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The Delahunty Family History:
From Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland to Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
by Catherine Delahunty
Chapter 9: More Family Connections

During research into this history a letter written by Mary Ford (Delahunty) to a niece was discovered in family papers. The letter would have been written when Mary was about 80 years old. In the letter Mary refers to being present at Petone, New Zealand, and hearing a priest preach who she knew was “somewhere a cousin to my father”. Mary at this time had never met this priest and hoped to do so “before she passed out”. From other family sources recall was made of a photograph of a priest in the “New Zealand Tablet” in the 1920’s. The comment had been made that but for the Name, the photograph could have been that of Uncle xxxx Delahunty. Those commenting were told to “hush up” and the matter was dropped.
The files of the “New Zealand Tablet” were searched in Dunedin and although the photograph referred to was not located (some early files were not on the shelves) the following facts emerged:

Newspaper: New Zealand Tablet
Date: 16 November 1911
Article: News in Brief

The Rev. Father Doolaghty, a recently-ordained priest, who is to take up work in the Wellington Diocese, arrived from the Old Country on Wednesday. Father Doolaghty, who for the present is to assist the Rev Father Hickson at Thorndon, received his training for the priesthood at the Thurles Seminary, County Tipperary, Ireland.

Newspaper: New Zealand Tablet
Date: 22 November 1923
Article: Palmerston North News, 16 November

Father Doolaghty attends Palmerston North Church Fair.

Newspaper: New Zealand Tablet
Date: 12 November 1924
Article: St Patricks’, Palmerston North

The building of the spire of the new Church of St Patrick was completed on 15 October 1924. This article describes the scene at that time, including photographs of the Church under construction, its estimated cost being £31,000. The steeple is mentioned as being 160ft high and would be the highest landmark in the Manawatu district. The building was to seat 900 comfortably and would accommodate 1,200-1,300 people if required. Fr Doolaghty was in the Parish during the building of this Church. Photographs appear in this article of the view of Palmerston North from the Steeple of the new Church and the Church construction in progress.

Newspaper: New Zealand Tablet
Date: 17 March 1926
Article: Farewell to Father Doolaghty - Our Palmerton North Correspondent

People the wide world over find it hard to say “goodbye”. The parishioners of Palmerston North are no exception to that rule, and we were sorry indeed to have to part with a priest so beloved as Father Doolaghty. On Wednesday evening, the 24th instant we went along to the Empire Hall to give him a farewell concert and a presentation. Not only the town people were there, but many from the country as well. Non-Catholics did not feel “outsiders” at that gathering because they regarded Father Doolaghty as a very special friend. Fathers Harnett, Cashman, and Carmine did not think it too much trouble to journey to Palmerston for the occasion. The three local priests were also present. After the enjoyable concert, Mr Cope (who presided) called on Mr J F Oakley to express to Father Doolaghty, the sentiments of the Palmerston parishioners.

Mr Oakley recalled the time (1911) when Father Doolaghty first came to the parish as assistant priest and how he immediately established himself in the hearts of the people. At the beginning of 1913 Father Doolaghty was transferred to Marton as parish priest and all were sorry at his going. Towards the end of 1923 he again returned to the parish and was received as an old friend. Father Doolaghty’s work amongst us from then until a few weeks ago was described by Mr Oakley as splendid. He made special mention of the departing priest’s work for the children and of their very great affection for him. A wallet of notes then came forth from the speaker’s pocket, and in a few moments it was resting in Father Doolaghty’s hands - a small token of our affection and admiration for him. Mr W Balmer, in a bright, cheery little speech, had a few words to say on behalf of the Ashhurst-Raumai people. Father Doolaghty was much loved out there, and like the Palmerston folk, they were sorry to lose him. At the conclusion of his brief address Mr Balmer handed Father Doolaghty a cheque, remarking in a loud whisper and causing much merriment thereby: “From the bush end of the parish, Father.”

Mr Cope rose a third time: “I don’t know what Father Doolaghty is going to do with all these presentations,” he said, “but there’s actually another.” The third gift was a set of breviaries from Father Mac and Father O’Beirne as a mark of their admiration of Father Doolaghty as a companion and fellow-worker. In handing him the gift, on behalf of Father O’Beirne and himself, Father Mac said that in his dealings with them Father Doolaghty was the same cheerful, courteous and kindly priest that he had been to the parishioners.
The guest of the evening then rose to make his reply. It was some moments before the applause subsided, and then in his usual sincere manner Father Doolaghty told us how he appreciated the kind remarks made about him, and the gifts presented to him. The presence of the visiting priests also pleased him very much. He thanked all the people of the parish, the non-Catholics, the ministers of the various denominations, the matrons and staffs of the Old People’s Home, the public and private hospitals for their kindness and courtesy to him during his stay in the parish. He also had a word of thanks for those responsible for the concert and the presentation. In conclusion, Father Doolaghty told us that he regarded Palmerston North as his home. To which Palmerston North replied: “Come home when, and as often as you wish. Don’t trouble to knock, just walk straight in.” The prayers and good wishes of the people go with Father Doolaghty to his new parish. His successor (Father Masterton) has received warm welcomes from all, and is beginning to feel at home amongst us. And so ends another chapter in the history of the parish.

Newspaper: New Zealand Tablet
Date: 31 March 1926
Article: Father Harnett Farewell

“The Rev. Father Doolaghty, who has been appointed to the charge of the Taihape Parish, thanked all present for the warm reception they had given him. He said he had been fortunate - and yet unfortunate - in his appointments, as he had succeeded Father Harnett on two occasions. He succeeded him at Opunake, and found the going soft. The trail has been blazed for him at Taihape, and the track would be soft for him. He had been unfortunate inasmuch as Father Harnett had always set such a high standard that he (the speaker) had nearly broken down in health trying to keep up to it.”
In the next article Father Doolaghty paid tribute to Father Carmine who was also leaving the Taihape Parish.

Newspaper: Taihape St Mary’s Catholic Parish 75th Jubilee Booklet
Date: 23-24 February 1974
Article: Father Matthew Bernard Doolaghty

Reverend Father Matthew Bernard Doolaghty was born in Carrahan, Quin, Co Clare, Ireland on 10 May 1882. He studied for the Priesthood at Thurles Seminary, Co Tipperary, Ireland, and was ordained on the Feast of Corpus Christi, 15 June 1911 in St Flannans Cathedral, Killaloe, Co Clare.

On his arrival in the Archdiocese of Wellington he was posted to Palmerston North as Curate to Father Costello.

He was appointed to Marton as Parish Priest in January 1913, until 1917, and being responsible for the building of St Matthews’ School and for procuring the Sisters of Mercy to staff it. From Marton he went to Opunake as Parish Priest early in 1917, until February 1926 when he came to Taihape. At that time the parish was heavily in debt after the building of the Convent on Concordiae Hill. Father Harnett had said “I’ll crown Concordiae Hill.” When Father Doolaghty took over he said “That’s all damn fine, but I’ve got to pay for the crown!” He rallied the people around and with sustained effort on the part of the people and himself, the debt was gradually cleared.
He celebrated his Silver Jubilee in 1936 and his Golden Jubilee in 1961. The non-Catholics of the district left no doubt about Father Doolaghty’s great popularity with all sections of the community. In ecumenical matters he was years ahead of his time.
Father Doolaghty always had a very active interest in sporting matters and was particularly interested in horses and horse sports. He owned two outstanding jumpers, Hazlewood and King. He was responsible for starting St Pat’s Sports which for many years, was one of the major events in Taihape.

Priests and lay people throughout New Zealand know about the proverbial hospitality of Father Doolaghty. Many a one knew how welcome he was when greeted with a smile and in a soft Irish brogue: “Hello boy. How are ye? Come in.” No “mine host” has ever played his part better.

As a true pastor he was deeply concerned about the spiritual and temporal welfare of his people. During the slump years Father Doolaghty was responsible for many a box of groceries being left at numerous doors without the householder ever suspecting by whom it was given. Indeed, many a time he said “God gives to the cheerful giver.” He practised it more than most people suspected.

No doubt many parishioners still recall Father Doolaghty’s deep interest in and genuine concern for young people, and in conjunction with this, his strong appreciation of the roll of the Catholic school.

Three new parish buildings were erected during Father Doolaghty’s term in Taihape. The Presbytery, Church and two new school rooms. Of these, the pride of place goes to the new St Mary’s Church, donated by the late John and Maude Bartosh.
Father Doolaghty’s days centred around his Mass, the stations of the cross and the rosary. As his activity decreased he strived to help his people even more by prayer. He requested that little should be said about his work in the parish, but he did wish to express his concern that the people would preserve their devotion to the Mass, the stations of the cross and the rosary.

After a prolonged illness and an inspiring acceptance of God’s will, he had a peaceful death on 4.9.1964. He is buried in his parish of Taihape.

A photograph of Father Doolaghty surrounded by a large number of his fellow clergy appears in the New Zealand Tablet of 16.8.1961.

From researching Father Doolaghty here and in Ireland it has been found that he was a son of Michael Doolaghty and Ellen (née Hayes) of Carrahan, Quin, Co Clare. Research is continuing into the probability that this family and the family of John Doolaghty (died 1881) share links.

New St Mary’s Church, Taihape
New St Mary’s Church, Taihape

Foundation Stone, St Mary’s Church, Taihape
Foundation Stone, St Mary’s Church, Taihape

Father Matthew Bernard Doolaghty, 1882-1964
Father Matthew Bernard Doolaghty, 1882-1964

Newspaper Clippings

Another interesting piece of information to emerge is that the famous explorer and gold-miner Arawata Bill (William O’Leary) the son of Joseph Timothy (Timothy) and Mary Bridget aka Bridget Mary (née O’Connor) was also related to our family. Arawata Bill was born in 1865, died in 1946 at Dunedin Public Hospital and is buried at Andersons Bay Cemetery near the grave of Michael, John and Alma Delahunty. His headstone depicts the miner’s pick and shovel. A biography is soon to be published on Arawata Bill, written by New Zealand author Ian Dougherty. Bridget Mary, and her first-cousins Bedelia (probably died 1967 Picton) and Nancy arrived at Port Chalmers on the “Pladda” in December 1862. Bridget Mary is reputed to have been a cousin to Elizabeth (O’Connor) Doolaghty, Bridget (Casey) Dimond, Ellen (Casey) Rodgers and Michael Casey.

Arawata Bill
Arawata Bill

Arawata Bill
With his weapon a shovel
To test the river gravel
His heart was as big as his boots
As he headed over the tops
In blue dungarees and a sunset hat.

Wicked country, but there might be
Gold in it for all that,

Under the shoulder of a boulder
Or in the darkened gully,
Fit enough country for
A blanket and a billy
Where nothing stirred
Under the cold eye of the bird.

Some climbers bivvy
Heavy with rope and primus.
But not so
Arawata Bill and the old-timers.

Some people shave in the mountains,
But not so
Arawata Bill who let his whiskers grow.

I met a man from the mountains
Who told me that Bill
Left cairns across the ravines
And through the scrub on the hill
- And they’re there still.

And he found,
Together with a kea’s feather,
A rusting shovel in the ground
By a derelict hovel.

It had been there long,
But the handle was good and strong.
By Denis Glover, New Zealand Poet
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Chapter 8: Arrival in Dunedin,
New Zealand, 2nd June 1883
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Chapter 10: Visit to Ennis
1992 & Conclusion