- 27 January 1952 (Creation)
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Born: 26 June 1896, Great Denmark Street, Dublin
Entered: 31 August 1914, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1931, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1934, Clongowes Wood College SJ
Died: 02 November 1973, Milltown Park, Dublin
Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ
by 1933 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
Bodkin, Matthias McDonnell
by Felix M. Larkin
found in Bodkin, Matthias McDonnell (1849–1933), journalist and lawyer, was born in October 1849 at Tuam, Co. Galway
Bodkin married (1885) Arabella Norman (c.1854–1931), daughter of Francis Norman, solicitor, of Dublin, and Margaret Norman (née Adrian; c.1820–1883). They had two sons and four daughters, of whom the eldest, Thomas Patrick Bodkin (qv), was director of the NGI 1927–35. Their youngest daughter, Emma Bodkin (1892–1973), was one of the first women chartered accountants in Ireland. Two other daughters became Carmelite nuns. The youngest of the family, also Matthias McDonnell Bodkin (1896–1973), was a Jesuit priest and author. Born 26 June 1896 in Dublin and educated at Belvedere College and Clongowes Wood College, he entered the Jesuit noviciate in 1914 and was ordained 1932. For many years a teacher in Clongowes, Mungret College, and Belvedere, he served as a Royal Navy chaplain during the second world war in Derry and for a brief period in the Pacific on board HMS Anson. Afterwards, his eyesight failing, he undertook mainly retreat work and counselling. He died 2 November 1973 at Milltown Park, Dublin. Like his father, he was a prolific writer – largely on religious themes, but also of adventure stories for boys. His most substantial book, a life of fellow-Jesuit Fr John Sullivan (qv) (The port of tears (1954)), did much to spread Fr Sullivan's reputation for sanctity. So as to differentiate his own from his father's work, Fr Bodkin never used his second Christian name.
NAI, private accession no. 1155; NLI, MS 10702 (F. S. Bourke collection: letters to M. McD. Bodkin and his wife, mainly 1880–1910), MSS 14252–64 (manuscript literary remains of M. McD. Bodkin); Freeman's Journal, 24, 25, 28–30 Jan. 1908; A considered judgment: report of Judge Bodkin forwarded to Sir Hamar Greenwood and read in open court at Ennis, Co. Clare, on Sat., 5 Feb. 1921 (1921); Another considered judgment: second report of Judge Bodkin (1921); Ir. Independent, Ir. Press, Ir. Times, 8 June 1933; Ir. Independent, 3 Nov. 1973; Lawrence W. McBride, The greening of Dublin Castle: the transformation of bureaucratic and judicial personnel in Ireland, 1892–1922 (1991); Frank Callanan, The Parnell split, 1890–91 (1992); Eamonn G. Hall, ‘Introduction’, M. McDonnell Bodkin, Famous Irish trials (1997 ed.); Anne Kelly, ‘Perfect ambition: Thomas Bodkin, a life (with particular reference to his influence on the early development of Irish cultural policy’ (Ph.D. thesis, TCD, 2001); Felix M. Larkin, ‘Judge Bodkin and the 1916 rising: a letter to his son’, N. M. Dawson (ed.), Reflections on law and history (2006)
◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280 :
Note from Daniel Fitzpatrick Entry
He was sent to Mungret in Limerick for his education. He had very fond memories of Mungret, especially his Jesuit teachers, like Mattie Bodkin, who had a significant influence on him.
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 10th Year No 3 1935
Works by Father Mattie Bodkin SJ :
- “Flood-tide” - A school story
- “Lost in the Arctic” - A translation from the German of Svenson's " Nonni and Manni”.
- “Studies in Sanctity” - Biographical essays
- “The Stop Gap” - School story
- “The Captain” - School story
- “Saint Robert Southwell” - Hagiography
- “Saint Bernadette” - Hagiography
- “Blessed Peter Faber” - Hagiography
- “Father Stanton” - Biography
- “Forest and Jungle” - Biography
- “Father De Smet” - Biography
- “The Black Robe” - Biography
- “Guy De Fontgalland” - Biography
- “The Soul of a Child” - Biography
Irish Province News 16th Year No 1 1941
Fr. Bodkin is to be congratulated on the production of his latest book, “Halt, Invader.” Its publication caused great interest here. We hope that his present work of contemplation and stimulation of youth at study will keep the springs of inspiration bubbling.
An enthusiastic welcome has been accorded Father Bodkin's novel. “Halt Invader” whose hero is a Belvederian. One member of the Community believes that the Government should
subsidise the book and give a copy of it to every Irish citizen seeing that the book is, in his opinion, an exposition of the ideology of Irish mentality in the present war.
Irish Province News 49th Year No 1 1974
Fr Matthias Bodkin (1896-1973)
By way of preface to the appreciation proper we offer some salient dates and details of Fr. Bodkin's earlier years ;
He was born in Dublin - Great Denmark St - June 26th, 1896, the younger son of Judge Matthias McDonnell Bodkin. He was one of a family of six, one brother, Tom, a sister, Emma, of both of whom more anon, two sisters who became Carmelite nuns and a sister who became Mrs John Robinson. Fr Mattie was the last survivor of his generation.
He got his early schooling at Belvedere, practically adjoining his home and thence he later went to Clongowes and from there he entered the novitiate at Tullabeg on August 31st 1914. He was one of the “Twelve Apostles” of whom he himself gave some account in the obituary of Fr Fred Paye, from his hand, which appeared in the July number of the Province News, 1972. (He was an excellent panegyrist, and was frequently applied to to formulate an appreciation and readily obliged, despite the incapacity in later years of poor eyesight.) From Tullabeg after a brief period in the - home Juniorate, then usual, he advanced to Rathfarnham where he got a distinguished degree at the University in History. Thence to Milltown for Philosophy and in 1924 back to Clongowes and later to Mungret, Doc. Among his pupils in Mungret was Tadhg Mannion, Archbishop and Cardinal to be, who on a recent occasion visiting his Alma Mater affectionately recalled Mr Bodkin, as he then was, and wished particularly to be remembered to him. Milltown again for Theology and ordination 1932. On returning to Clongowes after the Tertianship he acquitted himself with success as Prefect of Studies for four years and later at Belvedere as teacher. One of the chores which regular fell to his lot was the editorship of the College Annual and in his leisure time he produced several school stories of dimensions of novels, “Flood Tide” being the more popular. He likewise wrote a memoir of Fr John Sullivarı... “The Port of Tears'.
Fr Bodkin's death in the night between All Saints' Day and the Commemoration of All Souls, when by a special effort he had said the customary three Masses for the Dead, after midnight, was in many ways a fitting end to a long life during which he had always been notable for the energy with which he threw himself into whatever task assigned him,
Those who saw the memorial card which was made after his death were somewhat taken aback to realise how much Fr Mattie's face had changed in appearance during his long, strenuous and often hard life. No man was better able to enjoy fun or any form of relaxation that appealed to him but there was always a sense of duty to be done, and done generously, at whatever cost to himself. He had a real gift of friendship and he was never short of friends. Whether as a teacher or a preacher, naval chaplain or confessor, in his last years, to more than one community of young Irish Christian Brothers, he gave himself heartily to each. The free independent judgment which was always a marked characteristic of his advice made him in old age an admirable confessor, just as in his youth the same independent judgment made him, to use a phrase from one who knew him many years ago in Belvedere, a superb teacher of history and English literature. Clongowes and Belvedere were very much the centres of Mattie’s life down to the year 1940 when he volunteered as a naval chaplain in Derry and in the Far East.
The fact that he was one of a very well known and respected Dublin family and that he lived in or near Dublin for so many years gave him a great advantage in forming the friendships which meant so much to him personally and which were so marked a feature of his apostolic work. He lived more than seventy years of life in Dublin at a time when Dublin was very much the centre of modern Irish life and his memory (usually but not always accurate in detail) made his conversation a stream of reminiscences that were always vivid to himself and of interest to his hearers, Again and again it was remarked that what Mattie remembered was almost always some kind word spoken to him or some good deed which had made an impression on him, possibly long years ago. He was quick to complain of some passing episode that irritated him but his wide ocean of personal memories seemed full. to overflowing of kind and generous thoughts.
The failure of Fr Bodkin's eyesight which was so heavy a cross for him to bear in the years after his return from service in the English Royal Navy exacted more from him than from most other sufferers from this affliction for all through life he had been a great reader of books and a lover of fine pictures. As a boy, in his father's house he had the good fortune of knowing Sir Hugh Lane, then at the height of his influence in Irish artistic life and in later years, he had the constant stimulus of his brother Tom's example, first as Director of the National Gallery in Dublin, then of the Barber Institute in Birmingham
But there was another strand of the family tradition: if Tom Bodkin's name will always be remembered in connection with theNational Gallery and the controversy that arose over the final disposition of Hugh Lane's bequest to Dublin the name of his sister, Emma, was even more closely linked with Frank Duff’s apostolate and work for the Legion of Mary at home and abroad. It was probably Emma's influence which first turned Mattie's thoughts to the welfare, spiritual even more than temporal, of the young girls who for one reason or another had been left without family or friends to help and advise them. What Fr Mattie did for those girls and often for many years successively, when they turned to him as to a friend upon whom they could always count, is known only to God. Emma predeceased him by a few months here in Dublin. Both, we are confident, have received in Heaven the reward which the Lord promises to those who give and give generously to children and to those in need. Requiescant in Pace.
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A file relating to Fr Matthias Bodkin's book on the life of Fr John Sullivan SJ, 'Port of Tears'.
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