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Barragry, John, 1879-1959, Jesuit priest
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Dates of existence
11 April 1879-27 January 1959
Born: 11 April 1879, Oola, County Limerick
Entered: 14 August 1895, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 28 July 1912
Final vows: 02 February 1915
Died: 27 January 1959, Crescent College, Limerick
by 1900 at Valkenburg Netherlands (GER) studying
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 34th Year No 2 1959
Sacred Heart Church and College, Limerick
With dramatic swiftness, Fr. Barragry passed away on Tuesday, 27th January. On the previous Saturday, he complained of a chill but continued throughout the day at his confessional. On Sunday, he was up and about but complained of loss of appetite. In getting into bed on Sunday night, he felt restless and depressed. Early on Monday morning, he was discovered lying on the floor of his room, by Fr. Rector. The doctor advised his removal to hospital, suspecting a recurrence of the diabetes. From the moment of his arrival in hospital in the late afternoon, his temperature began to rise steadily. He had another very restless night and on Tuesday morning, the community learned that there was no chance of his recovery. He remained perfectly lucid until about forty minutes before his death which occurred about 2.15 in the afternoon. On Wednesday, his remains arrived at the residence about noon and were laid out in the back parlour. Throughout the evening, crowds of his penitents and his friends came to say farewell to this very lovable priest. We all knew that Fr. Barragry was widely respected, but for many of us it was a revelation to discover the extent of his friendships. At the solemn obsequies on Thursday, His Lordship the Bishop attended with a large gathering of the secular and regular clergy. The boys of Sacred Heart College marched with the cortège to the city boundary and many of them finished the journey to Mungret by car or bicycle.
Fr John Barragry (1879-1958)
By the death of Fr. John Barragry on the 27th January the Province has lost, not only a colourful and interesting character, and one who provided a great deal of innocent pleasure for those who knew him or lived with him, but also an observant religious: remarkable for his devotion to poverty and for his exact obedience; a man of deep faith and simple piety, and a great lover of the Society. Many, both inside and outside the Society, feel they have lost a loyal and devoted friend.
Fr. Barragry was born at Oola, Co. Limerick in 1879, educated at the Crescent, and entered the Society at Tullabeg at the age of sixteen. Having completed his novitiate and juniorate, he was sent to Valkenburg in 1899 for his three years philosophy and, to the end of his life he retained an interest in the Niederdeutsche Provinz, and in the careers of those with whom he studied. On finishing seven years' teaching at Clongowes and three years theology at Milltown Park, he was ordained in 1912. Between 1914 and 1920 he was Prefect of Studies at Galway and at Mungret, and those who studied under him recall the firmness, enthusiasm and kindness, which characterised his work on their behalf.
For a short period he was Minister of Juniors and Professor of Mathematics at Tullabeg and then, from 1925 to 1931, he was again Prefect of Studies, but this time at the Crescent. Here, with the exception of seven years, when he taught at Clongowes and at Belvedere - where he was Procurator from 1934 to 1938, he was to spend the rest of his life. In the course of these years at Limerick he contributed in no small way to the success of the college as we know it today, and to the building up of the Ignatian Sodality. From 1944 till his death he was Procurator, and fulfilled this office with that exactitude and care which marked all his work.
Fr. Barragry was an efficient and understanding teacher, and he was remembered with affection by many of his past pupils years after they had left. Gratitude and warm appreciation are still expressed by those who knew him, even as far back as forty years ago. Last September, Monsignor Power of Saltley, Birmingham, recalling the old days in Limerick, asked :
“Is Fr. Barragry still alive? Good! How is he? The same as ever, I hope?”
All his life Fr. Barragly showed a great interest both in men and in affairs, and both his memory for the past and his knowledge of their careers were prodigious. Not a few of his pupils owe their start in life to the solicitous interest he took in placing them after school. Indeed many others also found in him a friend and a willing helper. His apostolate of "job-finding" and assisting the less fortunate, the poor and the unemployed, took up a great deal of any leisure he had.
As time went on he lost nothing of his interest in current affairs, specially in relation to Ireland. He had a deep love of his country, and watched daily, with a growing sense of pride, the material, economic and cultural achievements that had come about since the days of his boyhood. Though he felt that the study of the Irish language was beyond him, he championed its cause on more than one occasion, both , in private and in public.
His savoir vivre was tremendous, and up to the end he remained. keen in mind and active in body. A friend who spoke to him shortly before his death could not but admire the unimpaired, alert mind of a man in his eightieth year. He uttered no complaint on the score of health and was apparently the same as ever."
In 1955, four years before his death, he celebrated his Diamond Jubilee in the Society. His old friends - the Ignatians - gave him great joy by presenting a golden chalice to mark the occasion, and by arranging that an award—the Fr, Barragry medal— should be presented annually to the most outstanding pupil at the College.
During his years as operarius at the Crescent, Fr. Barragry was a kind and conscientious confessor, and as long as health allowed him to preach, his sermons were carefully prepared. Though in his eightieth year, he had no thought of going “on the shelf”, and was active and at his post practically to the end.
After confessions on Friday night, 23rd January, he complained of a bad shivering fit and was advised by the Rector to keep to his room. He said Mass on Sunday and seemed improved, but towards evening he took to his bed. At 4.30 on Monday morning the Rector thought he heard the sound of knocking and went in to see if anything was wrong. He found Fr. Barragry on the floor, where he had fallen during the night, and being unable to rise or attract attention, he had pulled a few blankets from the bed to keep himself warm. Later that day the doctor ordered him to hospital, and on Tuesday, when it was evident that he was dying, he was anointed and received Holy Viaticum about noon. Shortly before two o'clock, Fr. Rector and Fr. Naughton began the prayers for the dying, and at 2.10 he passed peacefully away.
It can be truthfully said that Fr. Barragry went through life joyously, maintaining always a bright and infectious cheerfulness. He dearly loved his little joke.
On one occasion, slipping quietly away for a villa in Donegal, he left strict injunctions that his life-long friend and colleague, Fr. Martin Corbett of Mungtet, was not to be told. As Fr. Martin and he were always keenly interested in the “latest”, he felt he had scored quite a victory in getting off “unbeknownst”, and was determined that when the time was opportune, he would make known his triumph.
Sitting by the side of the road, surrounded by the wild beauty of the Barnesmore Gap and the sunshine, and pulling a picture post card from his pocket, he scribbled with glee - taking pains to avoid any indication of his exact location : “Lovely views! Any news? J.B.”
Fr. Barragry traded his talents industriously, by patient, faithful service and by prayer. We may well hope that he now enjoys the reward of a well-spent life-a far more beautiful sight than he ever saw in Donegal.
Solus na Soillse agus radharc na Tríonóide d'á anam.
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father John Barragry SJ 1879-1959
One could hardly live in a community with Fr John Barragry – or Barrags as he was affectionatle called – without feeling the impact of his energetic and vivid personality.
A Limerick man, born in Oola County Limerick in 1879, after a brilliant career as a boy in the Crescent, he became a Jesuit at Tullabeg at the age of 16.
His life in the Society was spent in the Colleges as Prefect of Studies in Mungret, Galway and the Crescent – 30 years in the classroom, as he himself used describe it. The latter part of his life was spent as procurator, first in Belvedere and then in the Crescent. This was his favourite house, and Limerick his natural habitat. “I know my Limerick” he was heard to retort to one he thought had pretensions to a greater knowledge.
He was intensely interested in people and affairs, especially in matters of the Society government and appointments. His curiosity was boundless and harmless, though to some it was irksome and annoying. To many it was a great source of recreation. His storied of how he dealt with difficult situations were famous. While stationed in Tullabeg teaching the Juniors, it was reported that Our Lady had appeared to a little girl on the avenue. There was great excitement, and the local IRA were on duty, armed, to regulate the people who came to see. “Down I went to see” would recount Fr Barragry. “A young fellow on guard stopped me”. “Halt” said he. “Shoot” said I, and that finished him”. To a Rector to whom he had suggested a way of saving money and who took the suggestion as a slur on his vow of poverty, he said “My Dear Father Rector, you mist never confound poverty with economy”.
He was a hard worker for souls, and energetic Director of the Ignatian Sodality, and tireless in his efforts to place old students in good situations in life.
He died on January 27th 1959 after a brief illness.
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Type of relationship
Barragry, John, 1879-1959, Jesuit priest
Dates of relationship
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Place access points
- County Limerick » Oola
- County Limerick » Limerick City
- County Limerick » Limerick City » The Crescent » Sacred Heart College SJ, 1859-1974
- Netherlands » Limburg » Valkenburg aan de Geul » Valkenburg
- County Offaly (King's) » Ballycowan (Bar.) » Tullabeg » St Stanislaus College
- Netherlands » Limburg » Valkenburg aan de Geul
- County Kildare » Clane » Clongowes Wood College SJ
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Sandford Road » Milltown Park
- County Galway » Galway City » Sea Road » Coláiste Iognáid SJ
- County Limerick » Mungret » Mungret College SJ, 1882-1974
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Great Denmark Street » Belvedere College SJ
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