Joan dec aged 61 and George dec just short of 92 yrs of age last week, 18-02-2021.

  17. Robyn Scanlon says

    Hi, my mother was Ellen Jean Leahy from Duchess North Qld.

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