Book Launch – ‘Union Jack’ by Dale Lorna Jacobsen

Jack O’Leary went as a young man from
the coalfields of Wales to the railways in
Queensland. Details of his life were sketchy
– he had taken his bride to live in a navvy
camp on the Mary Valley branch line out
from Gympie; then to Ipswich working
in the Railway Workshops; then service in
World War I; and finally holding a full-time
position in the Australian Railways Union (the forerunner of the RBTU), playing a significant role in this organisation.

The Author, Jack’s granddaughter, determined to fill in the blanks, and trawled through nearly a century of records at the Rail, Tram and Bus Unionin Brisbane. A fascinating tale emerged, of political intrigue that reached to the very top of the Australian government.

As I began my grandfather’s story, drawing on crumbling newspapers and bound minute books – each page, recorded in copperplate handwriting, signed by Jack – the characters jostled one another to leap into life. I needed to loosen my grip on the recorded facts and set these characters free to tell
their own story.

My role would be to ensure they told their tales truthfully.

Dale Jacobsen

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