Original of historic photo found in Takapuna

Clare Adlington with a family portrait and the rugby union and rugby league caps she has gifted to Auckland diocese. Inset: The photograph of Bernard Sweeny in 1916.

The owner of the original photo of Marist Brothers’ School’s first winner of the Doone cup for dux, Bernard Sweeney, has been found. Mr Sweeney’s daughter, Clare Adlington, brought the original photo to Auckland diocese to be scanned as well as bringing three rugby caps that her father earned in 1919, 1923 and 1924. The first two caps were Auckland Rugby Union caps and the last was an Auckland Rugby League cap. These she donated to the diocese’s archives.

St Columba Centre manager Michael Boyle earlier told NZ Catholic he was looking for the original photo so that he could have it scanned and framed and displayed in the foyer of the centre, which was originally the Marist Brothers’ School in Vermont St, Ponsonby.

Mrs Adlington said she was shocked to learn that someone was looking for the 100-year-old photograph.

“My cousin called me up on the very day that he saw the article in the paper,” she said. “I told him I’ve got it.”

She said Mr Sweeney was born in 1903 and died at the age of 89. The photo and the caps had always been in their family home in Takapuna.

“They’ve always been in a drawer at home. When he passed away, I must have gathered them up and taken them in my possession,” she said.

Mrs Adlington said her father’s family had been very involved in the life of the school. The Sweeney family lived just a street away from the school. All three Sweeney boys, Bernard, Frank and Jack went to Marist Brothers’ School.

Bernard’s photo was taken in 1916, three years after the school was opened. He would have been 13-years-old in the picture.

Mrs Adlington said her father came to New Zealand with his family at age seven.

Mr Boyle said he was excited by the find and would display the picture in a place of pride. “We would like to get as much history of the place as possible,” he said.

He added that they are still researching the history of the Doone cup.

The Marist Brothers School, which eventually became the Vermont St Catholic School, closed down in 1995.

The building was restored in 2000 and now functions as a high quality  meeting centre.

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Rowena Orejana

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