Published April 24, 2022

Upside Down Under: Of Donnybrook and Donnybrook…

Written by
Marvin Baker
| The Dakotan
In the opinion of Marvin Baker
Marvin Baker
In the opinion of Marvin Baker
Marvin Baker

There’s a small town in the gooseneck of Ward County called Donnybrook. It’s common knowledge locally that the town was named for the Donnybrook Fair in Ireland. Today Donnybrook is a district in Dublin.

A few days ago, I discovered there is another Donnybrook, and it’s in Western Australia. This Donnybrook is a town of 3,000 people situated 130 miles south of Perth. It’s home to Western Australia’s apple industry.

Although there is no commercial apple production at Donnybrook, N.D., and the population is about 50, there certainly is farming; cereal grains and oilseeds. So in a way, the two Donnybrooks are similar in that regard.

One thing, however, that make the two Donnybrooks vastly different is that Donnybrook, W.A., is on the Indian Ocean coast, with beaches and tourism. Sorry, no beaches in Donnybrook, N.D.

This is just one example of many in which communities in North Dakota will have the same name as communities elsewhere in the world.

One of them is Kenmare. When I was working at The Kenmare News, a young couple from Australia came to visit and I interviewed them in the Downtown Square Park. We were talking after the interview and I told them the only other Kenmare in the world is in Ireland.

Jade’s quick response was “there’s a Kenmare in Australia.” Sure enough there’s a Kenmare, but it’s a tiny village like Donnybrook, N.D. I wanted to find a farmer there and do an interview to get comparisons and differences. You see Kenmare, Victoria is a farming community; wheat, barley, cattle, canola. Sound familiar?

Anyway, with the help of the newspaper editor in nearby Rainbow, we were able to locate a farmer and I was able to interview him about his farming career in Kenmare. He was about to retire so he had an entire lifetime of stories to tell.

Incidentally, when I was looking for Kenmare, I found another nearby town that has a North Dakota name, Beulah.

In 1993, while I was vacationing in Australia, I visited Grafton, New South Wales. It is located near the Queensland border and has about 20,000 population. It is home to Australia’s Jacaranda Festival. It’s a festival that is held every year when the jacaranda trees are blossoming.

While there, I had to do something unusual so I mailed a postcard from Grafton to Grafton. That is, I sent a postcard to the editorial staff at the Walsh County Record in Grafton just to do it, which was kind of fun.

I’ve also made the attempt to locate Hazelton in Australia. Unfortunately, there isn’t a community by that name but there is an estate property called Hazelton. Australian farmers and ranchers name their properties and Hazelton is a common surname in parts of Australia.

In fact, the best known “Hazelton” was an airline that operated in Australia for several years.

So no, not a Hazelton in Australia, but there is one in British Columbia. And, there is a Grand Forks in British Columbia too.

There are numerous parallel communities and it would be fun to research all of them. There’s an Edgeley in England, a West Valley City in Utah, a Devils Lake in Michigan, a Carrington in Barbados, a New England in South Africa and there’s a Langdon in New Zealand.

There are numerous others. We have a Minot in France, a Jamestown in Ireland, a Williston in South Africa, a Fargo in Liberia, a Bismarck in Germany and one in Brazil and so it goes. It would be interesting to find out how all these communities got their names and if there is any connection to the communities by the same names in North Dakota.

As I was reading about Donnybrook, W.A., apparently the first Granny Smith apple tree was planted there in 1900 and by the end of World War I, Donnybrook was best known for apple production in Western Australia. To this day apple orchards drive the regional economy.

I know this is becoming a cliche, but it really is a small world out there!

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