Dublin Connection to the Catherine McAuley Rose
The College received a delightful email from Pippa McIntosh (1993), who currently lives in Killiney, a beach-side suburb of Dublin. Pippa’s partner is the Hon Gary Gray AO, Australian Ambassador to Ireland. Together they live at the Australian Ambassador’s residence in Dublin, the beautiful Abbey Lea – a 100-year-old home surrounded by three acres of gardens. Pippa wanted us to know that on the grounds of Abbey Lea grows the Catherine McAuley rose.
The Catherine McAuley rose is a radiant golden colour and has a delicate fragrance reminiscent of the golden-haired, gracious Catherine. The clusters of blooms are symbolic of the devoted groups of sisters she sent to bring comfort to the needy.
How the rose came to be in Ireland in 2005 is a story in itself. The then Australian Ambassador to Ireland facilitated the importation of the Catherine McAuley rose for the Mercy Hospital Brisbane as a gift to Mercy International – the head office of the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin. As a thank you for these efforts, the Sisters of Mercy gave one of the few bushes imported to the Ambassador to be planted in the rose garden at Abbey Lea. The rose bushes arrived at the Mercy International Centre on Baggot Street on the afternoon of 7 September 2005. They arrived just in time to be given to the Presentation Sisters as a token of gratitude on the 175th anniversary of Catherine’s arrival there.
When Pippa was shown the Catherine McAuley rose in Abbey Lea’s garden upon arriving in Dublin last year, it was a happy surprise that reminded her of her 12 years at Santa Maria College. It is lovely to think that an Australian Ambassador had a hand in bringing the rose to Ireland from Australia, and the Catherine McAuley rose has played a part in celebrating the religious and cultural connectivity between Australia and Ireland. The Australian Sisters of Mercy also showed great foresight in registering for naming rights for the Catherine McAuley rose in 1992.
At home in Perth, Catherine McAuley roses hold pride of place on the grounds of Santa Maria College. They were gifted to the College by the Old Girls’ Association on Mercy Day 2008 to commemorate the College’s 70th anniversary.