Roscrea brothers who took part in the Lions tour of South Africa remember Roscrea RFC and their families

Last Friday at Roscrea Rugby Club, representatives of the family of Dr Joseph Wallace and James Wallace, two famous former Irish rugby players, attended a ceremony celebrating their bond with Roscrea.

Pictured above is the Irish rugby team who played Scotland in 1935. Dr Joseph Wallace, as IRFU President, stands on the right side

James and Joseph Wallace were from Dromakeenan and played on the same team in South Africa in 1903. James Wallace was number 98 in the British and Irish Lion and his brother Joe was number 99 in the British and Irish Lion.

Joe gained international recognition against Wales and Scotland and in 1904 was joined by James in the match which Ireland lost to England 19-0 and to Scotland at Landsdowne Road, which the Ireland also lost 19-3. It was his last appearance for Ireland but Joe then performed very well against Wales at Ravenhill, scoring a try in the first half of the game.

Pictured above is the presentation at Roscrea RFC by the families of Dr Joseph Wallace and James Wallace of the Capes for the Lions Rugby tour of South Africa in 1903 – Left to right, back row: Brendan Hyland, Keith Wallace, Dennis Delaney, Raymond Dempsey, Paddy Cody, James Marks, Liam Spooner, Serena Brady – Left to right, front row: Gerald Dunne, Kathy Dunne (née Wallace), Mabel Wallace (Shinrone), Robert Wallace (Cork), Ann Collins (née Wallace) (Derbyshire), Tim Collins, Julian Wallace, Arthur Dunne, Alan Wallace (Kerry) – photo: PJ Wright

Wales leveled the teams after the break and after Ireland lost their left winger Joe was moved into that position. Ireland were down to 14 men and Wales took the lead after scoring tries – but Ireland won the game with a try from Alf Tedford and a conversion from Mossy Landers.

Joe Wallace’s last game in an Irish shirt was against Wales in 1906 where he scored a try. Joe took over at half-back after WB Purdon was injured and Ireland won 11-6 against the Wales side who were the only side to beat New Zealand on their 1906 tour .

Pictured left is Kathy Dunne (née Wallace) with her son, Arthur Dunne, proudly displaying treasured photos of
the Irish rugby team which played in Scotland in 1935 and which has strong ties to Roscrea through the Wallace brothers. Kathy’s grandfather, Dr Joseph Wallace, was president of IRFU that year and below is the flag that Dr Joseph Wallace used when he “ran the line” for the Irish team , as President of the Union – Photo: PJ Wright at Roscrea Rugby club

After his rugby career, Joe Wallace returned to Roscrea and continued his career as a doctor and helped with rugby training at Cistercian College at Mount St. Joseph’s near Roscrea. Joe Wallace also had the distinction of being President of IRFU and also served as Vice President of Roscrea RFC.

Dr Joe Wallace died aged 88 in January 1967 and last Friday family members of Joesph and James traveled to Roscrea to officially present the two Lions caps awarded in honor of these two famous players Irish rugby players who have represented Ireland and toured South Africa with Lions Rugby. Team in 1903.

Pictured above are Roscrea RFC representatives holding Brother Wallace Lions caps – back row l/r Brendan Hyland, Paddy Cody, Raymond Dempsey, Liam Spooner, James Marks, Keith Wallace – in front of Dennis Delaney (Chairman, Roscrea RFC) and Serena Brady – photo: PJ Wright

The event was a unique honor for Roscrea RFC and was greatly appreciated by all participants. Ms Mabel Wallace from Shinrone and members of her family from Wexford and Cork represented the family of Dr Joseph Wallace, while Ms Collins and her family from Yorkshire represented the family of James Wallace.


Charles P. Patton