Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Lynch, Joe

Cartoonist and black & white artist for Smith's Weekly and Melbourne Punch, whose death in Sydney Harbour in 1927 at the age of 29 inspired Kenneth Slessor's poem 'Five Bells'. He was the model for his brother Guy (Frank) Lynch's sculpture 'The Satyr', a bronze casting of which is in the Royal Botanic Gardens in his memory. He was also the model for his brother's statue of a New Zealand digger for the World War I memorial in Devonport, New Zealand, that is known colloquially as 'the untidy soldier'.

North Carlton, Melbourne, VIC
07 Dec 1897
Arrived Sydney
May 1927
03 Jun 1927
Commemorated by
Commemorated by

The Life and Death of Joe Lynch

CC BY-SA 2.0

Had it not been for Kenneth Slessor's poem 'Five Bells', the death of Joe Lynch might have been just another drowning in Port Jackson, not the first, and regrettably not the last. Slessor's poem inspired John Olsen's 1963 painting, Five Bells, on permanent display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and his 1973 mural, Salute to Five Bells, installed in the northern foyer of the main concert hall at the Sydney Opera House. In the Royal Botanic Gardens near the Opera House gate, Guy Lynch's Satyr, modelled on Joe, looks out to sea to where his brother drowned and where the Manly Ferry passes on its daily route.