Rathdowney’s Irish connection

Judy Manderson and Catherine Drynan.
Judy Manderson and Catherine Drynan.

A hurling stick and ball all the way from Rathdowney, County Laois, is the latest evidence of the strong connection between Rathdowney near Beaudesert and Rathdowney in Ireland.

Local Rathdowney Visitor Information Centre volunteer Judy Manderson was on duty when a man called Joe Ryan, originally from Rathdowney in Ireland, dropped in on 17 January.

Mr Ryan came bearing gifts including an ash timber hurling stick, known as a hurley, and a hurling ball, known as a sliotar. Hurling is a national sport of Ireland.

He also brought with him a hard cover book on the history of Gaelic games in the Rathdowney and Errill Parish, titled ‘Rathdowney and Errill GAA– The Story So Far’, and a copy of the Rathdowney Review 2022.

Local volunteers added the latest annual Rathdowney Review to their collection dating back to the 1980s, which the Rathdowney Area Development & Historical Association keeps carefully catalogued behind the Visitor Information Centre.

In written histories of Rathdowney Queensland, there are accounts of Murray Prior naming the place after an ancestral estate in Ireland and referring to it as Rathdowney from 1865.

Mr Ryan’s visit to Rathdowney Queensland is the latest in many visits between people from the two Rathdowneys over the decades.

Innisplain resident Catherine Drynan from Rathdowney Area Development & Historical Association, who regularly volunteers at the local Visitor Information Centre, visited the Irish Rathdowney in the 1960s.

“It was a market town, horses and carts bringing their produce in to the market square,” she said.

“Quite a lot of local people have visited Rathdowney in Ireland – they make a point of it, if they’re in Ireland. Lex Dunn visited Ireland and gave us some postcards of Rathdowney in Ireland.”                       

She said, as locals gear up to celebrate St Patrick’s Day on 17 March, it was as relevant as ever to celebrate Rathdowney’s Irish connection.

“It goes back to our roots, that connection, especially when we’ve got so many Irish families in the area,” she said.

“There are Irish names in the area too, like Kerry, Tullamore, Rathdowney, Killarney and a lot of properties named after places in Ireland. There’s a very strong Irish heritage here.”

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About Susie Cunningham 0 Articles
Journalist telling the stories of where I live. I love living and working in Beaudesert and when I'm not working you'll see me walking the dogs with my husband Zac.