Type of entity
Authorized form of name
Cahill, Edward, 1868-1941, Jesuit priest
Parallel form(s) of name
Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules
Other form(s) of name
Identifiers for corporate bodies
Dates of existence
19 February 1868-16 July 1941
Born: 19 February 1868, Callow, Ballingrane, County Limerick
Entered: 08 June 1891, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 1897, St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin
Final vows: 15 August 1905
Died: 16 July 1941, Milltown Park, Dublin
by 1904 at Drongen Belgium (BELG) making Tertianship
◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
by C. J. Woods
Cahill, Edward (1868–1941), Jesuit, was born at Callow, Ballingrane, Co. Limerick, on 19 February 1868, son of Patrick Cahill, a farmer, and his wife, Lucy (née Culhane). One of a family of eight (he had three half-brothers, a half-sister, two full brothers, and a full sister), he was educated locally at the Jesuit-run Mungret College and then at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, from where, on completing three years of theological studies, he joined the Society of Jesus (10 November 1890). He was ordained priest in 1897 at the Jesuit church in Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin. From then until 1923 he was back at Mungret as master, prefect of studies, and rector, and finally as superior of the apostolic school attached to the secondary school. As rector he ‘had the opportunity to implement his ideas for the cultural and intellectual development of Irish youth along national lines’ (obituary, Ir. Independent). While at Mungret he wrote his first pamphlet, Rural secondary schools (1919).
In 1924 Cahill moved to the Jesuit house of studies at Milltown Park, Dublin, to become professor of church history and lecturer in sociology, and eventually (1935) spiritual director. There his influence grew as he contributed articles to the Irish Ecclesiastical Record (the catholic bishops’ monthly), the Jesuit-published Irish Monthly, and the popular Irish Messenger. He wrote a five-act play, The abbot of Mungret (1925), and two full-length books, Freemasonry and the anti-Christian movement (1929; 2nd ed., 1930) and The framework of a Christian state: an introduction to social science (1932). Several articles were republished as pamphlets: Ireland's peril (1930), The catholic social movement (1931), Capitalism and its alternatives (1936), Ireland as a catholic nation (1938), and Freemasonry (1944). The titles of these works are highly indicative of Cahill's interests and opinions. In October 1926 he and other Jesuits formed, for the purpose of establishing ‘the social reign of Christ in modern society’, a body they called the League of the Kingship of Christ (also known by the Irish form of its name, An Rioghacht). Cahill's pamphlet Ireland and the kingship of Christ (1928) is an apologia for that body.
In 1936, with Bulmer Hobson (qv) and Mrs Berthon Waters, Cahill formed a group to create public interest in banking, currency, and credit in accordance with his own views at a time when a government commission was inquiring into that subject. The group influenced a rural member of the commission, Peter O'Loghlen, whose minority report (which accused civil servants at the Department of Finance of being ‘hypnotised by British prestige and precedent’) it practically drafted. In September of the same year Cahill sent Éamon de Valera (qv), with whom he was very friendly, a submission outlining catholic principles on which he believed the new constitution being drawn up by the head of government ought to be based. Although a committee of five Jesuits (Cahill included) was set up by the Jesuit provincial to consider the constitution, Cahill presented a memorandum of his own to de Valera and wrote him three letters advocating a much stronger catholic ethos. It is argued that Cahill ‘may have been indirectly influential’ in the wording of article 44 referring to religion (Keogh). His initiatives were regarded with disquiet by his confrères.
A firm believer in farming as a vocation, Edward Cahill was associated with Muintir na Tíre, seeing it as the practice of the ‘corporatism’ recommended in the papal encyclical Quadragesimo anno (1931). He was also an enthusiast for the Irish language. He died 16 July 1941 at Milltown and was buried, with de Valera among his mourners, at Glasnevin cemetery.
Ir. Independent, 17 July 1941; bibliography, Irish Province News (Oct. 1941); Bulmer Hobson, Ireland yesterday and tomorrow (1968), 171; Ronan Fanning, The Irish Department of Finance (1978); Dermot Keogh, The Vatican, the bishops and Irish politics, 1919–39 (1986), 208–9, 275–6; Seán Faughnan, ‘The Jesuits and the drafting of the Irish constitution of 1937’, IHS, xxvi (1988–9), 79–102; Dermot Keogh, ‘The Jesuits and the 1937 constitution’, Studies, lxxviii (1989), 82–95; Louis McRedmond, To the greater glory: a history of the Irish Jesuits (1991), 282–4; information from the Rev. Stephen Redmond; Dermot Keogh & Andrew J. McCarthy, The making of the Irish Constitution 1937 (2006)
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 2nd Year No 2 1927
Fr. Cahill is spiritual director of the An Rioghacht, a Catholic Citizens' League. lt was inaugurated on October 31st, 1926, Feast of Christ the King. This League, which owes its foundation to the devoted interest in social work of Fr. Cahill, will, it is hoped, do for Ireland what the Volksverein has done for Catholic Germany.
Irish Province News 16th Year No 4 1941
Father Edward Cahill
Fr. Edward Cahill died on July 16th, 1941, after a long and trying illness borne with exemplary patience. He was 73 years of age and had just completed fifty years in the Society.
He was born at Callow, Ballincrane, Co Limerick, In February 1868. He received his secondary education at Mungret, and three years of theological training at Maynooth. Like Fr Matthew Russell, he was in Major Orders though not yet a, priest, when he entered the Society on June 8th, 1891. His Ordination to the priesthood took place six years letter at Gardiner Street. The years of his priestly life were spent mainly a Mungret and Milltown Park. with brief periods at Galway and Clongowes. At Mungret, his “alma mater”, he was in succession, Master, Rector and Superior of the Apostolic School. After one year, as Spiritual Father in Clongowes. he went to Milltown Park in 1924. as Professor of Church History, Lecturer in Sociology, and, later, Spiritual Father. He was stationed at Milltown Park up to the time of his last illness.
One of Fr. Cahill's older pupils at Mungret has borne enthusiastic testimony to his skill as a teacher and to the esteem in which he was held by the boys. As Rector he had the opportunity to implement his ideas for the cultural and intellectual development of Irish youth along national lines. To promote amongst the boys a realisation of their social duties and responsibilities, he founded an Academy in the School for the study of social problems. This Academy foreshadowed the study-circles of “An Rioghacht”. As Superior of the Apostolic School, Fr. Cahill devoted himself wholeheartedly to the intellectual and religious training of large numbers of young men who were later to do credit to Mungret as missionary priests in America, South Africa and Australasia. Mungret had no more loyal son than Fr Cahill - the College and its pupils, past and present were ever the objects of his affectionate interest.
From 1924 onwards Fr. Cahill lectured at Milltown Park, Church History to the Theologians and Sociology to the Philosophers. In the latter subject he was most at home. His enthusiastic interest in social problems communicated itself to his students, though they might on occasion, smile at his homely illustrations or novel remedies for very complex economic ills. After Fr. Fegan's death Fr. Cahill became Spiritual Father at Milltown. His domestic exhortations were remarkable for their solid piety and constant emphasis on the essentials of Jesuit spirituality, rather than for eloquence or entertainment value. But it is as a, wise, kindly and sympathetic friend and father to whom the members of his community could turn in trouble or perplexity, sure of the needed encouragement or advice, that he will be remembered by many generations of Miltown scholastics.
Fr Cahill's chief work amongst externs was that of a teacher of Catholic social principles by voice, pen and personal contact. In October, 1926, on the occasion of the first celebration of the Feast of Christ the King, he founded : “An Rioghacht”, the League of the Kingship of Christ. He was acutely conscious of the need for combatting the modern anti-Christian movement which seeks by all means to discredit Christianity and to substitute a. purely secular ideal of life for the Christian ideal. He held that Ireland was by no means immune
from the influence of this movement, nay rather that the Irish Catholic Nation, for historical reasons was in some ways more exposed to un-Catholic and un-Christian influences than any other Catholic people in Christiandom. He sought a remedy in the teaching of recent Popes Leo XIII and his successors, especially Pius XI had repeatedly insisted on a sound and widespread knowledge of Catholic social principles, and on lay organisation as the pressing needs of the hour. Hence the objects which “An Rioghacht”, under the aegis of Fr Cahill, has pursued quietly but with considerable success for the past fifteen years. Serious social study, freely undertaken is something which appeals to a very limited number of lay people. Still the study-circles of “An Rioghacht” have been well attended, and several of those who learned Social Science under its auspices, now occupy public positions in the State. The study-circles of the C.Y.M.S. in some cases carry on the good work commenced by “An Rioghacht.” Besides these study-circles, “An Rioghacht”, under Fr.CahilI's guidance, organised public meetings three or four times a year, published pamphlets on current topics and even attemtbed to produce a weekly paper to further its ideals.
Fr. Cahill's output of written work is a monument to his unobtrusive. but tireless, labour during the years when he was professor and Spiritual Father at Milltown Park. When we glance over the Table of Contents of the “Irish Ecclesiastical Record” from 1923-1930, and again from 1925 to 1940, and remember his “Notes on Sociology” which appeared constantly in the “Irish Monthly” from 1923 to 1929, and add to these the number of his books and pamphlets (a list of which we append) we are amazed at the amount of quiet work which must have been on behind his closed door on the Retreat House corridor.
His achievements show Fr Cahill to have been a man of more than ordinary mental ability, but, perhaps it was his qualities of character which most influenced people, rather than his intellectual gifts. To great gentleness, sympathy and kindness, he joined an amazing fund of quiet courage and determination. If he thought that any enterprise were for the glory of God and honour of Ireland, and that he had the slightest chance of carrying it out, he would undertake it with a light heart despite all difficulties. He was exceedingly loyal to his friends and his principles. He had a charming affability, even towards strangers which won him many friends, and his utter sincerity was enhanced by that touch of simplicity, which sometimes characterises very earnest people.
Father Cahill’s social ideals were those of the Papal Encyclicals which he had studied thoroughly. They may be summed up in the quotation from Pius XI, which appears on the title page of “Framework of the Christian State” : “When once men recognise, both in private and public life, tat Christ is King, , society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.” May he rest in peace.
The following is a list of Fr Cahill’s writings (besides magazine articles) :
The Abbot of Mungret - a play in 4 acts (1925)
Free-masonry and the Anti-Christian Movement - 1929 )1930 second edition)
The Framework of the Christian State (1932) - reprinted Pamphlets
The Truth about Freemasonry (Australian C.T.S.)
The Catholic Social Movement (Irish Messenger Office)
Rural Secondary Schools (Irish Messenger Office)
Ireland and the Kingship of Christ (Irish Messenger Office)
The Oldest Nation in Europe (Irish Messenger Office)
Ireland as a Catholic Nation (Irish Messenger Office)
Ireland’s Peril (Messers. Gill)
Capitalism and its Alternatives I.C.T.S.)
There is a note in the Province News of December, 1929, which apropos of Fr. Cahill's book on Freemasonry recently published, quotes from a review in the “Irish Catholic” as follows :
“We consider this book indispensable to every Irish Catholic who would claim an intelligent acquaintance with the bearing of the principles of his religion upon Irish public life. It should be found in every library, public and private. The wide dissemination of the knowledge it contains must needs have a salutary effect on the whole public life of the country.”
This book gave rise to controversy in the public press, but Fr. Cahill maintained his position successfully and his book had a wide circulation. His other book, '”The Framework
of a Christian State”, in which he established in orderly form the principles of Catholic Social Science has proved to be of the highest utility and has supplied later Catholic writers with the fundamental arguments of this science.
It is as Superior of the Apostolic School that the name of Fr Cahill will be best remembered and most revered. For twelve years he devoted himself whole-heartedly to the mental and moral formation of the young levites entrusted to his care. No detail was too insignificant, no task too onerous when it was a question of a better formation or a closer approach to the Ideal. He kept ever before the students' minds the lesson of Our Lord’s life and his constant exhortation was “to spend themselves and be spent in His service”. The many priests that he formed will remember with gratitude the sound training in prayer and perseverance and in self-denial - all of which he exemplified in his own laborious and prayerful life. In later years Fr. Cahill was wont to reproach himself for expecting too much from boys and setting too high a standard. This is not without a certain element of truth but the same boys will remember that Fr Cahill himself led the way in all that he asked of others. News of his death will be heard with sorrow in America, South Africa and Australia and many a priest will breathe a fervent Requiescat in Pace for his kind and generous soul.
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Edward Cahill 1868-1942
The outstanding work of Fr Edward Cahill was his foundation of the Catholic Social Study Circle called “An Ríocht”. All his life he was intensely interested in this apostolic endeavour. He was the author of numerous works on Social questions and on Irish National movements. His best known works are “Freemasonry” and “The Framework of the Christian State”.
He was closely associated with Mungret, first as an ecclesiastical student of the Diocesan Seminary, when that institution was under the care of Ours in Mungret. Having entered the Society from Maynooth in 1891, he returned to Mungret to become Director of the Apostolic School for twelve years and Rector of the College for three.
During the last years of his life he was stationed at Milltown Park, as professor of Church History and Spiritual Father. He was most deeply religious. Kind in word, deed and aspect, he never judged even the worst harshly. “Substantially” was his saving word. Of the greatest villain in history, he would say that he was “substantially” good.
He was a true patriot. He loved everything Irish, the people, the language, the very land itself. He had high hopes for the future of Ireland, and helped by his advice the framing of her Constitution. But his great kindness and humility prevented him from hardness or bitterness towards those who did not share his convictions.
He died on July 16th 1941, being aged 73 and 50 years a Jesuit.
Functions, occupations and activities
Mandates/sources of authority
Identifier of related entity
Category of relationship
Type of relationship
Cahill, Edward, 1868-1941, Jesuit priest
Dates of relationship
Description of relationship
Access points area
Subject access points
Place access points
- County Limerick » Ballingrane » Callow
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Sandford Road » Milltown Park
- Belgium » Drongen
- County Offaly (King's) » Ballycowan (Bar.) » Tullabeg » St Stanislaus College
- County Limerick » Mungret » Mungret College SJ, 1882-1974
- County Kildare » Maynooth
- County Kildare » Maynooth » St Patrick's College (Maynooth)
- County Tipperary » Tipperary Town » Carrownreddy » Rosanna Road » Canon Hayes House » Muintir na Tíre
- County Limerick » Mungret » Mungret Apostolic School, 1880-1969
- County Galway » Galway City » Sea Road » Coláiste Iognáid SJ
- County Kildare » Clane » Clongowes Wood College SJ
Authority record identifier