2. Michael O'Dea (1863-1932), undertaker
Michael O’Dea was born in County Clare, Ireland and travelled to Australia with his parents, Martin and Brigid O’Dea, in 1865. Martin O’Dea was a prison warder and later an enrolled pensioner guard. He died in 1893 and was buried at the East Perth Cemeteries.
Michael O’Dea was educated until the age of twelve at the Roman Catholic School in Perth, and then was apprenticed to the blacksmith trade. He established his own business in 1888, later entering into partnership with William Bowra.
In 1892, Bowra and O’Dea, Wheelwrights was established on the corner of Goderich and Hay Streets, Perth. By 1893, they also advertised as the Standard Coach Factory which offered funeral undertaking services “on the shortest notice and with the most respectful manner”. The Standard Coach Factory constructed all the wagons and mobile equipment required for the first two contingents to serve in the Boer War.
Bowra & O'Dea Coachbuilders & Undertakers
By 1905, Bowra and O’Dea Undertakers was established at 195 Pier Street, Perth. Michael O’Dea was a dedicated and active Roman Catholic, and his firm attracted a high proportion of Catholic funerals. O’Dea was a rifle marksman, representing the state on a visit to England to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. He took great pride in his Irish heritage, was a founding member of the Celtic Club and was National President of the Hibernian Society from 1912-1916.
O’Dea was active in the support of Ireland’s struggle for independence. He represented Western Australia at the Irish Race Convention in Paris in 1920. Michael O’Dea was the first undertaker appointed to the Karrakatta Cemetery Board and served from 1916 to his death in 1932 at the age of 68 years. His obituary included the words, “He was the noblest Roman of us all.”