File 169 - Fr Gerard Guinane SJ

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IE IJA J/169


Fr Gerard Guinane SJ


  • 7 November 1945 - October 1971 (Creation)

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10 items

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(21 September 1900-26 June 1971)

Biographical history

Born: 21 September 1900, Clonmel, County Tipperary
Entered: 31 August 1917, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1933, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1936, Sacred Heart College SJ, Limerick
Died: 26 June 1971, Crescent College, Limerick City

Second World War chaplain

by 1928 in Australia - Regency at St Ignatius College, Riverview, Sydney
by 1935 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Gerard Guinane was only sixteen when he entered the Society at Tullabeg, and following early studies he was sent to Riverview in 1926. He taught in the school, was prefect of the study hall and, for a while, was assistant rowing master. He was very successful as a teacher and highly regarded by William Lockington. After ordination and tertianship, Guinane spent most of his life teaching, principally at Mungret and Limerick.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 16th Year No 4 1941
General :
Seven more chaplains to the forces in England were appointed in July : Frs Burden, Donnelly, J Hayes, Lennon and C Murphy, who left on 1st September to report in Northern Ireland, and Fr Guinane who left on 9th September.
Fr. M. Dowling owing to the serious accident he unfortunately met when travelling by bus from Limerick to Dublin in August will not be able to report for active duty for some weeks to come. He is, as reported by Fr. Lennon of the Scottish Command in Midlothian expected in that area.
Of the chaplains who left us on 26th May last, at least three have been back already on leave. Fr. Hayes reports from Redcar Yorks that he is completely at home and experiences no sense of strangeness. Fr. Murphy is working' with the Second Lancashire Fusiliers and reports having met Fr. Shields when passing through Salisbury - the latter is very satisfied and is doing well. Fr. Burden reports from Catterick Camp, Yorks, that he is living with Fr. Burrows, S.J., and has a Church of his own, “so I am a sort of PP”.
Fr. Lennon was impressed very much by the kindness already shown him on all hands at Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh and in his Parish. He has found the officers in the different camps very kind and pleased that he had come. This brigade has been without a R.C. Chaplain for many months and has never yet had any R.C. Chaplain for any decent length of time. I am a brigade-chaplain like Fr Kennedy and Fr. Naughton down south. He says Mass on weekdays in a local Church served by our Fathers from Dalkeith but only open on Sundays. This is the first time the Catholics have had Mass in week-days

Irish Province News 17th Year No 1 1942

Chaplains :
Our twelve chaplains are widely scattered, as appears from the following (incomplete) addresses : Frs. Burden, Catterick Camp, Yorks; Donnelly, Gt. Yarmouth, Norfolk; Dowling, Peebles Scotland; Guinane, Aylesbury, Bucks; Hayes, Newark, Notts; Lennon, Clackmannanshire, Scotland; Morrison, Weymouth, Dorset; Murphy, Aldershot, Hants; Naughton, Chichester, Sussex; Perrott, Palmer's Green, London; Shields, Larkhill, Hants.
Fr. Maurice Dowling left Dublin for-Lisburn and active service on 29 December fully recovered from the effects of his accident 18 August.

Irish Province News 21st Year No 1 1946

Frs. Guinane, Pelly and Perrott C. have been released from the Army. Fr. Guinane is now Minister at Mungret, Fr. Perrott is posted to Galway, and Fr. Pelly is awaiting travelling facilities to go to our Hong Kong Mission. Fr. Martin, a member also of the Mission, was to have been released from the Army on December 12th, but on the 11th be met with a serious accident in Belfast (see letter below). Fr. Provincial went to Belfast on Wednesday, January 9th, to visit him at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Fr. C. Murphy hopes to start on his homeward journey from Austria on January 14th and to be released from the Army by the end of January.

Irish Province News 46th Year No 3 1971

Obituary :

Fr Gerard Guinane SJ (1900-1971)

Fr Gerard Guinane was born in Clonmel on 21st September 1900, He was an only child. The family moved to Limerick in 1906 and at first resided at St. John's Villas. His father was manager of Cleeve's Confectionery Ltd.
He received his very early education with the Loreto nuns, Clonmel, and shortly after coming to Limerick, he entered Crescent College where he continued for the remainder of his schooldays. Gerard Guinane entered the Jesuit noviceship at St. Stanislaus College, Tullamore, on 31st August 1917 and on the completion of his noviceship spent a further year there as a junior, when he moved on to Rathfarnham Castle from which he attended University College, taking his degree in Celtic Studies with distinction in 1924. He next spent two years studying philosophy at Milltown Park, Dublin, on the completion of which he went to Australia for four years as teacher and prefect in the colleges of Holy Name, Brisbane, and Riverview, Sydney. On his return to Ireland he again went to Milltown Park to study theology for four years. He was ordained priest there in 1933. After tertianship in St. Beuno's College, North Wales, Fr Guinane came to Crescent College in 1935 for one year, and then moved to Mungret College where he was engaged as teacher and minister until 1941.
From 1941 to 1946 he served as military chaplain in the Second World War, mainly with the Royal Ulster Rifles. During this period of chaplaincy he frequently sacrificed the opportunity of leave home to undertake retreat work to religious communities and their schoolgirls and was much loved for this service, the more so that he was supplying for an urgent need where retreat givers were less available.
He then returned to Mungret College for a short period and finally came to Crescent College in the Autumn of 1946 where he spent the remaining years of his life - a period of twenty-five years. He died on Friday, 25th June 1971. To a large section of people, Fr. Guinane was chiefly known for his connection with rugby football. For his uncanny knowledge of the game, his skill as a trainer, his truly marvellous capacity in estimating the ability and temperament of the individual player, he was outstanding. In addition, he took a very keen personal interest in hundreds of players of the game at home and abroad, and was loved and respected by them all. In his early years as games master in. Crescent College, Fr Guinane trained teams that won the Munster Schools' Senior Cup three times within a half-dozen years. On those teams were included many players who subsequently became well-known personalities, such as rugby internationals Gordon Wood, Paddy Berkery, Paddy Lane (now vice-president of the N.F.A.), and film star Richard Harris, who utilised his rugby training most effectively in This Sporting Life.

In the administrative side of rugby, Fr. Guinane once again figured very prominently. He was president of the Munster Branch of the I.R.F.U., and served for some time as a member of the executive of the Irish Rugby Union. For many years he was a member and chairman) of the Munster Referees' Association. He was founder and later president of the Old Crescent Rugby Football Club, in which he took a very deep, dedicated and affectionate interest. But Fr. Guinane's interest and competence in sport were not confined to rugby football. As a scholastic in Riverview College he was given charge of the rowing, a heavy and responsible business involving the training of crews, the running of the annual college regatta and the presenting of an eight and two fours for the great Public Schools' Regatta, one of the sporting highlights of Sydney life. All this he carried through with energy and drive at a period when he was full-time teacher and prefect of the senior study hall. He also had more than a passing interest in almost every variety of sport and in his youth was regarded as an outstanding handball player. A highly important period in Fr Gerry's career was when he was selected as military chaplain in the Second World War and appointed to the Royal Ulster Rifles. A personal accident during training for D-Day invasion of Europe prevented him from taking part in the regiment's activities overseas. Nevertheless, the friends he made in the R.U.R. were very many and very close. This was particularly true of Lt. General Sir lan Harris, who retired as G.O.C. Northern Ireland in 1969 shortly before the recent troubles broke out there. Fr. Guinane was a regular guest at regimental dinners and was invited by the regiment to officiate as Catholic chaplain at the ceremonies when it merged with two other regiments to form the Royal Ulster Rangers. From time to time members of the Royal Ulster Rifles, when on business or on holiday in Southern Ireland, if they happened to pass through Limerick, made a point of calling on Fr Guinane, whom they regarded with singular esteem and affection, While serving as chaplain in England, he received the highest commendation for the immense amount of personal contact service he operated for the men in the forces, righting marriages, solving family troubles, befriending individuals who were down in their luck, in addition to performing his official duties, like saying Masses at three widely separated centres on a Sunday morning.
Another interesting sidelight on this period of his career was the way in which he succeeded (or manoeuvred) in accommodating Irish communities of nuns in England, by securing the necessary travel permits from the British Government for certain Irish Jesuits to give these nuns their annual retreats. There are other aspects of Fr Guinane's life which passed almost unnoticed by the outside world. One of these was his interest and skill in the retreat movement, especially for nuns, and his remarkable competence in the direction of those in religious life. Restricted opportunity limited his activity in this line considerably, but it is quite astonishing how much his direction and advice were sought by individual religious and by religious superiors. His sound commonsense, balanced judgment, broad outlook, wide experience, clear and unhesitating decisions, were instrumental in bringing mental peace and happiness to many who suffered from distress and uncertainty. And, occasionally, when a rugby fixture brought him far away from base, his companions afterwards would good-humouredly suffer delay, while Fr Guinane had gone to some hospital or convent to console or direct someone in trouble or distress. Closely allied to this aspect of Fr Guinane was his generosity to people in need or want, a trait which was sometimes indeed taken advantage of by clients who realised that he was “good” for a bit of assistance. He was often approached by those who had “just come out of jail” or “were going to England for work” or who had been “staunch supporters at rugby matches”, and in most cases, however tenuous the claims to his benefactions were, the petitioners “had their claims allowed” by the man who had indeed made a diagnosis of their real ailments, and a very clear assessment of the various subterfuges. He gave of his time and of the limited resources at his disposal without stint. Unselfishness was something that was really basic to his nature. He would stop at nothing to help a friend. Many of his friends were quite unaware that he sometimes went to an important international rugby match without an admission ticket - he had given he last one, his own, to someone whom he felt that he could not refuse. In community life also he was most obliging with his services and his time. He could always be depended on at short notice to take a sermon, or supply for a Mass or confessions even with considerable inconvenience to himself. Fr Guinane was widely known as a skilled diplomatist and a man of remarkable shrewdness. Yet, he always played his cards within the law, and could only win admiration and respect from those whom he had legitimately outwitted. One of his great friends - himself a man of no mean intelligence and perspicacity, who was locally renowned for his flair in making an apt and witty remark, described Fr. Gerry as “The Twentieth Century Fox”.

Fr Guinane fundamentally was an extrovert in quite an admirable way. His interest was in people people of all sorts and ages. He was happy with schoolboys, treated them with kindness and consideration, and knew how to bring out the best that was in them. He was perfectly at home with adult men of every creed and class, and by his sincerity, unselfishness and understanding and urbane manner won their respect, admiration and loyalty. With the Sisters in various religious communities, the ladies with whom he came in contact, in retreats, sodalities, hospitals and a multiplicity of other organisations, his same sterling characteristics had a wide and lasting influence and won for him a very deep regard, The exceptionally large number of people from all parts of the country who expressed their sympathy, and who travelled long distances to attend his final obsequies are a lasting tribute to the esteem and affection in which he was universally held. May he rest in peace.

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Catalogue entry, obituary, and correspondence concerning Fr Gerard Guinane SJ. Includes letters relating to his nomination to the board of the IRFU (10 May - 17 June 1968, 4 items).

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