Unique Donadea family saga behind very special Gathering

The Condron family reunion. Twin sisters Katie and Cristeen are third and fifth from the left at the back, while their sister Melinda is third from the left on the couch. Photo: Dessie Boland
While many of the ‘Gatherings’ happening around Kildare and the rest of the country have sought to celebrate grand themes, such as towns, clubs, industries and the like, one Donadea family decided to hold a much smaller - but just as important - reunion.

While many of the ‘Gatherings’ happening around Kildare and the rest of the country have sought to celebrate grand themes, such as towns, clubs, industries and the like, one Donadea family decided to hold a much smaller - but just as important - reunion.

Gemma O’Toole, originally a Condron, fostered the daughter of her uncle Tony Condron when she was very young.

The little girl, Katie (Kathleen), had a twin sister Christeen. The girls were born in Australia to Tony who had emigrated there as a young man and his then wife Roshni.

Unfortunately, the couple split up, with Roshni returning to her native Fiji with Christeen, and Katie was brought to Ireland.

In March 1998, when Kate was aged two, Gemma applied to the HSE to take care of her.

The sisters also had another half sister, Melinda, 30, who lived in Australia with her mother, and had always kept in contact with her sisters.

Sadly, Tony passed away last year and it was his wish to be buried with his parents, in Lynally, Tullamore.

Melinda brought his ashes over in August of this year and surprised the family by bringing Christeen from Fiji also.

“It has been 14 years since the twins were together and the first time the three sisters have ever been together,” Gemma told the Leinster Leader.

“Needless to say it has been a very emotional time for us all!”

“They’re all getting on well together. While the twins are not identical, you can see similar traits,” Gemma explained.

Gemma added that Christeen is now going to live with Melinda in Australia and Katie hopes to visit them when she is finished college in two years time.

“She will also make a visit to Fiji to visit all her relatives there.”

While the sisters were all united, Gemma took the opportunity to organise a mini family reunion.

And she chose September 7 for the occasion, given that it was her mother, Anne Condron’s 89th birthday.

Gemma is a cousin of brothers Alan and Mark Condron who are well known in Clane as the proprietors of Supervalu and Zest restaurant respectively.

- Conor McHugh