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Barrett, Cyril D, 1925-2003, Jesuit priest, art historian, and philosopher

  • IE IJA J/561
  • Person
  • 09 May 1925-30 December 2003

Born: 09 May 1925, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1942, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1956, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1960, ST Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Died: 30 December 2003, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1962 at St Ignatius, Tottenham London (ANG) studying
by 1963 at Mount Street, London (ANG) studying
by 1964 at Church of the Assumption, Warwick (ANG) studying
by 1973 at Warwick University (ANG) teaching
by 1993 at Campion Hall, Oxford (BRI) teaching

◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
Barrett, (Denis) Cyril
by Patrick Maume

Barrett, (Denis) Cyril (1925–2003), Jesuit priest, art critic and historian, and philosopher, was born Denis Barrett in Dublin on 9 May 1925 (Cyril was his name in religion). He was the son of Denis Barrett, the last assistant commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. His mother died of cancer when he was aged three, and his father subsequently remarried; the two marriages produced four sons and a daughter. Young Denis grew up at the family home in Booterstown, south Co. Dublin; his relationship with his stepmother Evelyn was close and affectionate. The family background was well‐to‐do catholic with some landed gentry elements which might have been described as ‘castle catholic’ but which offered scope for self‐expression, often eccentric; like several of his ancestors, Barrett was noted for charm, eccentricity, and intellectual brilliance.

He was educated at Killashee school in Naas, at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire, and at Clongowes. He joined the Jesuits in 1942, underwent a Thomist training in philosophy at the Jesuit college in Tullabeg, and studied theology at Milltown Park in Dublin. The Jesuits recognised and encouraged his academic vocation, and his career took advantage of the wide latitude allowed to an imaginative Jesuit in pursuance of his vocation. He studied Latin and history at University College Dublin (the latter discipline, as taught by John Marcus O’Sullivan (qv), had a strong philosophical component, and Barrett recalled being introduced to political philosophy by studying Rousseau as being thrown in at the deep end) and graduated with a first class BA in 1947. After a year studying anthropology and the role of myth at the Warburg Institute, Barrett began a peripatetic teaching career, including three years at Clongowes, three years teaching psychology at Tullabeg, and a period at Chantilly (France). He also studied theology at Milltown Park. Barrett was ordained priest in 1956 and took his final Jesuit vows in 1960. He undertook advanced research in philosophy at the University of London, receiving a Ph.D. in 1962 for a dissertation on symbolism in the arts.

In 1965 Barrett was one of two founding members of the philosophy department at the University of Warwick, where he was successively lecturer (1965–7), senior lecturer (1967–72) and reader (1972–92). Shortly after his appointment to Warwick he established his reputation, first by editing a well‐received selection of papers by innovators in the philosophy of art and criticism, Collected papers on aesthetics (1965), then by persuading the notoriously reluctant Wittgenstein estate to allow him to publish a collection of notes by three students of Wittgenstein of the philosopher’s remarks on aesthetics, psychology and religion. Lectures and conversations on aesthetics, psychology and religious belief (1966) offered new perspectives on Wittgenstein’s aesthetic and religious interests, whose extent had barely been realised, and became the basis for an extensive critical literature.

Barrett maintained his involvement with Wittgenstein throughout his career, summing up his views in Wittgenstein on ethics and religious belief (1991). He maintained that the gap between Wittgenstein’s early and late views had been exaggerated; the importance Wittgenstein attached to value remained constant and the Tractatus logico‐philosophus, widely seen as an exercise in positivism, was in inspiration a document of moral inquiry. He did not call himself a Wittgensteinian (he was sceptical of the concept of philosophical discipleship) but was influenced by Wittgenstein in his eclectic preference for addressing disparate problems rather than seeking to build an overarching system, and in his interest in the nature of perception.

The mature Barrett held the Wittgensteinian view that religion could not be stated in propositional terms (i.e. as a set of beliefs) but can only be experienced as a way of life, though Barrett also maintained that this did not entail relativism between such ways; real belief was required. This view would have been seen as heterodox by large numbers of Christians throughout the history of Christianity (including some of Barrett’s contemporaries) but was part of a wider reaction within twentieth‐century catholic theology against what were seen as excessively mechanical and rationalistic forms of neo‐Thomism and of a desire to rediscover the approach of the early church fathers based on the view that reason might illuminate faith from within but could not create it where it did not exist.

Barrett disliked clerical politics and what he saw as the intellectual narrowness and social conservatism of the church hierarchy. He was hostile to the neo‐orthodoxy of Pope John Paul II; his comment in a public venue on the day of the pope’s attempted assassination by Mehmet Ali Agca (13 May 1981), that the greatest fault of ‘that bloody Turk’ had been not shooting straight (Times, 15 Jan. 2004), was occasionally cited by more conservative catholics as symbolic of the perceived deterioration of the Jesuits after the second Vatican council. Barrett’s friends recall, however, that despite his pleasure in flouting what he regarded as petty‐fogging rules and the constraints of his calling, he maintained a deep personal faith in God and was a valued and compassionate confessor and adviser; beneath his questing was an underlying simplicity.

He was a champion of various schools of modern art, particularly Op Art (in 1970 he published one of the first significant books on this form of abstract art, which uses optical illusions to focus the viewer’s attention on the process of perception). He was a regular visitor to eastern Europe where he combined religious activity with encouragement of those artists who were resisting official pressure to conform to Soviet realism; his trips were financed by eastern bloc royalties from his own publications (which could not be transferred into western currencies) and the profits from smuggling out disassembled artworks as ‘agricultural implements’. He also helped to mount several art exhibitions to popularise favoured trends, and established extensive (and hard‐bargained) relationships with London dealers. He played a significant role in building up Warwick University’s art collection, and at various times donated forty works from his own collection (including items by Bridget Riley, Micheal (Michael) Farrell (qv), and Yoko Ono) to the university. Barrett’s fascination with kitsch led him to produce a paper, ‘Are bad works of art “works of art”?’ (Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures, vi (1973), 182–93), inspired by some of the religious art he encountered at Kenilworth Priory, Warwick. (Barrett’s answer was a qualified Yes.)

He did much to popularise modern art in Ireland through his frequent contributions to the Jesuit quarterly review Studies (he was assistant editor for a year in the early 1950s, and throughout his subsequent career wrote and reviewed for the journal on a wide range of topics) and other journals such as The Furrow and Irish Arts Yearbook. He produced a widely respected catalogue of nineteenth‐century Irish art (Irish art in the 19th century (1971)), and with Jeanne Sheehy (qv) contributed two chapters on the visual arts and Irish society to A new history of Ireland. VI. Ireland under the union, II. 1870–1921 (Oxford 1996) and an account of twentieth‐century art to A new history of Ireland. VII. 1921–84 (Oxford 2004). He also published monographs on the artists Micheal (Michael) Farrell and Carmel Mooney.

Although his flair for teaching and disputation was celebrated on campus, Barrett, like many old‐style academics, lacked administrative aptitude and in his later years at Warwick he was irritated by the increasing bureaucratisation and quantification of higher education. In 1992 he retired from Warwick to Campion Hall, the Jesuit college at Oxford, where he organised an exhibition of its art holdings, used the Latin‐language procedure in applying for a Bodleian reader’s ticket, and was a frequent visitor to the rival Dominican hall, Blackfriars. At Campion Hall he continued to work as a tutor, though he maintained that leisure (expansively defined as ‘life lived to its fullest’) was the proper end of human life and the proper state of mankind; he devoted as much time to it as possible.

He was a world traveller (wont to describe some of the ricketier charter planes he encountered as ‘Holy Ghost Airlines’), a gourmet cook who loved to entertain guests, a convivial drinker, and fond of betting on horseraces; he regularly attended the Merriman summer school in Co. Clare with his friend the broadcaster Seán Mac Réamoinn (1921–2007). He was a voluble critic of the provisional IRA. At the time of his death he was working on an analysis of the morality of war (he was always critical of the view that a just cause justified any means), a philosophical autobiography My struggles with philosophy, and a revision of the Spiritual exercises of St Ignatius Loyola. He also wrote poetry inspired by his reactions to the cancer which was killing him. Cyril Barrett died in Dublin on 30 December 2003.

Ir. Times, 10 Jan. 2004; Times (London), 15 Jan. 2004; Independent (London), 25 Feb. 2004;

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 123 : Special Issue February 2005


Fr Cyril D Barrett (1925-2003)

May 9th 1925: Born in Dublin
Early education at Kiliashee, Naas, Co.Kildare, Ampleforth College, Yorks. and Clongowes
Sept. 7th 1942: Entered the Society at Emo
Sept. 8th 1944: First Vows at Emo
1944 - 1947: Studied Arts at UCD
1947 - 1950: Tullabeg - Studied Philosophy
1950 - 1953: Clongowes - Prefect and Teacher
1953 - 1957: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
July 31st 1956: Ordained at Milltown Park
1957 - 1958: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1958 - 1959: Leeson Street - Minister, Asst. Editor Studies
1959 - 1960: Tullabeg - Prof. Psychology; Subminister
Feb. 2nd 1960: Final Vows
1960 - 1961: Tullabeg -Prof. Psychology; Minister
1961 - 1964: London - Postgraduate Studies (History of Philosophy), London University (PhD)
1964 - 1965: Chantilly, France - Lecturer in Philosophy
1965 - 1966: Warwick University - Lecturer in Philosophy
1966 - 2003: Milltown Park
1966 - 1967: Dean of Philosophy; Prof. Philosophy at MI
1967 - 1972: Senior Lecturer in Philosophy - Warwick U.; Reader / Visiting Lecturer - Milltown Institute
1972 - 1992: University of Warwick - Reader in Philosophy
1992 - 2002: Oxford - Tutor in Philosophy
2002 - 2003: Milltown Park - writer
Dec. 30th 2003: Died at Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin.

Fr. Barrett was diagnosed as suffering from cancer in Autumn 2003. Despite a brief remission his health deteriorated steadily. He was admitted to Cherryfield Lodge on Christmas Day. There he died on the morning of Dec. 30th 2003.

Obituary from Times of London, January 15, 2004:

Dinner with Father Cyril Barrett - and you would dine well with this accomplished cook, even if in somewhat chaotic surroundings – was an intellectual feast composed of unpredictable ingredients. A man of huge charm, voracious curiosity and lively humour, he made an open house of his great learning. It was a place that offered inspiration and discovery to those who stepped across its threshold, at the University of Warwick where he taught philosophy for nearly three decades, in Dublin and London, or on his adventurous travels on a Jesuitical shoestring. (Holy Ghost Airlines, he would joke about the dodgier charter flights to dodgy destinations.) As an experimental new university in the mid-Sixties, Warwick attracted, and was attracted by, his interdisciplinary and questing cast of mind. Barrett was as authoritative on Op Art as he was on Wittgenstein's aesthetics.

Inducted almost straight from school into the Society of Jesus but, wisely, given free rein to pursue his strong academic vocation, Cyril Barrett found his reference points as writer, critic and lecturer in philosophy, aesthetics and a lifelong engagement with religious meaning; but he branched outward in multiple directions. He could discourse as intriguingly on hot racing tips, the samizdat blue films circulating in Cold War Central Europe (about which he was alarmingly well informed), kitsch or even knitting, as he talked about medieval aesthetics, Kierkegaard or Picasso. The most unclerical of priests, his faith was deep yet never unquestioning, just as the intellect that made him a renowned philosopher and art critic was tempered by the intensity of his inner spiritual dialogue.

Denis Cyril Barrett was born in 1925 in Dublin, to the sort of horse-and-hounds family that throws up, as it did with his great-uncle Cyril Corbally, such eccentric luminaries as champion croquet players. But this was independence-era Dublin, with its charged politics. His father Denis, the last Assistant Commissioner of the pre-1922 Dublin Metropolitan Police and the first of the Garda Siochana that replaced it, was to resign out of disgust with de Valera's brand of nationalism and the virulence of the IRA – a disgust always shared by his son. His mother died when he was three, and he was brought up by his adored stepmother Evelyn.

His early trajectory was conventional, from Ampleforth to a first in History and Latin at University College, Dublin, and thence to licenciates both in philosophy and in theology before ordination. How little these disciplines were to confine him was demonstrated by his doctorate, on symbolism in the arts, and a subsequent year studying anthropology and the role of myth at University College, London and the Warburg Institute, His large body of books and essays was to be almost equally devoted to modern art --- where his influence was enormous and Europe wide -- and to philosophical studies.

As a philosopher, Barrett became celebrated for publishing, in 1966, a selection of student notes of Wittgenstein's lectures and conversations on aesthetics, psychology and religious belief -- a small corpus out of which has developed a massive secondary literature and which has profoundly influenced aesthetics and theology. All his formidable persuasive skills were put to the test in gaining the consent of the notoriously possessive executors; Wittgenstein declared that "only aesthetic and conceptual questions” really gripped him, but without the Barrett enterprise, few would have known for many years of his grapplings with the former, or indeed with religion.

A quarter of a century later he gave his own considered account of Wittgenstein on ethics and religious belief, arguing that his views on value developed but did not change. Wittgenstein, he maintained, held that seeking to inculcate moral principles, and teaching religion in propositional form, is contrary to the true nature of ethics and religious belief - a position he endorsed. But he resisted the influential misinterpretation according to which Wittgenstein held religious belief to be nothing more than a way of life according to a picture. Belief is involved. The “picture” of Judgment Day is more than a mere picture or exemplar; it is a picture to live by, and there are better and worse such pictures; Wittgenstein “was no more a relativist than any reasonable person can avoid being”.

While never a Wittgensteinian, and indeed hostile to the notion of philosophical discipleship, he certainly learnt from him, and in aesthetics this influence came out in at least two ways. First, in his preference for tackling particular problems and clarifying ideas, over constructing elaborate theories, and secondly in his engagement with the interconnections between aesthetics and psychology, expressed most notably in his pioneering work popularising and explaining Op Art, both in books and by organising exhibitions. As an art critic he was wide-ranging and formidable -- his catalogue of 19th-century Irish Victorian Art is a classic of its kind - but also creative. He was a driving force in establishing Warwick University's art collection, and in cultivating understanding of modern art in Ireland. “Are bad works of art ‘works of art’?”, he asked in an influential essay; his suitably nuanced answer was that they may well be.

Jesuits, avowedly and by direction, are deeply involved in the world's affairs - and the greatest of them are mavericks. To someone of Barrett's catholic interests, impatience of convention and detestation of intellectual narrowness, Catholicism can be a hard master. Like many Jesuits down the centuries, Barrett made no attempt to disguise his chafing at the Vatican's hierarchical politics and social conservatism - going so far as to declare on the day of the attempted assassination of the Pope, in a bellow that filled a London restaurant, that “the only thing wrong with that bloody Turk was that he couldn't shoot straight”. The religious affairs correspondent of The Sunday Times, seated at a nearby table, turned beetroot.

Yet Barrett could readily assume his priestly guise and, in that capacity, was a compassionate and subtle counsellor and eminently practical moralist, ultimately convinced of the intelligence as well as the goodness of the Holy Spirit and able to instil that belief in others.

Academic politics bored Barrett at least as much as the priestly variety, and the world of league tables, research assessments and other bureaucratic rigidities even more. He left Warwick in 1992 for Campion Hall, Oxford, with some relief, striding into the Bodleian and demanding (successfully) to use the Latin language procedure for registering for a reader's ticket,

He continued writing to the very end of his life, back in Dublin, and was working in the last weeks on books and articles ranging from the morality of war to the limits of science, as well as writing poetry and rewriting the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. Barrett would, however, have described this as the pursuit of leisure, which for him was “not a trivial pursuit”, and nothing to do with idleness, but, rather, “life lived to its fullest”.

Work was necessary for survival, he wrote, but “It is not an end in itself. Leisure is. It is the end, the goal, of human life, the proper state of man” -- which is why the quality of leisure matters. There are echoes here of Aristotle, even of St Augustine's idea of entering the holy Sabbath of God. But Cyril Barrett's genius was to draw the classical forward into the present; to cite one of his aphorisms, “philosophy may be perennial, but it is not static”.

◆ The Clongownian, 2004


Father Cyril Barrett SJ

Father Cyril Barrett, SJ, who died on December 30th, 2003 aged 78, was a philosopher and art critic of international renown. He had his first direct encounter with philosophy as a student at University College Dublin, through Prof Marcus O'Sullivan's treatment of Rousseau. Philosophy, he would later remark, was a matter of learning to swim by diving in at the deep end but, he cautioned, the deep end of Rousseau's political philosophy was not to be recommended.

He wrote in “Studies” on subjects ranging from Picasso to Kierkegaard. His first book on Wittgenstein, dealing with aesthetics, psychology and religious belief, was published in 1966. Twenty five years later, he published Wittgenstein on Ethics and Religious Beliefs, a mature exposition of the questions that engaged him as a philosopher.

He played a major role in fostering an appreciation of modern art in Ireland. He was a member of the committee of ROSC that provided a showcase for the work of leading international artists. A regular contributor to “Art Monthly”, his publications include a study of op art and monographs on : Michael Farrell and Carmel Mooney. He contributed a section on art in the 20th century to the most recent volume of “A New History of Ireland” (2003).

Denis Cyril Barrett was born on May 9th, 1925, in Dublin, the son of Denis Barrett and his wife Lily (née Kearney). His father was assistant commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the family lived in Booterstown. His mother died when he was three and his father later remarried. His early education took place at Killashee, Naas, Co Kildare, Ampleforth College, Yorkshire, and Clongowes Wood College. In 1942 he entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained in 1956, taking his final vows in 1960.

He studied arts at UCD and in 1947 secured a first class honours in Latin and History. Having studied philosophy at Tullabeg, Co Offaly, he taught for three years at Clongowes. He spent the next three years studying theology at Milltown Park, Dublin. Following a year as assistant editor of “Studies”, he taught psychology at Tullabeg. He completed a PhD at London University in 1964 and afterwards caught philosophy at Chantilly, France, and at the University of Warwick, where he remained until 1992. Retirement from Warwick brought him to Campion Hall, Oxford, as a tutor for 10 years. Throughout this time he was a visiting lecturer at Milltown Park.

At the time of his death he was in the process of writing a philosophical memoir with the working title “My Struggles With Philosophy”. In it he addressed the question of understanding other philosophers whose views are alien, not only to one's own thought but also to the precepts of common sense.

A man of many parts, he was a world traveler, a gourmet cook who liked to entertain and he had the knack of picking a winner on the racing page or at an occasional race meeting. He also enjoyed attending the Merriman Summer School with his friend, Seán Mac Réamoinn. But, as his colleague, Father Bill Mathews, said at his funeral Mass, “At the centre of it all, I believe there was in him a very simple faith in God and in the goodness of God”.

Predeceased by his brother Matthew, he is survived by his stepmother Evelyn, brothers John and Father Francis, and sister Eve.

Courtesy of The Irish Times

Carroll, William, 1939-1976, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/88
  • Person
  • 11 January 1939-24 January 1976

Born: 11 January 1939, Avondale, Corbally, County Limerick
Entered: 07 September 1957, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 20 June 1971, Milltown Park, Dublin
Died: 24 January 1976, Milltown Park, Dublin

by 1963 at Chantilly, France (GAL S) studying

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 51st Year No 2 1976

Fr Billy Carroll (at school here 1946-257): After a short period in St. John's hospital, Limerick, Billy died in Dublin on 24th January. As a past pupil and member of the Society, he was much loved and respected by his schoolmates and all his friends in Limerick. The concelebrated Mass (29th January) was attended by a great number of past pupils, relatives and friends.

Obituary :

Fr Billy Carroll (1939-1976)

It is difficult to get used to the idea that Billy Carroll, who would have been thirty-seven in June this year, is no longer with us. I spent about thirteen years with Billy in Emo, Rathfarnham, Chantilly, Clongowes and Milltown. He was always quiet, with a wry sense of humour, always able to pick out and imitate the various accents and idiosyncrasies of sports commentator, superior or lecturer. An excellent athlete from his schooldays, he arrived late in Emo because he was playing rugby for Munster in the summer of '57. He was on the Irish school boys international athletic team, and as a novice, junior, philosopher or theologian he seemed at his happiest on the football field.
Billy was never an academic. He found the years of training tough, but quietly and uncomplainingly steered his way through the various intellectual forests. He was at his happiest with youngsters, and the number of them at his funeral witnesses to the fact that they were impressed with his instinctive goodness, ready wit and genuine concern.
Billy did his philosophy in France where if, like the rest of us, he did not learn too much philosophy, he certainly learnt French and was a very popular figure in that large community of Chantilly. His soccer abilities were invaluable to the Chantilly team and his wit enlivened many a gloomy hour in exile. His ability to imitate was used on occasion to brighten up philosophy lectures and when, at the end of a course, it was the custom to do a “take off” of a particular professor, Billy would use his talent to the delight of professor and students alike.
On returning to Ireland, Billy was sent to Clongowes as Third Line prefect. Here he showed great rapport with the boys, but a mysterious Providence had him moved to Limerick the following year. He was happy to be back in his home town.
He ploughed his way through theology with difficulty and was ordained in 1971. The next year found him back in Limerick, and it was here that his illnesses began. His most bitter disappointment was when he was moved from the Crescent to the Milltown Retreat House and he found it difficult to settle into his new job, particularly as his health was poor. But he gave himself to his job with dedication.
It was always difficult to read Billy’s heart, for he seldom spoke of his inner self, but his quiet ways and gentle smile will always be a happy reminder of how good it was to have him around and to have known and worked and played with him. I hear that on the day he died he enjoyed watching the Australia/ Ireland rugby match. It fits. We look forward to joining him in times to come.

◆ The Clongownian, 1976


Father Billy Carroll SJ

Those who were in the Third Line in 1965-66 were suddened to hear that their prefect of that year, Mr Billy Carroll, died in January at the early age of thirty-six, just five years after ordination. Although he had never enjoyed robust health, Billy's death came as a shock to his many friends, who will not easily forget his unusual goodness and his quiet, gentle ways.

Fogarty, Philip C, 1938-2019, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/857
  • Person
  • 04 September 1938-26 November 2019

Born: 04 September 1938, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1957, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 20 June 1971, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1978, Clongowes Wood College SJ
Died: 26 November 2019, Sewickley PA, USA

Part of the St Ignatius, Lower Leeson Street community at the time of death

Raised at Taylor’s Hill, Galway
Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1962 at Chantilly France (FRA) studying
by 1972 at San Francisco CA, USA (CAL) studying
by 1973 at University of London (ANG) studying
by 1974 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1992 at Wernersville PA, USA (MAR) sabbatical
by 2009 at Pittsburgh PA, USA (MAR) working

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :

Living the Jesuit vision: Phil Fogarty RIP

The funeral Mass of Philip Fogarty SJ took place in Sewickley, Pittsburgh on Tuesday 3 December 2019. The celebrant was Michael Shiel SJ who had flown over with fellow Jesuit and socius Declan Murray SJ. Cathal Doherty SJ flew from San Francisco to join all those who had gathered to give thanks for Philip’s life of service. Because he suffered from severe heart trouble over the past 20 years Philip spent a good bit of time in the United States but he continued to work both in Ireland and the states, “a testament to his courage” as one Jesuit colleague put it. He was well known as a retreat giver and writer and for the past 10 years in Sewickley, near Pittsburgh in the USA. He spent the latter part of his life engaged in the spirituality apostolate, both at home and with the CSJ Sisters in the USA. Philip had lived a full life in the Irish Province. Much of the early part of his ministry was in education, he taught in Coláiste Iognáid and spent 11 years as headmaster of Clongowes Wood College. Writing in the Clongownian (1987) about his time there the late Michael O’Dowd (former deputy headmaster) said Philip ‘eventually built Clongowes in his own image and likeness’. On hearing of his death, the current deputy headmaster of Clongowes, Martin Wallace, penned a moving tribute for the school’s website, echoing Michael O’Dowd’s sentiments. “As Headmaster, Philip was the leader of a remarkable triumvirate that included Michael O’Dowd as Deputy Headmaster and Fr. Michael Sheil SJ as higher line prefect. Soft-spoken and pipe smoking, Philip ran the school with kindness and compassion, relying on the goodwill of all, but backed up by his two enforcers, to ensure that a culture of mutual respect reigned in every domain of the college. Fairness, consistency and respect for all were the pillars of his authority and it would be no exaggeration to say that he transformed the culture of Clongowes through his vision of what a Jesuit school should be, his communication of that vision at every opportunity, and through the way he lived that vision in his interactions with every person in the community.” Philip frequently wrote for The Sacred Heart Messenger and published with Columba Press and Messenger Publications. For the last twenty years, his health was increasingly compromised. But as his friend and current editor of the Messenger, Donal Neary, notes, “He had a wonderful approach to his ailments and he tried to live as positively and as fully as he could, enjoying the fact that he was constantly defying all the medical prognoses.” His most recent visit home was in April 2019, where he enjoyed a great visit with his sisters, family and the community at Leeson St. Over the past two weeks, he had been detained in the ICU of the UPMC hospital with significant medical issues, but was released home from there only last Saturday. He wrote saying he was very happy to be at home and expected to recover. However, he died peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of Tuesday morning, November 26th in the care of the CSJ Sisters at Sewickley, and he will be buried with them there in their community plot. He was 81 years old. “We are grateful for his life” says Donal, adding “and his fellow Jesuits and family give thanks for having known him and his friendship. May he rest in peace.”

Fitting tribute for Phil
Clongowes Wood College SJ celebrated the life of Philip Fogarty SJ with a special memorial Mass in the school sports hall, on Sunday 19 January 2020. Phil died last year in America on Tuesday 26 November. Jesuits, teachers, former staff, family, friends, pupils and past pupils all gathered to pay tribute to Philip who was headmaster in the school from 1976 to 1987.
Michael Sheil SJ said the Mass and gave the homily, which included a touching account of the many years he shared with Phil. And he made special mention of Phil’s ground-breaking re-imagining of Clongowes and its ethos as a Jesuit boarding school.”
Mr Cyril Murphy, Director of Liturgy in Clongowes conducted the Schola choir comprised of current students. They sang the Requiem aeternam introit and the Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem. “ It felt like a homecoming requiem Mass for our former headmaster,” said Cyril, adding that “It was a very moving liturgy. To see the numerous past pupils flooding through the doors before the liturgy ever began was testament enough to ‘Phili’, as he was affectionately known.”
Phil’s sister Oonagh was present along with members of the Mc Keagney family who laid a framed portrait of Phil before the altar. The picture was later presented to Oonagh. Sr. Catherine Higgins, a great friend of Phil’s, travelled from the United States especially for the occasion. ”The whole event was a testimony to the affection and esteem in which Phil was held,” Cyril reflected, adding that “The pods of conversation and the reluctance of people to leave the sports hall after the Mass was over was striking in its manifestation of the legacy of goodwill which Phil left behind.”
One of those legacies was Phil’s promotion of an ecumenical friendship between Clongowes and Portora Royal School, Enniskillen which began 40 years ago. There is still a strong bond between the school and Ms Janet Goodall and family, long-time friends of Clongowes and Portora, attended the Mass. Present also were neighbours and friends from the King’s Hospital including Mark Ronan, the headmaster of King’s Hospital, his wife Fiona, Mr John Aiken, Deputy Head, Ms Jenny Baron and number of pupils.
Guests did eventually leave the sports hall moving to the refectory for a hearty Sunday lunch. Phil would have approved.

Early Education at Coláiste Iognáid SJ, Galway, Clongowes Wood College, SJ

1959-1962 Rathfarnham - Studying Arts at UCD
1962-1965 Chantilly, France - Studying Philosophy at Séminaire Missionaire
1965-1968 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Regency : Teacher; Studying CWC Cert in Education
1968-1972 Milltown Park - Studying Theology
1972-1973 San Francisco, CA, USA - Studying Educational TV at St Ignatius College Prep
1973 Mount St, London, UK - Studying Educational TV at London University
1973-1974 St Asaph, Wales, UK - Tertianship at St Bueno’s
1974-1975 Belvedere College SJ - Audio Visual Organiser for SJ Schools
1975-1976 Coláiste Iognáid SJ, Galway - Teacher; Promoting TV Ed in SJ Schools
1976-1987 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Headmaster; Editor “Clongownian”; Teacher
1987-1988 Sabbatical in South Africa (till Jan 1988)
1988-1991 Coláiste Iognáid SJ, Galway - Headmaster; Director Pastoral Care; Province Consultor (from Jan 88)
1991-1992 Wernersville, PA, USA - Sabbatical at Jesuit Centre of Spirituality
1992-1995 Sandford Lodge - Superior; Chair Young Adults Board; Provincial Team; Provincial Representative at NCIR; Chaplain to Jesuit Alumni/ae; Chair JVC Board
1994 Bursar
1995-1996 Leinster Road - Superior; Bursar; NCPI; Young Adults Delegate
1996-1999 Loyola House - Superior; Provincial Socius; Provincial’s Admonitor; Province Consultor; Provincial Team; Delegate Young Adults; Past Pupils Apostolate
1999-2019 Leeson St - Writer; Assists CLC; Assists LRA; Assists Cherryfield
2003 Hospice Chaplain (USA)
2009 Sewickley, PA, USA - Writer;19th Annotation Retreats in Parishes; Spiritual Direction; Assists the Jesuit Collaborative in Pittsburgh

◆ The Clongownian, 2020


Father Philip Fogarty SJ : Living the Jesuit Vision

On 26th November 2019 we heard the sad news that Philip Fogarty (OC'57), reforming Headmaster of Clongowes (1976-1987) passed away in the United States, where he had been living for much of the last twenty years, due to the severe heart trouble from which he had been suffering. Philip's death sparked an out-pouring of fond and affectionate memories from former students, colleagues and friends both within and without the Society of Jesus touched by the life and love of this most remarkable man, who may truly be said to have lived the Jesuit vision...

Philip Fogarty was born on 4th September 1938 at Taylor's Hill in Galway. Following early education at Coláiste lognáid SJ, Galway he entered Clongowes in 1952 and, when he graduated five years later he was a member of the Sodality of Our Lady and the Choir as well as Reachtaire of An Cumann Gaelach. His membership of the Dramatic Society earned him a role as a “Reaper” in “The Tempest”, while in the winter session of the House Debates he opposed a motion 'That the British Empire has been, in the main, a force for good'. Three months after leaving Clongowes the young man entered the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Emo, where he spent two years before moving to Rathfarnham Castle to study Arts at UCD. His regency was spent in Clongowes (1965-68) where he also edited “The Clongownian”. Following his Ordination in 1971 a love for educational TV was sparked in San Francisco and nurtured at London University leading to his role as Audio Visual Organiser for SJ Schools (1974-75). He returned to Clongowes in 1976 as Headmaster, editor of “The Clongownian” and teacher. Following his eleven years as Headmaster the longest in the modern role to date) and a sabbatical in South Africa he returned to his other alma mater and his native land when he was appointed Headmaster at Coláiste lognáid (1988-91).

Because he suffered from severe heart trouble over the past twenty years Philip spent a good bit of tirne in the United States but he continued to work both in Ireland and the States, “a testament to his courage” as one Jesuit colleague put it. He spent the latter part of his life engaged in the spirituality apostolate, both at home and with the CSJ Sisters in the USA. He was well known as a retreat giver and writer for the past ten years in Sewickley, near Pittsburgh. Philip frequently wrote for The Sacred Heart Messenger and published other works with Columba Press and Messenger Publications. Despite the fact that, for the last twenty years his health was increasingly compromised his friend (and current editor of “The Messenger”) Donal Neary notes “He had a wonderful approach to his ailments and he tried to live as positively and as fully as he could, enjoying the fact that he was constantly defying all the medical prognoses. His most recent visit home was in April 2019, where he enjoyed a great visit with his sisters, family and the community at Leeson St”.

For two weeks before his death he had been detained in the ICU of the UPMC hospital with significant medical issues but was released home from there and expected to recover. However, he died peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of November 26th in the care of the CSJ Sisters at Sewickley, Pittsburgh and was buried in their community plot following his Funeral Mass on December 3rd. The celebrant was the rector of Clongowes, Fr Michael Shiel SJ, who had flown over with fellow Jesuit and socius Declan Murray SJ. Cathal Doherty SJ flew from San Francisco to join all those who had gathered to give thanks for Philip's life of service. “We are grateful for his life” says Donal Neary, adding “and his fellow Jesuits and family give thanks for having known him and his friendship”. May he rest in peace.


A Legacy which has Endured

We received news of the passing of Fr Philip Fogarty SJ in late November. Philip came as a new broom to the school, arriving with Fr Michael Sheil SJ as Higher Line Prefect and, together with the then Deputy Headmaster, Michael O'Dowd, they ushered in a new era with changed relationships and a friendlier atmosphere; a legacy which has endured, and is such a key feature of Clongowes life today. Philip was clearly a man of great vision and someone to whom we owe an enormous debt of gratitude. He abolished corporal punishment in Clongowes well before other schools in the country had the courage to do so. The leadership of schools has probably never been easy. In today's climate, with its financial pressures on all of us, the increasing volume of regulation from external agencies and; for Clongowes as a Catholic school, the growing secularisation of the culture around us, the demands are considerable. They were doubtless considerable for Philip too and i am really struck by his style of leadership, and the warmth with which he is remembered. Those who knew him use words such as considerate; kind, compassionate, and fair to describe him - something for all of us to draw inspiration from:

Mr Chris Lumb, Headmaster


A Truly Apostolic Priest

Homily at the Memorial Mass for Fr Philip Fogarty, SJ

He will always make you rich enough to be generous at all times - so that many will thank God for your gifts ... (2 Cor. 9: 10-15)

When I was asked to celebrate the Funeral Mass of Phil last month in Pittsburgh I happened upon the text of our first reading and it struck me as being very appropriate for the occasion of his passing to new life because of the legacy he has left behind. Phil was a year behind me when we were students here in the 1950s and we both returned here in 1976 as a double act - he as Headmaster and I as Higher Line Prefect. It was a time of great strife and suffering in Ireland and so to-day, as we celebrate Church Unity Sunday in more peaceful times and welcome our friends from The King's Hospital on their annual visit as well as some members of staff from Portora it is important to recall Phil's ecumenical initiative in setting up a twinning with Portora Royal School in Enniskillen. We gather also to thank God for the gift that he was to the Society of Jesus in treland and to Clongowes, fellow Jesuits and former pupils. We gather as the Christian Community mourning his passing - sad, yet in a deep way rejoicing in the New Life that is his. As humans we share our sense of the loss of a wonderful priest in service to his Lord and that sharing helps ease our individual pain. It is also a time for our Community when we reminisce on his life. We give thanks and - even in sorrow -laugh at shared memories. Surely that is how Phil himself would have wanted it to be, as his spirit lives on in the lives of each of us. For, as is promised to those who have received the gift of Christian Faith, Phil is indeed alive in that New Life to which God called him at his Baptism. Through all our pain we find reason to be happy for him because of what he has gained and we can give thanks to God for His gifts to Phil and for His gift of Phil to us as, in thanksgiving, we now offer that gift back to God. So as Christian believers we can, in spite of our pain, give thanks for his life and offer him back to God.

And what do we offer? The life of Philip Fogarty was a full, loving and sharing one, the life of a wonderful person and a truly apostolic priest. And a good listener. It is a very special gift to be a good listener and Phil received that gift in full and was also a very reflective educationalist. We all have our own memories and stories, precious and personal so, at his passing, it is only natural that a tsunami of thoughts should come flooding in, each of us with our own tale to tell. At one Farewell Dinner for our Final Year Students, I mentioned that Phil had taught me Irish dancing when in France and the Headmaster was prevailed upon to do a jig. His performance received a standing ovation - but it came at a price, for Phil spent most of the following summer holidays in plaster in hospitali He was also an inveterate pipe-smoker and one day went to visit a kindred chain-smoker soul in hospital. His friend, lying in bed wearing an oxygen mask, saw him enter; her eyes lit up and, as he approached to give her a hug, she whipped off the mask, grabbed his smoke-impregnated scarf and took a wonderful whiff of tobacco and replaced the mask!

For the past 20 years Phil lived out his life of giving in a way none of us could have expected. I am reminded of what Jesus said to Peter when, after the Resurrection, He met the Apostles on the Lakeshore after a night's fruitless fishing: When you were young - you went where you wished - but, when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will lead you. I am also reminded of Portuguese proverb, which says that God writes straight with crooked lines! How wonderfully did God tead Phil in what was to be the twilight of his life, using his illness all those years ago to bring him to Pittsburgh to do so much good for so many and to become, in turn, the gift of someone in need of the care of those whom God was calling to show just how much they could love Phil in return. And here I must pay tribute to the Sisters of St Joseph, whose home-from-home was their special gift to their very special person sent to them by God.

Now, as we offer him back to God, we offer all those gifts and memories and our thanks for all that he meant to us, and we entrust him to the care of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who has told us: “Trust in God still and trust in Me! There are many rooms in My Father's house. I am going now to prepare a place for you - and I shall return to take you with Me - so that, where I am, you may be too”. (Jn 14: 1-6)

For now - like Jesus - Phil has gone ahead of us and is preparing to welcome us when our turn comes to answer God's call home so that we may share together the place Christ has prepared for each one of us. And is it not this that brings us together in the Eucharist this afternoon? Is it not this that makes sense of our being here? God calls us home when He sees best. Late last year, in a moment unnoticed and unmarked by the world, Christ did indeed return to call Phil home in his sleep in a meeting known only to himself and his Lord. He called His good and faithful servant to come and share in his Master's happiness. Phil has followed his Master who was his Way - Truth - Life. He had known for so long the place to where he would be going. It was for Phil the celebration of what the ancient Roman martyrology proclaims as the Christian's dies natalis - his heavenly birthday - Phil's birth into New Life. So often in life we say 'good-bye'. It comes from the ancient wish or prayer 'May God be with you' ('Dia dhuit' in Irish) and to day we say it to you, Phil, at this, our last Mass with you and we pray in these words:

May Christ enfold you in His Love and bring you to eternal life. May God and Mary be with you.

We will pray for you, Phil - may you also pray for us. And so we say farewell and - until we meet again - Good-bye!

Fr Michael Sheil SJ, Rector


Fairness, Consistency and Respect for All

When Philip Fogarty stepped down as Headmaster of Clongowes in 1987 after eleven years at the helm, his deputy, the late Mr Michael O'Dowd wrote an appreciation of his time in Clongowes “The Clongownian” 1987, 3-4). Now -32 years later - it has fallen to one of Michael's successors, Mr Martin Wallace, to put pen to paper in memory of the man most associated with the development of the modern Jesuit school that we know today...

...[Philip) eventually rebuilt Clongowes almost in his own image and likeness. - Michael Byrne

On Tuesday, 26th November, Seamus Aherne, Declan O'Keeffe, Tony Pierce and I gathered with unqualified sadness to mark the passing of Philip Fogarty - Uncle Phil - the man who employed and inspired us during that belle époque (or so it seemed to us] from the late seventies to the mid eighties. As Headmaster, Philip was the leader of a remarkable triumvirate that included Michael O'Dowd, Deputy Headmaster, and Fr Michael Sheil SJ, Higher Line Prefect, Soft spoken and pipe smoking, Philip ran the school with kindness and compassion, relying on the good will of all, but backed up by his two enforcers, to ensure that a culture of mutual respect reigned in every domain of the college. Fairness, consistency and respect for all were the pillars of his authority and it would be no exaggeration to say that he transformed the culture of Clongowes through his vision of what a Jesuit school should be, his communication of that vision at every opportunity and through the way he lived that vision in his interactions with every person in the community. So much of what he changed about Clongowes is encapsulated in his very firm decision to abolish corporal punishment long before anyone else in the country had the courage or conviction to do so. While he always sought consensus, there were certain issues that were fundamental to his understanding of community.

Philip always enjoyed seeing the humorous side of human affairs and relished the convivial gatherings that became known as 'The Tuesday Night Club', a sortie to one of the local establishments for what might be called an offsite meeting'. Everything that was happening in the school was laid bare from every angle, allowing Philip, as he puffed his pipe and sipped his Black Bush, to chuckle away at the anecdotes, but also to discern what was really going on amidst the fog of subjectivity that enveloped conversations. He understood instinctively that, when all the rules and regulations, curricula and governance issues are stripped away, a school is a community of relationships, and the quality of those relationships is where the ethos is found. When I arrived in Clongowes in 1979, I was astonished by the gentle culture that emanated from the Headmaster through the whole school. It felt strange to have an immediate sense of trust in a person I hardly knew - especially as he was the boss! I came to learn over the years that this was also the experience of every student and teacher, every employee of and visitor to the school, and that is why Philip is remembered by all with such warmth and deep affection. To quote Michael Byrne again:

By the time I left Clongowes at the end of his first year there, it was slowly beginning to dawn on me that this man was in charge in a way in which no one else that I had ever seen, in my vast experience of seventeen years, was in charge.?

Rest in peace, Philip - we miss you.

Mr Martin Wallace, Deputy Headmaster


His Reign was Mild

The editor of The Clongownian has many reasons to be grateful to the late Philip Fogarty, not least the receipt of a teaching job in Clongowes, when positions in education were not easily come by. He echoes the observations of the previous contributors and adds his own thanks to his erstwhile boss for the many kindnesses shown to him as a newly minted university graduate. As a devotee of the work of another Old Clongownian, James Joyce, the editor has always felt that Philip's holistic view of education draws a direct line from the philosophy of one of his predecessors, Fr John Conmee. Like Philip, Conmee was an Old Clongownian (one of the earliest in 1837) and “the decentest rector that was ever in Clongowes” (1885-91) according to James Joyce, masquerading as Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. He had been Prefect of Studies and Rector in Clongowes, where he oversaw the difficult and sometimes fractious merger with Tullabeg in 1886 and Philip Fogarty supervised an equally momentous period of transition during his time as Headmaster of Clongowes. As another former Headmaster, Bruce Bradley (1992-2000) has observed, “the traditional values of the Ratio Studiorum are embodied in Fr Conmee, and the same may be said of Fr Fogarty. Philip was - above all - a kindly; diligent; sympathetic listener, and we all knew it: Conmee is affectionately remembered again in Ulysses and Joyce's summing up could be easily re-worked by many a pupil; teacher and Jesuit to apply to Philip Fogarty:

He was their Headmaster: his reign was: Mild

Mr Declan O’Keeffe, Editor


The Portora Connection

In February we welcomed visitors from Enniskillen Royal Grammar School (formerly Portora Royal School) to Clongowes. During the visit, Ms Janet Goodall from Enniskillen delivered the following tribute to Philip Fogarty at Morning Prayer...:

On the 26th November Fr Philip Fogarty passed away after a lifetime as a good and faithful servant of God and The Society of Jesus. On Sunday two weeks ago, I was honoured to join with you to celebrate his life and his tremendous contribution to the living culture and ethos of Clongowes Wood College. I did not know Fr Phil personally, but I know of his legacy. It was a legacy of friendship and a legacy of bravery. In 1980, when Fr Phil was Headmaster at Clongowes, Ireland was a different place, and Northern Ireland was a very different place. The series “Derry Girls” has painted the picture of how the people of Northern Ireland found normality and dark humour during “The Troubles”, but in 1980, 80 people died in Northern Ireland as a result of sectarian violence. This week 40 years ago three people were killed, two Catholics and one Protestant; one was from Fermanagh, and one was just a child. Northern Ireland was not a safe place. Unsurprisingly most people in the Republic of Ireland just chose not to go there. Fr Philip Fogarty knew that peace could not be achieved without first understanding our differences but also our shared Christian values and identities. His part in seeking this understanding was to reach out and propose a twinning with Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, the alma mater of Blessed John Sullivan. This was a risk that could have provoked much criticism. This was a risk that Dr Alan Acheson, then Headmaster of Portora, also took. Today crossing the border into Northern Ireland is marked only by the change of the road signs. In 1980 it could be an intimidating or frightening experience. You queued, you were profiled, your car was searched or your bus was boarded. The noise from overhead military helicopters was deafening. On one journey to Enniskillen, the Clongowes minibus had its tires blown by a UVF roadside trap. I often wonder how Margaret Doyle must have felt, with a bus full of boys, flagging down help, not knowing who, if anyone, would stop. Today as a teacher planning a trip, I risk assess hazards such as “stopping at a service station”; I think that the assessment of the hazard “terrorist booby-trap” might be off the scale.

What was mportant was that the match was played
While life in Enniskillen was quieter than other parts of the North, daily life was punctuated with checkpoints, security alerts, control zones and army patrols. When Clongowes boys arrived at Portora they bore witness to the effect and pain of the troubles. On one visit they were told “I'm not sitting with that Fenian”. How easy would it be to be offended by this? How much harder is it to listen and learn? That Portora boy's father was an RUC officer who was killed by the IRA. That Clongowes boy extended his hand in sympathy for his loss, The Clongownian 1981 reports that Fr Michael brought a cricket team to Portora where they were welcomed with “marvellous hospitality”. It was 11 days after the death of republican hunger striker Bobby Sands. No one remembers the result of the cricket for the result was not important - what was important was that the match was played. Following an overnight visit to Portora, Fr Michael recalls that a student reported to him how a Clongowes “republican” and a Portora “Paisleyite” had kept the dorm awake with their exchanges, They eventually fell asleep after becoming the best of friends.

In November 1987, Enniskillen suffered one of the worst terrorist atrocities of the troubles. The IRA bombed the town's Remembrance Ceremony: 12 lives were lost and 63 were injured. The following year, Clongowes joined Portora at the Cenotaph to share the pain of Enniskillen's community. Again this risk was both political and perilous. In more recent years, An Taoiseach has represented the Irish people at Remembrance in Enniskillen; Clongowes has being doing this for decades. So much has changed in 40 years - the Good Friday Agreement, prosperity, the Internet - but our friendship has been sustained and has thrived through the relationships between both pupils and staff. Today, thousands of Portorans and Clongownians live and work on this island knowing more of each other and our faiths. In 1980 Fr Phil was a visionary; today we are so very grateful for his legacy, which reminds me of the prayer attributed to John Wesley:

Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.

So today I ask you to live Fr Phil's legacy; reach out when you can listen when you can, and learn when you can. That good could change lives and resonate for decades. Buíochas on chroí leis an Athair Phil, agus buíochas agus beannacht libh go léir. Thank you, Fr Phil and thank you all.

Moylan, John, 1938-2012, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/750
  • Person
  • 01 March 1938-26 November 2012

Born: 01 March 1938, Ennis, County Clare
Entered: 07 September 1955, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 10 July 1969, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 17 September 1985, Gonzaga College SJ, Dublin
Died: 26 November 2012, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin

Part of the St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin community at the time of death

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1963 at Chantilly, France (GAL S) studying
by 1971 at Auriesville, NY, USA (NEB) making Tertianship
by 1972 at St Gregory NY, USA (NEB) studying
by 1996 at Berkeley, CA, USA (CAL) studying

Murphy, David, 1944-1982, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/19
  • Person
  • 15 May 1944-21 May 1982

Born: 15 May 1944, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1962, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 21 June 1974, Gonzaga College SJ, Dublin
Final Vows 29 December 1980, Tabor House, Milltown Park, Dublin
Died: 21 May 1982, St Luke's Hospital, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death

by 1968 at Chantilly France (GAL S) studying
by 1975 at Grenelle Paris (GAL) teaching
by 1979 at Copenhagen Denmark (GER S) working

◆ Companions in Mission 1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
‘A tall, determined young man’ is what first comes to mind when David's name is mentioned. He was born in Dublin on 15 May 1944 and attended Gonzaga College for his secondary schooling. He was one of the school's first vocations and entered the Society at Emo in 1962. At the University he took English and French for his degree and French culture had a special appeal for him, so he went to Chantilly, France, for his philosophy in 1967. For regency he came to Zambia in August 1969 and after six months working at the ciTonga language, he moved into Canisius Secondary School as a teacher. ‘A certain intolerance for what he saw as the merely conventional began to emerge. There was something a little wooden and naive in his own attitude but his indignation at another man's apparent failure in charity or common sense for the sake of conventional propriety never led to a lessening regard for those he disagreed with’. He took on a number of 'causes': prisoners' rights (Dublin, Copenhagen, Northern Ireland), opposition to apartheid in South Africa, Third World problems (which increased that intolerance), and a distaste for injustice of any kind.

He was ordained in Milltown Park on 21st June 1974 and went to America for a few months. It was while there that the brain tumour which finally killed him came to light. That settled the question of whether he should return to Zambia where he had so enjoyed teaching. Still, though slowed down by his illness and treatment, he went to Paris for two years to study pastoral theology. After a year in Gardiner Street parish, he returned to Paris for another year 1977.

In 1978 he undertook what was perhaps the most amazing adventure of all, he became prison chaplain in Copenhagen (Denmark) to those non-Danish prisoners who neither spoke nor understood either English or French. His sense of outrage at what he saw as the callous mistreatment of a fairly wretched group by a reputedly sophisticated society was quick to surface and he did not hesitate to communicate it to others’. The last two years of his life he spent in Dublin receiving treatment for his tumour. He did a little parish work and prison visiting at Mountjoy prison.

His final illness as he moved in and out of comas and became increasingly paralysed and humiliatingly dependent was a deeply harrowing time, above all for David himself but also for his community and brave family. He died on 21 May 1982 in his 38th year of life.

People who knew David found him to be gentle, humorous, kindly, while at the same time determined and single minded. He was angered by humbug and pretence. On these occasions he could be rigidly uncompromising. His strong character showed a deep personal honesty and integrity. To the end, he was very appreciative of the dedicated help he received from those who were looking after him, both at St Luke's Cancer hospital and from his own religious community.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 57th Year No 3 1982
Fr David Murphy (1944-1962-1982)

David Murphy came to the Society in the middle of the brief boom at the start of the sixties. Son of Michael, an active and well-loved Old Clongownian and related, through his mother, to Fr Paddy O’Kelly, he had spent his schooldays in Gonzaga and was one of the school's first vocations. We were 24 in the class of ‘62, reduced to 15 by vow-day two years later and now, with David’s course already completed, numbering just eight. But in those days the cameratas bulged on the seams, we had enough to play two soccer matches on a Sunday afternoon and Fr Socius Timoney’s eyes gleamed at the prospect of a huge workforce to be unleashed on the unsuspecting “clochar”, come the Long Retreat.
From the beginning David stood out. He was a big man, both in body and spirit. The monastic style of Emo in those preconciliar days required just the qualities of generosity and inwardness which David abundantly possessed. He was a very diligent, reliable novice but never lacking in a sense of humour to keep things in proportion. He was a good athlete - who can forget him, then and later, putting in those disconcertingly long-legged tackles at centre-half and rising above everybody to head clear? On the tennis-court, where a novice's spirit of charity could be tested, David was a tough but always impeccably courteous opponent.
He was in Rathfarnham from 1964-67 and enjoyed the university years. He was a solid student and got a solid degree in English and French. But for David there was much more to life in UCD than study or the narrow constraints of the set curriculum. It was from him that we all first heard of Merleau-Ponty and we used to be aghast at his facility for persuading the likes of Monsieur Cognon and Dr Denis Donoghue to take him down to the Shelbourne between lectures for coffee and earnest discussion. These encounters were neither engineered to curry favour with his teachers nor narrated afterwards to impress his companions in the Juniorate. I have rarely known anyone so free of human respect or fear of what others might think.
French culture had a special appeal for David - he was to spend five of his 20 years as a Jesuit in France - and in 1967 he went to Chantilly for philosophy. He became interested in Freud, an interest he never lost, and was reputed to have managed an interview with the reclusive Samuel Beckett by the simplest of stratagems - going along and knocking on the great man's door.
He volunteered for the missions after philosophy and went to Zambia with Colm Brophy in 1969. That David should have wanted to be a missionary was wholly in character and exemplified his courage, generosity, independence and spirit of adventure. It was in France and in Zambia, I think, that something else began to emerge - a certain intolerance of what he saw as the merely conventional. There was possibly something a little wooden and naïve in his own attitude but his indignation at another man's apparent failure in charity or commonsense for the sake of conventional propriety never led to a lessening of respect for those he disagreed with. He was not inclined to judge motives; he simply could not understand their behaviour. In later years, when he was ill and when his causes had become prisoners' rights (whether in Dublin, in Northern Ireland, or in Denmark) and opposition to apartheid, the intolerance increased and the interpretation of some situations could seem a little lopsided. But behind it was always David's own utter decency and his extreme distaste for injustice of any kind.
After three years in Milltown Park at theology, he was ordained by Archbishop Ryan on 21st June, 1974 and, that summer, while he was in America, the brain tumour which finally killed him first came to light. After that there could be no question of returning to Zambia. But, although slowed down by his illness and the treatment, David was not prepared to make major concessions to it or to opt for the life of an invalid. He went to Paris for two years and did his best to study pastoral theology. After that there was a year in Gardiner street, where he did some work in the parish and even began to teach himself Spanish. Typically, he visited the headquarters of Sinn Féin in Gardiner Place (now the Workers' Party) and, despite their known Marxist leanings and presumed hostility to the Church, coolly informed them that they were in his area and that he was available, should they require him in his capacity as a priest. History does not record what they said; they were probably too surprised to say anything.
In 1977 he went back to Paris for another year and then, in 1978, undertook what was perhaps the most amazing adventure of all, becoming prison chaplain in Copenhagen to those non-Danish prisoners who spoke or could understand either English or French. Without Danish or German (the native language of most of the Jesuits in Scandinavia) and not well enough to try to learn either, most others would have been daunted by such an assignment. But not David. His sense of outrage at what hę saw as the callous mistreatment of a fairly wretched group by a reputedly sophisticated society was quick to surface and he did not hesitate to communicate it to others. At that time he was full of hopeful and touchingly zealous schemes for other Jesuits to come from Ireland and join him. But of his own ministry he told us little or nothing. It appears that he and his Mexican colleague were awarded a substantial humanitarian prize in Denmark for a report they drew up on the sufferings of prisoners in solitary confinement. How typical of David that we should learn of this only now, after his death.
The last two years of his life were spent between Tabor, Milltown Park, Sherrard street and St Luke's, under the darkening cloud of his illness. He did not cease to work for as long as he could, among other things involving himself in prison visitation at Mountjoy. Although formally assigned to tertianship in the autumn of 1980, he never went. Instead, he made his solemn profession, in the presence of his family, his Jesuit friends and a few others, in Milltown on 29th December. It was not a sombre or despairing ceremony but serious, courageous, trusting. The readings were David's own choice, beginning with the vocation of Abraham narrated in the Book of Genesis: “Leave your country, your family and your father's house, for the land I will show you ....” It seemed to express not only his history as a missionary but also a constant quality of detachment in his own life and his mysterious and painful destiny to leave all things in death a few days after his 38th birthday.
After that the visits to St Luke’s became more frequent and more prolonged. His final illness, as he moved in and out of comas and became increasingly paralysed and humiliatingly dependent, was a deeply harrowing time, above all for David himself but also for his community and his brave family. He (and they) bore it with courage and with a dignity that was always distinctive of him, a sense of inwardness and understatement noticeable in him from the beginning. He died early in the morning of 21st May and was buried the next day, after a moving funeral Mass in Gardiner street.

Many of us who knew David found him to be gentle, humorous, kindly: while at the same time, determined and single- minded. In his last years of failing health these qualities were very much to the fore. Determination and single-minded ness marked his struggle to cope with his illness. Not a moment was wasted. He was constantly planning, even against the odds, for future work and leisure. He vibrated enthusiasm in his own unique way, living a very full and varied life, never giving in to the pressures and limitations of deteriorating health.
One of the most remarkable features of the past seven years of David's life has been that they were years of solid achievement despite the burden of ill-health.
As a prison chaplain he was outstanding. His strong character was shown at its best in recent years in the lively and sincere concern he shared with those who were suffering or oppressed. Only those who were closest to him know of the active and priestly work which consumed so much of his little energy. Typical of such activity was his work in the prisons at Copenhagen and Mountjoy. One of his fellow-chaplains remarked recently that what impressed the prisoners deeply was 'the driving interest David had in their welfare - when it was perfectly obvious to even the most casual observer, that he was gravely ill. Yet his major concern seemed to be with their problems rather than his own. Here, as in everything else, he gave himself unstintingly to the needs of others.
His influence was pervasive. He made many friends in widely differing walks of life and, as always, once he made friends they became friends for life. He had the respect and affection of those who were close to him. Not surprisingly, he is sorely missed.
David was at his best when faced with challenge. When the serious nature of his illness first became apparent the immediate future looked extremely gloomy. It seemed evident at the time that David's highly active life was going to be greatly restricted. Yet, after initial hospital treatment, he was off on his travels once again - this time back to Paris where he continued to take his English classes at Franklin. His dogged determination to live as normal a life for as long as possible was remarkably obvious. He had great difficulty at this time in adapting to the fact that his resources of energy were much diminished. He tried so very hard to continue as before but it was clear that changes would have to be made.
When David returned from France many of us expected him to slow down the pace – at least a little! But he had hardly settled back before he was off again: this time to Copenhagen as prison chaplain to the English-speaking prisoners. He spent two years in Denmark. While he found his work very satisfying and invigorating he found certain aspects of community life very difficult.
His qualities of gentleness and concern for those who were oppressed were predominant at this time. He was particularly prominent in speaking out on behalf of those whom he considered were being treated unfairly or unjustly. His major concern was for the dignity of the individual which he considered to be sacred. He was angered by humbug or pretence. On these occasions he could be rigidly uncompromising. There are many stories and anecdotes he used recount of his experiences in Copenhagen. But even when he spoke of the setbacks they were usually related with a touch of humour And yet he was very appreciative of rather than bitterness.
So many of these experiences reveal his questioning mind which refused to be browbeaten. His strong character showed a deep degree of personal honesty and integrity.
David felt very strongly on certain matters. His stand on such issues as anti-apartheid, prisoners' rights, Northern Ireland, the Third World etc. left no room for ambiguity. While many in the Province may not always have synchronised with his views there was never any doubting his personal integrity and dedication. David advocated his cause fearlessly and enthusiastically, always seeking to implement his vision. Even when time for active involvement was obviously getting shorter, his lively spirit did not diminish. To the end he was alert to the issues which gave him so much of his inner fire.
He was gifted with an active and enquiring mind. The adventure and mystery of life provided him with a never-ending search into the deeper questions of the world which surrounds us. This search, for him, could never be satisfied by dallying on the surface. Before his illness, David had a deep-rooted fascination with the power of the written word as an instrument for research and as a means of expression. One of his greatest frustrations in recent years was the incapacity to express himself clearly in writing. And yet his enquiring mind remained unbowed: always the active lively interest in so of his causes célèbres'. In the closing weeks of his life he was gathering his thoughts on the dignity that is due to the 'incurable patient in hospital. He was adamant that patients in hospital should never be made feel that they are in danger of being reduced to the category of prisoner' with no control over the ordinary decisions that affect their lives. His own reaction to hospitalisation was a clear indication of his feelings on this matter.
And yet he was very appreciative of the dedicated help he received from those who were looking after him. He had respect and admiration for the staff of St Luke's whom he considered to be “good listeners and who did not make you feel that there were two types of person, the sick and the non-sick”. He was also very much aware of the fact that without the devotion and selfless generosity of Br Joe Cleary he could never have managed to have the degree of independence that marked his time at Milltown.
To say that David had a zest for living would surely be a gross understatement!, He had an insatiable appetite for travel and new discovery. It was reflected in his great enthusiasm for life. He loved people and he loved living. Despite the difficulties with which he struggled during the past seven years the bedrock of his enthusiasm remained undimmed.
So many of his friends remember, maybe even with a touch of humour, how the suggestion of foreign travel could revive David's spirits in recent times. Shortly before his death he was already preparing for the possibility of another trip to the Holy Land. It was fitting. Many of those who knew him intimately will remember him as a citizen of the world', always preparing for new Voyages of discovery and . meeting new people.
He went to God on the day following: the Ascension. We can only imagine how enthusiastically he is revelling in this new! to the world of discovery. It is difficult to visualise David resting in peace with many such a brave new world to be explored!
It is only the annals of eternity that will reveal to the full the outstanding and selfless dedication of this remarkable priest. His deep faith and trust in God was an inspiration. It was typical of the man that self-pity and self-concern were never his major preoccupations. The heavy burden of ill-health he accepted as part of the mysterious plan of redemption for a suffering world. His faith was solid and shown in his apostolic enthusiasm. He was constantly preoccupied in trying to bring the peace of God to those whop were suffering in any way. Much of this work is hidden in the God whom he served faithfully. he comforted many who wept the tears of life, and gave new hope and encouragement to those threatened by difficulty and despair.
He was truly what Ignatius would like us all to be: a man for others.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 66 : September 1991

JUNE 1991 - 1491 TO 1991

Jim O’Higgins

A memorial, sent to the host of the Province Day, by Jim O'Higgins, brother-in-law of the late David Murphy, S.J.

This is the best day of my life he said
Dougie in the dining hall
Where sacerdotal homburg hat had just been
recorded as a rarity
Yet welcomed by the sweaters and the jeans
All synthesising with the greys, the garbs
The collars of the brothers
Vested in the clothes
of ordinary people
As Inigo on the path to Monserrat

First Salmeron and Brouet from Romes perspective
Strove to understand the lapsing unbelief of chiefs
Of Northern Donegal
And the Celts invective almost quenched
Their spirit but for the epistle from
the Basque
Now from Northwest of Ireland the Companions
They have sent their own emissary
To Rome to reach to unbelievers with good news

This is 'effective effective as the infiltration
Of Peter Kenny and his confreres
To prepare a people for emancipation
Through Castle Browne and Galway

Urging and creating a new “energy”
And support for ancient classicists and young feminists

For Arrupe, Peter-Hans G.C. 32
For Kostka and Columbiere

In 1991 in June they gathered
A great day in my life said Dougie
Quincentennial day for comrades
For the men for others.

◆ The Gonzaga Record 1986

David Murphy SJ

David was born in 1944 in Dublin, and spent his school days at Gonzaga Col lege. On leaving school he entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1962. The monastic style of Emo Park in those days re quired just the qualities of generosity and inwardness which David abund antly possessed.

He was in Rathfarnham Castle from 1964 to 1967 and enjoyed his years at university. He took his degree in English and French. French culture had a special appeal for David, and he spent five of his twenty years as a Jesuit in France. He went to Chantilly for philosophy. He became interested in Freud, an interest he never lost, and was reputed to have managed an inter view with the reclusive Samuel Beckett by the simplest of stratagems – going along and knocking on the great man's door. After philosophy he did his regency in Zambia. He returned to Milltown Park for theology and was ordained by Archbishop Ryan on 21 June 1974.

While he was in America that sum mer the brain tumour which finally killed him first came to light. Typically, David was not prepared to make major concessions to it or opt for the life of an invalid.

In 1977 he went back for a third time to Paris for pastoral theology. In 1978 he undertook what was perhaps the most amazing adventure of all: he became prison chaplain in Copenhagen to those non-Danish prisoners who spoke or could understand either English or French. His sense of outrage at what he saw as the callous treatment of a fairly wretched group by a reputedly sophisticated society was quick to surface and he did not hesitate to communicate it to others. He and a Mexican colleague were awarded a substantial humanitarian prize in Denmark for a report they drew up on the sufferings of prisoners in solitary confinement. It was so like David that we learned of this only after his death.

The last two years of his life were spent between Tabor, Sherrard Street, and St Luke's Hospital. He was too weak to undertake the Tertianship. Instead, he made his solemn profes
sion in the presence of his family and some friends in Milltown Park, on 29 December. It was not a sombre cere mony, but serious, courageous, and trusting. The readings were David's own choice, beginning with the voc ation of Abraham: 'Leave your coun try, your family, and your father's house, for the land I will show you? It seemed to express not only his history as a missionary, but also a constant quality of detachment in his own life, and his mysterious and painful destiny to leave all things in death a few days after his thirty-eighth birthday.

O'Dempsey, Robert, 1893-1972, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/745
  • Person
  • 23 July 1893-01 February 1972

Born: 23 July 1893, Parkton House, Enniscorthy, CountyWexford
Entered: 19 September 1916, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1928, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1931, Sacred Heart College SJ, Limerick
Died: 01 February 1972, Ballingarry, Mullingar, County Westmeath

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

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1930 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship

Seems he Entered 07 September 1911 then left in 1912 and then reentered in 19 September 1916

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 47th Year No 2 1972

Obituary :

Fr Robert O’Dempsey SJ (1893-1972)

Father Robert O'Dempsey was one of a family who for generations, from their big house on the outskirts of Enniscorthy, had played a prominent part in the life of Wexford, giving a series of professional men, teachers and religious to the county-men and women of more than ordinary ability and a tradition of selfless service. As a boy at Clongowes Father Robert held his own in a Rhetoric, which included the genius of Father Paul Healy and Ray OʻKelly, and the outstanding abilities of Gilbert Laithwaite, Tom Finlay and Father Paul O'Dea. True, from the first his outlook was not merely serious but tense, and sometimes meticulous. Probably modern Psychologists may register a doubt of the idea of a religious vocation with a long tradition of long and detailed training for such a character. That Father Robert's first attempt to be thus dedicated, resulted in real nervous tension would seem to confirm such an attitude. He had to leave the Noviceship with no prospect of return. Rejecting the professional studies to which other members of the family had devoted themselves, he chose to become an apprentice in Todd Burns Drapery business, explaining later that he wanted constant contact with people to counteract his tendency to introspection. He wanted also a way of life he would not find it a wrench to abandon, should he be re-established for a fresh start. He was, after an interval, and went back to begin all over again the trial of the Noviceship and this time to succeed.
The years in Dublin were happy ones, and they enabled him later, to bring practical experience to his aid in renewing the Clongowes Social Study Club, which had fallen on evil days. Indeed throughout his life he held and fostered principles of social justice only gradually coming to be accepted. These early delays precluded the academic opportunities of his brilliant contemporaries; but an exceptionally strong interest in mathematics and mechanical things - he was something of an expert in his hobby of railway development - enabled him to teach with great success in Clongowes and Belvedere for many years. When in 1962 with the closing of Tullabeg he closed his text books for the last time, it gave him real pleasure to know that one of his last students could write from Chantilly that, though his new professor had a world reputation “he's not a patch on Father Bob O'Dempsey”.
One of the last generation of pre-motor car men, Father O'Dempsey had a taste for long walks, often solitary, and observation that distinguished such men as Lloyd Praeger; he was seldom happier than when on a long tramp, as one who climbed Mweelrea and Errigal with him can testify. On one of the Wexford Villas of the early twenties, he and six companions rode from Gorey to the foot of Mount Leinster and climbing it, from that eminence surveyed the county he loved. That the local paper next day described him as the Leader of the Party of which in fact he was the Junior wasn't surprising, but the other members all surviving may recollect his amusing and delighted disclaimer, which the local journalism rejected.
For such a man the routine of a College like Belvedere, with not a blade of grass in its field of vision, and endless drab streets for “Morning Supplies" was not an ideal setting; nonetheless for many years he took not only his full share of class work, but also helped with Debates and other activities, notably in the staging of the most memorable of the Operas, which Father Glynn and Father Byrne produced.
Father O'Dempsey kept a small carefully selected stock of tools, and was always ready to put his skill with them to helpful use. He had an independent mind with an abiding hate of fashionable cant or meaningless cliché. A loyal old Clongownian, he abhorred all that goes with the “Old Tie” tradition. A true Patriot, he detested the “stage” Irishman and all that smacked of Jingoism. In the days when Telefis Eireann - then known as Radio Baile Atha Cliath poured out a succession of sentimental ballads he liked to refer to the Corporation as Radio Bla Bla! He insisted on the 'O' in O‘Dempsey, and was indeed as far removed as it is possible to imagine from the “Eloquent Dempsey”. In short absolute sincerity was his abiding gift.
It was perhaps unfortunate that for an interval in his latter years at Belvedere, the assignment to Bolton Street Technical School was less congenial, provoking stresses which happily, were dissipated by his term of teaching mathematics to the Philosophers at Tullabeg until the dispersal of the faculty there. The concluding years in Tullabeg left him somewhat forlorn, this occupation gone. As time passed he gave up the long cycle rides and even reading be came a burden.
It is a pity he does not seem ever to have put together, much less put in print, his knowledge of the history of the Wexford Rising, which was more detailed and accurate than that of many professional Historians. (His Grandfather had in fact been “out” in the ‘98 Rising). He was neither romantic nor dramatic in his approach, indeed he was almost mathematical in his pre-occupation with facts and the objectivity with which he assessed them was remarkable.
It was sheer strength of character that enabled his long life to be a story of severe mental trials, valiantly encountered, and a noble service done for God and his fellow men.

◆ The Clongownian, 1972


Father Robert O’Dempsey SJ

Robert O'Dempsey was born in 1893 at Parkton House, Enniscorthy. His father was a well known solicitor in that town, Robert was one of a large family, four brothers and seven sisters. His early education was with the Christian Brothers, Enniscorthy, for five years, and in 1907 he came to Congowes, where his three elder brothers had preceded him. He showed considerable ability while at school, and won prizes in the Junor, Middle and Senior Grades of the Intermediate examinations.

On leaving Clongowes in 1911, Robert O'Dempsey entered the noviciate of the Society of Jesus, but broke down in health and was obliged to leave. He went into business in Messrs Todd Burns in Dublin, but always retained the hope of following his vocation to the priesthood, In 1916, his health being restored, his hope was realised, and he was again received into the Society of Jesus. He studied philosophy and theology at Milltown Park and was ordained in 1928. Before his ordination he taught for two years at Clongowes, and after it for thirteen years at the Crescent, Belvedere and Mungret. From 1943 to 1952 he was assistant to the editor of the “Irish Messenger of the Sacred Heart”. He then went to Tullabeg, where from 1953 to 1962 he taught mathematical physics and chemistry to the Jesuit students, and after that acted as bursar until his health broke down a few years before his death in 1972,

Father O'Dempsey's life was in one sense uneventful, but in another it was truly remarkable. From his youth, he was periodically affected by nervous trouble, but he courageously overcame it again and again, and thus led a full, active and useful life. When in the colleges, though not a particularly good teacher, he was most devoted and hard working, and was a great “general utility” man, ready to help in the organisation of debates, plays, concerts and games. The work he had to do in the Messenger office was largely routine and not particularly interesting, but he carried it out with great fidelity and accuracy. When appointed to teach maths physics and chemistry in Tullabeg, forty years had elapsed since as a boy, he had distinguished himself in these subjects, and he applied himself courageously to the task of renewing his acquaintance with them.

His Jesuit colleagues remember him as a loyal friend, always ready to help, and as an inspiring example of fortitude in the face of constant adversity.