Donegal House History

Donegal House takes its name from County Donegal, Ireland

It was from this place that Murray Boyd's great-grandfather, Davy Boyd, and Davy's brother Richard (Dick) set sail in 1861. After prospecting together for gold in Ballarat and Bendigo - Australia, and on the western and southern gold fields of New Zealand at Gabriel's Gully, Central Otago, they settled here in Kaikoura in 1896, and then set about the work which would earn them the land that neither they, nor their ancestors to this day, would ever leave. Together they toiled relentlessly and determinedly to transform what was then almost impenetrable swamp land into the rich and productive property which, today, is still a productive dairy farm milking 150 cows.

Throughout the course of their mission was woven a history as rich and as fascinating, as warm and as relevant today as it ever was, of toil, determination and success, of family and kinship, hospitality and, of course - what made everyday life sparkle - that good old Irish humour!

Today's members of the Boyd family (and there are many) are lucky in that their family history has been well recorded and documented. In 1992 Murray Boyd published a substantial but entertaining volume titled "From Donegal to Blackguard's Corner". This book is a history of the Boyd family from their early roots in Scotland and Ireland, and it is from this source which the following anecdotes, accounts, stories, legends, chronicles or yarns have all been plucked. (Of course, there are many more that have not been included here!). Feel free to browse through a copy of the book during your stay!

The following story sums up quite well the kinship and hospitality of the early Boyd pioneers in Kaikoura...
"On Sunday, just after lunch, friends, neighbours and relations would start arriving for the afternoon; up to twenty or more horses, gigs and carts would be scattered amongst the trees on the western side of the house. The house would be full of people with kids everywhere, always someone coming and a family due to leave. Peacocks strutted around the house calling out to every stranger; pigeons sat, squawking in the high trees.

People who were there remember that one of them was always peeling potatoes on an outside bench, another girl constantly making tea, and a third buttering scones and pikelets. By the fire, in the kitchen, a large boiler always had thirty or forty hard boiled eggs available for eating - this was practised back in Ireland. There was always boiled meat on the stove, and many times a day oatmeal scones were made. Provided the weather was good, each Sunday was similar; people enjoyed going there, and they were made very welcome."

Also this one...
"At night, during the week, most of the Boyd families from Mt Fyffe Road and from down Schoolhouse Road, would all walk to one anothers' homes to spend the evening. 'Maggie Guy' Boyd and Milly Billingsly described in humorous detail, the evenings at Guys' and Carrickfinn, and we can picture, from these ladies descriptions, that they were great nights of fun and not to be missed. The word would go out "party tonight!" Everyone was welcomed at the door and made to feel so much at home. After talking for a while, meeting one another, the chairs and mats etc in the sitting room would be cleared back, and Susan, the youngest, would get on the piano and 'damn near make it talk', which would start the dancing and singing.

The most popular dances were the step dances which had been brought out from Ireland. The 'Ross' Boyds would all arrive, usually together, and were great at joining in, and having a good time. Between dances, someone would sing a song standing in the middle of the room, everyone would listen and enjoy it. David's nephew, Sandy, always liked to sing 'I met her in the garden where the praities (potatoes) grow'. Brother Tom would sing 'I am a wee boy from Athlone, deep in my heart I wish I had never left home'. Long Davey always chose 'The Mountains of Mourne', which included his own wording about Mangamaunu (a Kaikoura settlement).

As well as the piano, there were accordions, concertinas, violins, Jews' harps and mouth organs. Most could play something; if the odd mistake was made, no one seemed to mind. When everyone was singing the old Irish songs, the children would be dancing up and down the veranda in their own style. Other children had fun chasing up and down the stairs. In the kitchen, several people would be having a yarn, sitting around the large wooden table. The older Irish Boyds would sometimes have a couple of whiskies, and then do an unusual jig in the middle of the floor by themselves as they had done in Ireland; with a hand holding a glass up high, they would flick one foot up behind and do a sort of a skip, often with tears of homesickness in their eyes. Even if not many turned up, music and dancing would still take place, but mostly those few present would yarn about the farming scene at the time. Around 10.30 to 11 o'clock, a cup of tea was served, with many plates of cake. On the way home, they would walk in groups four or five wide, and sing as they went along the old shingle roads."

Activities

Encounter Kaikoura

Encounter Kaikoura has been providing boat tours to swim with and watch the dusky dolphins and other wildlife since 1989. The business is owned and operated by 3 local business partners with a passion for the rich environment in which they have lived in all their lives.

Visit Website

Encounter Kaikoura

Albatross Encounter

Albatross Encounter brings you up close to a diverse array of seabirds including albatross, petrels, shearwaters, shags, terns and gulls.

Visit Website

Albatross Encounter

Whale Watch

Kaikoura offers a diverse range of quality activities other than Whale Watching. You can swim with dolphins and seals, cruise around the peninsula on a kayak, experience a Maori tour, fly your own plane, ride a horse or go out back on a quad bike to mention just a few.

Visit Website

Whale Watch

Seal Swim

Snorkelling with wild New Zealand Fur Seals in the shallow waters of the beautiful Kaikoura Peninsula, truly is a unique experience. It's one of those simple nature experiences that opens your mind to the sheer magnificence of our natural environment and its amazing inhabitants.

Visit Website

Seal Swim

Kaikoura Kayaks

Welcome to our magic little sea-side village of Kaikoura, where the marine life out numbers the humans and the mountains meet the sea.

Visit Website

Kaikoura Kayaks

Kaikoura Helicopters

Put yourself in the ultimate vantage point and explore Kaikoura and its many natural wonders with Kaikoura Helicopters.

Visit Website

Kaikoura Helicopters

Maori Tours

Welcome to Maori Tours, Kaikoura. Our tours are designed to give you insight into the culture and history of Maori people from a family perspective.

Visit Website

Maori Tours

Freephone
0800 346 873

Book Now

Donegal House

Schoolhouse Road
Kaikoura
New Zealand

+64 3 319 5083

The Ballad of Davy Boyd

Composed to mark the occasion of the Boyd Family Jubilee: March 14, 1965
By Margaret Milligan

A man arrived from Nelson on a sunny summer's day,
He'd heard for digging ditches, they were giving land away,
He came down from the diggings on a very fractious steed,
There was none here to welcome him, or give to him a feed.

He started on his lonesome with shovel and with pick,
He found the job too big for him, so back he went for Dick,
They worked awhile together, but it wasn't very long,
Before arrival was announced to them of brothers Guy and Tom.

I'm not surprised to hear of this for as we all must know,
when there's anything for nothing, the Boyds are never slow,
And of course we come to Jim, whose clock was never slow,
He drove his Ford to the Council meet and was never late, I know.

Next there came amongst us Young Davy, Sandy, Jack,
They had left The Bogs behind them, and they weren't going back,
I've only thought of menfolk and this theme would be in vain,
If I forgot the women, first of all there's Ellen Jane.

And then of course there's Annie, and I'd really be a loss,
If I forgot to mention Cassie Jane and Nellie Ross,
They've come along in twos and threes until up to this date,
There's a thousand of us in Noo. Zea., and we'll all celebrate.

We'll celebrate a hundred years, it may perhaps be more,
We celebrate in 65, but it might have been 64.
This paper's not elastic, so I really can't be blamed,
For omitting all the others that I really should have named.

But while we're dining and dancing at these celebrations so gay,
Let's drink a toast to Old Davy, folks, it was he who led the way,
And now I've finished my story, it's a lively one of course,
Just like a ride with New Chum, Jim, when he's breaking in a horse.