Monday, February 17, 2014

Rathdonnell House, Auchenflower

One of Queensland's early movers and shakers in the field of education was Randal Macdonnell, a Master of Arts from Dublin University who came to Australia in 1854 in order to fortify his "delicate health". He landed first in Sydney, and having been a teacher in Dublin, he established a private school there.

In 1860 Macdonnell moved to Brisbane where he was appointed General Inspector of Primary Schools and then, in 1870, Secretary to the Board of General Education. In 1875 he became the first General Inspector of the Department of Public Instruction. His poor health eventually told on him, and he died of tuberculosis a year later aged only 47.  He is generally thought to have been one of the founders of Queensland's free education system. Although a staunch Roman Catholic, Macdonnell was an adamant supporter of the separation of religious and secular education, a position that caused conflict with Bishop Quinn and other church leaders. Nonetheless he was accorded a Requiem Mass at St Stephen's Cathedral and was buried at Toowong Cemetery.

Around 1865 Randal Macdonnell built a house on a hill at Auchenflower, a short tram ride from the city. The original residence was designed by Benjamin Backhouse, and the following photograph dates from 1931, just prior to a renovation that was to add a second storey. The house was named Rathdonnell, meaning "Donnell's Hill", and its superb position provided a 360 degree vista for the owners. The road leading up the hill to the house was named Rathdonnell St after the house.
(Photo: SLQ 2 70839)

The original house stood on nearly 16 acres (65,000 square metres) of land that extended up the hill to Birdwood Terrace and down the hill to Milton Rd. The land has now been sub-divided and the house sits among other fine dwellings on about 1800 square metres that is situated up an easement on Rathdonnell St.
(Photo: www.housesbrisbane.com)

In a current slant on Randal Macdonnell's link to education, the former stable of Rathdonnell House is now on a separate title and it is home to the local Montessori Children's House, a modern learning facility.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

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