Subfonds 586 - Br Anthony Bailey SJ

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IE IJA J/586

Title

Br Anthony Bailey SJ

Date(s)

  • 1923-2007 (Creation)

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Subfonds

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Name of creator

(17 October 1923-09 May 2007)

Biographical history

Born: 17 October 1923, Lettermore, Rosmuck, County Galway
Entered: 07 September 1945, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Final vows: 02 February 1956, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Died: 09 May 2007, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Manresa, Dollymount, Dublin community at the time of death.

Originally Entered in 1942 but Left March 1942 due to leg injury, re-joined 1945

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 133 : Special Issue September 2007

Obituary

Br Anthony (Tony) Bailey (1923-2007)

17th October 1923: Born in Lettermore, Rosmuck, Co. Galway.
Early education in local National School.
Left Lettermore in 1936 for Rathcarn, Athboy, Co. Meath.
15th September 1941: Entered Society at Emo as a Postulant, but had to leave in March 1942, suffering from a leg disease.
7th September 1945: Rejoined the Novitiate at Emo. After First Vows stayed on at Emo as Cook and Houseman.
He did a cookery course at Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin.
1968 - 1975: Mungret -
1968 - 1970: Cook, in charge of house staff and infirmarian
1970 - 1972: In charge of house staff and infirmarian
1972 - 1975: Cook, in charge of house staff and infirmarian
1975 - 1986: Tullabeg -
1975 - 1985: Assistant Maintenance man and gardener
1985 - 1986: Assistant Minister
1986 - 2007: Manresa - Painter / Decorator and houseman
9th May 2007: Died at Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Dermot Mansfield writes:
Tony Bailey always remembered his birth date, 17th October 1923, because it was the feast of St Margaret Mary Alacoque, one of his favourite saints. Always, indeed, he looked to the guidance and protection of the saints, including Ignatius, the young “Star”, as well as Margaret Mary, the Little Flower, and his own Anthony of Padua. Quite a motley lot, the seven are, but good congenial company for Tony. And now he has gone to join them. Many of us, I think, will include Tony among our favourites. Our memories of him are so rich, whether his mischievous wit and sparkling conversation are recalled, his quick intelligence, or his essential shyness, and deep love of quiet and contemplation. We surely have a good friend who will steer us still and keep us on the right track from the heavenly realms beyond.

He was born into the family of Colman Bailey and Anne Coyne at Lettermore, Rosmuck, in Co Galway. The world of Connemara, therefore, was his as a growing boy, and he received his formal education at the local National School. Then came a big upheaval, when the family moved in 1936 right across the country, to the new Gaeltacht set-up at Rathcarn, near Athboy in Co Meath. However, the West was not forgotten, and indeed Tony's first contact with the Jesuits was through our house in Galway. This eventually led him to first join the Society at Emo in September 1941 as a postulant. But TB meant he had to leave in March 1942, and he would then spend quite a while as a young patient in Cappagh sanatorium. Tony often spoke of that experience, and no doubt during it his spirit of patient endurance especially developed, as well as his gift of prayer. A legacy of his illness was the unhealed leg he had for the rest of his life.

In 1943, his sister Barbara joined the Society of the Sacred Heart at Mount Anville. Perhaps it was Barbara's example that helped Tony in his determination about his own vocation, leading him on 7th September 1945 to rejoin the novitiate at Emo. Without question, he was finally where he wanted to be, and was happy in that setting. In particular, he had a great warm regard for Tommy Byrne, his novice master, who cared for him in a fatherly way.

After his First Vows, Tony did a cookery course at Cathal Brugha Street in Dublin. He stayed at Milltown Park during that time, and was one of those who experienced the trauma of the life there. Then it was back to Emo, where he was to spend so many years as gifted cook, and where his vital personality would exercise an immense influence on the great number of novices passing through there in the 1950s and 1960s. In the somewhat Upstairs-Downstairs world of that time, it could be a pleasant change for us scholastic novices to be on experiment with the brothers and our fellow brother novices. The encouragement and humour of "the Abbot Bailey" helped many a downcast young soul, as did the example of what seemed to be his effortless spirit of prayer. Then again, his spontaneity could manifest itself in surprising ways, as when he brought home a captive cock pheasant, christened it “Montini” (after the new Pope in 1963), and with it started up a spectacular pheasantry. And it goes without saying that he loved the grounds, the farm, the lake and woodlands all around.

In 1968 he moved from Emo to Mungret along with Paddy Cusack. He was cook there for a while on the community side, but he had grown weary of that work, and moved out of it into dealing with the house staff and acting as infirmarian. Once again, nature enthralled him, especially the winter wildlife on Loughmore nearby, and along the Shannon estuary. In this regard Peter Doyle was a kindred spirit, as was Eric Cantillon, and also the fondly remembered scholastic of that time, Pat O'Farrell. They all had many interesting times and exploits together. Tony, of course, was interested in the boys and their welfare, and often those with similar interests would seek him out for chats.

With Mungret's closure in 1974, Tony was back up in the Midlands again, this time at Tullabeg. Although in itself not a house to inspire one or raise the spirits, Tony found much there to his liking. He had good company in Pat Guidera, Andy Bannon, and especially Brogan Whittle, his friend from Emo days. In particular, Michael Gallagher's time as superior was much valued by him, as were the visits and ministry of John Hyde. He loved the Public Church, its atmosphere, and was interested in all the people from near and far who found their way there. He made great friends in the neighbourhood, with families, like the McLoughlins, the Corcorans and the Guinans, to name but a few. As well, he took an active interest in the comings and goings of retreatants, both lay and religious, and also in the Tertians during their years there. His one trip out of Ireland was during these years, when he went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes organised by Brian McNamara. He thought very highly of Brian, and his heart went out to him as Brian struggled often in vain with his serious alcoholism.

In 1980 Tony's sister Barbara died, after 38 years in religious life. Eight years older, she, too, was a remarkable person, and was remembered affectionately by her Sacred Heart sisters. The things said of her point to somewhat similar aspects in Tony's character. She had “a passionate sense of justice, which made her suffer all her life”. She was seen as a “fiercely independent spirit”, who was “generous and forthright”. But, above all, this most certainly applies to her brother: “She was always filled with wonder at the work of God in the world and in people”.

A few years later came the next change, and one that posed a real challenge for Tony. For it can be said that our spacious country houses had suited Tony best, and very understandably. So how was he going to adapt when, in 1985, he finally came to Dublin and had to settle down in Manresa? How would he manage in the relatively confined atmosphere there? Formerly, because of his retiring nature, Tony could easily have his meals at times other than the official community one, but now there was no option like that open to him. Everyone came at the set times to dinner and supper, including the Novices from down the grounds. In addition, we had sisters and lay people on the retreat staff, and other visiting directors much of the time. But, in fact, Tony blossomed in such company, entering into conversation with everyone, and displaying interest in all that was happening. Again, too, he was in a Novitiate situation, and so he wished once more to be an encouragement to the younger men coming our way. And, importantly, he became especially close to Pat McNamara, who only a year or two earlier had made his own big change from Belvedere.

For other reasons one ought to have had no worries about Tony coming to Manresa. For, straightaway, he grew to love every inch of the grounds around him, and the trees, the birds, and all the wildlife along the seashore. At one stage he managed to entice red squirrels into our property, a delight to behold. Early on too, in memory of the great avenue of Californian Redwoods (”Wellingtonias”) at Emo, he planted a young example not far from the house, and which now twenty years later is steadily reaching for the sky - a fitting memorial to his own adventurous outlook. And the sky itself overarching Manresa in all its moods, and the movement of the stars and planets on winter nights, were for him a ceaseless source of wonder.

In February 1989 the spectre of ill health came over him again, with the sudden stroke that severely limited his activity, Courageously, he fought his way back to a good degree of mobility. If anything, however, he now became even more a central part of the community scene, aided by the care and friendship of Pat McNamara and Michael Gallagher, and then, too, Mike Drennan, among others. You could say that in these later years Tony really became the heart of our life together. He lightened things for us; he was full of questions and comment, and always his own spirit was a constant reminder of what really matters. Often be was to be found in the chapel. I will always picture him among that faithful group at our community Mass, along with Tom Donnellan, Pat McNamara, and Paddy Meagher.

It was a great shock, however, when Pat died suddenly just before Christmas in 1997. Tony missed him sorely. Yet he adapted in time, and continued on as best he could. There were still treasured family visits, of course, from his brother Jimmy and sister-in-law Kathleen, and from his fond nephew Seán, his wife Jacinta, and their children. There were the contacts from old friends of Rahan days. Sometimes there was loud laughter and animated talk over tea and cakes on Sunday afternoons in the community room, when Joe Osborne came to visit, or Jim Sutton and Brendan Hyland, Gerry Marks, or Jim Barry. George Fallon, too, was often a welcome guest at lunch. Also his faithful friend Brogan Whittle, who had left the Society at this stage, was a regular caller. And later, there was the valued company once again of Peter Doyle, and then of Joe Ward. As I recall, his last holiday was when Michael Gallagher brought him for some days to Galway, back once more to the West.

Then little signs were indicative, at least in hindsight, of the forgetfulness that overtook him more recently. We were all affected by this loss, by this withdrawal in him. Yet despite such diminishment somehow Tony always remained himself. The glint remained in his eyes, the liveliness in his striking voice. He really did continue to be a part of the community, until he required the permanent care that only Cherryfield could give. And finally, in his 84th year, he slipped gently away from this world, in the forenoon of Wednesday, 9th of May, 2007.

How fitting it was to bring his mortal remains back to Manresa – first, overnight, to the new Tertians' chapel, and then the next morning to the Retreat House chapel for his funeral Mass. In his homily, Joe Dargan spoke of Tony's gratitude at the end, and it was in a spirit of great gratitude that so many friends gathered for that final farewell, with large numbers of his family.

But also, although it was time for him to go, he cannot but be sorely missed by such a variety of family and friends, and by his Jesuit companions. Knowing Tony, and sharing our lives with him, was for many of us one of the greatest gifts we have ever received, His was a unique spirit, always vital, alert, interested, humble, vulnerable, and true. He could bring out the best in people, the humanity that was there, the prayer, the laughter within. And now in the company of the blessed, without a doubt he is still prodding us, and egging us on, and making us keep our eyes fixed on the main purpose of it all.

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Catalogue online 2037.

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