1922 R.C. Fete and Queen Coronation


(The Corowa Free Press, November 14, 1922)

[Typed from the hand-written transcript of Miss Anne Kingston, with permission from The Corowa Free Press]

The Queen Competition which has for the past ten months been such a prominent feature of the social life of Corowa and district, was brought to a conclusion on Friday evening last, when the Coronation Ceremony was conducted on an elaborate scale at the Austral Grounds.

The contest was arranged for the purpose of raising funds to partly liquidate the debt on the new church which was officially opened on November 20, 1921.


Three queens were selected as follows: – Miss Mary Kingston, daughter of Mr and Mrs J F Kingston, of Lowesdale, as Queen of Erin, Mrs M J Dillon, Corowa, as Queen of Sport, and Miss Lucy Whitty, Corowa, as Queen of St Mary’s.


* Bishop Dwyer crowned the winning queen in a Queen competition organized in order to help clear the debt on the new church. The result was Mary Kingston, Queen of Erin, 14,148 votes; Mrs MJ Dillon Queen of sport, 10,402 votes; Lucy Whitty, Queen of St Mary’s 4,490 votes.



[Click photo to enlarge; click again for close-up.]

[Photo provided by K. Freeman, son of ‘Queen Mary’]




Back L-R: Unkn. Unkn. Unkn. Julia Whitty (Kelly), Unkn Unkn Unkn Seated L-R: Mary Kearney (Hempenstall) Lucy Whitty (Regan) Pat Kearney (McDonald)

 [Photo supplied by Mr Jim Regan – grandson.  Click image to enlarge; click again for close-up.]

Queen of St Mary’s – Lucy Whitty – with entourage

[To help identify members of entourage – email: paulgomi@gmail.com]

(Awaiting photo of ‘Queen of Sport’ – can anyone help?)


Committees were formed to work for each candidate for the honours and during the whole time the competition has been in progress, social functions have been carried out in both town and country, and every opportunity seized of adding to the funds by the various promoters.


The methods adopted were numerous and varied, and a considerable amount of friendly rivalry was the result. The proceeds of the recent bazaar held during Show Week were all devoted to the queen funds – each committee conducting a stall for their particular queen and numberless euchre parties, dances, concerts at homes, tea stalls at football matches and other events, were run for the same purpose; and in fact, every post was made a winner.


In this connection there were a great many ladies and gentlemen who did yeoman services and worked assiduously morning, noon and night, and are to be complimented for their splendid efforts.

Distinctions are invidious, and we feel that to mention a few would be unfair. As it would be impossible, almost, to give a complete list of all those who worked so hard we do not intend to mention any names at all in this connection, believing that the reward for labour is not publicity, but the magnificent monetary success achieved and all are entitled to a share of credit.


The sum of £1,672 was raised altogether and the long months of hard work, which after all was a labour of love, culminated in a two nights’ Fete on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th November [1922], when the Austral Grounds were the scene of vast crowds of people, especially on the second night, when the Coronation Ceremony was performed.

The enclosure was brilliantly illuminated with electric lights, the stalls nicely decorated for the occasion, and laden with all manner of good things which were readily disposed of by bands of young ladies, all eager to make the most of the few remaining hours before the voting for the queens closed.


The following are the stalls and their attendants:

TOWN STALL – Mrs G W Ryan, Mrs O’Leary, Misses E Knight and Wright, assisted by Misses O’Leary, Gallagher, Coughlan, Voss, Mrs T J Kelly and Mrs Walsh.

COUNTRY STALL – Mesdames H R Leopard, E J Byrne, W McDonald and Misses Regan, Carroll, Kingston, Tenney, Knight, Conroy (2), Leopard.

SWEETS STALL – Misses L Whitty and I Coopey, assisted by Mrs Jas Crisfield, and Misses Monahan (2) J Whitty and M Dormer.

REFRESHMENT STALL – Mesdames A McDonald, Crisfield, Hennessey, Maloney, Skehan, assisted by Mesdames Squires, Ward, and Misses L Bourke and M Ward.

ICE CREAM and SOFT DRINKS – Misses M and C McDonald, assisted by Mrs D Elliott and M Skehan.

CHRISTMAS TREE – Mrs J McDonald and Mrs Stockdale.

DIPS – Misses Irene Layland and Lena Knight.


Other workers were: Messrs T J Kelly, G Blore, P Ford, W McKinstry, L Shannon, M J Dillon, D P Gleeson, S W Maliphant, P Gavin, J P Leahy, J Knight, J Ferguson, F Leonard, J McDonald, H Whitty, Geo Ryan, Tom Kelly, J Kelly, H Harris, Jas Salmon (who auctioned an Australian Flag on behalf of the Queen of Sport).

The flag which was bought and re-donated several times, brought in a good sum and was eventually purchased outright by Mr Salmon. It was autographed by His Grace, Dr Mannix and His Lordship, Dr Dwyer.


The Border Brass Band, under the conductorship of Mr R J Beaman, rendered selections from the rotunda, and hooplas, chocolate wheels, competitions of all kinds, raffles, etc., etc., kept patrons busy and incidentally relieved them of their spare cash.

The weather, unfortunately, was decidedly cold and unpleasant, but even this did not deter those who had set their minds on adding to the coffers of the queen funds, which they did with much determination.


The Coronation was, of course, the main attraction on Friday night, and business was carried on vigorously until 10.30pm when the voting for the queens ceased. The result was kept a close secret and the usual method of posting progress returns was dispensed with.


The three candidates left the grounds to prepare for the ceremony and not a soul knew who was to have the pride of place.

While the queens were preparing for the coronation, a short programme of musical items was gone through, under the supervision of the Rev Father Hickey PP.


The performers were Miss Josie Carroll of Albury, who gave delightful renderings of two songs which were very much appreciated – although the open air and the large crowd rendered vocal efforts difficult. Miss Gertie Jones, also of Albury, who also rendered a solo, Mrs S W Maliphant, who was in good voice and did justice to her item; Miss Eileen Toohey and Miss Bonnie McDonald, who each contributed a dance.


As stated before, very elaborate preparations had been made for the Coronation and a huge stage, specially erected for the occasion was made to look exceedingly pretty, which panels of roses forming the background and front, the setting being considerably enhanced by the natural shrubbery of the grounds.

The stage was richly carpeted and adorned with palms etc., and the path from the entrance to the stage was also matted, and the girls from the Convent School formed a guard of honour outside.


The route was densely lined with people eager to see the procession and they were still speculating as to the final result.

At last, the hour had come. The Band played a selection and the gates were thrown wide open as the cars containing the queens and their attendants drew up. All eyes were turned to the entrance, but even yet there was no indication as to who was queen.


The following were the principal actors in this brilliant scent:

QUEEN OF ERIN (Miss M Kingston); Maids of Honour – Misses Mary Tenney, K Ronan, Mollie Leopard and Alice Conroy; Train-bearers – Una and Joy Johnstone; Flower Strewer – Donnie Gillian.

QUEEN OF SPORT (Mrs M J Dillon); Maids of Honour – Misses May O’Leary, Ada Gallagher, Nancy Barnard, and Kitty Slattery; Train-bearers – Mary Slattery and Sylvia Leahy; Flower Strewer – Eileen Leahy.

QUEEN OF ST MARY’S (Miss Lucy Whitty); Maids of Honour – Misses Ida Coopey, Julia Whitty, Mary and Pattie Kearney; Train-bearers – Margaret Knight and “Billie” Ferguson; Flower Strewer – Elsie Miller.

DSCF2215 Queen of St Marys - Lucy Whitty

Lucy Whitty – Queen of St Mary’s


– HERALD – Mr J H Kingston

– TRUMPETERS – Melva Leahy and Kathie Walsh

– CROWN and SCEPTRE BEARERS – Jim Toohey and Chris Slattery



His Lordship, the Right rev Dr J Dwyer, Bishop of Wagga Wagga, who came down especially for the celebration, performed the coronation ceremony.


The dressing (i.e. attire) of the three queens and the entire retinue was exquisite. The ceremony was specially directed by Mr G W Anderson of Melbourne, who gave the principals valued instructions as to the modus operandi.

The coronation regalia was hired and the respective queens went to considerable expense in preparing their robes, with the result that the scene witnessed by all present was such as has never before been enacted locally.


The queens and their suites were all seated on the stage, each being heralded and escorted thither separately to the accompaniment of a coronation ode by the Band. The Lord Chancellor announced the result as follows:

Queen of Erin, Miss Mary Kingston, 14,148 votes £707.8.0

Queen of Sport, Mrs M J Dillon, 10,402 votes       £540.2.1

Queen of St Mary’s, Miss Lucy Whitty, 8,490 votes            £424.10.4

Grand Total        £1,672.0.5

With the announcement, a thousand voices cheered and all were satisfied. The Lord Chancellor read the proclamation declaring Miss Mary Kingston as Queen of Erin and congratulated her on her success and hoped she would have a long and happy reign.


His Lordship, Dr Dwyer, then escorted the Sovereign to the throne and placed the crown on her head with all due solemnity.

Speaking to the large audience, his Lordship congratulated the Queen of Erin on being elevated to the high position, also the adherents of the church on the brilliant gathering that night, and the fact that the Queen Competition had been the means of paying off such a large amount of the debt on the church, which was “the finest country church in the State.”


The Rev father Hickey also briefly addressed the people, and referred to that night being the proudest in all his existence. All the queens were equally beloved by him and there was not the slightest atom of jealousy existing between them. He could not tell them how thankful he was to the whole community, non-Catholics as well as Catholics, who had always assisted in al the movements that were for the benefit of the church.

Fr Hickey thanked those who had taken part in the concert, also his Lordship Dr Dwyer, who was always ready to assist. He hoped the coronation of the Queen of Erin would be a prognostication that the “dear Old Country”, Ireland, would come into its rights, which Irishmen were not going to give up.

This ended the ceremony and the crowd quickly dispersed.


The work of the general secretary, Mr T J Kelly, is deserving of more than ordinary notice. Mr Kelly worked like a Trojan early and late in his usual thorough and painstaking manner, not only during the progress of the fete, but throughout the entire competition. There is no doubt Mr Kelly is a “brick”, and all connected with the function will share that opinion with us.

The Committee desire to thank the Border Brass Band for their attendance each evening, and for the use of the Band Hall for rehearsals, etc. Thanks were also extended for the loan of staging, to Messrs Leslie Bros., for the Austral Grounds and materials, to the manager of Levy and Co.’s timber yard for the loan of timber, and to the officials of the National Bank, Corowa, for assistance, change, etc.

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