- 1950; 1960 (Creation)
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Born: 02 January 1911, Spiddal, County Galway
Entered: 07 September 1931, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1945, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 02 February 1948
Died: 02 June 1960, St Stephens Hospital, Glanmire, County Cork
Part of Mungret College community, Limerick at time of his death.
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 35th Year No 3 1960
Fr Stephen Curran (1911-1960)
Stephen Curran was born near Spiddal, Co. Galway, on 2nd January, 1911. He was at school at St. Mary's College, Galway, but in 1927 he transferred to the Apostolic School, Mungret College, where he remained until he entered the Noviceship at Emo in 1931. In due course he moved from Emo to Rathfarnham Castle for his Juniorate (1933-36), during which he read for his degree in Celtic Studies at University College, Dublin. For the next three years we find him studying Philosophy at Tullabeg, In 1939 he was assigned to St. Ignatius College, Galway for his “Colleges”, and in 1942 he began Theology at Milltown Park, where he was ordained in 1945. After Tertianship at Rathfarnham Castle, 1946-47, he spent the remaining years of his life in teaching at Mungret College, Limerick.
“A gentle scholar, poet and universal friend”. These words from a very appreciative letter of sympathy from the Mungret Union give a true impression of Fr. Curran.
Gentle he was all his life and in every way, notably in a certain delightful charm in his manner of speech and conversation, gentle too in his habitual judgments and outlook, in his dealings with others, and in his exceptional degree of modesty about his own very highly cultivated talents.
A true scholar also. He was blessed with the knowledge of Irish as his natural language, he had enriched this knowledge by a deep and lifelong study. He also had studied kindred Celtic languages. Added to this was a persistent study of Irish history, literature, poetry and art, ancient and modern. A few years ago he became interested in Spanish; this interest turned into serious study and he became proficient at the language and taught it successfully to the Philosophers. It is characteristic that at the same time he studied the history, literature and art of Spain, reading Cervantes, St. John of the Cross, modern drama, novels and biography, Added to this he cultivated Spanish boys in the school, listened to Spanish radio, got to know their newspapers and periodicals, and hoped to have an opportunity of visiting Spain.
This all indicates that he “saw life whole”; it also brings us to his predominant characteristic, his wholehearted and affectionate interest in people. This was evident in the whole bent of his conversation, especially in Irish. Another example is this : the Hungarian Rising inspired him with sympathy and admiration for that people. He studied their history and literature and mastered some of the fundamental mysteries of their so very different language; but his real happiness was when he visited the refugee camp and got in touch with the living Hungarian people. As well as this natural interest there was the urge of his apostolic priesthood. He envisaged translations of religious matter from Spanish into Irish, and had published at least one article, an Irish version of a poem on the Nativity. He worked in England for the last two or three summers and returned with great sympathy for the people. The outstanding example of this interest of his comes from his time in hospital in Cork; he got to know all the patients around him, and all about their families, occupations, ailments and personal histories. When visited by any of his Community he divided the time talking, with wholehearted interest, about the patients and about Mungret. Incidentally his genuine and obvious delight at seeing his brethren was a pleasure to witness, and his sense of gratitude, for what he truly thought quite undeserved attention, would almost overcome him. In a letter shortly before his death he said that so good had everyone been to him by prayer and every way that he expressly wished that to every prayer of petition for him should be added one of thanksgiving
After his Tertianship in Rathfarnham he came to Mungret, his own school, in 1947, and there he laboured until his last illness. The word is used deliberately. Fr. Curran laboured to the fast ounce of his strength. He taught Irish classes right through the school, every day and nearly all day. But the curriculum was merely basic. Irish for him was something loved and living, and he strove with all his inward and outward power to make it live for others. He was like one devoted, lighting little beacons in the darkness and little fires in a great cold. He seemed fully informed about every development in Irish, about writers of the day in prose or poetry, about books, periodicals and plays, and even about techniques in printing and publishing; in general, all received his happy approval, He spoke Irish to the boys, interested them in Club Leabhar na Sóisear, Inniu, An Gael Og, etc. With scarcely any recreational space or facilities he kept Cumann na Gaeilge going with conversation, debates, dramas, prize essays, and a lending library.
Indeed in his last illness he provided for the awarding of the Bonn Óir le haghaidh óráidíochta and the Corn le haghaidh comhrá. Once or twice a year he produced Irish plays. For these he himself planned the stage, painted the scenery, did all the coaching in speaking and acting, costurned the players and was an expert at make-up. One year he produced the opera Maritana, making his own translation very beautifully. On several occasions his players took part in the Féile Luimní, He really was the life and soul of Irish in the College, and we seriously fear that without him, whom all of us together cannot match, it may lapse into a mere class subject.
He whose home tongue was Irish and whose native earth was betwixt the hills and the sea in Cois Fhairrge must have found the inland plains dull and the English language flat. Be that as it may, an unwonted gaiety and joyousness took possession of him when on holidays in a gaeltacht beside the sea and his companionship was a delight. There he who ordinarily was so retiring became a leader, full of happy enterprise and initiative; there too his natural gifts as a homely raconteur shone.
His last illness began with what might have been an ordinary attack of flu. He soon showed symptoms of pleurisy and pneumonia and was brought to the Regional Hospital. They found grave disorder in the lung and recommended Surgeon Hickey, St. Stephen's Hospital, Cork. He made the journey by car on Shrove Tuesday. He had there a big exploratory operation and it was found that the lung and surrounding area was flooded with a great quantity of blood. It had come from a leak in the main artery very near the heart. This artery was in a very thin and worn condition. For nearly two weeks after this he was so low that those who visited him thought him dying. But he made a great recovery and became quite himself, saying Mass and spending some time out in the grounds. He knew he was building up for the crucial operation and he knew its nature, but he kept cheerful and optimistic, planning away for the future, always with the proviso, “If it be God's Will”. The operation consisted in grafting a patch on to the defective artery. Without this he could not live, but the chances of its success were small. It was said that the only other place it could be performed is in Texas. Nothing could exceed Mr. Hickey's devotedness and attention, and Fr. Stephen had full confidence in him and a tremendous admiration for him. The operation began at 1 p.m, and was not over till after 9 p.m. About 10 p.m. Fr. Stephen came to himself and spoke to the doctor, Mr. Hickey. Mr. Hickey said to Fr. Rector: "You may go home now Father and pray he may get through the night, if he does he should be all right". About an hour later he took a bad turn and at 12.25 on Thursday, 2nd June he died. He had been anointed and the chaplain was with him. Those who saw him after death remarked on the tranquillity and peacefulness of his appearance. He was buried in the Community cemetery on the Eve of Pentecost.
Ar dheasláimh Dé go raibh a anam ar feadh na síoraochta.
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Stephen Curran 1911-1950
Fr Stephen Curran was a truly gentle and lovable soul. Born near Spiddal on January 2nd 1911, he never lost his tender love of his native language nor his native place. Next to God and the Society, this was his one love.
He worked unremittingly in his Alma Mater, Mungret, from his tertianship in Rathfarnham in 1947 until his death in 1960. Is devotion to his classes was his leading trait, and his energy was unflagging in promoting our native language, in producing plays and running debating societies, and in writing for various Irish periodicals.
His early tragic death at the age of 49 may be traced to the exemplary execution of his duties. The early habits and customs of the noviceship he carried out right to the end. If ever a man earned the right to hear those words “Well done good and faithful servant”, Stephen Curran surely did.
“Ár dheis-lamh Dé go raibh a anam”, as he himself would like to say.
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