Foley, Peter, 1891-1968, Jesuit brother

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Foley, Peter, 1891-1968, Jesuit brother

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Dates of existence

21 March 1891-25 July 1968

History

Born: 21 March 1891, Tullycrine, Kilrush, County Clare
Entered: 04 February 1925, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Final vows: 02 February 1938
Died: 25 July 1968, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Train Driver before entry

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 43rd Year No 4 1968

St. Ignatius College, Galway
Our Community has seen sad days since the last issue of “Province News”. Fathers O'Connor, Hutchinson and Brennan had severe heart attacks which necessitated for each a long stay in hospital. Father Andrews, on his return from Spain, was very ill and went into hospital. And Father Butler is in hospital after an appendix operation.
The saddest news of all, however, was the death of two members of our community, Father P. O'Kelly and Brother Foley. Father Kelly's death was sudden and unexpected. On Monday, 22nd July, when he did not turn up for the 6.50 a.m. Mass, Brother Bonfield went to his room and found him dead in his chair. A note in the “History of the House”, in his own hand, dated the 22nd July, leads to the conclusion that he died in the early hours of that morning. On Sunday 21st he seemed to be in the best of form, had his usual swim (or swims), his usual trips on the bike, and in the evening took the Bona Mors Devotions. Little knowing that the prayers were for himself he said the usual three Hail Marys for the person in the congregation who was next to die. His death has left an unfillable gap in the Community. “We shall not see his like again”. But it was surely the death Father Paddy would have chosen for himself - a labourer in the Lord's vineyard, working on and on, right up to the eleventh hour. Messages of sympathy poured in from all sides, among them, one from His Lordship the Bishop, and one from the County Council. All day long, for two days, the doorbell kept ringing as Mass Cards were handed in and the pile grew steadily.
When Brother Foley's death came so soon after Father O'Kelly's funeral and the church bell tolled again, people showed deep sympathy for the community. Mass cards piled up again, a sign that, in spite of his enforced retirement, over the years, his old friends had not forgotten him.
Both funerals were large and impressive. The town's people were there in great numbers to pay their last tribute, and Fathers and Brothers from all over the Province came to be present at the last sad rites. Many of Father O'Kelly's and Brother Foley's relatives were at the Mass and at the graveside. Fr. G. Perrott (Rector at the time) came all the way from Achill to say the Requiem
Mass for Father O'Kelly and was present at both funerals. Fr. V. McLaughlin was Clebrant at the Mass for Brother Foley. Reciting the last prayers at the burial of Father O'Kelly was Rev. Father Provincial, Father Barry and at Brother Foley's burial the prayers were said by Father C. McGarry, Father Barry's successor as Provincial. Ar laimh dheis De go raibh a n-anama.

Irish Province News 44th Year No 1 1969

Obituary :

Br Peter Foley SJ (1891-1968)

When at 6.50 a.m. on the morning of July 25th, 1968, Brother Peter Foley closed his eyes in death after a fairly short heart attack, the Irish Province lost one of its most colourful and lovable members. Galway Community, already heavily stricken by the sudden passing three days before of Fr. Paddy O'Kelly, was left with a sense of loss difficult for those outside the Community to appreciate. Fr. Paddy and Br. Peter were irreplaceable.
Brother Foley was born in the family home in Tullycrine, Kilmihil, Co. Clare on the 21st March, 1891. He was in his 78th year when he died. Peter was the eldest of a family of twenty, a family blessed with wonderful Irish parents for whom Peter always had the greatest respect and deep love. In such a family, where “there was always a concertina in the corner” (to quote Br. Peter) the eldest had a very big hand in rearing those after him. From early on his parents found that with Peter in charge all would be looked after. If Peter ever took on a job he saw it through to the end cost what it may. This reliability was characteristic of him to the day of his death. Of course, heaven help those whom he found to be wanting in this matter!
As he grew up Peter proved to be an able scholar so much so that it was thought that teaching would be a suitable career for him. (He certainly would have had no discipline problems in class. When Br. Peter's eyes glinted there was no room for trifling!) However, that was not to be. Peter worked at home tending the cattle, looking after the delightful orchard which he planted, doing the “babysitting” when his parents were away and also, we must not forget, having a gay time! Yes! a gay time, for there was a sparkle in that gamey eye. To listen to Br. Peter talking of life as it was in Clare in the first decades of this century would surely bring home to one how much we have lost of the art of living. Without the organised and often empty entertainments of today people of those times made their own entertainments. Peter did not go unnoticed at these night-long dances and parties and his meticulous care of his dress earned the admiration of all and sundry.
Was it surprising that Peter's rather unexpected departure for Dublin caused alarm in many quarters? He was missed grievously at home and indeed elsewhere. How could it be otherwise when one reflects on his gaiety, dependability, and on the fact that there was nothing he would not do for those about him in need. On one occasion he sat non-stop for days on end by the bedside of a friend who was very seriously ill with whooping cough. A friend of Peter's quality is sorely missed.
Peter quickly took to Dublin although he found it hard to be so far from his own. Peter joined the D.U.T. Co. In his years as a Tram Driver he showed again all his good qualities. While working in Dublin he helped his younger brothers and sisters as handsomely as he could. They never forgot his goodness to them. In later, years and right up to his death they on their part showered kindnesses of all kinds upon him and on all the many friends he brought to see them in Tullycrine and in all the surrounding areas, Kilmihil, Kilrush, by the Shannon.
His good example in the D.U.T, Co, set many a fellow worker back on the right road. His advice was carefully listened to. For his friends in trouble he was able to pick the "”ight priest” and say the right word ... and lead all off to a good picture or a dance when ease of conscience had been restored. He showed his reliability and courage on Bloody Sunday when despite the chaos and fear in the city he drove his Howth Tram from the Pillar right on the appointed time and in the midst of all! It was not surprising that a priest in Confession during a Parish Retreat told him he should examine whether he had a vocation. The priest was a well-known retreat giver of the time, Fr. Halpin, S.J. Some time before that a Carmelite nun whom he visited in Ranelagh told Peter that he had a vocation to the Society of Jesus.
Peter never dallied - unlike so many of the rest of us. “When there is a job to be done, it must be done!”.., no excuses! He was interviewed by Fr. Provincial and was accepted. He bade his farewells very matter-of-factly, gave all his furniture to the French Sisters of Charity in Dollymount and entered the Tullabeg Novitiate. It was the fourth of February, 1925.
For a man of Br. Peter's make-up life in the noviceship of these days must have been rather excruciating! But no matter what hardship was there Peter was not the one to look back after he had put his hand to the plough. His novice master must have been perplexed at times by Peter's openness which was a very blunt kind of openness, for he believed very much that there was more room outside than inside! No bottling up! If something was on his mind and bothering him out it had to come! This meant a certain boiling over of the pot from time to time. Right to the end the pot had to boil over in this fashion. This was part of the rich colouring of Peter's make-up and life!
His Master of Novices and the Holy Spirit between them must have done a great job on Br. Peter. From childhood he had been a tremendous worker. He remained so all through his years in religion. Added to that he became a tremendously regular religious. Those who were stunned by the gay Peter becoming a Jesuit Brother would have been more stunned by the regularity of his life if they had known of it.
Right to the end Br. Peter was an early riser. Even when he was sick he was loath to stay in bed. By the time many others were beginning to wake up he had been up and said his third Rosary. He was tremendously devoted to his Beads and his example should cause us to hesitate to neglect this form of prayer. Modern trends in this line did not appeal to Br. Peter. His own fidelity to his religious duties made him a great example, a pace setter you might say, for the rest of us. He was very much our Community watchdog. A very helpful tonic he was too, for he believed firmly in “chastising those whom he loved”. He was very proud of the fact that he “never left the monastery”. His observation about “certain people!” - no names of course, whose business took them out were predictable : “That fella! sure he's never in!” Heaven help the unpunctual for punctuality was one of Peter's cardinal virtues. “I'm methodical!” he loved to say while he smilingly pointed to his head. “It's up there you need it. When I say a thing I do it!” Small wonder that there were sparks and red faces when he came across us lesser mortals who were unmethodical and forgot or were unable to do what we said.
In each of the houses he was stationed in the three main ones were Emo, Rathfarnham and Galway - the great qualities of Br. Peter were noted and appreciated by all. He did not know how to spare himself as far as work was concerned. His bighearted generosity was proverbial. All of his friends could write books on his devoted loyalty. He was no man for half measures in any sphere.
Over the years his main jobs were those of mechanic and driver in Emo, in charge of the staff, the turbines, the garden in Rathfarnham, mechanic, painter, gardener, general repairer and charge of Church collections in Galway. (In this latter very important sphere he showed his great observation of fashion trends and always had an admiring word for the people as they passed into Church. “You're like a spring chicken!” “How do you do it?” How the people loved that!) The Mungret Community of course had Br. Peter on loan for several months to do a big painting job for them.
In his dealing with the staff under him, with the poor and the needy, the lonely, many people experienced his very practical kindness and apostolic zeal. Only the Recording Angel could keep check on his quiet visits to the lonely, of the sacks of vegetables and potatoes he slipped to those in need. He timed matters well. He made sure there was nobody about to know of his ventures in this way.
Although in his later quiet years Br, Peter would say he only knew twelve people in Galway or that he was “unknown”, those who lived with him knew better. At Christmas in particular the letters came flowing in from all over Ireland, from England, from America, from his many brothers and sisters, their husbands and wives, his nephews and nieces, and the uncountable number of friends, Peter did not forget them. He was reliable and methodical about his letters just as he was about everything else. Whenever he could he gave presents too. His great joy in life was to make other people happy. Is it any wonder that he is now sorely missed?
The warm and boisterous greeting for the visitor is missed; the laughing chat over the cigarette, the kick that he got out of showing that although he never left the monastery he knew everything, his enjoyment of his brethren at supper and coffee and his amazing devotion to horses, to “Ireland's Own” to County Clare (but not alas! to Nenagh or to Tipp.) ... the sparkle, the shout, the gaiety, all is missed.
His death came suddenly in the end. He had been sick for years, He had two big operations, one in Rathfarnham, the other in Galway. After that he developed serious heart trouble and for years he suffered agony with a stone in the kidneys. When last March Mr. McDermott removed the stone we had hoped that he would be left with us for a few years longer. God's ways are not ours. Fr. Minister's anxious care of him, which he deeply appreciated and was never finished talking about, was unable to cope with what must have been the shock of Fr. O'Kelly's sudden passing, Br. Peter was dead three days after Fr. Paddy O'. He had gone to Fr. O'Kelly's funeral and he had stood looking thoughtfully at the coffin and grave. He must have known that he would not last longer himself.
He had great friends in life. In Heaven we can be sure that the great friends of his life were to welcome him : Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Solas na bhFlaitheas dá anam uasal.

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

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Foley, Peter, 1891-1968, Jesuit brother

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IE IJA J/152

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