THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: New Zealand bowlers conclude their visit to Belfast
From the News Letter, June 14, 1921
The visitors were cordially greeted by the president Mr William Stuart, who was accompanied Mr W H Kirkpatrick, vice president, and Mr S S Mercer, honorary secretary.
Amongst others present were the following office bearers the Irish Bowling Association: Mr Herbert E Eaton, president; Mr Thomas W McMullan. MP, vice president; Mr John Gass, honorary treasurer; Mr D D Young, secretary; and Mr T J Kearney, secretary,
The attendance also included Alderman J W T Watters, Councillors W J Twaddell, MP, William Addis, JP, Ben A Lennox, and J B L McKeag; Mr William Dodds, BA, president of the Ormeau United clubs.
The president, on behalf of the association, extended “a hearty welcome” to New Zealand bowlers.
He recalled how the bowlers of Belfast had been downcast by the announcement that the overseas players had decided to cancel their Irish tour.
“Thanks, however, to the efforts of Mr H E Eaton, the president, and Mr T J Kearney, the secretary the Irish Bowling Association, we are able to greet that day our brothers from loyal Dominion of New Zealand,” he remarked.
He continued: “We in Ulster feel that the fair name of Ireland had been besmirched, but we are not pessimistic, and we believe that the dark clouds will roll away and a brighter day will dawn for Ireland.”
These sentiments were greeted by much applause.
Mr W J Twaddell, MP, “in name of the citizens Belfast”, joined the welcome to the visitors.
He said: “We look on New Zealand as one of the most progressive Dominions under the Crown.
“In Belfast, bowling is fostered not only on the private greens, but in the public parks, and as indication of that no fewer than seven clubs play on the adjoining green.”
Mr Barnett, president of the New Zealanders, in reply congratulated the Ormeau United clubs on the excellence their green.
He said: “We now come to a time of the sadness of parting; we all regret very much to leave Belfast.
“That sadness has been felt in most places that we have visited, but it was more pronounced in Ireland because we have been longer here.”
He added: “Irish bowlers have won their way closer into our hearts and affections.
“Your bountiful hospitality and your whole-hearted loving kindness has been revelation and a lesson to us.
“Our visit has taken place in troublous times, but it is the heartfelt wish of every New Zealander that the time is not far distant when the whole of our state will fall in line. Then there will be an Empire of which we can be justly and truly proud.”
Concluding Mr Barnett said that the memories his friends and he would take away from Belfast “would richer than gold”.
“All than can be said on behalf of team is God bless you all.”