Daniel James Mahony

July 20, 2015

MAHONY, Daniel James- – – – SPC 1893-1894

DoB:- – 25 March 1878, East Melbourne

Father:- – Daniel Mahony, formerly Mayor of Fitzroy

Mother:- – Catherine, nee Finnegan

Daniel James Mahony was a -‘Foundation’ student at St Patrick’s College. He left the College in 1894 at the age of 16, transferring to Xavier College in Kew to complete his Matriculation. He then entered Ormond College at Melbourne University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in 1904, and a Master of Science (M.Sc) in 1906, specialising in Geology. In 1912, he was appointed to replace Sir Douglas Mawson at the University of Adelaide, during his Antarctic expedition.

Mahony went to England in 1915, and enlisted in the Royal Artillery as a Second Lieutenant. He was later promoted to Acting Captain. He saw service on the Western Front until 1919.

After his discharge from the army, Daniel Mahony remained in the UK, undertaking petrological research (the scientific study of the origin, composition and structure of rocks) at Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge. He returned to Australia in March 1920.

On 14 March 1931, Mahony was appointed Director of the National Museum of Victoria, where he fostered research and scholarship by encouraging the existing staff, depleted through government cutbacks in the Depression. He initiated the use of honorary staff to assist in the work of the museum, and actively promoted its public image with a new display programme, following modern American methods. He raised funds from private individuals and through a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and also made a personal benefaction.

In 1937, Mahony was one of the founders of the Art Galleries and Museums Association of Australia and New Zealand, and was elected its first President. He had been a member of the Royal Society of Victoria since 1901, and was President in 1939-40.- In addition to his geological interests, on which he contributed several scientific papers and reports, Mahony was keenly interested in Australian ethnology, particularly the question of the antiquity of man in Australia.

He was known to be a quiet, unassuming bachelor, with a kind nature and a keen sense of humour. His enthusiasm for the museum transformed it from a gloomy place to one of enlightenment and entertainment. He retired on 31 July 1944, and had been residing at the Melbourne Club when he died on 27 September 1944, due to complications arising from peritonitis. He was buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery.

St Patrick’s College Annual of 1942-1944 noted Mahony’s death -“

-‘-¦ Victoria has lost one of her ablest scientists by the death of Mr D J Mahony. Previous to his death he had been in poor health. He held the post of Director of the National Museum since 1931 until his retirement. He had held important positions in the Mines Department, and examiner at the Adelaide University. He was also a lecturer in geology, mineralogy and palaeontology at the Melbourne University where he had graduated as a Master of Science. He had also served with the Royal Artillery in the last war -¦

While of a rather shy disposition, he was possessed of a keen sense of humour, and enthusiasm for any cause which he espoused. He has also contributed liberally to the scientific literature of Australia -¦’