A.J. ‘Paddy’ O’Donoghue was born on the Kalgoorlie goldfields in 1913. He moved to Noble Park, with his family, in 1924, when his father accepted a job in the local bakery. Paddy left school in 1929 at the age of 16, to take over his ailing father’s work in the bakehouse, and became the family’s breadwinner. Paddy was the oldest of a family of five children, having sisters, Sylvia, Eva and Elvia and a brother Jack. Five years later, he scraped together a deposit of $200, no easy task as these were the years of the Great Depression, and he purchased the bakery.
With great socialist beliefs, Paddy’s generosity was central to his beliefs, he felt that it was his duty to help those in need, where and when he could. In his autobiography he noted that, in retrospect, he and his family as business people were not successful because they lacked the insatiable drive for profit. However, a lack of success in business was well and truly compensated for by the high regard in which this man was held by the community.
No matter what ideological differences Paddy may have had with people he was universally respected and admired by all.
His public life included serving as a committee member & life member of many sporting clubs, various cultural groups, the Noble Park Progress Association, Life Member of the Dandenong and District Hospital, a tireless worker for Red Cross and Comforts Fund in war time. He was a talented violinist and was a member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and various dance bands. Paddy was also a member of the Communist Party for over 40 years and keenly interested in politics.
He was an active leader and member of the community until his death in 1980. His influence was so great that he was fondly known as ‘Mr Noble Park’ and his work for the community he so loved is enjoyed by the inhabitants of Noble Park today.
Paddy O’Donoghue was associated with the Noble Park Public Hall for forty seven years as a trustee, seventeen of those years as chairman of the trust.
His greatest hope was that the future trustees ensure that the guidelines laid down by the pioneers be adhered to and that the hall and environs remain in the control of the people of Noble Park, to be used for educational, charitable, recreational and cultural needs. One of his greatest visions was to open a gymnastics club at the Noble Park Public Hall, to allow local children the chance to enjoy gymnastics. Paddy opened Koala Gym Club in the 1970's and Koala Gym is still operational at the Noble Park Public Hall in 2015.
As a tribute to his outstanding service to the people of Noble Park the Trustees of the Noble Park Public Hall decided to name the new annexe, built in 1980, and completed just after he died, the “A.J. Paddy O’Donoghue Hall”. At the official opening of the new hall, Mrs Margaret Fieldhouse, a Noble Park resident, presented a portrait of Mr O’Donoghue, to be hung in the complex as a reminder of his immense community contribution.
In 2005 the A.J. Paddy O’Donoghue hall was demolished to make way for the new complex. An approach was made by the Trustees of the Noble Park Public Hall to the Councillors of the City of Greater Dandenong to name the new complex in honour of Paddy O’Donoghue. The councillors agreed to the request. So when the new complex opened, it was named The Paddy O'Donoghue Centre.
When Paddy O’Donoghue died, his wife, Mrs Olive O’Donoghue, was elected as a trustee and continued to serve in that role for over 40 years. Mrs O’Donoghue was a guest at the opening of the Paddy O’Donoghue Complex.
Olive O’Donoghue died on 25th August 2013 at the age of 96 (almost 97).
Olive was born in Dandenong and lived there until her marriage. She was married to Arthur John O’Donoghue (known as Paddy) in 1941.
Paddy O’Donoghue and his family (parents, sisters and brother), were all involved with the Noble Park Public Hall since the early 1900’s. Paddy and his father ran a bakery in Douglas Street Noble Park and were very well known residents.From the time she moved to Noble Park as Paddy’s wife, Olive served on many committees:
She served on the committee of the Truby King Centre in Noble Park, the local kindergarten and state school. She was a founding member of the Noble Park Swimming Club, and a member of the Garden Club and Stamp Club. She had been on the ladies auxiliary of the Noble Park Football Club and the Noble Park Tennis Club. She was a member of the Dandenong Historical Society and involved with the Dandenong Arts and Music Festival. In latter years Olive joined the Noble Park Probus Club. As well, she did lots of other voluntary work including playing the piano for a local nursing home, several days a week, and also playing the piano for the children at Noble Park Youth Club, Calisthenics group, for many years. She also played piano at St John’s College in Dandenong. All of these positions were voluntary.
With Paddy as a hall trustee for much of his life, Olive served on the ladies auxiliary of the Noble Park Public Hall for 50 years. In 1980 when Paddy died, Olive was invited to nominate as a trustee, and although she was a little reluctant at first, she was voted on as a trustee to fill the remaining term that Paddy held. From then on, she was elected, unopposed each five years. She has been a trustee of the Noble Park Public Hall for 33 years.
Ladies auxiliary and Hall trustee
As a trustee and member of the ladies auxiliary, Olive was relied upon to bake many thousands of cakes for fundraising for the hall. Street stalls were held outside the hall in Buckley street, several times each year to raise funds for maintenance in the hall. Through the eighties, the hall trust ran monthly Trash and Treasure Markets, attracting 20 or 30 stalls, using both halls and the garden areas. Olive played a very instrumental part in the Trash and Treasure markets, manning the Ladies’ Auxilliary stall, and of course, providing most of the cakes that were sold on it. She was such a good cook, that many of her cakes were ‘pre-ordered’ before she reached the hall with them. It was nothing for Olive to make two trips from her home, with her jeep filled with cakes. This continued through the eighties and nineties.
Paddy and Olive got a lot of pleasure in attending the annual Koala gym displays, and presenting trophies to the gymnasts. In earlier years, Olive cooked all the cakes that were used at the party afterwards for the children and their families. This was paid for by Paddy and Olive themselves. After Paddy died Olive continued to attend Koala Gym display nights, presenting trophies in memory of her husband, her daughter, and one for herself. Olive has been a patron of Koala Gym for about 38 years.
Opening of the Paddy O’Donoghue centre
In 2008 Olive was invited to play a prominent role in the opening of the Paddy O’Donoghue Centre. Along with Tim Holding, MP, Daniel Andrews, MP, and the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Greater Dandenong, Olive performed the actual opening of the curtain. This was a very special and emotional moment for her, as she and Paddy had been very involved in the NP public hall for such a long time and she was delighted that the centre was named in Paddy’s honour.
Noble Park Action Forum “Foundation Award”
In 2009 Olive was pleased to receive the “Foundation Award” for giving selfless lifetime service and commitment to helping build the foundation of the “Struggle Town” ethos on which Noble Park was founded, at the Noble Park Centenary Celebrations. It was the first time that Olive herself had been given recognition, in the ‘public spotlight’ and over those centenary celebrations Olive was made to feel very special and important. It was a highlight for her, rather than being in Paddy’s shadow!
Olive Room and Olive O'Donoghue's Garden at Paddy O'Donoghue Centre
Olive’s passing, on August 25th, 2013 closes yet another page in the history of Noble Park but council’s decision to name a room and a garden area in her memory, means that Olive O’Donoghue will live on in this community.
Back L to R: Eva Bell, Olive O'Donoghue,
Gwen de Sachau
Front L to R: Sylvie Batten, Elvie Glascott, Joy White, Pat Weston
Dawn Dickson, Neville Tate, Olive O'Donoghue, Alan Gordon, Adrian Barnard
Tim Holden, MP, with Olive O'Donoghue
Lynette While (Council trustee), Ray Fullerton & Pat Kampl (past trustees), Dawn Dickson, Gaye Guest and Adrian Barnard, present trustees.
Mayor and Councillors, City of Greater Dandenong, at the opening of the Olive Garden & seat.
This photo was taken in 1956, with Olive and Paddy O'Donoghue and their only child, their daughter, Maureen, who died in childhood.