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Archer, James, 1550-1620, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/877
  • Person
  • 1550-19 February 1620

Born: 1550, Kilkenny
Entered: 25 May 1581, St Andrea, Rome, Italy - Romanae Province (ROM)
Ordained: c. 1577 Louvain, Italy, - before Entry
Died: 19 February 1620, Irish College, Santiago de Compostela, Spain - Castellanae Province (CAST)

2 yrs Theology in Rome, concentrating on Moral;
In the Roman College 1584; at Pont-à-Mousson as Minister and student confessor, Campaniae Province (CAMP) 1586-7- moved to Nancy 1587 due to danger of war;
First Rector of Salamanca;
famous Missioner in Ireland during “Tyrone war”;
Bruxelles et Castrensis Mission in 1590;
at Salamanca in 1603;
At Bilbao - Castellanae Province (CAST) - in 1614 - Prefect of Irish Mission;
Irish College Salamanca in 1619 and then died in Santiago 15 February 1620.

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronolgica” :
First Rector of Salamanca ad great promoter of education; A Most celebrated man whose name was very dear to Irishmen, and with whom he possessed unbounded influence.
He was a famous Missioner in Ireland during the War of Tyrone
In 1617 he was in Castellanae Province (CAST).
Succeeded Fr Thomas White as rector of Salamanca 1592-1605
His name also appears incidentally in the State Papers, Public Record Office, London, 1592, 1594.
He is highly eulogised in a report of Irish Affairs addressed by Capt Hugh Mostian to Louis Mansoni, the Papal Nuncio for Ireland, towards the latter end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. (Oliver’s “Collectanea” from Stonyhurst MSS. Oliver also refers to several of Archer’s letters as still extant)
1606 Archer was constituted the first Prefect of the Irish Mission in the National College, Rome (Irish Ecclesiastical Record April 1872, July 1874 and a biography September 1874)

Note from Bl Dominic Collins Entry
After First Vows he was sent to Ireland as a companion to James Archer, who was a Chaplain to the Spanish invading force sent by Philip III of Spain. He was taken prisoner and rejected the overtures to reject his faith he was hanged (at Cork or Youghal).

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
He had studied at Louvain and was Ordained some time before March 1577. Before he entered the Society he was already a Master of Arts. When he returned to Ireland in 1577, he remained for at least he next eighteen months. He was at Kilmallock, 21 August 1578, when he assisted the Franciscan, Father Conrad Rourke, the eve of his death “in odium fidei”
After First Vows, Archer was deputed to revise his studies at the Roman College and Pont-à-Mousson. At the latter place he served also as Minister of the community and the student-boarders. It would seem that his Superiors were grooming him for professorial duties - However...
1590 By May he was serving as a military chaplain at Brussels
1592 He was sent to Spain to take charge of the newly founded Irish College, Salamanaca.
1596 He returned to Ireland to raise funds there for Salamanca College but his contacts with the Irish chieftains won for him the repute of a political intriguer and the hatred of the administration at Dublin. There can be no doubt that his sympathies lay with the Old Irish whose cause he saw was bound up with the survival of the Catholic Church in the country. He seems to have met Hugh O'Neill about the time of the battle of the Yellow Ford and was later at the camp of the Earl of Desmond. The MacCarthy Mor stated that Archer, by letter, solicited him to rise in rebellion.
1600-1602 He left Ireland for Rome, 20 July, but returned with the fleet of Juan Del Aguila, 23 September 1601 and remained until July 1602. Before his return to Spain he reported to the General on the state of Ireland.
1602-1612 Returned to Spain he held various posts in the Irish College, Salamanca, but seems also to have spent much time questing for the support of the Irish students. For a time he was stationed at Bilbao to win the support of new benefactors of the Irish colleges of the Peninsula.
His later years were spent at Santiago where he died, 19 February 1620

◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
Archer, James
by C. J. Woods

Archer, James (1550–1620), Jesuit priest and administrator, was born at Kilkenny and belonged, it can be deduced, to a patrician family prominent in that city. To prepare for an ecclesiastical career he went (c.1564) to the Spanish Netherlands, to Louvain, a hotbed of the new militant catholic theology and a strong influence on attempts at extending the counter-reformation to England. On his return to Ireland (1577) he was considered by the English authorities there to be a danger to the Elizabethan church settlement. Undoubtedly he had some sympathy with principals of the Desmond rebellion.

In 1581 Archer entered the Society of Jesus in Rome, continuing his studies there before moving (1585) to Pont-à-Mousson in the duchy of Lorraine, where there was a small seminary for Irish and Scottish students. Showing talent mainly as a confessor and administrator, he was sent (1587) to minister to the 1,200 Irish, English, and Scottish soldiers in the so-called Irish regiment, whom their commander, Sir William Stanley (qv), had persuaded to forsake the English service for the Spanish. The activities of Stanley and his entourage were an aggravating circumstance in the Spanish threat to Elizabeth I's England. Archer was said to have been involved in an alleged plot to murder the queen.

At the close of 1592 he went to Spain. After visiting the royal court at Madrid, he settled in Salamanca, the seat of Spain's foremost university, and took over the administration of the Irish college being founded there. In 1596 he returned to Ireland to seek money for the college and to explore the possibility of re-establishing a Jesuit mission. He was obliged to lie low in the countryside and eventually to join Hugh O'Neill (qv), whose rebellion had been raging since 1593. On all sides he acquired a legendary reputation. Summoned to Rome (1600) to give an account of his mission, he acted also as an envoy of O'Neill. In 1601 he was back in Spain, involved in planning the Spanish military expedition to Ireland as well as settling differences among the Irish at Salamanca. Archer was a member of the force numbering 4,432 men that headed for Kinsale in September. For the defeat of the expedition he blamed the commander, Juan del Águila (qv). Archer left Ireland for Spain in July 1602; his views about the failure of the enterprise were heeded at first, but when Águila was exonerated and peace was made with England (1603) his career as a negotiator for Spanish aid for Irish rebels was over. Although his Jesuit superior would not allow him to return to Ireland, rumours abounded there of his presence.

The rest of his life was given, as ‘prefect of the mission’, to the Irish seminaries in the Iberian peninsula. Once again Archer had to deal with differences among the Irish catholics: the Old English were accused by the Old Irish of unfairness towards them, and the Jesuits were accused by other clerics of self-preferment. Archer's work in Spain bore fruit in 1610 when the Spanish authorities built a new college for the Irish in Salamanca, the Colegio de los Nobles Irlandeses, to which the king gave his support. Archer spent his last years at Santiago de Compostela. It was at the Irish college there that he died on 15 February 1620.

Although he was a man of no more than moderate ability and an indifferent scholar, Archer had qualities that served to make him an important figure in the Irish counter-reformation: he was phlegmatic and a good administrator; he had some influence at the Spanish court and, thanks to his experience in Ireland in the 1590s, the confidence of both of the rival groups of Irish Catholics – Old English and Old Irish. Only a few letters of James Archer survive, and there is no known portrait or even a verbal description.

Thomas J. Morrissey, James Archer of Kilkenny, an Elizabethan Jesuit (1979)

Note from Bl Dominic Collins Entry
In February 1601 he made his first religious profession and seven months later was appointed by his superiors to join the Irish mission, as Fr James Archer (qv) had specifically asked for him, perhaps due to his previous military experience and also his Spanish contacts. Archer had been described by Sir George Carew (qv), president of Munster, as ‘a chief stirrer of the coals of war’ (Morrissey, Studies, 318) and was being constantly sought out by government agents. Collins's association with him was to prove dangerous. He sailed with the Spanish expedition to Ireland on 3 September 1601, one of the commanders being Don Juan del Aguila, to whom Collins had surrendered Lapena in 1598. The flotilla with which he travelled arrived late at Castlehaven due to bad weather. After the defeat of the Irish and Spanish forces at Kinsale, Collins finally met Archer in February 1602 at the castle of Gortnacloghy, near Castlehaven

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :

JESUITICA: Jumping Jesuits

Travellers in the Beara Peninsula will remember the Priest’s Leap, a mountain cliff in the townland of Cummeenshrule, where (around 1600 AD) a priest on horseback escaped from pursuing soldiers by a miraculous leap, which landed him on a rock near Bantry. Was the lepper a Jesuit? One tradition claims him as James Archer SJ; another as Blessed (Brother) Dominic Collins. In view of some dating difficulties, one can only say: pie creditur – a common phrase in Latin hagiographies, meaning “It is piously believed…”!

◆ James B Stephenson SJ The Irish Jesuits Vol 1I 1962

Few men played a greater part than Father James Archer in the tremendous effort to smash the growing power of England in Ireland that marked the closing years. of the sixteenth century. Arriving in Ireland in 1596, he found the country already in the throes of war. The Tudors. had by this time realised that England could not be safe unless Ireland were subjugated. By the end of the sixteenth century, England had shaken off the last shackles of medieval restraints and had emerged as one or the strongest powers in Europe, The threats of Spain and the Pope had been warded off, and England was looked upon as the leader and head of Protestant Europe. It was at this time that she turned her face in real earnest towards Ireland.

The history of the Reformation in Ireland during the sixteenth century can be told briefly. The reform movements of Henry VIII and Edward, his son, were a complete failure. Neither of these kings had sufficient political control outside the Pale to enforce their authority, and even within the boundaries of the Pale the movement made little progress. During the reign of Mary the Catholic Church again flourished, though the confiscated monasteries were not restored. In 1558 Elizabeth succeeded to the throne of England,. Prior to her succession, she had never shown any remarkable zeal for religion. As queen, what she desired pre-eminently was peace and harmony. For the first years of her reign, her position in England was too insecure to permit her to embark on any intensive persecution of the Catholics, The clergy, however, were subject to a persecution that varied all through her reign; it was intensified or slackened according to the political circumstances of the moment. Up to 1578 religion did not play a vital part in opposing the anglicisation of Ireland. Gradually from that time on, it became more and more important, until finally in the reign of James I the Catholics, both Irish and Anglo-Irish, clung to their faith as the only part of the heritage that had been left. So too it was religion that at the beginning of the next century was to unite the two races, by inciting them both to oppose the alien creed. Later it was on the rock of her Faith, preserved and enlivened at this time, that the nationality of Ireland was founded.

Perhaps before we examine the work of Fr Archer, a word on the state of religion in Ireland during the sixteenth century may not be out of place. It is certain that it was not a very vital force in the lives of many of the people. They were Catholics More by custom than by conviction. Here is one account left by Dr Tanner, who had to leave the Society of Jesus owing to ill-health and who was later appointed Bishop of Cork: “He (Dr Tanner) is assured by grave men that during all this time not a hundred Irishmen in all Ireland have been infected with heresy, though not a few ... attend the profane rites of the heretics, and the demoralisation of the people is such that a pious Catholic is hardly to be found; and no wonder since the clergy are the most depraved or all. Moreover, there is so little instruction to be had in the Christian Faith that few can so much as repeat the Lord's Prayer, the Articles of the Faith, or the commandments, and still fewer understand them. Sermons are so uncommon that there are many that have never so much as heard one. The Sacraments are rarely administered. In fine so gross is the ignorance of the people that there are many who, passing all their lives in the grossest sin, have grown accustomed thereto”.

In general we may conclude that religion was dormant in Ireland at the end of the sixteenth century. The people indeed had the Faith and seemed eager for instructions and there is no evidence of anti clericalism as in England. On the contrary, the priests were generally loved and would always find a safe shelter among the people, who had seen so many of them give up their lives for the Faith. But unfortunately, many of the priests were not active. The morals of the people were often depraved. There was little scope for Catholic education. The monasteries for the most part had been dissolved. The external organisation of the Church was shattered, and the wars had increased the laxity and poverty of the people. But the light of Faith had been kept glowing by the zealous labours of the Friars and the heroic priests and bishops who had endured persecution and death to shield, their flocks. This then was the state of the country, political and religious, when in 1597 Fr James Archer landed in Waterford to inaugurate what was to become the first permanent mission of the Society of Jesus in Ireland.

James Archer was born in Kilkenny in 1550. He attended the school of the famous Dr Peter White or that town, where the young Archer seems to have been a distinguished scholar. Very little is known of his career for the next fifteen years. In 1577 he was at Louvain, but in the following year he was back again in Ireland. On the 25 May 1581 he entered the Society of Jesus in Rome, and the next we hear of him is that in 1592 he was at Pont-à-Mousson with Fathers Richard Fleming, Richard de la Field and Christopher Hollywood, all Irish Jesuits. In the same year he was sent to Spain to collaborate with other Irish Jesuits in the foundation of the famous Irish college at Salamanca, which was instituted for the training of secular priests for the home mission. He remained there until 1596, when he was sent back to Ireland with Fr Henry Fitzsimon to re-open the Jesuit mission there which had lapsed for ten years.

Almost immediately after his arrival in Ireland, Fr Archer went northward to meet Hugh O'Neill, who was already in rebellion against Elizabeth. Archer looked upon the '”Nine Years War” as a crusade against the heretic queen. Therefore, during the few years that he was in Ireland, he strove to the utmost of his powers to unite the Irish under the leadership of Tyrone and to induce the Spaniards to send aid, His influence with the Irish chief's during these years was of paramount importance. He was looked upon by the English as one of their most dangerous enemies, and they laid several traps to ensnare him. If we were to rely on official contemporary documents alone, we should imagine that Archer was a traitorous intriguer and an enemy to all stability and good government. From other sources we can see that he was, first and foremost, a zealous missionary for the Faith.

In his first letter to his General in Rome, written on 10 August 1598, he gives an account of the precarious life he was leading even at this early stage. “The Government”, he says “hates me very much, hunts me very often in frequent raids, and has set a price on my head. This forces me to live in the woods and in hiding-places. I cannot even return to Spain, as merchants are afraid to receive me into their vessels, for they know well that there are spies in every port on the look-out for me”. Then he goes on to describe his missionary work: “I have already heard many thousand confessions, and have instructed an uncultivated and rude people. I brought back some to the Church and reconciled a noble person and his wife, and thus put a stop to dangerous dissentions which existed among members of both families who were leading men in the land, I administered the Sacraments in the camp, and it is marvellous to see the crowds that cone from the surrounding districts to hear Mass and go to Confession”.

In the beginning of the year 1598, the informer William Paule notified Lord Justice Loftus of the activities of Archer. He said that Jesuit lurked sometimes in Munster with Lord Roche and sometimes in Tipperary with Lord Mountgarrett. Paule urged Loftus to induce these Lords to betray Archer. Alternatively he suggested that the Protestant Bishop of Kilkenny should be ordered to capture him when he visited his friends in that town. Warning Loftus that Archer was wary, Paule informed him that the priest knew that his enemies were searching for him. Paule further suggested that he should have no scruple in killing Archer if he resisted arrest. Even at this early date, Fr Archer had attained to a position of outstanding influence with the Irish chieftains. He had already been universally accepted by them and an able adviser and true friend and had won the esteem and affection of the Irish people. He was equally hated and feared by their enemies.

In October 1598, Archer was mentioned in a despatch as “the chief stirrer of these coals (i.e., conspiracies) and promises to many the coming of forces from Spain”. He certainly did not spare himself in his effort to unite the Irish chiefs in their struggle against England, the common foe. In November 1598, he succeeded in inducing the Baron of Cahir to join the rebellion against Elizabeth. He hoped that by Easter 1599 “we, and such as be of our Catholic confederacy, shall be masters of all the cities, towns and forts in Ireland”. His reasons for the war throw a flood of light on his attitude to politics, and afford a convincing refutation of those who doubted his motives. They were first to restore the Catholic Church to its former position in Ireland; second, to repair the injuries done by the English to the Catholic nobility and gentry of Ireland; and finally to place a Catholic Prince on the throne of Ireland. Did Archer hope to set up Hugh O'Neill as High King of all Ireland or did he intend to make Ireland a vassal state of Spain? We do not know. The concepts of nationality, and a national state were only being moulded in the minds of men at this very time. It is even doubtful whether men like James Fitzmaurice or even Hugh O'Neill himself conceived it. Nationality in Ireland takes its origin from the religious persecutions of the seventeenth century; yet undoubtedly there existed in the sixteenth century some tendency towards local patriotism, especially as opposed to English tyranny. It is difficult to state definitely the motives and desires that agitated the mind of Archer during these years. One thing is certain that he considered freedom from English rule as essential to the spiritual welfare of Ireland.

In December 1598, Archer and his constant companion Bishop Creagh were accused of inciting the whole province of Munster to rebel. So great was his influence that his name had already come to the notice of Elizabeth, who charged him with “raising her subjects to rebellion”. Soon afterwards Elizabeth was again informed that the Irish priests, especially Archer “the Pope's Legate”, had assured the lords and chieftains who supported the queen or who remained neutral that after the war they would receive no better treatment from the English than the rebels. In this way they hoped to alienate her subjects from their allegiance. Rewards were offered for the capture of Archer, dead or alive. O'Neill's crushing victory at the Yellow Ford on the 15 August 1598 had shaken the loyalty of many supporters of the English. Archer's influence was more pernicious than ever. He was constantly on the move, visiting now one chieftain, now another. Several attempts were made to capture him, but all miscarried. Soon after his arrival in Ireland he had been arrested. He had managed to escape however and had determined never again to fall into the hands of his enemies. He can easily imagine the precarious position in which he was placed by the constant watch of spies, especially in areas where the Irish chieftains were not openly hostile to the Crown. But, through the goodwill and ever-watchful care of the Irish people, he escaped unscathed - though often at the last moment. His capture was looked upon by the Government as vitally important, his life being deemed of greater value to the Irish than those of the chieftains themselves. In 1600, in a report of Captain Hugh Mostian who had been won over by Archer from the English side, we read that “Archer by his sole authority as a private religious brought more comfort to the Irish than a great force of soldiers could do, and that the voice of the people gave him the title of Legate, At his nod the hearts of men are united and held together not only in the territory of Berehaven and all Munster, but in the greater part of the Kingdom ...”

In 1600 occurred a famous incident - the capture of the Earl of Ormonde by Owny O'More. The circumstances connected with the plot are fully described in the Calendar of Carew MSS. and elsewhere. Fr Archer happened to be staying with O'More when the latter captured Ormonde. There is no evidence to prove the charge that he was the instigator of the act. Naturally enough he was blamed by the English for having contrived the treachery and for refusing to liberate the Earl; although, according to them, some other Jesuits desired his release. He was also described as Ormande's “bed-fellow” and was said to have tried to convert him, which seems to be true. Several years later Ormonde was converted by two Irish Jesuits, Frs O'Kearney and Wale.

Early in 1600 Archer was summoned to Rome to give an account of the Irish Jesuit mission. It is strange that he should have been called away at such a critical juncture in the history of Ireland. Possibly the General in Rome did not fully realise what was at stake at the moment, or perhaps he night have thought that the final victory had already been won by the Irish. In a letter to the General, written by the Superior of the Mission, Fr Richard de la Field, an extremely cautious and conservative man, we read of Archer: “He has been a source of light and help in our work here. He has always lived with these Irish lords who are endeavouring to promote the interests of religion, and in consequence he is the object of an intense hatred of the Queen's officials and of the army. His presence here at the same time is very necessary for the advancement of the Catholic Faith in these calamitous times. It is important for us that he should be sent back as soon as possible. This letter is very valuable as coming from one who, at this time, was himself hesitating as to what side he should support in the conflict. It rightly stresses the spiritual nature of Archer's work, for it was that which predominated in all his other activity.

Of Archer's visit to Rome we know nothing. He was back again in Ireland in a few months, as his spies obligingly informed us. It was falsely reported to Cecil that Archer was returning from Rome armed with a Bull of Excommunication against all those who supported Elizabeth in the war. A few months later Cecil was again informed that Archer had landed in Ireland and was inciting the people to revolt. On his return he was again almost captured; but, as often before, he managed to escape his pursuers, Sir George Carew reported that Archer's arrival foreshadowed the advent of a Spanish fleet and the renewal of the war in Ireland. From an account given by his confrère, Brother Dominic Collins SJ, we learn that Archer actually did return to Ireland with Spanish help. His influence with the Irish soldiers was again evinced when, on the 29 May 1602, Carew informed Cecil that but for Archer many of them would have returned to their homes after the defeat at Kinsale or would have gone over to the side of the English. “Every day”', says Carew, “he devises letters and intelligences out of Spain, assuring them of succour, and once a week confirms new leagues and seals them with the Sacrament”. In another letter written by Carew we find the following amusing passage: “If Archer have the art of conjuring, I think he hath not been idle; but ere long I hope to conjure him. The country of Beare is full of witches; between them and Archer I do believe the devil hath been raised to serve their turn”. Even in defeat the English feared him. They seemed to have believed that he possessed superhuman powers, that he could walk on the sea and fly through the air. His name should have been not Archer but “Archdevil!” One can readily imagine the fate that awaited Archer, had he been captured. Shortly before this time he “was very near taken by a draught laid by the Lord Lieutenant, but happily escaped”.

In a report of Robert Atkinson, an informer and pervert, we got another account of Archer's activities. He says that he met Archer in Ireland when the latter was “chief commander of the Irish troops, horse and foot”. He also states that Archer commanded for his own guard as many men as he pleased, especially for “any bloody actions to be done upon the English Nation”. There is no evidence to show that Archer ever took part with the Irish soldiers in the actual fighting. Atkinson further states that Archer was commonly called the Pope's Legate and was Archprelate over all the clergy of the provinces of Munster, Leinster and the territory of the O'Neills. By others, he says, he was called Tyrone's Confessor, just as formerly he had been Confessor to the Archduke of Austria. For the rest we shall let Atkinson speak for himself: “Of all the priests that ever were, he is held for the most bloody and treacherous traitor, sure unto none in friendship that will not put his decrees in action by warrant of his Apostolic authority, as he calleth it, from time to time renewed by Bulls from Rome. He is grown to be so absolute that he holds the greatest Lords in such awe that none dare gainsay him”.

Even at the eleventh hour Archer's hopes did not give way. On the 14 June 1602 he was again supplicating for Spanish aid. For the next few weeks he remained with the Irish soldiers at Dunboy. Finally, on July 6th he left Ireland to induce the Spanish King to send another fleet to help a broken cause. He was more fortunate than his companion, Br Dominic Collins SJ, who was captured by the English and hanged in Cork on the 31 October 1602, being the third Jesuit to die for the faith in Ireland.

Fr Archer never again returned to Ireland. His life on the Continent we shall only review briefly. On the 6 May 1504 the General of the Jesuits appointed him Prefect of the Irish Mission in Spain. This appointment is clear proof that his Superiors held him in the highest esteem. They paid little attention to the lying reports that had been spread over England and Ireland in an effort, to blacken the reputation of one who was both a zealous priest and a great Irishman. In 1608, six years after his departure from Ireland, his name was still feared by the English. At this time he was accused of making preparations for another rebellion in Ireland. Chichester issued an order that spies be placed in various parts of the country to inform him of the arrival of Archer.

During all this time, Fr Archer was actively engaged in Spain as Prefect of the Irish Colleges. These Colleges were founded by Irish Jesuits. at Salamanca, Lisbon, Santiago and Seville for the training of Irish secular priests. In 1617 he was the oldest Irish Jesuit alive, being seventy-two years of age. He was still Superior of the Mission in Spain. The date of his death is uncertain, but it occurred before 1626. Thus ended the career of one of the most remarkable Jesuits who laboured on the Irish Mission during these years.

If we are to assess the value of Archer's work in Ireland or the magnitude of the task he set before himself, we must not leave out of account the circumstances in which he lived. Although Archer's aim was first and foremost spiritual, he saw clearly that political independence of England was utterly essential to the religious welfare of Ireland. The idea of toleration was not yet born in Europe.
Neither Catholic nor Protestant was ready to brook the existence of the other. Even in Ireland the word “Counter-Reformation” connoted not only a spiritual movement within and without the Catholic Church, but also an effort to compel the return of erring souls by force of arms. Moreover the political and religious state of Ireland itself must also be taken into account. For almost a century the country has been a prey to disunion and internal strife. Religion too was not a vital force in the lives of the people, Had the persecution been as severe as it had been in England, or in other words, had political circumstances been favourable, Ireland might have succumbed to the new doctrines, All these facts were well known to Fr Archer when he arrived in Ireland in 1596. Thus we can understand why he strove to unite the country under O'Neill and to procure aid from Spain and the Pope.

Before concluding this article, it might not be out of place to discuss briefly how far Fr Archer influenced the wars of O'Neill, and, especially, the extent to which he influenced the Great Earl himself. One thing is certain, that Fr Archer was regarded by the English authorities as O'Neill's ambassador and representative not only at all the courts of the local Irish chieftains but in Spain and Rome. It is equally certain that he acted as intermediary between the Irish and Spanish several times, and even for years after the Irish collapse at Kinsale the English feared that he would again organise another Spanish expedition. Several years after that fatal day, the authorities had spies placed in all the Irish ports on the watch for Archer's return. Indeed many false alarms were given, and at one time the English actually believed that he had landed in Ireland. These precautions would not have been taken if the Government had not already experienced the powerful, stay that Fr Archer had over the people. How far were their fears justified? It is very probable that Hugh O'Neill did not realise what was at stake when he first launched his rebellion. In fact it seems that he would never have revolted and there been any alternative, What was he fighting for? An Irish Ireland, or a Catholic Ireland, or local independence? The problem has not yet been solved. But I think it is true to say that, whatever may have been his motive in starting the war, he never fully realised all that that war involved. Probably even he did not foresee that the struggle would take on a national aspect before its close; and it is far less likely that he realised that it would become part of a European campaign and would be looked upon by many nations on the Continent as just another element of the Catholic Counter Reformation. Moreover, if Hugh O'Neill did not realize all this, he would not have been able to combine all these forces in a vast movement against the common enemy. The problem could almost be stated thus: Was O'Neill the unconscious leader of a movement that was indeed begun by him, but whose consequences and ramifications he had not foreseen and perhaps did not even realise up to the last?

This question is difficult to answer. But I think some light is thrown on it by glancing at the part played by Fr Archer in these crucial years. Immediately after his arrival in Ireland, Fr Archer went direct to O'Neill, as we have seen. Coming from Spain, where he was well-known, he was suspected, probably rightly, of bringing a message from the Spanish Court. Soon after this he visited all the Irish chieftains, including O'Donnell, O'Sullivan Beare, Owny O'More, the Earl of Desmond, Florence MacCarthy, James Fitzthomas (who claimed to be the Earl of Desmond), Lords Barry, Roche and Mountgarrett, as well as the Mayors of the southern towns - including Cork, Waterford and Kinsale. The mention of these three towns is significant. They are on the coast nearest Spain. Why did Archer visit these chieftains? The answer is obvious. From the outset, he regarded the struggle as a Catholic crusade against England. Therefore his policy was to unite all the Irish under O’Neill and, if possible, secure help from Spain and Rome. His aim and purpose, as well as the means to achieve the end, were clear and decisive - unlike those of Hugh O'Neill. And it is well to remember here that O'Neill's environment, even if we allow for a period spent in England, was mainly the local life and tradition of a petty chieftain of Ireland with all the narrowness that it entailed. While Archer's background was not only Irish tradition modified by Anglo-Norman ancestry, but also an international education the best that Europe could offer, an almost first-hand realisation of what the Reformation meant to Europe, a partiality for things Spanish with a natural bias against England, and finally a full comprehension of the danger to the Catholic religion in Ireland in an English domination there. Unfortunately we have little reliable evidence to guide us. But from the information we have I think we can safely affirm that Fr Archer was responsible, at least partially, for the change of outlook that is so marked a feature in the development of O'Neill's character as the years went by. It is interesting to note that, in a report sent by the Bishops of Dublin and Meath to the King in June 1603, much of what I have said is corroborated. Having stated that O'Neill had revolted to defend his rights and privileges, they go on to assert that the Jesuits and other priests afterwards induced him to fight for the sake of the Catholic religion and to secure the aid of the Pope and King of Spain. In many other places in the official documents the Jesuits are blamed for spreading the revolt. We know now that, of the Jesuits of the time, only Fr Archer exerted any direct political influence on a wide scale. To him, therefore, we largely attribute the change that took place. Thus, as the English realised only too well, “to have Archer taken were a great service to both the realms (England and Ireland), he being a capital instrument for Spain and the poison of Ireland”.

Hated by the English, Fr Archer won the hearts of the Irish, both rich and poor. In all the references to him there is not one which in any way tarnishes his memory, except those that come from the hands of his political enemies. Had the Irish been victorious at Kinsale, James Archer would probably have been one of the most influential men in the country. But after the defeat of 1601, his position in Ireland was even more invidious than that of O'Neill's himself. The Great Earl could adapt himself to the new conditions and try to begin life all over again, but for Archer there were no alternatives but death or exile. He had been looked upon by the English as the symbol of the rebellion in Ireland, and in his person he crystallised the hopes and aspirations of the majority of the Irish people. He stands forth as one of the foremost champions of his time of the Catholic religion in Ireland. By the English he was believed to be the source of all the discontent in the country. He was the emissary of the King of Spain, the Pope's ambassador and a member of the Society of Jesus. For him there could be no forgiveness.

James Corboy SJ

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father James Archer SJ 1550-1626
Fr James Archer was known to the English as the Archdevil. So active was he o behalf of the Irish, and so adept at evading capture, that magical powers were attributed to him. He is the only Jesuit of those days of whom we have a personal description, due to the interest of his enemies in him. We read in the report of the spy that “Archer, the traitor, was small of stature and black of complexion, that his hair was spotted grey, that he had a white doublet, and that the rest of his apparels was of some colour suitable for disguise”. Indeed, we may say that we have a photograph of him for an engraving of him may be found in “The History of British Costume” : “He had black mantle, and the high-crowned hat of the times. He appeard in straight trouse”.

Born of one of the leading families of Kilkenny in 1550, Fr Archer was one of the most remarkable Jesuits who laboured on the Irish Mission. What Henry Fitzsimon was to the Pale, James Archer was to the native Irish. By his clear grasp of the political and religious situation, his tireless efforts to unite the country against the sworn enemy of her faith and culture and to enlist in her cause the support of Spain, Fr Archer deserves to be ranked with Hugh O’Neill and Red Hugh o’Donnell as one if the leading champions of national independence and of the Catholic religion in the Ireland of his day.

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
ARCHER, JAMES. In p. 301, History of British Costume (Library of Entertaining knowledge), is a delineation of O’More, an Irish Chieftain, and Archer, a Jesuit retained by him, both copied from a map of the taking of the Earl of Ormond in 1600. The Rev. Father is dressed in a black mantle, and wears the high crowned hat of the time. I read in a Report or Memorial of Irish Aflairs, addressed by Captain Hugh Mostian to Lewis Mansoni, the Papal Nuncio for Ireland, towards the latter end of Q Elizabeth s reign, “Unus Pater Archerus major fuit illis (Hibernis) consolatio, quam potuit esse magnet militum copia. Testis sum illius praesentiam tantum profuisse, ut vix aliud tantum : ad ipsius enim Nutum uniuntur et tenentur, corda hominum non solum in teritorio Beerhaven et Provincifc Australis : sed et in majori parte totius Regni.” “Father Archer alone was a greater comfort to his Irish countrymen than even a considerable reinforcement of troops. I am a witness, that his presence was almost more serviceable to the cause than anything else : for at his nod the hearts of men were united and bound together, not only in the district of Beerhaven and Munster, but in the greater part of the whole kingdom”
A few of F. Archer s letters have been fortunately preserved. The first is dated from the Camp, 10th of August, 1598. He states the difficulty of all Epistolary communication the intense anxiety and diligence of the Government to apprehend him; insomuch, that he was obliged to live generally in the woods and secret places, “ita ut in sylvis et latebris ut plurimum degam”. Still he never ceased from exercising the functions of his ministry - he had received two thousand general Confessions - he had instructed and confirmed many in the Faith, and reconciled several to the Catholic Church - that there was every prospect of an abundant harvest of souls, if he had some fellow-labourers; and that the gentry in the North and South parts of the island were most desirous of a supply. It seems that he had been ordered to Ireland to procure assistance for the Irish Seminary at Salamanca, “in subsidium Seminarii Hybernorum”, and that he had succeeded in sending over several youths with funds for their education. In conclusion he says that he was intending to proceed by the first opportunity to Spain from the North of Ireland. Iter in Hispaniam cogito prima occasione ex Septentrionali parte. NB : I find by a letter of F. Richard Field, dated Dublin, 20th of July, 1600, that he as Superior of the Irish Mission, had made F. J. Archer the actual bearer of that very letter to Rome. He recommends to him Mr. Robert Lalour, qui se socium itineris adjunxit Patri Jacobo (Archer.)
The second letter is dated, Compostella, 26th of February, 1606. It proves his active industry in procuring donations for the purpose of educating his countrymen, as also his zeal for the conversion of souls. He had just reconciled to God and his Church three English merchants.
The third letter to F. George Duras, the Assistant for Germany, is dated Madrid, 4th of August, 1607. He was then living at Court, “Ego in aula versor”, and had been successful in collecting Subscriptions.
The fourth letter is to F. Duras, from Madrid, 29th September, 1607. and is only subscribed by F. Archer, who, from illness, “prae dolore pectoris”, was obliged to employ a Secretary. He recommends the erection of an Irish Novitiate in Belgium. After treating of the business of the Irish Mission, he mentions “the conversion of three Scotchmen at Madrid : one was so desperate a Puritan, as often to declare that not all the Doctors of the World should ever withdraw him from his sect and opinion. Truth, however, had conquered : from a lion he became a lamb, and has chosen the life of a Capuchin Friars. I have others in hand in the suit of the English Ambassador, whom I will endeavour to reform”. Further particulars of this Rev. Father I have not been able to collect.

Boyton, William, 1610-1647, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/941
  • Person
  • 15 August 1610-13 September 1647

Born: 15 August 1610, Cashel, County Tipperary
Entered: 27 September 1630, Mechelen, Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: 1637, Antwerp, Belgium
Died: 13 September 1647, Cashel, County Tipperary - described as Martyr

Son of Edward Boyton and Helen Suetonia (Sutton?)
“I studied in Ireland under Fr John Shee, then Philosophy at Lille with the Jesuits from 1627-30. Admitted to Society in Flanders Belgian Province at Brussels 20 September 1630 and then at Mechelen 28 September 1630”
1633 at Louvain
1636 at Antwerp
1638 at Castrensi Mission - (Chaplain to the army?)
1639 at Brussels College
Killed 13/09/1647 at Cashel - hacked with swords by lunatic soldiers in Church of Cashel, or shot near B Virgin’s altar while hearing confessions

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Son of Edward and Helen Sueton (Sutton?) - Mechelen Album
Early education in Ireland with John Shee SJ then went to St Omer from 1627-1630. He was then admitted to the Society by James Stratius, BELG Provincial, at Brussels 20 September 1630, from where he went to the Mechelen Novitiate. (Mechelen Album, Brussels and Arch. de l’État, Brussels, vol ii, p 518).
He was a Martyr for the Catholic faith - cut down,,or, as others say, shot near the Blessed Virgin’s altar in the Rock of Cashel, while hearing confessions. The soldiers who killed him especially marked out Priests for death. (cf Drew’s “Fasti”).
Had been a military Chaplain in Holland.
1649 Came to Ireland (cf Foley’s Collectanea)

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of Edward and Helen née Sweetman
Received his early education from John Shee. Then in 1627 went to the Jesuit College at Lille to study Rhetoric before Ent 27 September 1630 Mechelen.
1632 After First Vows he was sent for studies in Philosophy at Louvain and Theology at Antwerp, where he was Ordained 1637.
1638 His Tertianship at Lierre was interrupted by war and he served as a military chaplain until Summer 1639.
1639 Sent to Ireland and the Cashel Residence. He taught in the School and worked in the Church there.
1647 He died in the Cashel massacre of 13 September 1647 while hearing confessions for the beleaguered at the Cathedral Church. He was stabbed to death near the altar of the Blessed Virgin.
His name is on the list of Irish Confessors and Martyrs submitted for beatification to the Holy See.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father William Boyton 1609-1647
Fr William Boyton was born in 1609 and entered the Society at Mechelen in 1630.

His short life as a Missionary in Ireland was crowned by a martyr’s death at Cashel during the Confederate War. When the town was captured by the Parliamentarians under Lord Inchiquin, “Murrough of the Burnings”, the garrison, together with priests and religious and citizens withdrew to the Cathedral, which occupied a strong position on the famous Rock of Cashel. Here they held out until overcome by numbers.

“As the enemy forced their way in, Fr Boyton exhorted all with great fervour to endure death with the constancy for the Catholic faith, and was wholly occupied in administering to them the sacrament of penance. The enemy, finding him at this work, slew the father with his children. But God avenged the unworthy death of His servants, and by a magnificent sign, showed the cruelty of the massacre.

A Garrison of heretical troops was stationed on the Rock. On a certain night, an old man of venerable aspect appeared to its commander, and taking him by the hand, led him forcibly to the top of the Church tower, and asked him how he dared so impiously to profane that holy place. And as he trembled and did not answer, he flung him down into the cemetery below, where he lay half-dead and with many bones broken, until the following day, when having fully declared the divine vengeance which had overtaken him, he expired”.

(“Sufferers for the Catholic Faith in Ireland”, Myles O’Reilly, p 214)

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
BOYTON, WILLIAM. We know little more of this Father than that he was barbarously murdered by the Parliamentary troops, at the taking of Cashell, on the 13th of September, 1647.

Brady, Philip, 1846-1917, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/945
  • Person
  • 08 July 1846-05 January 1917

Born: 08 July 1846, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1868, Milltown Park, Dublin
Ordained: 1880, St Beuno's, Wales
Final Vows: 02 February 1889, Mungret College SJ, Limerick
Died: 05 January 1917, St Vincent's Hospital, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin

Part of the Tullabeg, Co Offaly community at the time of death

Older Brother of Thomas - LEFT 1872

Ent Milltown; Ord 1880;
by 1871 at Roehampton London (ANG) studying
by 1873 At Vals France (TOLO) studying
by 1874 at Brussels College Belgium (BELG) studying
by 1875 at Mount St Mary’s (ANG) Regency
by 1877 at St Francis Xavier Liverpool (ANG) Regency
by 1879 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) studying
by 1886 at Roehampton London (ANG) Making tertianship
by 1904 at St Mary’s Rhyl (ANG) working
by 1905 at St Wilfred’s Preston (ANG) working
by 1907 at Lowe House, St Helen’s (ANG) working

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
He had a younger brother Thomas who also Entered, but left for the Dublin Diocese and was Ordained, but unfortunately at his parish in Dundrum he was thrown from his horse and killed instantly. He also had a half-brother John Brady CM, a Vincentian based at Phibsborough.

Early Education was at Castleknock College.

After his Noviceship he studied Rhetoric at Roehampton, and Philosophy at Vals, France.
He did his Regency at Mount St Mary’s (ANG)
1879 He was sent to St Beuno’s for Theology and was Ordained there.
After Ordination he was sent to Belvedere and Clongowes teaching for some years. He also taught for many years at Mungret and Galway.
He then joined the Mission Staff, and then went to work in the ANG Parish at Preston.
His last year was spent at Tullabeg. he had a serious deafness problem and an operation was advised. he died at the Leeson Street Hospital 05 January 1917, and buried from Gardiner St. A large number of Vincentians attended his funeral out of respect for his half-brother John Brady CM of Phibsborough.

Brennan, Joseph, 1929-2018, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/809
  • Person
  • 13 November 1929-08 January 2018

Born: 13 November 1929, Dalkey, County Dublin
Entered: 15 September 1948, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1962, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 02 February 1981, Gozaga College SJ, Dublin
Died: 08 January 2018, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin

Part of the Gonzaga College SJ, Dublin community at the time of death.

by 1966 at Brussels Belgium (BEL M) studying

◆ Irish Jesuit Missions :

‘He was a good man’
Jesuits, family, friends and colleagues of Joe Brennan SJ, packed the Church of the Holy Name in Beechwood Avenue to bid him a fond farewell at his funeral Mass, on Friday 12 January, 11am. They were joined by the staff and students of Gonzaga College. John O’Keeffe SJ presided at the Mass, and Myles O’Reilly SJ, a former superior of the Gonzaga Community that Joe was a member of for 43 years, gave the homily. Joe had taken ill in late December and was moved to St Vincent’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with a respiratory illness. He died peacefully on the morning of January 8th 2018, aged 88.
Fr Joe was born and raised in Dublin, and he joined the Jesuits in 1948 at the age of 18. He was a keen sportsman, playing inter-provincial rugby for Leinster. He was also an accomplished musician, particularly on the piano, so he would have appreciated the singing of the Gonzaga student choir at his funeral Mass.
Most of his Jesuit life was spent as a teacher of religion and philosophy. He taught in Mungret, Clongowes, Belvedere, and finally Gonzaga. Brian Flannery, Education Delegate, said Joe had been fully engaged with Gonzaga in one way or another right up to the time of his illness in late December. “He was known for always encouraging students to think for themselves,” said Brian; “Also for instilling values. ‘If you don’t stand for something,’ he loved to say, ‘you will fall for anything.'”
Fr Joe had a few such sayings that he was famous for repeating, and the school had them printed on the back of his funeral Mass booklet. “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved”, he would say. Or, “Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement.” And he would remind the students, “Faith is not against reason, it’s beyond it.”
In his homily, Fr Myles O’Reilly referred to the first reading from Isaiah and the banquet the Lord prepares for His trusted servants. He spoke of the many years of faithful service Joe had given as a follower of Jesus. He had served his fellow Jesuits, his students and his family, all with great generosity and wisdom. It was his turn now to be served and take part in the banquet prepared for him, as promised by the prophet Isaiah, said Myles.
Joe’s many nieces and nephews also attended the Mass. One of them, Ross Brennan, paid a warm tribute to their uncle at the end of the service. He spoke of how loved Joe was by his extended family, of the kindness he always showed, and of the help he always gave to them.
The funeral Mass preceded that of his fellow-Jesuit Kennedy O’Brien, also a teacher in Gonzaga, who had died suddenly, earlier that week. The principal of Gonzaga, Damon McCaul said that it had been a very difficult week for the staff and students in the school. He said that Fr Joe had made such an impact on his students that older past pupils still remembered him with deep regard and gratitude. “And it’s the same with Kennedy for a new generation of pupils and past pupils. Both men were outstanding teachers and educators.”
The final word on Fr Joe was a simple line in the funeral Mass booklet, underneath a photo of him saying Mass in Gonzaga: ‘He was a good man’.

Early Education at Sacred Heart, Leeson St, Dublin, Ring College, Waterford & Belvedere College SJ, Dublin
1950-1953 Rathfarnham - Studying Arts at UCD
1953-1956 Tullabeg - Studying Philosophy
1956-1959 Mungret College SJ - Regency : Teacher
1959-1963 Milltown Park - Studying Theology
1963-1964 Rathfarnham - Tertianship
1964-1965 Trier, Germany - Liturgy Studies at Benediktiner Abtei St Mathias
1965-1966 Brussels, Belgium - Catechetics Studies at Lumen Vitae
1966-1968 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Teacher; Prefect; Lecturer in Catechetics at Milltown Park
1968-1969 Belvedere College SJ - Teacher; Musical Director; Lecturer in Catechetics at Milltown Park
1969-1974 Mungret College SJ - Teacher; Gamesmaster
1974-2018 Gonzaga College SJ - Teacher; Lecturer in Catechetics at Milltown Park
1983 Rector; Director of Pastoral Care
2010 Chaplain at Marlay Nursing Home, Dublin; Assistant Treasurer; Teacher of Religion
2014 Ceased Teaching

Conway, John, 1625-1689, Jesuit brother

  • IE IJA J/2305
  • Person
  • 1625-08 October 1689

Born: 1625, Dunkirk or Ireland
Entered: 17 March 1651, Watten, Belgium - Angliae Province (ANG)
Died: 08 October 1689, Ghent, Belgium - Angliae Province (ANG)

Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
DOB Ireland; Ent c 1660 as Brother; RIP 09 Novmber 1689 Ghent
In Father Morris’s Transcripts, he is called an Irishman.

(There is another Br John Conway - DOB 1597; Ent 1620; RIP 10 August 1642 Galway)

In Old/16

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
CONWAY, JOHN, born in Flanders : died at Ghent, 9th November,1689, aet. 64, Rel. 38.

Geraldine, Michael, 1588-1621, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1517
  • Person
  • 29 September 1588-30 August 1621

Born: 29 September 1588, Dublin
Entered: 20 September 1607, Tournai, Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: 15 March 1614, Brussels, Belgium
Died: 30 August 1621, Antwerp, Belgium - Flanders Province (FLAN)

Alias Fitzgerald

Son of Richard Geraldine and Margaret Cusack
Studied Humanities in Ireland and Antwerp before Ent
Educated at Irish College Douai
1611 Strong, clever, industrious, and a good classical scholar. Pleasing in conversation. Will possess some judgement when he develops, can show impatience.
1613 At Louvain studying Theology

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica”
Son of Richard Geraldine and Margaret née Cusack
Early education in Ireland, then three years Philosophy at Antwerp.
Admitted to the Society by the FLAN Provincial Father Florentine before Ent at Tournai.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ
Son of Richard and Margaret née Cusack
Had studied at Irish College Douai before Ent 20 September 1607 Tournai
After First Vows he completed his studies and Douai and Louvain and was Ordained at Brussels 15 March 1614
After Ordination he taught Philosophy and later Scripture at Antwerp until his death there 30 August 1621

Gough, Ignatius, 1624-1693, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1378
  • Person
  • 1624-18 February 1693

Born: 1624, Sutton, Dublin
Entered: 05 October 1643, Mechelen, Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: 25 March 1651, Louvain, Belgium
Professed: 04 October 1654
Died: 18 February 1693, Dublin Residence

Alias Goagh

His father Patrick was Mayor of Dublin and his mother was Anne Piers. Father was landowner at Sutton, mother was from Iristernagh. His brother forfeited the estate. A stone at Sutton has family arms of Gough with inscription G & P. Anne Piers’ brother was a priest and uncle Thomas a Franciscan. William Piers - great grandfather of Fr Gough - sent Shane O’Neill’s head to Dublin!
Studied Humanities in Ireland and then 4 years at Antwerp under Jesuits
1646 At Mechelen College
1649 Not in Catalogue
1666 Catalogue On the Mission in Dublin having returned from Holland where he was a missioner for 9 years

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Son of Patrick (Mayor of Dublin) and Anna née Piere or Piece. A Cousin of John Ussher, whose brother tried to deny Ignatius of his inheritance (cf Foley’s Collectanea)
Early education in Humanities was in Ireland, and then at Antwerp under the Jesuits. He was admitted to the Society by FLA Provincial Andrew Judocus and sent to Mechelen for his Noviceship. (Mechelen Album)
1666 He had recently arrived in Ireland from Holland, and he lived in Dublin engaged in many of the Mission’s affairs.
He spent fifteen years in Holland and twenty years in Ireland (Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS)

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Secomd son of Patrick (Mayor of Dublin) and Anne née Piers
Educated at Antwerp before Ent 05 October 1643 Mechelen
After First Vows, studied at Louvain where he was Ordained 25 March 1651
1654 He was a Military Chaplain at Brussels, then he taught Humanities for a year at Oudenaarde, Belgium, and then made his Tertianship
1657-1665 Missionary work in Holland
1665 Sent to Ireland and to the Dublin Residence, where he spent the rest of his life as a Catechist, Teacher and Operarius until his death there 18 February 1693
He was heir to a considerable inheritance which provided a foundation for the Dublin Residence and enabled the Fathers of the Mission in Ireland to support themselves. But the Gough estate was confiscated on the fall of Dublin to the Williamites

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
GOAGH, IGNATIUS. This Father, as I find by the letter of his Superior, F. Patrick Lynch, dated Dublin, the 19th of March, 1693, had died on the 18th of February, aet. 68, Soc. 48. He had spent about 15 years in the Mission of Holland, and 25 years in the same capacity in his native country.

Greene, Liam, 1942-2008, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/777
  • Person
  • 24 September 1942-15 February 2008

Born: 24 September 1942, Dublin
Entered: 04 October 1964, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 21 June 1974, Gonzaga College SJ, Dublin
Final Vows: 17 January 1984, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway
Died: 15 February 2008, St James's Hospital, James Street, Dublin

Part of the Campion, Hatch Street, Dublin Community at the time of death

by 1973 at Brussels Belgium (BEL M) studying
by 1974 at Cambridge MA, USA (NEB) studying - Harvard
by 1991 at Oakland CA, USA (CAL) Sabbatical

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :

Liam Greene RIP

Please pray for the soul of Fr Liam Greene SJ, who died unexpectedly Friday morning, 15 February 2008 after taking ill suddenly. He was 65 years old and was working with the
JUST programme in Ballymun. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Rev. Liam Greene, S.J.
who died at St. James Hospital, Dublin on 15 February 2008, aged 65 years.
24 September 1942 Born in Dublin
Early education at CBS, James’ Street. Studied English in UCD.
4 October 1964 Entered the Society at Emo
5 October 1966 First Vows at Emo
1966-1968 Milltown Park – Studied Philosophy
1968-1970 St. Ignatius, Galway – Teacher 1970-1973 Milltown Park – Studied Theology
1973-1974 Harvard (USA) – Studied Philosophy and Theology
21 June 1974 Ordained at Milltown Park, Dublin
1974-1984 St. Ignatius, Galway – Teacher; Director of “Irish Studies”; Retreats; Regency 1978-1979 Tertianship at Tullabeg
17 January 1984 Final Vows
1984-1987 Tabor House – Retreats to young people; Chaplain to DIT, Rathmines; part-time lecturer in Communications
1987-1989 Attached to Tabor but resident at 73 Croftwood Park, Ballyfermot 1987-1990 Chaplain and part-time teaching at DIT, Rathmines
1990-1991 Oakland, California – Sabbatical; MA in Spirituality
1991-2008 Campion House –
1991-1993 Development Creation Spirituality Project; Assistant in Tabor; retreats for young people
1993-1996 Communications Centre; Librarian
1996-2000 Also Lecturer in Communications, Ethics and Psychology at DIT
2000-2001 Lecturer at DIT / RTE
2001-2004 Writer; Media analysis (RTE / DIT); Spiritual Director (SJ)
2004-2006 Writer; Media analysis (RTE / DIT); Chaplain: Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital; Spiritual Director (SJ)
2006-2008 JUST Project, Ballymun.
15 February 2008 Died in St. James’ Hospital, Dublin.
Liam collapsed at home in Campion House and efforts to revive him failed. Further attempt to revive him at St. James’ also failed and he was pronounced dead at around noon on Friday 15 2008.
May he rest in the Peace of Christ
Liam was a graduate of UCD, where he majored in English, before he joining the Jesuits. In addition to the above, he also graduated from Louvain University. Harvard University accepted Liam as its only European student the year that he went there. From then, and from his time in Berkeley in 1990, he had many American Jesuit friends.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 136 : Summer 2008


Fr Liam Greene (1942-2008)

Paddy Greene writes:
Liam Greene died unexpectedly on 15 February, 2008, in his community home, Campion House, Hatch St. He had not shown any signs of being unwell in the previous days, and, in fact, had worked with his students in the JUST Project in Ballymun earlier that week. His favourite text was: "I have come that they may have life, life to the full"(In.1 0, 10), and it can be said that his life here ended with him living it to the full.

Liam was born in Dublin on 24 September, 1942. His mother, Jane Landers, was a nurse from Cork, and his father, Michael Greene, from Tullow in Co. Carlow, worked in the administrative staff in UCD. Three significant events happened during Liam's teenage years that had a profound bearing on the rest of his life.

First, it was identified that Liam had epilepsy. Learning to live with an unpredictable illness which necessitated a variable dosage of tablets introduced a degree of uncertainty to his moods and energy. Indeed, the many attacks of a greater or lesser extent that he endured throughout his life made him all too aware how consciousness can be snuffed out so quickly. On the positive side, he became passionate in his determination to make as much use of the present moment as possible, in fact, to live life to the full. Situations, therefore, that stopped him doing so provoked in him a harsh response, something that was not always understood by others.

Secondly, his mother, in an attempt to offset the setback of the epilepsy, sent him to evening classes in the National College of Art. So, for five years, as the youngest student there during all his time, he studied all aspects of art from life drawing to painting to art history. From it he got a lifelong fascination with creatitivity, particularly how it manifested itself throughout the centuries in the fine arts, but also in outstanding individuals. Napoleon was his teenage hero.

Thirdly, the death of his brother, Gerard, in an accident left him numbed for a long time - why had he been left and not his brother? It also raised for him questions of meaning, ultimate meaning. It led him to seek to enter the Jesuits after his Leaving Certificate, but the Provincial, Fr. Tommy Byrne, felt it would be too hard on his mother to lose another son so quickly, and so he persuaded him to go to University and consider his vocation after his degree. This he agreed to do.

Liam studied Pure English in UCD with Old Irish as a minor subject. There in 1961, 1 had the good fortune to meet Liam - I had just come from Emo after Vows - and we remained friends ever since. Dermot O'Connor was with Liam in Pure English, and perhaps it was through our friendship with Liam a path to the Society was more fully opened. Anyway, at the end of his degree, in 1964, he joined the Society.

After Vows, Liam went to Milltown Park for Philosophy. They were the heydays of Phil McShane, Conn O'Donovan and Eamon Egan. Liam revelled in all the intense work on Lonergan from McShane and O'Donovan while he also loved the gentle, yet precise, probing and alternatives offered by Egan.

Full of energy and enthusiasm, Liam joined me in Galway for Colleges. First, he had a month's immersion in Connemara to brush up on his Irish. The family he stayed with - Peig, Colie and Bairbre - took him to their hearts and they remained his Connemara family from then on. In the school Liam revelled in teaching, where his expansive style and flair got a great reception from the boys. In the community, Sean Mallin, in his late incarnation as a radical theologian, became great friends with Liam. In 1970, Seán O'Connor, as Headmaster, began his innovative approach to education and Liam became a staunch supporter. Although he was in theology when the experiment ended in grief, Liam always believed that Seán had been on the right track.

Back in Milltown for Theology, Liam was part of the BRA (Basement Residents Association), one of the small communities into which the scholastics were divided as an experiment in more personal living. Situated in the basement of the Retreat House, it included among others Michael Hurley and Brian Lennon, and the rumbustious debates among them all were legendary. Liam spent a semester in Brussels; it was dark and wet and dreary, but it was enlivened by the presence of an Irish-American Jesuit from Newry.

The issue of Liam's epilepsy became a problem with Rome in his third year. Cecil McGarry, as Provincial, took his part, but the negotiation with Rome took time so Liam in his fourth year went to Harvard University in Boston. There he did an MA in Religion and Culture. He was in his element again with the ferment of ideas and people making a heady cocktail. It was there that the story goes that Liam being asked to do a module on statistics (he hated maths) declined, offering the excuse that Ireland was so small that it did not need statistics, as everyone knew everyone else. He got away with it!

His diaconate took place in Boston, where he was supported by Jack and Mary Ryan, parents of Jack Ryan of the New York Province whom Liam and I met on our first visit to the US in 1971. Then home for ordination - a time of sublime celebration for Liam, his parents and family.

After being appointed to the College in Galway, Liam became a teacher of Religion, English, Art and History. These subjects gave him ample scope to express his gifts and training in these areas. He was an inspirational teacher who could convey a love and passion for his subject in a way that has stayed with many of his students to the present day. Like many an artist, he was not the most organized of people in starting out, but, once launched, there was a sureness and flow to his discourse that was compelling. His love of learning is best exemplified in History, which he began to teach with the encouragement of Pádraig O Cúaláin, the senior history teacher. His early enthusiasm for Napoleon was now broadened to encompass the colours and shades of the European canvas and he delighted in telling the stories of the individuals, great and small, that peopled that crowded space.

Special Sunday night Masses for sixth years and their female friends became a feature of the religion programme. Liam, with his powerful homilies and the time and interest he gave to individuals, was a major contributor at that time. Also, he was an essential part of the team that organized and ran the Roundstone retreats where 6th years and a group of teachers spent an intensive few days in an encounter-group retreat. These had a profound effect on the 6th years, and, consequently, the atmosphere in the whole school benefited from them. Liam's love of conversations was an essential part of his ministry and enabled him reach a range of personalities often missed by the rest of us.

Learning through experience was central to Liam's approach to education, and so, school tours to the Continent where religious, artistic, literary and historical events had occurred were undertaken by him. Memorable trips to Spain and Italy, where John Humphreys and myself were the bus drivers, were followed by an annual journey to Paris starting on St. Stephen's Day. This week was filled with the Louvre, the Jeu de Paume, the Tuileries, Versailles and Chartres. To listen to Liam speak of the great works of art, or the wars of history, was to be taken into areas of life that were before only glimpsed from a distance. It was education at its best.

Musicals had been a tradition in Galway under Eamon Andrews and Kieran Ward. During the early 70's Bob McGoran and Murt Curry revived the tradition and Liam joined in with great gusto. He helped with the production, the lighting, the painting and stage design, the costumes. It was a great experience of what makes a Jesuit school such a demanding and rewarding place, and where a lasting influence is had on the students.

After ten hectic years in Galway, Liam was moved to Chaplaincy in the DIT in Rathmines in 1984. The change came as a shock to him and it took him a good while to get used to it. Living in Tabor House was a help to him as it brought him in contact with young adults. The work of a chaplain is so less organized than a teacher, and meeting students is very much a hit and miss business. Liam's ability to drink endless cups of coffee and hold long chats stood him in good stead. However, he was primarily a teacher, and when openings occurred in the school of Film and TV, he took them, as it gave him a chance to lecture, debate and then move into the direction of students in making films. Because of the long and broken schedule of third level, Liam's health during these years was uneven. The correct prescription of medicines for epilepsy is an art not a science, and Liam suffered as a result. Over-prescribing left him depressed and heavy, while the opposite risked the onset of an attack. But despite the setbacks, Liam always bounced back. It gave him the impetus towards what had not yet happened and an impatience with any structure that stood still. And yet, the number of close friendships among lecturers and students he made in those years tells of his real commitment at all times to the individual.

After Tabor House closed, Liam went to live in Cherry Orchard with Gerry O'Hanlon and Bill McGoldrick. Liam in his own way got to know the local people and befriended them. His sense of humour helped to lighten even the most difficult situations, and there were some tricky ones in Cherry Orchard! So the move later to Campion House, Hatch Street, was to a quieter place, although Liam missed the involvement with the local people. As a part-time chaplain in the Eye and Ear Hospital he was able to show his care for those in need. His interest in the students in University Hall led to friendships that lasted many years, and led to links with families in Florence, Rome, France and Lithuania. He even gave a retreat to Jesuits in Lithuania using an interpreter! At this time as well Liam took a renewed interest in his mother's relations in the Galtee Mountains in Co. Cork. He became a source of the family lore of the older generations that stretched back to Famine times, but especially the burning of the local “great house” during the Troubles. Being with them and the very personal way he had of saying Mass became a great consolation to them in times of pain and loss.

When Kevin O'Higgins started the JUST Project in Ballymun in 2006, Liam became a member of the team. He spent a few days a week there and once more his teaching abilities came to the fore. He was greatly involved with helping the students master the skills of writing and presentation in the programmes geared to help them gain entry to third level education. He was also in charge of the cultural dimension to the programme, introducing students to the galleries, museums and theatres of the city. His work with the post-graduate group led to wide-ranging debates on art, history and matters of faith. Liam was in his element again. And that is how death found him: in good health, in good form, in full flight, in work he loved. He went at the height of his powers to a place of greater and deeper connections and explorations. Among his papers was found the following piece:

The Green Wood and the Dry
I'm not saying the journey is over
I'm not saying the end is in sight.
I cannot even call up those metaphors for the end:
The chapter closing;
The folding away of the blanket;
The putting of affairs in order.

My affairs are not in order and they never will be.
I am always beginning to spring-clean
And it never comes to an end.

I'm just saying that I am beginning to forget.
Whether this is age, weariness
Or just simply the overloading of the system,
I don't know.

But this has been a week where the refrain
“Lest we forget” has been repeated over and over again,
(By some - only by some.)
And while it would suit me to forget
To get lost in the whole business of trying to keep up with now,
I would not like to be forgotten,
Especially by those who have heard very little from me
And for whom my whole life must have been a mystery,
As much a mystery to them as to me.

I see this piece as an introduction Liam intended for some reflections and recollections on his life that he never got to write. Perhaps more enduring will be the sculptures he carved in France in the last few years. Although an artist, Liam had never tried sculpture until he got the opportunity to participate in a class while on holiday in France. The teacher, Christine, was gifted and she prodded and poked Liam into committing himself to the work. In the first year came what I call the Pretty Face - an initial study in the craft. The next year came The Hand, tentative, reaching out, just failing to grasp, or something else. It is striking in the complexity of its symbolism of the human condition. Then followed the Job-like head filled with pain and anguish and a scream for help that he said was what he often felt in his life. But he also felt a lot more than that, because his final sculpture is that of a serene, wise, peace-filled face gazing from a place of immense peace and certainty. That was his last statement that stays with us.

I finish by remembering Liam's love of meals, of the gathering of family, of friends, like Joan and Cathal in Barna, with Connla Ó Dúlaine in Aran, of the community with Charlie O' Connor in Hatch St., of the gatherings for the sacred meal of the Eucharist that he put his heart and soul into. Now he is, I am sure, taking part in the Eternal Banquet and awaiting our arrival.

Harnett, Philip, 1943-1996, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/506
  • Person
  • 06 January 1943-20 December 1996

Born: 06 January 1943, Dublin
Entered: 10 October 1961, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 23 June 1972, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1982, Loyola, Eglinton Road, Dublin
Died: 20 December 1996, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Loyola community, Eglinton Road, Dublin at the time of death.

Father Provincial of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus: 31 July 1986-30 July 1992
1st President of the European Conference of Provincials 1992-1996

by 1966 at Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain (TOLE) studying
by 1973 at Washington DC, USA (MAR) studying
PROVINCIAL 01 September 1986
by 1994 at Brussels Belgium (BEL S) President European Conference
by 1995 at Strasbourg France (GAL) President European Conference

◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
Harnett, Philip
by Peter McVerry
Harnett, Philip (1943–96), Jesuit priest, was born 6 January 1943 in Dublin, the third child of Patrick Harnett and Ursula Treacy. He had two brothers, John and Patrick, and three sisters, Anne, Catherine, and Mary. Following an education at Pembroke School, Ballsbridge, and Belvedere College, he joined the Jesuits on 10 October 1961 and studied arts at UCD, philosophy in the Jesuit College, Madrid, and theology in Milltown Park, Dublin. He was ordained a priest on 23 June 1972.

Harnett studied as a drugs counsellor in Washington, DC, in 1972 and worked for the Dublin diocese as a drugs advisor until 1974. He was then appointed parish priest in the inner-city Jesuit parish of Gardiner Street where, for six years, he coordinated a major community development programme. From 1980 to 1983 he worked in the central administration of the Irish Jesuits before being appointed to the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. During this time he lived in the socially deprived neighbourhood of Ballymun and sought to raise awareness of the structural injustices in Irish society; he also lectured and gave many workshops on this theme. He worked closely with residents in Ballymun to support their struggle to improve the quality of life in their neighbourhood.

In 1986 Harnett was appointed provincial of the Irish Jesuits. In this post he led the Jesuits through a period of rapid change in Irish society and the Irish church, and his leadership skills became very evident. Although he had to make difficult, and sometimes unpopular, decisions to respond to the changing circumstances, he retained the respect of those whom he led. He encouraged and supported the Irish Jesuits in their commitment to social justice, which he saw as a central thrust of their mission. In 1993 he was appointed to the newly created post of president of the Conference of European Jesuit Provincials, which reflected the high esteem in which he was held, and moved to Strasbourg. Three years later he was diagnosed with cancer, and despite a course of immuno-therapy in Strasbourg he became progressively weaker. He returned to Dublin, where he died 20 December 1996.

Irish Province Jesuit Archives; personal knowledge

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 92 : August 1996


Fr Philip Harnett (1943-1996)

6th Jan. 1943: Born in Dublin
Early education: Pembroke School, Ballsbridge and Belvedere College
10th Oct. 1961: Entered the Society at Emo
11th Oct. 1963: First Vows at Emo
1963 - 1965: Rathfarnham, Arts at UCD
1965 - 1967: Madrid, studying Philosophy
1967 - 1969: Crescent College Comprehensive, Teaching
1969 - 1972: Milltown Park, studying Theology
23rd June 1972: Ordained Priest at Milltown Park
1972 - 1973: Washington, Diploma in Drugs Abuse Training
1973 - 1974: Gardiner St - work for Archbishop on Drugs SFX
1974 - 77: Gardiner Street, Parish Priest
1977 - 1978: Tullabeg, Tertianship
1978 - 1980: SFX Gardiner St - Parish Priest
1980 - 1983: Loyola House - Special Secretariat
1983 - 1986: Arrupe, Ballymun Superior - work at CFJ
1986 - 1992: Loyola House, Provincial
1992 - 1993: Sabbatical
1993 - 1996 Brussels/Strasbourg: President of Conference of European Provincials

Philip was feeling a lack of energy after Christmas 1995. His doctors diagnosed cancer and this necessitated the removal of a kidney. Under medical supervision, he initially returned to work in Strasbourg but his doctors eventually prescribed a course in immuno-therapy that lasted several months during which time Philip was unable to work. On completion of the therapy he returned to Dublin to stay with his sister Anne for some weeks. After a fall, he was admitted to St. Vincent's Hospital and then to Cherryfield Lodge. He made very determined efforts to regain his health and members of the province prayed for him through the intercession of Fr. John Sullivan. Gradually, however, he became weaker and was more and more confined to bed. He died at 3am on Friday 20th December 1996.

Homily for Philip Harnett's funeral Mass, December 23rd, 1996
Can't you imagine Philip Harnett as Jesus asks him does he love him more than these others, and then asks him for a second and third time does he really love him? What I imagine is that Philip would be wondering what kind of manipulation and emotional blackmail all this was! I think he'd probably call for some kind of small group session in Ignatius' court of heaven, perhaps with himself, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, to facilitate the Lord's apparent insecurity!

In this, the end of John's gospel, we have played out before us the last act of the drama, which began with the invitation to the disciples in the first chapter of John to "come and see". This last act for Philip wasn't as he had either anticipated or wanted: somebody else was putting a belt around him and taking him where he would rather not go. This last journey and meeting with Jesus began last January with news of his serious illness, and intensified in September when he returned to Ireland and it became clear that his illness according to conventional medicine was terminal. It was mostly a journey through his memory, his mind and his heart. Philip the mountain climber, the hill walker, the marathon runner, that vibrant and handsome physical presence, went on this most important of all his journeys with disintegrating body, struggling for breath, but with spirit undiminished and even expanding, as he yearned for life and yearned to understand better the meaning of his and our lives.

What did he find out? Well: that, as always, he was held by the hand of Jesus. That was core and central: beneath all his banter and mockery, it was always clear that for Philip his relationship with Jesus Christ was the bedrock of his life, I heard him once as Provincial articulate this in an impassioned and unguarded way, confirming what I had always suspected was true. This came out so strongly in these last few months: if Jesus was leading him, even where he would himself not want to go, then it was alright. He might argue, protest, even rant and rave, but in the end, warts and all, it was alright. And this is what happened: Philip was able to say “I'm happy”, even as he continued to desire life and felt it ebbing out of him: all will be well, all manner of things will be well, because Jesus Christ, his life-time companion, was with him.

What he found out also was that as he got closer to Jesus and the next life, he got closer to his family, his friends, to his life. He pondered long the influence of his deceased mother and father, his relationship with his brothers and sisters, John, Anne, Catherine, Patrick and Mary, his extended family of in-laws, nephews, nieces and aunts. It was such a great joy to him to be able, after a characteristically honest, searching, and healing look-back, to embrace this network of relationships with heightened appreciation. I know, because he told me and others more than once, how deeply touched he was in particular by the palpable love he felt from his immediate family: he relished the directness of their affection, he was so pleased that it could be expressed so openly, and he wanted so much for them to understand how much they meant to him. Of course he was still capable of saying "God bless" if there was even a hint of mawkishness or false sentimentality in any of this: but he did, more than ever before, want to own and relax into the love he felt for an received from others. And he did so that last journey was simplifying and purifying in a way that surprised and made him very happy - through his prayer, his pondering and sifting, his talking it over with others in a characteristically open way, he found that in coming closer to Jesus Christ he became closer to the rest of us. As his body contracted, his heart expanded.

This applied also of course to his relationship with his friends - with Bernadette in Australia (whose brother Joseph is, I'm glad to say, with us this morning), Catherine in France, with his many friends, Jesuit and lay, from Ireland and different parts of the world, many of whom are here today. He was inclined in fact to dwell less on his achievements, and more on the people who had enriched his life: this was a bit different for a Jesuit, as he well realised! He appreciated so much the care he received in Strasbourg, in Elm Park, above al in Cherryfield. This included those who so generously offered him the help of various alternative medicines, as with typical whole heartedness he embraced every way to continue with life which he had such a huge desire for. And he was so pleased too that the Jesuit Province was praying through John Sullivan's intercession for a miracle cure: I think there may have to be another small group meeting in heaven, involving Philip. John Sullivan and a facilitator to sort out what exactly John Sullivan thought he was at, before the two of them can be the good pals Paul Cullen was talking about last Saturday!

But this was something that Philip also found out: that God, the Father, was not aloof, distant, judgmental, and to be feared. Rather, he marvelled to discover the infinite, inexhaustible patience of God, so open to taking all the anger, the fear, the rage that someone in Philip's terrible predicament felt, and yet there for Philip, as Jesus was. That again was wonderful: this after all is the God of life, and Philip again was reassured that against all the odds God, who is Father and Mother, was there for him, no matter what.

I have spoken of Philip through what I know of his own eyes. The reading from the Romans, with talk of the groaning of creation, gives us an opportunity to assess Philip through our own eyes, because this is also part of the truth of who it is. Creation groans because God's kingdom is being established against great opposition, and Philip had dedicated his life to this Kingdom. What are the kind of qualities which made his contribution so important, particularly in his life as priest in Gardiner Street, Special Secretariat in Loyola, work in Ballymun and the Centre for Faith and Justice, as Provincial and then as President of the Conference of European Provincials?

Well: I think his leadership qualities were remarkable. I remember joking with him that as a leader of the pack on our rugby team he was remarkable for the fact that he could roar at the rest of us to get up first to the break-down point, while arriving himself half a yard behind everyone else to the next line-out! There was something here that was truly great: the ability to motivate others, to inspire, to empower, to make others believe in themselves, not to feel that he could or had to do everything himself. Some of this of course came from his great sense of vision: in many ways for us Irish Jesuits he personified what it was to be a Jesuit after our 32nd General Congregation in the 1970's, with our mission defined in terms of faith and justice, Some of it too came from his skill in management and group work - think of all those meetings, and he was still conducting them from his sick-bed! There was too his creativity: he displayed this perhaps to greatest effect in the last job he had in Europe, where he really was trying to get something very embryonic going in difficult circumstances and in a way which won the respect of all. He had a sharp mind, a shrewd intelligence, an original and critical reading of the world and the signs of the times. Allied to all this was his ability to challenge, in a way which brought the best out of others. As you heard at the start of the Mass, Fr. General himself obviously appreciated this quality in Philip, which leads me to believe that in their relationship of great mutual respect and not a little affection, there may also have been that Harnett push for the magis, the 110%, felt by Fr. General! And of course there was his terrific humanity, his openness in dialogue, his ability to respect the institution but never let this suppress the Spirit-led unorthodoxies in himself or others, his utterly irreverent wit. Very interesting, he would say, when bored stiff; the pious put-down, God bless; the hilarious, Inspector Clousseau grappling with French vowels, particularly of the eu variety, with corresponding facial grimaces.

The stories are legion, and most of them unrepeatable. An edited, maybe apochryphal one will have to act as catalyst for your own favourites: it tells of Philip, as Provincial, being driven in the back of a car up the Milltown drive to preside at an important Province meeting. On the way he passes a group of the younger men, and in self-mocking style waves to them airily, in truly regal and almost pontifical style. Then, as the car passes, they see the same Philip gesticulating at them wildly like a school-boy from the back window of the car. He could not be pompous: sacred cows were there to be slaughtered, the unsayable was suddenly sayable, and none of it was cruel because it was rooted in the ability to be contrite and laugh at himself ( I feel so guilty!) and to be deeply serious when it mattered. He made doing what was good seem adventurous, attractive - and just plain fun! Through all of this he achieved so much, and we may rightly assess this as of more significance than he himself was inclined to do in his illness. You will all have your own list of these achievements: I mention the Signs of the Times Seminar, the development of the Milltown Institute and the Irish School of Ecumenics, as examples of how to my certain first-hand knowledge his leadership has touched the lives of so many.

He was, then, a giant of a man and will be sorely missed. He meant so much to so many. We who are left behind, his family, his friends and colleagues, his brother Jesuits, have a right to ask why? Why now? A right to grieve, to be sorry, to be angry. In doing so we will be helped by the Spirit referred to in the reading from Romans, who helps us in our weakness. We will be helped too by the spirit of Philip, who trusted in God and Jesus, who would understand that we needed to grieve and be angry, but who might say to us in the future, when we might be tempted to use our grief in a maudlin way to block our own lives - well, he might say a gentle, God bless, and help us realise that his God is the God of life, and it is even deeper life that he now enjoys.

This is what the reading from Isaiah suggests I think - more mountains, food and drink, the heavenly banquet - all in continuity with this life. This is another of Philip's great gifts to us: dying, with all its terrible rupture and loss, is for the person of faith a passing to new life. Philip lived this rupture and this hope in an extraordinarily wholistic way. He told me early on that he did not want to die well", in the sense of whatever conventional expectations might be there: he laughed often, even through those last few months, and when he got angry, he would say, in aside, Kubla-Ross/stages of dying! He wondered too what would happen if there was a miracle: would he become a bit of an exhibit, like Lazarus, and would he be asked to go to Rome as part of the evidence for the cause of John Sullivan?! This apparent gallows humour was in fact more of what I have already alluded to: he loved life, he loved Jesus who was utterly incarnate, of flesh, for Philip: and if he trusted Jesus and God to bring him through death to new life, then this new life was in continuity with all the fun, the love, the mountains, the food and drink of this life. This was not a denial of death: rather it was a hymn to life, the ultimate compliment to and praise of the God of life. A 10th Century Celtic poem captures some of this sentiment:

The heavenly banquet
I would like to have the men of Heaven
In my own house:
With vats of good cheer
Laid out for them.

I would like to have the three Marys,
Their fame is so great.
I would like people
From every corner of Heaven
I would like them to be cheerful
In their drinking,
I would like to have Jesus too
Here amongst them.

I would like a great lake of beer
For the King of Kings,
I would like to be watching Heaven's family
Drinking it through all eternity,

This symbolic picture of the heavenly banquet, so true for example to the great satisfaction experienced by Philip in his two trips to pubs for a drink with his brother John in the weeks before he died, is part of Philip's gift to us as he parts. It tells us to treasure life to the full; to seek its meaning in responsible love and in Jesus Christ; to hope with great realism and joy for a reunion of all creation at God's heavenly banquet. In his last few days when Philip, master of meetings, wanted a bit of time on his own he used to say, courteously, humorously: the meeting is over, you may go now! The meeting is indeed over now, Philip: and although it breaks our hearts, you may go: and we thank you and God for all you have meant to us, and for the hope that we may continue to make this world a better place and may enjoy life to the full with you in the future.

Peter Sexton, SJ


When Philip Harnett became Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Ireland, he automatically assumed a number of responsibilities relating to the Irish School of Ecumenics. Firstly he became the Roman Catholic Patron, secondly he became Trustee, and lastly he assumed the Presidency of the Academic Council. In this last role he quickly became aware much more fully of the work of ISE - its degree/diploma programmes in Dublin, its adult education courses on reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the research and outreach efforts of the academic staff. Already in ISE there was a growing realisation that the Irish Churches should take a more positive interest in ISE and Philip saw and endorsed this aim. He also learned of the precarious financial position of ISE and he realised the need for change and development in the school's administration. As time passed the Provincial felt a growing need to take a more constructively active role to help ISE - discerning that those who were running ISE - Executive Board and Director - were too close to the action and too fully involved to stand back and be objective. With the agreement therefore of those in ISE, of the other Patrons and the Trustees, Philip invited (to use a politically correct term which probably understates the nature of the 'invitation') two business men whom he could rely on to act as consultants to the Patrons and to draw up a report on ISE.

That report, when in due time it was presented to the Patrons, was comprehensive and in some areas radical. Its recommendations were accepted by the Patrons who left it to Philip to set up a 'task force' to work with ISE in implementing the recommendations.

This process has resulted in long term advantages and reforms, the outworking of some of these is still in progress. It developed a new relationship for ISE with the Irish churches. The Archbishop of Dublin (Roman Catholic) together with a nominee for the Episcopal Conference have become Patrons (in the place of the Jesuit provincial who remains President of the Academic Council and one of the Trustees together with the Patrons from the other larger churches in Ireland, Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian. Equally significantly the churches committed themselves to a programme of financial grants to ISE. This opened up the way for ISE to establish an Endowment Fund and to approach the corporate business sector for significant donations,

The Executive Board of ISE was given much greater responsibility and authority, making it possible for the Academic Council to concentrate on broad policy and the maintenance of Academic standards and research. These changes have been fundamental to the most recent development - albeit one not foreseen in the Consultants' report - that of grant-aid for ISE from the Minister for Education.

Throughout this whole process Philip Harnett retained his interest in and enthusiasm for ISE and for the aims and principles of the school, He gave constant personal support to those of us involved within ISE, and his quiet encouragement and guidance were always available and freely given. His commitment to ecumencial co-operation was a practical and constructive involvement and his actions stemmed from genuine concern and spiritual motivation. He saw ecumenical action and co-operation as a natural part of his Christian life and witness, and he put this vision to good effect in relation to ISE.

Over the time span of history many people have contributed to the formation of ISE's structures, visions and programmes. The recent development of the School is no exception and while successive provincials and directors have made their contributions, it fell to Philip to be the School's Jesuit patron at a critical phase. Philip Harnett had the vision - a vision that combined ideas and imagination with gentleness and compassion, allied to an administrative experience and skill. These attributes enabled Philip to help the school, grown too large for its original “family structure, to develop into a well administered institution. His was a contribution that came at the right time and was made in the right way.

David Poole

David Poole who is a member of the religious Society of Friends, was Chair of ISE's Executive Board from 1987 to 1996.

Jacques, Martin, 1835-1890, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1473
  • Person
  • 14 June 1835-15 March 1890

Born: 14 June 1835, Namur, Belgium
Entered: 31 May 1855, Tournoi, Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: 1867
Professed: 15 August 1870
Died: 15 March 1890, Manresa, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia - Belgicae Province (BELG)

Early Irish Mission to Australia 1884

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
1885 A zealous Belgian Operarius arrived in Australia from Calcutta in ill health. After a short stay at the College in Kew, he joined our men in the parish of North Sydney.
He went with Michael Dooley to Invercargill in New Zealand to do parish work.
He returned to Australia and the Parish staff at Hawthorn, Victoria, where he died March 15th 1890.
Though in Melbourne a short time, he made many friends, and by all of them he was loved for his kindness and humility.
He was a man of few words, and spoke little during his last illness, but gave himself up to constant union with God. The community gathered around and prayed with him as he died peacefully 15 March 1890.

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Martin Jacques studied humanities and logic in the minor seminary of the Namur province from June 1835. He entered the Society 31 May 1855, and after the noviciate studied rhetoric and philosophy. He did regency for five years, followed by theology at Louvain from September 1866.
During theology he was sent to the Bengal Mission, arriving in India, 9 November 1867, and Calcutta, 14 December. He taught grammar in the college of St Francs Xavier for two years, completed theology, and was ordained by Archbishop Walter Steins, who subsequently died in Sydney on 27 September 1868.
He worked first among the Christians from Madras who were living in Calcutta, and then did parochial duties attached to the cathedral. The heat, together with teaching and pastoral duties exhausted him and he returned to Europe in 1870. When his health improved, Jacques taught grammar to the lower classes in the schools .
He returned to India and the Calcutta province in November 1871, and was attached to the Sacred Heart Church, locally called Dhurrumtollah. He worked among Europeans and local Catholics who lived in the region and operated from six stations. Sometime later he built a church. Further churches were built at Ranigunj and Burdwan from 1877. He worked in this region until the end of 1883.
Martin worked later in the province of Chota-Nagpor, and the following year returned to Brussels.
He arrived in Australia in 1885 in ill health. He was sent as minister for the North Shore parish, 1885-89, and then spent the last years of his life, 1889-90, at Hawthorn. He also spent a short time in New Zealand during 1888.

MacDavet, Bryan, 1607-1648, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1620
  • Person
  • 15 February 1607-25 September 1648

Born: 15 February 1607, County Derry
Entered: 25 February 1626, Messina, Sicily, Italy - Siculae Province (SIC)
Ordained: 1638, Palermo, Sicily
Professed: 1644
Died: 25 September 1648, Florence, Italy - Romanae Province (ROM)

Alias Davitt
Older brother of Hugh - RIP 1633

1639 Came from SIC to BELG
1648 was in Rome 07/08/1648

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Two Entries (1)McDavitt (Davetti in Italian); (2 Bernard David

(1) Bryan McDavitt
Brother of Hugh RIP as Scholastic 15 October 1633
He had been Professor of Humanities and passed a brilliant public examination in universal Philosophy and Theology.
Bought the Printing Press for the Irish Mission which was confiscated by the Confederates for national purposes.
Came to Ireland with the Nuncio (Rinuccini) and was Chaplain to Eoghan Ruadh.
Sent to Rome on special Mission business and died on his way home.
He was a good Preacher and Confessor, liked by high and low.
1644 In Galway, much praised by his Superior as a worthy man and distinguished Theologian. His loss was felt much by his brethren.
A letter from Dr Magennis, Bishop of Down and Connor in 1620, asking the General to send both Bryan and Hugh to their Theological studies
(2) Bernard David
Ent 1625;
Studied in the Low Countries before Ent
1642 Sent from Belgium to Earl O’Neill.
After doing good work in Galway for a while, hen was sent on Irish Mission business to Rome
1648 He was returning with the Nuncio Rinuccini, but on his journey died at Florence 1648.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Older brother of Hugh
1626-1631 After First Vows he studied Philosophy at Noto and Messina where he made a public defence “de universa philosophica”
1631-1635 He then spent four years Regency in four different SIC Colleges.
1635-1638 He was then sent for to Messina (1634-1635), Caltagirone (1635-1636) and Palermo (1636-1638), where he was Ordained 1638, and also where he made a public defence.
1639 Tertianship at Trapani
1640 Sent to Ireland, but recommended by the General to stop in Flanders for a few months to practice his Irish language among fellow speakers there, after his long thirteen years in Siciily In fact he was detained there for three years as a Military Chaplain at Brussels,
1642 Arrived in Ireland at the end of 1642 and was sent to Galway to teach Humanities.
1645 Sent to Rome on business of the Mission and returned with the Nuncio Rinuccini’s travelling party. It was during his return journey from Rome that he bought, for the use of the Irish Mission, the printing press which was later seized by the Ormondist Supreme Council.
1648 MacDavet was acquainted with Eoin Ruadh, probably since his time as a Military Chaplain in Brussels. So, O’Neill on 04/02/1648 chose Brian as his special representative to Pope Innocent X - “Father Bernard MacDavet in my name will kiss your feet as the present war does not permit me to do so in person. He is well versed in public affairs of this kingdom and in my own private concerns and is so endowed with faith and prudence that I have entrusted him with all I wish communicated to your Holiness, and on which I have no doubt the salvation of this kingdom depends. I beg your Holiness, therefore, to treat with him as you would with myself.” At Rome, however, MacDavet, though received by the Pope, was received only in the same audience as was accorded the Bishop of Ferns and Sir Nicholas Plunket, both of whom were opposed to both Rinuccini and Eoin Ruadh. He had to be content with the mediation of one of the Cardinals to bring Eoin Ruadh's secret message to his Holiness.
On his homeward journey he fell from the carriage he was travelling in, and though he was keen to get to Ireland before the Bishop of Ferns and Plunket, before they would encourage the Supreme Council in its’ divisive policy, he never recovered from the serious illness brought about by his fractured his arm and died from the after-effects of the accident 25/09/1648 at the Jesuit Residence, Florence.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Bryan McDavitt SJ 1606-1648
Fr Bryan McDavitt was one of the few Irishmen fro Ulster who entered the Society in the old days. He was born in Derry in 1606 and entered the Society in Belgium in 1624.

He came to Ireland in the retinue of the Nuncio Rinnuccini and was Chaplain to Owen Roe in the Confederate wars.

His importance for us lies in the fact that it was he who brought the printing-press from France for the Irish Jesuits, te press which was used in Kilkenny by the Confederation ro print its proclamations and pamphlets. It was operated by our Brother George Sarrazin.

Fr McDavitt was in Galway in 1644. He was sent on special business to Rome, and died at Florence on his way home in 1648.

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
DAVID, BERNARD, studied in the Low Countries, and was aggregated to the Order in 1625. Towards the end of July, 1642, he was sent over from Belgium to Earl O’Neil, in Ireland; but certainly from November that year, till August following, was a resident at Galway, where he did good service. Shortly after this he was sent to Rome on the business of the Irish Mission* In October, 1648, he returned in company with the Nuncio Rinuccini. He died at Florence, in his journey to Rome, during the summer of 1648. The loss of his talents and services was deeply deplored by his Superior, F. William Malone, in his letter of 16th December that year.

  • This Father purchased a press in France for the use of the Fathers at Kilkenny, but this was taken from them by Robert Bagot, Secretary of the Supreme Council, in virtue of an Order dated the 28th of May, 1648. Another press belonged to the Fathers at Waterford, to which some of the Irish Bishops subscribed.

McCarthy, Peter, 1591-1660, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1692
  • Person
  • 1591-28 December 1660

Born: 1591, Belgium
Entered: 22 September 1617, Mechelen, Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: 03 April 1627, Mechelen, Belgium
Died: 28 December 1660, Roermond, Netherlands - Belgicae Province (BELG)

Son of Charles and Anne Wynter
Place of birth Trefontanensis - Rome? or could be Cerfontaine in Belgium
Fellow Novice of St Jan Berchmans. Studied at Antwerp
1638 “Fr Peter Carthy Superior in altero exercitu”
1642 at Dunkirk
Taught Humanities and Spiritual Father. On Castrensis Mission

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Son of Charles and Anne née Wynter
Fellow Novice of Jan Berchmans
1638 He and William Boyton were on the Dutch Mission; He was Chaplain-in-Chief or Head Camp Missioner;
He was “Trifontanensis” by birth

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of Charles (from the noble family de Clancar) an offier in the Spanish Army, and Anna née Wynter (she was Flemish)
He had already studied Humanities at the Jesuit College in Antwerp before Ent 22 September 1617 Mechelen
At Mechelen one of his fellow Novices was Jan Berchmans
After First Vows be was sent for studies in Philosophy to Antwerp and then Louvain. He then did three years Regency at BELG Colleges.
1694 He then returned to Louvain for Theology, and he was Ordained at Mechelen 03 April 1627
After Ordination he was in BELG as Operarius and frequently as a Military Chaplain. His longest periods of service were at Breda and Dunkirk, but he also worked at Ghent, Brussels and Roermond, where he spent the las four years of his life, dying there 28 December 1660
Not regarded as a “foreigner” in Ireland, he was frequently asked for by William Bathe for the Irish Mission. His capacity for languages (he was fluent in eight) meant it was decided he would be more useful remaining in Belgium, particularly because of his special qualities as a Military Chaplain, where his facility in languages meant he could minister to many different races of the Spanish Army based in the Low Countries.

Morris, Christopher W, 1607-1667, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1771
  • Person
  • 1607-01 August 1667

Born: 1605, Monmouth, Monmouthshire, Wales
Entered: 1626 Watten, Belgium - Angliae Province (ANG)
Ordained: 1635 Liège, Belgium
Final Vows: 19 October 1642, Liège, Belgium
Died: 01 August 1667, St Omer France - Angliae Province (ANG)

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Very learned Theologian, knew twelve languages and music.
Of ANG, he was about six years in Ireland.
1636 Tertian at Ghent.
1639 Professor of Philosophy for some years at Liège.
He does not appear in the 1649 ANG CAT, as he was taken prisoner on his way to Spain by an English pirate ship, and carried off to Ireland.
Mercure Verdier - Visitor to the Irish Mission - met him and mentioned him in a letter to General Caraffa 24 June 1649, as a truly religious and exceedingly learned man, both in Theology and Philosophy, a great linguist, being acquainted with eleven languages, besides Greek, skilled in music, of a modest demeanour and robust health. He added “We have few Missioners in our Province like him, ready for everything”. He laboured in Ireland for about five years.
1651 and 1655 He was again at Liège
1660 Professor of Theology at Brussels, and died at St Omer’s College 01 August 1667 aged 64

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
MORRIS, CHRISTOPHER, born in Wales in 1607 : at the age of 19 joined the Society and became a Professed Father on the 19th of October, 1642. After filling the chair of Philosophy at Liege, he was ordered to Spain; but was taken by an English ship and carried, to Ireland, where he was engaged as a Tutor to a Nobleman’s son who little profited by his advice and instruction. Pere Verdier who met him in Ireland, reports him to the General, Vincent Caraffa, on the 24th of June 1649, as “vir vere religiosus, et eximié doclus in Theologicis et Philosophicis disciplinis en linguarum undecim praesertim Graeece peritus : scit Musicam : est modesto vultu : robusta vatetudine; and he adds : in nostra Provincia paucos similes habemus operarios ad omnia, instar illius, paratus”. It is painful to conclude with saying, that I can offer the indulgent Reader no further information of this worthy and highly gifted Father, excepting that he died at St. Omer on the 1st of August, 1667.

Murphy, Melchior, 1664-1736, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1802
  • Person
  • 16 October 1664,-13 February 1736

Born: 16 October 1664, Brussels, Belgium
Entered: 07 September 1684, Watten, Belgium - Angliae Province (ANG)
Ordained: 21 March 1693
Final Vows: 23 October 1695
Died: 13 February 1736, Liège, Belgium - Angliae Province (ANG)

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
DOB 06/10/1664/5 Brussels; Ent 1684/5; FV 23/10/1695; RIP 14/02/1736 Liège aged 72
1701 At Blois with a pupil
1704 At Watten as a Missioner and a Prefect of the Church
1724 At Liège, as a Missioner, and where he died 14/02/1736

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
MURPHY, MELCHIOR. All that I can learn of this venerable Father is, that he was formed a Spiritual Coadjutor of the Society, on the 23rd of October, 1695, and that he died at Liege, on the 14th of February, 1736.

Nugent, Robert, 1597-1652, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1846
  • Person
  • 20 July 1574-06 May 1652

Born: 20 July 1574, Ballina, County Meath
Entered: 02 October 1601, Tournai, Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: 22 September 1601, Tournai - pre Entry
Final Vows: 04 September 1618
Died: 06 May 1652, Inishboffin, County Galway

Mission Superior 06 April 1627-1646

1603 At Tournai in Novitiate Age 27
1616 Age 39 Soc 15 Mission 9. Studied Theology at Louvain. Good theologian and Preacher. Choleric, but fit to be Superior
1621 Somewhat phlegmatic.
1626 Socius to Fr Holiwood
1636 Was Mission Superior in Ireland - In Dublin 1638
1649 At Kilkenny. By 1650 Vice Superior of Mission and previously Superior of Novitiate and Athlone Residence
1650 Catalogue Came on the Mission 1611. Studied Humanities in Ireland and 2 years at Douai, Philosophy and Theology at Douai. An MA and Priest on Entry
Letter of 27/08/1651 announced Fr Netterville’s death is at ARSI. Bishop Fleming writes of Robert Vester “hard worker” (Ossory Arch)
“Inisboffin surrendered 14 February 1652. Fr Nugent was not imprisoned there till then”. “Fr Hugent and his Harp - Coimbra I 319”
“Glamorgan in his letter signs himself “affectionate cousin” a reference to his relations to Inchiquin family

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Son of Oliver Nugent and Catherine née Plunkett. Brother of Nicholas (RIP 1656) Nephew of Lord Westmeath (Baron Delvin). Uncle of Lord Inchiquin
Had studied Humanities and two years Philosophy at Douai, graduating MA, before Ent and four years Theology after at Douai. He knew Irish, English, Latin and a little French. Admitted by Fr Olivereo FLA Provincial, he went to Tournai 02/10/1601 (Tournay Diary MS, n 1016, f 414, Archives de l’État, Brussels).
He was a distinguished and divine Preacher, a mathematician and musician (improving the Irish Harp, very much augmenting its power and capacity).
1611 Came to Ireland and was Superior of the Mission for about twenty-three years, Sent to Ireland and became Superior of the Irish Mission for up to twenty-six years (inc 1634 as per Irish Ecclesiastical Record), and then in 1650 for a second time as Vice-Superior;
Had been Superior at the Novitiate and of a Residence; A Preacher and Confressor for many years (HIB Catalogue 1650 - ARSI)
“Vir plane illustris” (Mercure Verdier in his Report to the General of the Irish Mission, 20/06/1649)
His enemy Peter Walsh calls him the “great mathematician”; Lynch in “Cambrensis Eversus” p 317, and “Alithinologia” p 113, praises his virtues and learning : “He had a singular knowledge of theology and mathematics, and a wonderful industry in relcaiming sinners, and extraordinary humility and self-contempt. In my own memory he made considerable improvement in the Irish Harp. He enclosed little pieces of wood in the open space between the trunk and the upper part, , making it a little box, and leaving on the right side of the box a sound-hole, which he covered with a lattice-work of wood, as in the clavicord. He then placed on both sides a double row of chords, and this increased very much the power and capacity of the instrument. The Fitzgerald Harp is probably his handiwork, or it is made according to his plan. According to Bunting, it has “in the row forty-five strings, and seven in the centre. It exceeds the ordinary harp by twenty-two strings, and the Brian-Boroimhe Harp by twenty-four; while in workmanship it is beyond comparison superior to it, both for the elegance of its crowded ornaments, and for the execution of those parts on which the correctness and perfection, it claims to be the ‘Queen of Harps’ - Ego sum Regina Cithararum - Buntings dissertation on the Irish Harp p27 (cf Foley’s Collectanea)
He is named in a letter from James Archer, Madrid 28/09/1607, and keenly sought after by Christopher Holiwood (alias Thomas Lawndry), the Irish Mission Superior. He was indeed sent, first as Socius to the Mission Superior, and then as Mission Superior. (Several of his letters are extant and Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS gives copious extracts, and he also notes Nugent’s resignation as Mission Superior 23/12/1646).
He is also mentioned in the Christopher Holiwood letter of 04 November 1611 (Irish Ecclesiastical Record April 1874), as having a district with Father Galwey under their care, both being assiduous in their labour.
He endured continuous persecution over seven years. As a result he generally only went out at night, and though the roads were always full of soldiers, with the aid of Providence, he managed to travel unharmed, and impelled by zeal.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of Oliver and Catherine née Plunket. Brother of Nicholas
Studied at Douai and was Ordained there the same year as Ent 02 October 1601 Tournai
After First Vows he was sent to Louvain for further studies
1608 Sent to Ireland working mostly in Meath and South Ulster, earning himself a reputation of an able Preacher in both Irish and English. He became secretary to Christopher Holywood and succeeded him as Vice-Superior or the Mission.
1627-1646 Superior of Mission 06 April 1627. For the next twenty years he carried on the policy of his predecessor with equal success so that the Mission became in all but name a Province of the Society. His first term of office came to an end in 1646 when the General acceded that he should be granted repose after so many years of government. In the later years in office he had resided in Kilkenny and Kilkea Castle which had been bequeathed to the Society by the Dowager Countess of Kildare. At the time of the Nuncio's “Censures”, he was at Waterford and with the community there observed the interdict. Yet he was accused (falsely) by Massari, auditor to Rinuccini, of having promoted the Ormondist faction and Rinuccini in turn reported the calumny to Rome. The Jesuit Visitor Mercure Verdier was able later to get Rinuccini to withdraw the charge but he, unfortunately, failed to correct the slanderous report even though he was himself heavily in debt financially to Nugent.
1651 After the death of George Dillon he was appointed Vice-Superior of the Mission until a new Superior could be chosen. He was now living in Galway, and his first care was to have shipped overseas for their studies the young scholastics, who had been evacuated from Kilkenny, and who were the future hope of the Mission.
On the approach of the Putians to Galway, because of the special hatred for him entertained by the Cromwellians, he withdrew to Inishboffin but was persuaded to set out for France, so that he could look after the interests of the Mission there . In spite of advanced years, he set sail on 11 April 1652, but his boat when within sight of France was blown back to Inishboffin. He was now ill from the hardships of such a voyage for one of his advanced years and six weeks later he died at Inishboffin 06 May 1652
He was beloved not only by his fellow Jesuits, but also by all who came in contact with him. He was regarded both within and outside the Jesuit Mission as one of the most prudent and inspiring Spiritual Directors.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ The Irish Jesuits Vol 1 1962
Robert Nugent (1627-1646)
Robert Nugent, son of Oliver Nugent, of Balena, in the diocese of Heath, and Catherine Plunkett, was born on 20th July, 1597. He completed the whole course of his studies at Douay, and having been ordained priest at Tournay on 22nd September, 1601, he entered the Novitiate of Tournay on 2nd October following. At the end of four years' theology he distinguished himself by a public defence of all philosophy and theology at Louvain. A year later (1608) he was sent on the Irish Mission, where he laboured in Meath and Ulster for many years, and obtained a high reputation
as a preacher both in Irish and in English. He acted as Secretary and Assistant to Fr Holywood, succeeded him as Vice-Superior on his death, and on 6th April, 1627, was formally appointed Superior. For the next twenty years he carried on the policy of his predecessor, with equal success, so that the Mission became in numbers, colleges, residences, and foundations a Province in everything but name, His first term of office came to an end in 1646, when the General acceded to his request that he should be given some repose for so many years of government.

Robert Nugent (1651-1652)

Fr Robert Nugent was ordered on 28th January, 1651, to act as Vice-Superior, until a new Superior should be appointed. He resided at Galway, one of the few places still held by the Catholics; but soon the approach of the Cromwellian armies forced him to retire to Inishbofin. While there he was requested to betake himself to the Continent, as the interests of the Society demanded his presence there. It was also known that the heretics bore him a peculiar hatred. In spite of his advanced years he obeyed promptly, and set sail about the 11th of April. The ship was driven back by contrary winds, when within sight of the French coast, and had to return to the port it had left. The tempestuous voyage was too much for the old man. He was put ashore, and carried to a poor hut, where he lingered on for six weeks. He died in Inishbofin on 6th May, 1652, and was buried on that island. His gentleness, gravity, prudence, learning, and skill as a director of souls endeared him to all. He was beloved not only by his fellow Jesuits, but by all who came in contact with him, especially by the nobility, the prelates, and the members of other religious Orders.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Robert Nugent SJ 1597-1652
Fr Robert Nugent was the greatest and longest in office of the Superiors of the Irish Mission, with the exception of Fr Christopher Holywood.

He was born on the 20th July 1597, son of Robert Nugent of Balena in the diocese of Meath, and his mother being Catherine Plunkett. He was the uncle of Baron Inchiquin and cousin of Elizabeth, Countess of Kildare. He was already a priest when he entered the Society at Tournai in 1601.

He was sent on the Irish Mission in 1608, and he laboured in Meath and Ulster for many years, where he acquied a high reputation as a preacher in both English and irish. He acted as Socius to the ageing Superior Fr Holywood and succeeded him in office in 1627.

For the next twenty years he carried on the policy of his predecessor, so that the Mission became in numbers, Colleges and residences, a Province in everything but name.

In 1643 his cousin the Countess of Kildare donated Kilkea Castle, two miles NW of Athy, to the Jesuits for a noviceship. Here Fr Nugent entertained the Nuncio Fr Rinuccini for twenty days on his way to besiege Dublin. At the orders of the Supreme Council, he accepted charge of the Press at Kilkenny and also opened a noviceship there with six novices under Fr John Young.

On the collapse of the Confederate Cause Fr Nugent retired to Galway where he directed the Mission as Vice-Superior in 1651. He was ordered to the continent and set sail, but his ship was forced back and he died in Inisboffin on May 6th 1652, in a poor hut where he had lingered for six weeks.

It is interesting to recall that Fr Nugent, like Fr William Bath before him, was very interested in Irish Music. He actually improved the Harp in use in his time, by adding a double row of strings.

He suffered imprisonment in Dublin Castle for four years from 1616-1620, and during this period he composed Irish hymns set to old tunes which were popular in Ireland for years after his death.

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
NUGENT, ROBERT, brother of F. Nicholas, and uncle to Baron Inchinquin, was a man of the highest merit, “Vir plane illustris, omnique exceptione major”, as Pere Verdier describes him in his Report of the 20th of June, 1649. The first time that I meet with him is in a letter of F. James Archer, dated from Madrid, 28th of September, 1607. to F. George Duras, the Assistant of Germany, at Rome. After signifying the departure of FF. James Everard and Thomas Shine for the Irish Mission, he adds the anxious wish of their Superior, F. Holiwood, that FF. William Bath and Robert Nugent may follow them, as he has a station ready for them in the North of Ireland. F. Robert was sent to the aged Superior, who entertained the greatest esteem for him and made him his Socius during the latter years of his government. In the sequel F. Nugent was appointed Superior of his Brethren, and held that office for at least twenty years. Several of his letters are fortunately extant, which bear ample testimony to his sound discretion, unaffected zeal and piety, and conciliatory conduct. In one letter, the 31st of October, 1615, he prays to be released from the duties of Superiority, alleging that he is now in his 70th year a fitter age to prepare himself for eternity, than to be continued in his painful responsibility, and during such critical and eventful times.
In another letter of the 20th of January, 1646-7, after stating the difficulty of conveying letters to Rome, acquaints the Vicar F. Charles Sangri, that in virtue of the injunction of the late General Mutius Vitelleschi, and with the advice of his consultors, he had some time since directed one of his Rev. Brethren to compile a General history of the Irish Mission of the Society - that this work had been brought down to nearly the present most troublesome period that it was admirably and faithfully executed from authentic documents; but before the finishing hand could be put to his labours, the author died. F. Nugent could not ascertain what had become of the Manuscripts : it was well known that for some time they were buried underground; but whether any one had removed them from the secret place, and had transferred them elsewhere, he had not been able to discover. He adds, that he carefully kept by him the points of information which he received annually from each Residence of his Brethren; but that it would be a service of extreme danger, if not of ruin to them, to attempt to forward the papers to Rome, should the Puritans intercept them. In this letter he mentions, that at the express desire and command of the Supreme Council, he had accepted the charge of the press at Kilkenny : and also that he had hired a house in that town for the Novitiate; and early in February, F. John Young, who was a man of approved learning, and prudence, and distinguished for sanctity of manners, would begin to train the six Novices already admitted in the spirit of the Institute of the Society, and that there were many postulants for admission. He concludes with regretting that all hopes of peace had now vanished, in consequence of the imprisonment of Edward Somerset the Earl of Glamorgan a most staunch Catholic, who had been sent to Ireland by King Charles I, with full powers (with private authority independent of the Viceroy) to grant favourable terms to the Catholics. After he had concluded his treaty with the confederated Chiefs of Kilkenny, and had obtained from them a vote of ten thousand troops to be transferred forthwith to England, of which he had been chosen and appointed General; he no sooner had returned to Dublin, than the Viceroy committed him to close custody on the 26th of December last, and thus the whole negotiation and expedition had evaporated, and that now nothing was thought of but war. Before he resigned office into the hands of F. Malone, 23rd of December, 1646, he had been required by the Nuncio Rinnccini, to lend him the greater part of the funds of the Mission : (quatuor aureorum millia). This was vainly reclaimed by subsequent Superiors, and the Missionaries experienced great inconvenience and injury in consequence, as F. Wm. St. Leger’s letter, bearing date 16th of January, 1663, too well demonstrates. The last time that F. Robert Nugent comes across me, is in a letter of the 31st of August, 1650, where he is described as “antiquissimus inter nos”, but still not incapable of labor.

  • I have reason to suspect that the compiler was F Stephen White, of whom more in the sequel.
    *This Edward Somerset, was the eldest son of Henry, first Marquess of Worcester, the staunch Catholic Loyalist, who had suffered the loss of not less than three hundred thousand pounds in supporting the cause of Charles I!! In a letter now before me addressed by Earl Glamorgan to the General of the Jesuits, Vincent Caraffa, and dated from Limerick, 22nd of October, 1646, he expresses “impensissimum studium et amorem ergo, Societatem Jesu” and recommends his dearest Brother to the favourable attentions of his Reverend Paternity (Who was this Brother? John, Thomas, or Charles?) He ends thus : “Nihil magis invotis est, quam ut palam mortalibus omnibus testari mihi liceat quam vere et unice sim, &c. addictus planeque devotus GLAMORGAN”. He died in London on the 3rd of April, 1667.

O'Reilly, Philip Joseph, 1719-1775, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1950
  • Person
  • 19 November 1719-24 January 1775

Born: 19 November 1719, Ardcath, County Meath
Entered: 26 September 1741, Mechelen, Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: 01 May 1750, Louvain, Belgium
Final Vows: 02 February 1766
Died: 24 January 1775, Dublin

Older brother of Myles O’Reilly - RIP 1799

Son of Patrick and Mary (O’Reilly); brother of Myles
Studied Humanities at Ghent
1743-1745 In Pholosophy at Antwerp
1745-1746 Teaching at Dunkirk
1746-1750 In Theology at Louvain
1750 At Amazon River Mission, or the Courou Mission S America, or on the Indian Mission since 1751, or 1757 in Paris Province FRA; or in the FLAN-BEL Province since 1751. “Joseph Philip O’Reilly missioned among the savages of Guiana for 14 years. This last survivor and sole representative of the Company of Jesus among the poor savages was expelled by the French in 1765” (Marshall’s Xtian Missions) Many letters he sent to in Flemish his brother Miles are at Burgundian Library. (loose Hogan note)

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Son of Patrick and Mary née O’Reilly. Older brother of Miles.
Studied Humanities under the Dominicans at Lierre for two years, and then for four under the Jesuits at Ghent.
1741 Received by the FLAN Provincial at Ghent and sent to Mechelen for his Noviceship.
1743-1745 At Antwerp studying Philosophy
1745-1747 Regency at Dunkirk
1747-1751 Studied Theology at Louvain for four years.
1751 Sent to West Indies, began at the Amazon, and then in the Indies went through the severest hardships, which he narrates with much joy in Flemish letters to his brother Miles - these have been edited by Father Morris with a brief sketch of his life.
1765 Sent to the Maryland Mission
1769 Sent to first to Belgium and then Ireland, dying in Dublin 24/01/1775.
1771 Catalogue Sent to Maryland again?
According to Marshall’s “Missions” Vol iii, p 74, “The French in 1763 expelled from Guiana, the venerable Father O’Reilly, the last survivor and sole representative of the Company of Jesus among the savages - with the result that - in 1766 religion was dying out among the whites as well as among the coloured races”
Carayon in his “Guyane Francaise” says Father O’Reilly was expelled in 1765.
His letters are in the Burgundian Library, Brussels MSS 6689, written in Flemish and dated Cayenne, 27 March and 25 September 1751, 19 June 1753 and 10 September 1754.

◆ Fr John MacErlean SJ :
Made Latin studies in Belgium and then Ent at Mechelen in 1741
1750 Having completed Theology at Louvain he left for the Mission of Cayenne in French Guyana, arriving in 1751
1751 At Courou (Kourou), French Guyana labouring among indigenous tribes for almost a dozen years
1763 At the expulsion of Jesuits from French territories, he was the last Jesuit to leave, and is said to have gone to Spanish Missions along the Orinoco
1765 Arrived at the English Maryland Mission
1769 Returned to Ireland worked in Dublin, where he died in 1775

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of Patrick and Maria née O’Reilly. Brother of Myles RIP Antwerp 1799
Early education was in Belgium before Ent 26 September 1741 Mechelen; RIP 24 January 1775 Dublin
1743-1751 After First Vows he was sent to Antwerp and Louvain for studies and was Ordained there 1750.
1751-1763 When his formation was complete he was sent to the French Mission in Cayenne, French Guyana. There he worked with the Indian tribes for twelve years. When Jesuits were expelled from all of France and her territories, he was the last Jesuit to leave. When he left Cayenne, he is said to have gone to the Spanish Missions along the Orinoco, and from there to the ANG Mission in Maryland. The rest of his missionary life up to the Suppression is unclear. It would appear that he returned to Ireland after the Suppression and died in Dublin a year later 24 January 1775.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Philip O’Reilly 1719-1755
Fr Philip O’Reilly was born at Ardcath County Meath in 1719. He went to Belgium for his education where he joined the Society at Mechelen in 1741.

He left for the Mission of Cayenne in French Guyana in 1750, where he laboured for over a dozen years among the Indians at Kourou. On the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1763, he was the last Jesuit to leave his post.

He went for a short time to the Spanish Missions along the Orinoco and thence in 1765 to the English Mission of Maryland,

In 1769 he returned to Ireland and died in Dublin in 1775.

Plunket, Henry, 1599-1650, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1987
  • Person
  • 1599-30 May 1650

Born: 1599, Dublin
Entered: 06 September 1620, Tournai, Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: c 1626, Mons, Belgium
Died: 30 May 1650, Kilkenny Residence, Kilkenny

Mother was Margaret Bagnall, clearly brother of John
Studied 5 years at Douai
1626 Catalogue In Ireland
1637 Catalogue Mediocre in all, able to teach Humanities
1649 Catalogue At Kilkenny (50 after name)

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
1626 or 160 Came to Ireland (HIB CATS 1626, 1637, 1646)
Sent to Belgium by Robert Nugent, Irish Mission Superior, as Agent accompanied by his brother Colonel Plunkett, to represent the persecution of the Catholic religion and the impoverished state of the country.
During the Interdict he was Superior of Kilkenny Residence and living there in 1649. Described as an energetic man and a Writer. (Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS)
He was an exile or already dead on 1650 (Hogan’s List)

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of Christopher and Margaret née Bagnall and brother of John
Had made early education under the Jesuits at Douai
After First Vows he returned to Douai for Philosophy and then to Mons, Belgium for Theology and where he was Ordained 1626. He was Ordained without having completed his studies and for reasons of health was sent to Ireland
1626 Sent to Ireland and Dublin where he taught Humanities at Back Lane
1629-1630 Sent to Rome with Robert Bathe and was admitted to the Roman College to complete his Theology.
1630-1642 Sent back to Ireland and Dublin until the surrender of Dublin to the Parliamentarians
1642-1647 He was back in Europe, sent by Robert Nugent at the request of the Supreme Council, to treat with Irishmen abroad and the Catholic princes on the matter of help for the Catholic cause in Ireland. For safety's sake he brought with him only the headings of the report on the condition of the country and was entrusted with the task of supplying the details himself. His mission brought him to Paris, Brussels and Rome, where the General awaited his report on the Jesuit Mission in Ireland.
1647 Sent back to Ireland and appointed Rector of Kilkenny Residence. He did not observe the interdict imposed by the Nuncio and identified himself with the small group of Irish Jesuits of Ormondist leanings. The General wrote to him expressing his grief at the divisions among Irish Catholics and that the Jesuits at Kilkenny had failed to observe the interdict, unlike the other religious orders in that city. Mercure Verdier in a letter of 17 May 1649 to the General mentioned Plunket’s imprudence in having invited Peter Walsh to preach the panegyric of St Ignatius at the Jesuit Oratory. He was removed from Office some time after the General received Verdier’s letter, but was certainly at work in the Spring of 1649.
Still alive 24/06/1949, but nothing further on him

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
PLUNKET, HENRY, (or as his letters spell the name Plunquet) was born towards the close of the sixteenth century He was sent by his superior of the Irish Mission, F. Robert Nugent , at the desire of the confederated Chiefs, to Belgium and Rome, to represent the persecution of the Catholic Religion, and the impoverished state of the country. During the Interdict he was Superior of his Brethren at Kilkenny, and was actually living there in the summer of 1649.

Stanihurst, Peter, 1599-1627, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/2149
  • Person
  • 01 November 1599-27 May 1627

Born: 01 November 1599, Brussels, Belgium
Entered: 18 September 1616, Mechelen, Belgium - Flanders Province (FLAN)
Ordained; 15 March 1625, Antwerp, Belgium
Died: 27 May 1627, San Sebastian, Spain - Flanders Province (FLAN)

Brother of William - RIP 1663

Son or Richard and Ellen Copley (Richard - -RIP Brussels 1618 - studied for 6 years after the death of his wife) brother of William
Fellow Novice of Jan Berchmans
1626 A P Stanihurst is in the FLAN-BEL Province
In 1639 he wrote 10 “distichs in Theobald Stapleton’s “Irish Catechism” where he signs P Stanihurstus, Societ. Jesu, Hibernus
An Eloquium on him in “Arch de l’état, Brussels", Carton 1005 I, died 29 June 1627

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Son of Richard and Helen née Copley and cousin of Protestant Bishop Ussher. Brother of William
Studied Humanities at Brussels under the Jesuits before Entry.
Fellow Novice of Jan Berchmans
Irish Mission Superior asked the General to send hoim or his brother William to teach at the irish College Compostella
Death date RIP 27 May 1627 Spain (before FV - Carton 1005 I. Archives de l’État, Brussels; Hogan’s Irish List; Mechelen Album)

Note regarding Peter and William Stanihurst taken from the leaves of Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS by Fr Morris SJ :
1644 Stanihurst : since about the year 1630, a good Father of the Society that lived in this town (Louvain) preached here on holidays. He was cousin german to the Superioress and her sister; he was named Father Stanihurst, whose mother was their father’s own sister, married to an Irish gentleman of good worth in his own country (St Monica’s Chronicle p 497) The Superioress, elected 25/02/1637, was Sister Mary Copley (St Monica’s Chronicle p 497). She and her sister Helen were daughters of William Copley of Gatton, Surrey, and heir of Lord Thomas Copley, Baron of Wells (ibid p120), that is Sir Thomas Copley who claimed the Barony of Wells. Richard Stanihurst, the father of Peter and William, became Chaplain to their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess Albert and Isabella, after the death of his wife Helen Copley (ita P Waldack). Of James Stanihurst, the father of Richard, Father Edmund Campion says in the preface to his “History of Ireland” : “Notwithstanding, simple and naked as it is, it could never have growen to any proportion in such post haste, except I had enterd into such familiar societie and daylie table talke with the worshipful esquire, James Stanihurst, Recorder of Dublin, who beside all courtesie and hospitality, and a thousand loving turnes not heere to be recited, both by word and written monuments, and y the benefit of his own library, nourished most effectively mine endeavours. Dublin 1633, reprinted 1809”
Richard Stanihurst was uncle to Ussher and cousin to Henry Fitzsimon. He wrote several works on which we see Sir J Ware’s “Irish Writers”, Webb’s Irish Biography. he became a priest upon his wife’s death, and Chaplain to the Archduke of Austria.
Barnaby Rich, Gent, in his “Description of Ireland” says R Stanihurst was a great alchymist. Father Holiwood often wrote to the General to have Peter and William sent to Ireland (Hogan)

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of Richard and Helen née Copley. Brother of William. His Grandfather James was sometime Recorder of Dublin.
Contemporary in Noviceship of Jan Berchmans
1618-1623 After First Vows he was sent first to Antwerp and then to Bruges for studies. The he was sent on a year of Regency at Bergues Saint Winoc. Although born in Belgium, he was considered eligible for the Irish Mission, and in fact the Irish Mission Superior had hoped that he might do a Regency at the Irish College Santiago.
1623-1625 He was then sent back to Antwerp for Theology and he was Ordained there 1625
1625 He was then appointed a Naval Chaplain and so was living at Dunkirk. During the year 1626/27, when his ship put in at San Sebastian, he set out for Madrid. It is known that he preached to the sailors in Holy Week (Easter Sunday was on 4 April 1627, and that he died shortly after.

Stanihurst, William, 1601-1663, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/2150
  • Person
  • 15 June 1601-10 January 1663

Born: 15 June 1601, Brussels, Belgium
Entered: 25 September 1617, Mechelen, Belgium - Flanders Province (FLAN)
Ordained: 30 March 1630, Mechelen, Belgium
Final Vows: 11 June 1634
Died: 10 January 1663, Brussels, Belgium - Flanders Province (FLAN)

Brother of Peter - RIP 1627

Son or Richard and Ellen Copley (Richard - -RIP Brussels 1618 - studied for 6 years after the death of his wife) brother of Peter
Fellow Novice of Jan Berchmans
1646 Catalogue Taught Humanities. Minister of Philosophers. Preacher in Flemish and English; Prefect of Sodality
Name is in 1619 and 1626 HIB Catalogue

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Son of Richard and Helen née Copley and cousin of Protestant Bishop Ussher. Brother of Peter - RIP 1627
Studied Humanities at Brussels under the Jesuits before Ent.
Fellow Novice of Jan Berchmans
Writer; Preacher; Man of great piety
He resided mostly at Brussels, and for twenty-five years was a zealous preacher in the English and Flemish languages. Full of modesty, charity and tender piety, he was the delight of his brethren, and the grace and ornament of religion. (Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS; Hogan’s Irish list; de Backer “Biblioth. des Écrivains SJ”)
He wrote seven or eight books, which went through many editions, and one translated into French, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, German, Polish and Hungarian.
1626 HIB Catalogue named

Note regarding Peter and William Stanihurst taken from the leaves of Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS by Fr Morris SJ :
1644 Stanihurst : since about the year 1630, a good Father of the Society that lived in this town (Louvain) preached here on holidays. He was cousin german to the Superioress and her sister; he was named Father Stanihurst, whose mother was their father’s own sister, married to an Irish gentleman of good worth in his own country (St Monica’s Chronicle p 497) The Superioress, elected 25/02/1637, was Sister Mary Copley (St Monica’s Chronicle p 497). She and her sister Helen were daughters of William Copley of Gatton, Surrey, and heir of Lord Thomas Copley, Baron of Wells (ibid p120), that is Sir Thomas Copley who claimed the Barony of Wells. Richard Stanihurst, the father of Peter and William, became Chaplain to their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess Albert and Isabella, after the death of his wife Helen Copley (ita P Waldack). Of James Stanihurst, the father of Richard, Father Edmund Campion says in the preface to his “History of Ireland” : “Notwithstanding, simple and naked as it is, it could never have growen to any proportion in such post haste, except I had enterd into such familiar societie and daylie table talke with the worshipful esquire, James Stanihurst, Recorder of Dublin, who beside all courtesie and hospitality, and a thousand loving turnes not heere to be recited, both by word and written monuments, and y the benefit of his own library, nourished most effectively mine endeavours. Dublin 1633, reprinted 1809”
Richard Stanihurst was uncle to Ussher and cousin to Henry Fitzsimon. He wrote several works on which we see Sir J Ware’s “Irish Writers”, Webb’s Irish Biography. he became a priest upon his wife’s death, and Chaplain to the Archduke of Austria.
Barnaby Rich, Gent, in his “Description of Ireland” says R Stanihurst was a great alchymist. Father Holiwood often wrote to the General to have Peter and William sent to Ireland (Hogan)

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of Richard and Helen née Copley. Brother of Peter. His Grandfather James was sometime Recorder of Dublin.
1619-1626 After First Vows he was sent for Philosophy first to Antwerp and then Louvain. He was then sent for four years Regency to Oudenaarde and Courtrai (Kortrijk).
1626-1630 He was then sent to Louvain for Theology and was ordained at Mechelen 30 March 1630
1631-1632 Made Tertianship at Lier.
Over the next fifteen years the Superior of the Irish Mission made strenuous efforts to have William transcribed to Ireland. The Belgian Superiors said he didn’t know any Irish, and so this was used as a reason not to send him.
1632-1650 He was sent as Operarius to Louvain where he gained some reputation as a Director of a Sodality for jurists.
1650-1662 Sent to work at the Church in Antwerp, and was Spiritual Father to the Irish Seminarians there (1654-1662)
He died at Brussels 10 January 1663
Like his brother, he was a contemporary at Mechelen with Jan Berchmans and during the diocesan process of enquiry into the virtues of Jan, he was was summoned to give evidence before the Episcopal Tribunal.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father William Stanihurst SJ 1601-1663
In Brussels in the year 1601 was born William Stanihurst, of Irish parentage. Together with his brother Peter, he entered the noviceship at Mechlin, where they wewre fellow novices of St John Berchmans.

As a priest, Fr William resided chiefly at Brussels, where for twenty five years he was a renowned and zealous preacher, both in Flemish and English.

In 1630 he was transferred to Louvain, where for nearly thirty years he had charge of the famous Sodality of Our Lady. He was a writer as well as a preacher, one of his works being translated into seven different European languages.

He was a man of great piety, modesty and charity, and was spoken of as “the delight of his brethren and the ornament of religion”.

His father was Richard Stanihurst the uncle of James Usher, and cousin of Fr Henry Fitzsimon, kinsman of the martyr Jesuit poet, Robert Southwell, and friend of Blessed Edmund Campion.

When the plague broke out in Louvain, Fr William devoted himself to the care of the sick and was struck down by the pestilence. As he lay at the point of death, he made a vow to St Ignatius and immediately recovered. He was sent to Brussels where he died soon after on 10th January 1662.

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
STANIHURST, WILLIAM, of Irish parents, but was actually born at Brussels. There he chiefly resided, and for 25 years was a zealous preacher in the English and Dutch languages. Full of modesty, charity, and tender piety, he was the delight of his Brethren, and the grace and ornament of Religion. He died on the 10th of January, 1663, aet. 61. Soc. 40. He has left as monuments of his piety and industry,

  1. “Album Marianum”. Folio, Louvain, 1641.
  2. “Regio Mortis”. 8vo. Antwerp, 1652.
  3. “Thesaurus Moralis Francisci Labatae, noris commentationibus auctus”. Folio, Antwerp, 1652.
  4. “De infernorum Ergastulo.” Antwerp, 1655
  5. “Dei immortalis in mortali corpore Patientis Historia” 8vo. Antwerp, 1660, pp. 408.
  6. “Quotidiana Christiani hominis Tessera”. 4to. Antwerp, 1661.
  7. “Veteris hominis per expensa Quatuor Novissima Metamorphosis”. 8vo. Antwerp, 1661.
    F. Archdeacon (who must well have known the pious author) mentions two other works; but which perhaps were only ready for the press : “Thesaurus Concionum” and “de Passionc Domini”.

Talbot, Walter, 1562-1599, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/2175
  • Person
  • 30 June 1562-02 August 1599

Born: 30 June 1562, Malahide, County Dublin
Entered; 10 May 1595, Tournai, Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: 04 June 1594, Pont-à-Mousson, France - pre Entry
Died: 02 August 1599, Cassel, Flanders, France - Belgicae Province (BELG)

Studied Humanities at Dublin and Pont-à-Mousson, and studied Philosophy and Doctor of Arts (Docteur in ès Arts) at Louvain
1597 Was MA Age 34 (Docteur in ès Arts)
1599 Died in Belgian Camp at Bois-le-Duc ('s-Hertogenbosch) on 02 August 1599 or at Cassel on 04 August 1599

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronolgica” :
Son of William, a nobleman and Maria Birmingham.
Studied Grammar for some years in Ireland, then a year of Humanities, one of Rhetoric and three of Philosophy at Pont-à-Mousson, graduating MA 1590 there, and Ordained 04 June 1594, having studied four years at Louvain, where he took scholastic lectures. he was received into the Society by BELG Provincial George Duras.
He was a military Chaplain “Preacher and Ghostly Father” to the Irish soldiers of Sir William Stanley, and died from the effects of hard work.
Very devout to Our Blessed Lady of Montaigu (Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel) at Scherpenheuvel-Zichem, and his sick soldiers going in procession to that shrine were often cured.
Henry Fitzsimon, in a letter from Ireland 07 September 1599, begs for reinforcement of missioners, and particularly names Walter Talbot in first place. (Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS)
“Miracles lately wrought by the intercession of Our Blessed Lady of Montaigu near Sichem in Brabant” trans to English by Fr Robert Chambers, Confessor of the English Religious Dames in Brussels, printed at Brussels 1606 (a copy is at St Beuno’s)
“The Curate and Eschevins of Sichem, affirm assuredly, that in the year 1598, at what time the Irish of the Regiment of Sir William Stanley, Colonel, were lodged there, were wont to use no pther physic or remedy for their diseases, but to make their prayers at the foresaid place of Montague, amongst whom very many were healed in such sort, that Father Walter Talbot, an Irish Priest, one of the Society of Jesus (who at that time was their Preacher and Ghostly Father) was wont oftentimes to say with great admiration, that the place was in a very singular manner chosen by God to advance there his Mother’s honour, for which cause he was moved to go thither, sometimes devoutly in procession, accompanied by the sayd irish, and the townsmen of Sichem, whereof he wrote to Father Thomas Salines, who was the Superior of the Fathers of the Society, which attended upon the Catholic King’s army in the Low Countries.” (Foley’s Collectanea)

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of Lord William Talbot Malahide and Mary née Bermingham ( daughter of Peter, Chief Justice of Ireland)
Early education was in Ireland and then a classical education was made at Pont-à-Mousson with the Jesuits, later graduating MA after Philosophy studies there. he went on to study Theology there also and was Ordained there 04 June 1594 before a year later Ent 10 May 1595 Tournai
After First Vows he was sent as a Military Chaplain to Brussels. He had been approved for the Irish mission but died 2 August, 1599, at the military camp in Flanders where he was stationed 02 August 1599
At the time of his early death he was “preacher and ghostly father” to Colonel Sir William Stanley's Irish troops. During his brief period as chaplain he promoted amongst the Irish soldiers devotion to Our Lady at her shrine of Montaigu near Scherpenheuvel-Zichem (Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel)
Before his death he had been requested by Henry Fitzsimon, Irish Mission Superior, and approved to go to Ireland, but he died before that could happen.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Walter Talbot 1562-1599
Walter Talbot, the fourth son of William Talbot of Malahide, a family which was to give many sons to the Society, including the famous Peter Talbot, afterwards Archbishop of Dublin.

Walter was born on June 30th 1562 and received his higher education on the continent. Having taken his Master’s degree, he was ordained by special indult of Cardinal Allen in 1592. He became a Jesuit at Tournai in 1595, the same year as that of Dominic Collins.

He was appointed Chaplain to the Spanish Army in Flanders. There he laboured not only with Irish troops, but also those of other nations. His influence with the soldiers was supreme, and many heretics were reconciled to the Church by his efforts. He attributed his influence to his own great devotion to Our Lady of Montaigu, a famous shrine near the town of Sichem in the Brabant. He was accustomed to perform penitential pilgrimages to the shrine accompanied by the soldiers and the townsfolk of Sichem. Regardless of his health, he spent two days hearing confessions in the rain. He neglected to change his clothes and died of a fever on August 13th 1599 at Cassel, having been 4 years in the Society.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 52 : Easter 1988

Portrait from the Past : Walter Talbot : 1562-1599

Edmund Hogan

When next you visit Malahide Castle in County Dublin, spare a thought for the Talbot family who lived there for so many centuries. Eight of the Malahide Talbots became Jesuits. Here are a few notes on the least famous of them.

When Walter Talbot entered the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Tournay in 1595, he wrote down this account of himself: “I, Walter Talbot, was born at Dublin on June 30, 1562, my father was William Talbot, Esquire, who is still alive; my mother was Mary Bermingham, who is deceased in the Lord. I have studied Grammar in Ireland. In the school of the Society at Pont-à Mousson I have studied Humanities for one year, Rhetoric for one year, Philosophy for three years, and I took the degrees of Master and Doctor in the month of August. 1590. I have received tonsure and minor orders from the Bishop of Metz, and the Orders of subdeacon and deacon from John de Stryan, Bishop of Middleburg, in virtue of an Apostolic Indult granted to Cardinal Allen. I have studied Theology during four years and a half at Louvain, where I attended lectures in the College of the Society. I enter the House of Probation at Tournay, this day. May 10, 1595”... (Liber Novitiorum Tornac, S.J.)

Sir Bernard Burke's Peerage enables us to identify Walter Talbot as the fourth son of William Talbot of Malahide, who married Mary daughter of Peter Bermingham, Lord Chief-Justice of Ireland, and who possessed the lordships of Malahide, Garristown, Louth, Ashe, and Castlering with the courts and royalties attached thereto, together with estates in the counties of Waterford and Kilkenny. Walter was the first of eight members of this family who entered the Society, amongst whom his father's three grand-nephews, John, Peter and Gilbert, all Jesuits, were brothers of the Duke of Tirconnell.

In 1597, Walter became chaplain to an Irish regiment, which was in the service of the King of Spain and was stationed in Belguim of his missionary labours the Brussels Annual Letters relate:

There are Irish soldiers in the camp, and some English mixed with soldiers of various nationalities. In the year 1597, more than twenty of them were brought to the true foild, and very many have ben aggregated to the Sodality of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The musketeers marched in military array, and, to the wonder and admiration of many spectators, laid their banners at the feet of their chaplain to show their great reverence for his person and functions. Most of these soldiers abstained even from white-breads during Lent; many ate nothing but black-bread on Wednesdays and Fridays; they went barefoot to visit holy places, and in a spirit of austerity inflicted such corporal punishment on themselves as to fill with horror those who beheld their works of penance.

Albert Dürer had seen Irish soldiers in the Low Countries, and he drew a sketch of five of them which is preserved at Vienna. They are fine, powerfully-built and formidable-looking fellows, armed with the long sword and the galloglass axe, clad in a mantle of Irish rug. and wearing the Irish glib and moustache which it was forbidden to wear at home under pain of forfeiture, not only of the moustache and glib, but even of the head. The great artist wrote over his drawing, “Here go the war-men of Ireland”.

Here went, then, the war-men of Ireland who knew how to fight, not only against the enemies of the Spanish King, but also learned under the lead of Father Talbot how to wage war on the devil, the world, and the flesh. Their penitential works remind us of the words of Blessed Edmund Campion:

The Irish, when virtuously bred up or reformed, are such mirrors of holiness and austerity, that all other nations retain but a show or shadow of devotion in comparison to
them; as for abstinence or fasting, which these days make so dangerous, this is to them a familiar kind of chastisement. (History of Ireland, Ed. 1809, p.19. )

In 1598, Father Talbot was stationed with the Irish at Sichem, as we learn from a book entitled, Miracles lately wrought by the intercession of the Glorious Virgin Marie at Montaigu, near unto Sichem in Brabant. A copy of this tract is in St Beuno's College Library, St Asaph. At page 35 we read:

The Curate and Eschevins of Sichem affirm assuredly that in the year 1598, at what time the Irish of the regiment of Sir William Stanley, Colonel, were lodged there, were wont to use no other physic or remedy for their diseases, but to make their prayers at the foresaid place of Montaigu, amongst whom very many were healed in such sort that Father Walter Talbot, an Irish priest, one of the Society of Jesus (who at that time was their preacher and ghostly Father), was wont oftentimes to say with great admiration, that the place was in a very singular manner chosen by God to advance there His Mother's honour, for which cause he was moved to go thither, sometimes devoutly in procession, accompanied by the sayd Irish, and the townsmen of Sichem, whereof he wrote to Father Thomas Salines, who was the Superior of the Fathers of the Society, which attended upon the Catholic King's army in the Low Countries. (H. Foley's Collectanea, SJ, article “Talbot, Walter”)

The Annual Letters of Louvain of 1602 supply some further details relating to the piety of these irish soldiers who were in winter-quarters at Sichem:

Father Walter Talbot, one of our military chaplains, had often experienced a peculiar feeling of consolation while praying at the shrine of Our Lady of Montaigu. He was consequently moved to send his soldiers thither often, and especially the sick; and he had the comfort of seeing them come back perfectly cured after a pilgrimage to that holy chapel, which is situated on a rugged hill at a distance of one or two miles. Filled with reverence at the sanctity of the spot, he informed the inhabitants of the neighbourhood of the facts he had witnessed, and told them that it was evidently a place chosen for manifesting devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and that it would become the most celebrated resort of all Belgium. His words, which were looked on by the peasants as an oracle, were verified, as an immense number of miracles were performed there, many of which we have witnessed with our own eyes.

All these manifestations of piety must have filled the hearts of Father Talbot and his soldiers with gratitude and consolation; but they also brought on him an overwhelming amount of labour under which he soon succumbed. The Annual Letters of Belgium tell us that

among the camp missioners of Belgium three Jesuits went to the glory of Heaven in the year 1599. The first was Father Walter Talbot, an Irishman, who was thirty-eight years old, and had been four years in the Society. In the camp he reconciled to the Church many men, chiefly of his own nation; many also were those of other countries, whom he brought back to the paths of salvation. He gave high hopes of success in this kind of apostolic work, and he was resolved to persevere in it as long as he had life. But, regardless of his health, he spent two days hearing the confessions of the soldiers, while he was drenched with wet; he thus contracted a violent fever, of which he died at Cassel on August 4, 1599.

There were no railways, no steamers in those days, and English ships were on the sea to intercept all correspondence between the Continent and Ireland; and so the news of his death did not reach Dublin for a month, or perhaps months, after its occurrence. His fellow-citizen and brother Jesuit, Henry FitzSimon, wrote to Father General a month afterwards: :I beg of your Paternity to give us some labourers for this vineyard, and I think Father Walter Talbot should be sent to me at once, if it be pleasing to your Paternity”. Father FitzSimon, who had been acquainted with him at Dublin and in Belgium, knew something of his virtue, learning, tact, ardent Zeal, and other qualities, which eminently fitted him for the difficult and dangerous mission of Ireland; and he was most anxious to secure his services for his afflicted countrymen at home. But God willed otherwise, and took him to receive the reward of his labours. It is not unlikely that Father FitzSimon was reminded of him by the fact that the day before he wrote his letter, Walter's brother, John, was knighted on the field of battle by the Lord Deputy for distinguished service against the Irish at a time when, as FitzSimon writes, the Irish were everywhere triumphant, and the splendid English army of the Earl of Essex had been almost annihilated.