Daughter of Young Munster Club Founder visits Tom Clifford Park

November 7, 2018

On 15th, August 1907 a young man entered the United Statesof America through Ellis Island. The immigration records describe him as a24-year-old carpenter from Limerick who had travelled to the USA on the linerTeutonic.


Richard Matthews emigrated from 77 Mungret St. Limerickwhere he lived with his mother, four sisters and his brother Augustine. Hismother, Hanora, is described in the 1901 census as a drapery shopkeeper. Shewas already a widow at 38 years of age. Richard is described as a carpenter. Hewas an apprentice at that time. Each member of the family could read and write.Remarkably for that time, four of the children could read and write in Irish.


Before Richard emigrated to America he made a majorcontribution to Young Munster Rugby club. With Michael Keyes, Con Carey, ThomasHannon and Michael Quigley he was responsible for the revitalisation of theclub in 1901.


The contribution of the five men is acknowledged on theclubhouse board that displays the names of the club’s presidents and captains.


It was a delightful surprise when his daughter, BettyRedfearn, accompanied by her grand daughter Cindy, visited Tom Clifford Parkduring a brief visit to Limerick. She was greeted by the club President NayCantillon and members of the committee. Nay’s father, Jimmy, was president ontwo occasions during the 1940’s. A connection spanning one hundred and tenyears was celebrated when Nay made a presentation to Betty beneath the boardcommemorating her father’s contribution to the club.


Betty related how her father had to leave Ireland when hecompleted his apprenticeship due to lack of work. He must have been a talentedcraftsman because, while still an apprentice, he completed the geometric designand the template for the rose window in the Presbyterian Church in HenryStreet.


After some years in New York he moved to Texas where Bettynow resides.

She said that he managed to visit Limerick every four orfive years until his last visit in 1945. This is borne out by the census of1911 which recorded him present in his mother’s house on census night.


Michael O’Flaherty, in his history of Young Munster, listsRichard as a player in the Young Munster team beaten by Lansdowne(Limerick)after three replays in the final of “A Special Seconds Junior” competition fora set of medals in 1903.

Little else is recorded of his playingactivities but Betty stated that he continued to be involved in sportsactivities in the USA.