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Byrne, John A, 1878-1961, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/79
  • Person
  • 07 June 1878-03 June 1961

Born: 07 June 1878, Rathangan, County Kildare
Entered: 07 September 1896, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 27 July 1913, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1916, Clongowes Wood College SJ
Died: 03 June 1961, Our Lady's Hospice, Dublin

Part of the Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin community at the time of death

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1901 in Vals France (LUGD) studying
by 1902 at Kasteel Gemert, Netherlands (TOLO) studying

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 36th Year No 3 1961
Obituary :
Fr John Aloysius Byrne (1878-1961)

Fr. John A. Byrne died on Saturday, June 3rd, after a fairly long illness. He had been failing for some years past and had, much to his dislike, to be sent to hospital a few times, when the professional care and his great powers of recuperation soon restored him to comparative health. But these powers were now exhausted. He grew weak, he could take no food, his memory grew very confused: and he passed away almost imperceptibly within a few days of his eighty-third birthday.
He was born at Rathangan in Kildare and was educated at Clongowes from which he entered the novitiate at Tullabeg in 1896. Here also, after his vows, he did his juniorate and then went on to Vals in France to do his philosophy two years later. He had a special gift for foreign languages and came to speak French like a native. In fact, he was one of the very few foreigners who were allowed to read at first table. His stay at France coincided with one of the periodical outbursts of anti-clerical legislation, by which the Society was exiled. He used to describe how the mayor with a posse of gendarmes came to promulgate the sentence which was resented by the local population. All the property, including the great library, had to be packed up and transported to the house fraternally given at Gemert in Holland. The scholastics had to make their way mostly on foot, staying at religious houses en route.
He did his colleges at Clongowes where he taught French with remark able success. Years afterwards middle-aged men would accost him as mon père - they were his old pupils. He was ordained at Milltown Park in 1913 and did his Tertianship at Tullabeg the first year of the first World War, where he had as a fellow Tertian the future Archbishop Chichester, In 1915 he returned to Clongowes as master where, with the exception of three years spent at Galway, 1923-26, he remained until 1931 when he was transferred to Rathfarnham Castle. Clongowes remained always for him his truest home in the Society; but it could be said that the Castle ran it close.
He spent thirty years at Rathfarnham. He was minister and procurator in the rectorships of Fr. T. V. Nolan and Fr. P. G. Kennedy. In 1942 he retired from the office of Minister but remained on as procurator for many years. By degrees he became an institution in the Castle. Generations of Juniors and Tertians came and went with whom he had much to do in one way way or another, All came to appreciate his kindness and friendliness. He became a great favourite with the community and the children at Loreto Abbey, where he often said Mass and heard Confessions. For years he attended the excellent concerts which are a feature of that school, and his speech of thanks and appreciation at the end was always one of the highlights of the entertainment. He was also much esteemed and liked by the Sisters of Mercy at the children's preventorium hospital at Ballyroan. He helped regularly at the parish Masses and was well known and esteemed by many of the neighbours.
Fr. “Johnny”, as he was universally known by “Ours”, was emphatically a community man. His interests were those of the house. He was always at his best at recreation. He usually managed to have some piquant or new contribution to make which he had picked up in the paper or from the wireless. He verified fully the demands of Nadal - he was religiously agreeable and agreeably religious. He was a regular subject for perfectly good-natured leg-pulling. He had a stock of stories and adventures which he told dramatically and which never failed to get their laugh even towards the end when he had to be prompted. At the concerts on St. John Berchman's day he was a necessary feature and always brought down the house by his song which he accompanied himself. One of his best “pieces” was the ordinary tone in French, which he rendered with hilarious effect. He was always very kind and considerate to the staff of the house and the children at the gate lodges and many other children from the village loved him.
He was a religious of very perfect observance; he was most particular in his attendance at all community duties. It always excited a certain surprise if he was not at the community dinner or litanies. He practised in his personal life a rigorous observance of poverty. He had much to do with others because of his different offices; he was always most obliging and more than willing to give any help he could. He seemed always to be at the disposal of others. In speech he was the most charitable of men. By St. James's estimate he was the perfect man. He never said an uncharitable or unkind word; he never showed any impatience. When something was said or done that seemed to call for condemnation his comment would be c'etait moins bien. This absence of sharpness and censoriousness, this kindness of mind for everyone, was his most gracious quality. R.I.P.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father John Byrne 1873-1961
Fr John Byrne was born at Rathangan County Kildare in 1878, was educated at Clongowes and entered the Society in 1896.
The early part of his priestly life he spent as a teacher in Clongowes, a superb master of the French language, known to generations of boys as “mon père”.
The rest of his life, thirty years in all, he spent in Rathfarnham Castle, where he became quite an institution. He was a fine pianist and incomparable mimic, talents which he used for the entertainment of his brethern, contributing in no small way to enlivened recreation and oil the machinery of community life.

He was a most kindly and lovable person, known and dear to all the people in the vicinity of the Castle, and to all he ministered to in his long life at Rathfarnham. After a fairly long illness, his end came quietly on June 3rd 1961. A truly gentle and religious soul.

◆ The Clongownian, 1961


Father John Byrne SJ

John Augustine Byrne was born in Rathangan in 1878. He was one of a large family, nine sons and three daughters. Of his brothers, five beside himself were Clongownians, Joe (1890-94), Peter (1892-97), Harry (1893-98), Aloysius (1896-01) and Patrick A (1903-07). They were not only a large, but also a highly gifted family, whose members achieved distinction in various careers in after life. They had, however, the sorrow of losing two of their number at an early age, Ally and Paul Stanislaus, both killed in action in 1917, the former at Arras, the latter at Passchendaele.

John Byrne went from Clongowes to the Jesuit novitiate, then at Tullabeg. He remained on there for some years of study, and in 1900 went to commence philosophy at Vals near le Puy in the south of France. It was a crucial period for the Church in France. In the following year the Jesuits found their position made impossible by the Waldeck-Rousseau law against “unauthorised congregations”, and had to leave the country. The Toulouse Jesuits, with whom John Byrne was studying, took refuge in Holland, at first at Helmond and in 1902 in Gemert.

The year 1903 found Mr John Byrne as Third Line Prefect in Clongowes, but in the following year he was appointed to the two tasks most closely associated with his name, the teaching of French and direction of the choir. In 1910 he went to Milltown Park for theology and was ordained in 1913, After tertianship in Tullabeg, he was back at Clongowes for a long period, from 1915 to 1931, broken by three years in St Ignatius College, Galway. In 1932, he was appointed Minister of Rathfarnham Castle, where he spent the rest of his life.

It is thus seen that Father Byrne was some twenty-three years at Clongowes, as a boy, as a scholastic and as a priest, but it may also be said that, though the last thirty years of his life were spent away from Clongowes, his heart was always there. He maintained the keenest interest in all that concerned Clongowes, had a remarkable knowledge of the careers of the boys whom he had known there, and it was noted that in the last few months of his life his conversation constantly recurred to the college where he had been so happy and had given so much happiness to others.

I think that is the outstanding memory preserved by all of us who knew Father John, that he was a happy man and one whose happiness communicated itself to others, because it was the evidence of a kindly, simple, utterly unspoiled nature, inspired by a deep and genuine spirituality. My first recollection of him is when I was a small boy at Clongowes and he was a scholastic. Even allowing for the romantic aura that time casts over far-off days, I think I can truly say that I never recall a more beloved master. He had a rich endowment of the gifts that appeal to the young. Though not a very methodical teacher, he had the great gift of making us enjoy what we were learning. He spoke French like a native and had a keen appreciation of the genius of the French language; so we picked up without effort the phrases with which he bombarded us, usually accompanied by vivid dramatisation. He had a number of funny little ways for holding our attention. One was to point violently at one boy and simultaneously address a question to a boy at the other side of the room. It was all a bit unorthodox, but it was certainly “French without tears”.

Outside of class, he had many gifts that endeared him to us. He was a most talented musician. He played, to my knowledge, the violin, cello, double bass, clarinet and euphonium, in addition to the piano and organ, and had a quite extraordinary gift for improvisation. He had a fine baritone voice, and I can remember well a trio, “Memorare, O piissima Virgo”, occasionally sung by himself, Father John G Byrne and Father Dom Kelly. Of Father Byrne as choirmaster, I have one grateful, non-musical memory. As a small boy, I was making my way up to the choir on Sunday evening, when he met me on the stairs and pressed something into my hand, with a whispered injunction not to let the study prefect catch me eating it. It was a large slice of cake wrapped in a paper napkin, a welcome gift in those more Spartan days when sixpence a week was thought liberal pocket-money. Apart from his choir work, he was invaluable to the Line prefects in getting up concerts, and was always a welcome performer himself. Though of so delicate, almost frail build, he was a good all-round athlete, being a reliable half-back on the community soccer team, and at cricket a good bat and first-class fielder.

Some ten years later, I was back at Clongowes as a scholastic and found my old master on the staff again. Now, of course, I knew him in a different way, and could appreciate qualities that a boy would not discern. One of these was his whimsical sense of humour. It often took the form of recording, always in a kindly spirit, little scenes in Clongowes life of the past, introducing such familiar figures as Father Daly, Miss Ellison, the Matron; John Cooper, the butler; Knight or Simpson, the cricket professionals; Sergeant-Major Palmer, the drill instructor; Kit Doyle, the carpenter (always addressed by Father Daly as “Mr. Christopher”); Mattie Dunne, the smith, whose artificial leg fascinated and rather terrified us, and a host of others who stood out as only those do whom one meets in youth. These reminiscences might have been tedious to others, but I know that to me, both at that time and in much later years, they were a source of undiluted pleasure, bringing back in most happy vein the scenes of my boyhood.

Other, deeper qualities I also learned to value in Father Byrne during the period when we worked together, his deep, simple piety, his solicitude for the spiritual welfare of the boys, and above all, his complete unselfishness. He was one of those who could always be called on for help in the organisation of school entertainments or other extra-curricular activities. (In this connection, one must recall his skill as a scribe. He had a remarkable gift for engrossing ornamental headings for time-tables, class results, concert programmes, etc., and his beautiful script was in evidence all over the college.) Although of a sensitive nature, he was never out of humour or depressed, never reseniful of slights, always ready to make the best of things and of persons.

I fear that this tribute to my old master and colleague is somewhat disjointed and inadequate, but it is my best endeavour to do honour to the memory of one who did much to add happiness to my life as a boy and as a young master, and with whom I shared grateful affection towards our Alma Mater, To Father John Byrne's sisters, Miss Tessie and Miss Josie Byrne, and to his brother, Major Patrick A Byrne, we offer our deepest sympathies.


Fook-Wai Chan, Francis, 1923-1993, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/491
  • Person
  • 29 January 1923-04 December 1993

Born: 29 January 1923, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Entered: 17 August 1940, Rizal, Philippines (MARNEB for HIB)
Ordained: 31 July 1953, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 03 February 1958, Wah Yan College, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Died: 04 December 1993, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

Part of the Cherryfield Lodge community, Dublin community at the time of death.

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966; HK to CHN : 1992; CHN to HIB : 15 September 1992

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Father Francis Chan Fook Wai, SJ., a long-serving teacher in Wah Yan College Kowloon and a sought-after priest at St. Ignatius Chapel there, died in Dublin, Ireland, on 4 December 1993, aged 70 years.

Born to a Catholic family in Shamshuipo, Kowloon, in 1923, he graduated from Wah Yan College Hong Kong which was then situated on Robinson Road. He joined the Jesuits (Society of Jesus) in 1940 and went to the Philippines for his novitiate, taking his vows there under Japanese occupation in 1942.

After studies there in humanities and philosophy, he returned to teach for a year at his old school and then moved to Ireland to study theology in 1950-54 at Milltown Park, Dublin, where he was ordained a priest in 1953. He made his final year of spiritual formation in Wales, followed by a year of educational studies in London.

After returning to Hong Kong in 1956, he took up what was to be his life-long career as a secondary-school teacher, this time in Kowloon Wah Yan College on Waterloo Road.

He was to teach full-time at Form Five level for over 30 years, a period broken only by his going to Canada in 1969 to take a Master's degree in history at the University of Saskatchewan. Even after official retirement at 65 in 1988, he continued with a reduced teaching load for a further two years. During the course of those long years, he had served also as Prefect of Studies of the school and as the first Chinese Rector of the Jesuit community.

His pastoral work at St. Ignatius Chapel had begun as early as 1972 but from 1990 this became his main concern. There he had already become known for the many groups whom he personally instructed for Baptism. Every year he prepared two groups of over fifty adults. He often baptised a whole family, including grandparents and grandchildren.

In early 1992 he moved to England to care for the Chinese Catholics living in London. But soon after taking up that responsibility, he had to undergo major surgery. He was happy to be able to resume his pastoral work for some months but when the problem recurred in mid-1990, he sought medical treatment in Ireland and it was there that he died peacefully on 4 December.

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
His early education was in Wah Yan College Hong Kong.
He made his Novitiate in Manila, and the studied Humanities and Philosophy.
1950-1954 he was sent to Ireland and Milltown Park for Theology.
After that he studied Spiritual formation in Wales and Educational studies in London.
He taught at Wah Yan College Kowloon and then in 1992 he moved to London, England to care for Chinese Catholics living there.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 82 : September 1995


Fr Francis (Frank) Chan (Fook-wai Chan) (1923-1993)

29th Jan. 1923: Born in Hong Kong to a Catholic family Primary studies: Tun Mui School, Hong Kong
Secondary studies: Wah Yan College, Hong Kong - Graduating 1940
14th Aug. 1940: Entered Society at Novaliches Novitiate, Philippines
15th Aug. 1942: First Vows at Novaliches
1942 - 1944: Juniorate at Novaliches, studied English, Latin and Greek
1944 - 1946: Philosophy at Novaliches
1946 - 1950: Regency in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong
1950 - 1954: Theology in Milltown Park
31st July 1953; Ordained a priest in Milltown Park by J.C. McQuaid
1954 - 1955: Tertianship at St. Bueno's, Wales
1955 - 1956: Diploma in Education at Strawberry Hill College, London
1956 - 1958: Taught in Wah Yan College, Kowloon
3rd Feb. 1958: Final Vows, professed
1959-1965: Prefect of Studies in Wah Yan College, Kowloon.
1965-1967: Fund-raising for new school wing
1967-1970: Studies for M.A. in history at University of Saskatchewan, Canada
1970-1990: Taught in Wah Yan College, Kowloon
1972-1978; Minister of community
1972-1991: Prefect of Church
1972-1982: Consultor of Vice-Province
1978-1994: Rector of Wah Yan College
1985-1991: Minister of community
1991-1992: Sabbatical Year
1992-1993: Director of London Chinese Catholic Association, St. Patrick's Church, London
1992: Transcribed to Irish Province
4th Dec. 1993: Died at Our Lady's Hospice, Harolds Cross

I suppose “single-minded” is the word that best sums up Fr. Francis Chan. I first noticed this when we were together in Theology in Milltown Park in the early fifties. For Francis it was slog and swot every spare hour of the day. The result was that he outshone many of his colleagues who considered that they were of higher intellectual ability than him. There was a certain amount of chagrin that Francis got his “Ad Grad” and was thus on the way to becoming Professed Father, while some of his colleagues had to be satisfied with becoming "mere" Spiritual Coadjutors.

Francis continued to show that same determination to achieve academic success after completing his tertianship in St. Beunos, North Wales. He first studied for a Diploma in Education in Strawberry Hill, London. Then, after his return to Hong Kong in 1956, he sat his Matriculation Exam and an external degree in history from London University - no mean achievement as he was a full-time teacher during that period. Later, he obtained a Master's degree from Regina University, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Francis devoted himself with the same single-mindedness to the very difficult task of fund-raising for Wah Yan College, Kowloon. He was Chairman of the Committee and gave himself wholeheartedly to the task, contacting his many friends and Past Students of the College.

When he became Minister of Wah Yan College, Kowloon he showed the same efficiency that he had displayed in classroom teaching and in his term as Prefect of Studies in the College. However, his single mindedness and his determination to achieve sometimes meant that he was lacking in the art of good personal relationships. However, I must say that whenever I visited the College when Francis was minister, or later when he became Rector, he was always most welcoming, considerate and attentive.

I think that this appointment as Minister of Wah Yan was really a turning-point in Francis's career. As Minister, he was in charge of the “School Chapel”. It needs to be explained that the “Chapel”, to all intents and purposes, is a “mini parish church”; funerals or weddings are not performed, but other normal parish activities are carried out. (The official designation of St. Ignatius Chapel is a “Pastoral Zone” - the only one in the whole diocese of Hong Kong!!). It was in this work that Francis really blossomed and it became evident that while he threw himself wholeheartedly into his work as a teacher, his heart wasn't really in it. This might help to explain why he never developed a close personal relationship with his students. Anyhow, he relished his work with the people who came to St. Ignatius Chapel and took a deep interest in them. He prepared very many for Baptism himself, when the general practice of the diocese was to leave this task to catechists. And the people loved him. When he later became Rector, and would normally have ceased being in charge of St. Ignatius Chapel, he continued his association with it. Still later, when he retired from full-time teaching in the College he was able to devote practically all his time to his “parishioners”.

The thought of the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 was something that caused Francis a great deal of anxiety and he made no secret of the fact that he intended to leave well in advance of that date. So, in 1992 he left Hong Kong: first to visit his former parishioners living in Canada and then he came to Ireland. He obtained an Irish passport and became a member of the Irish Province in September of that year. Earlier, he had signed a three-year contract with the Archdiocese of Westminster to be the priest in charge of the Chinese Catholics in London - “Director of the Chinese Catholic Association, London” was his official title.

However, he soon experienced ill health and had prostate surgery in Dublin that same year. Against medical advice, Francis insisted on returning to his flock in London. He realised that, on account of his cancer, he didn't have very long to live so he paid a final visit to Hong Kong without revealing to anyone his serious medical condition. When the cancer worsened he had to leave his pastoral work in London and took up residence in Cherryfield Lodge in August, 1993. As his health continued to deteriorate, he moved to Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin where he died on 4th December, 1993.

Something of the single-mindedness that had marked his life was evident in his final illness. He knew that he hadn't long to live so he committed himself totally into the hands of his Creator. The nurses in the Hospice said that they had never seen anyone die with such peaceful resignation - a peace that was clearly evident on his face after his death. May he rest in peace.

JG Foley

Gahan, Matthew, 1782-1837, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1338
  • Person
  • 07 February 1782-22 February 1837

Born: 07 February 1782, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1805, Hodder, Stonyhurst, England - Angliae Province (ANG)
Ordained: 16 July 1810, Palermo, Italy
Final Vows: 01 November 1832
Died: 22 February 1837, Kirk Braddan, Isle of Man, England

in Clongowes 1817
by 1831 on Isle of Man

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Studied at Stonyhurst and Palermo after Entry.
1811 Sent to Ireland in November, he was a curate in Dublin for five years
1816-1822 Minister at Clongowes
1822-1824 With Charles Aylmer at Dublin Residence for two years.
1824-1837 Then for the remainder of his life, he was a Missioner on the Isle of Man, labouring under very great discouragements, privations and difficulties, which he endured with admirable patience. Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS calls him the “Apostle of the Isle of Man”.

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Having spent some time working in Dublin and six years as Minister at Clongowes, he asked permission to devote himself to the spiritual care of the poor abandoned Catholics of the Isle of Man, whose spiritual destitution, being without a Priest, and deprived as they were of all consolation of religion, touched him to the heart. To their service and instruction he devoted the remainder of his life, amidst inconceivable discouragements, privations, difficulties, and labours, all of which he bore with exemplary patience and fortitude. He build two Chapels in the two chief centres of the island - Douglas and Castletown. Until his death he remained at his solitary post sustaining unaided the heavy labours of his mission and keeping alive the faith among the people. So he was styles “The Apostle of the Isle of Man”.
He died age 55, consoled by the reception of the last Sacraments, owing to the intervention of Divine Providence, which had sent him a priest, who had no knowledge of his illness, to be with him in his last moments.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 4th Year No 1 1928

We are indebted to Fr. Provincial for the following copy of an inscription on a mural tablet in a Church near Douglas, Isle of Man, He received it from Mr .L. W. R. Murphy :

“Memoriae at quieti Rev Matthaei Josephi Gahan SI, qui suos in Hibernia reliquit ut sese Monam incolentium saluti impenderet. Religionc in Deum, zelo in proximum, benignitate in pauperes, comitate in olmies eximius, inter aspera valetudinis semper indcfessus, bins sacris aedibus erectis, febri tandem, dum agonizanti subveniret correptus, pie obit 22 Feb. 1837, ann. aet. 56.”

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Matthew Gahan SJ 1782-1837
In the Isle of Man on February 22nd 1837, died Fr Matthew Gahan, who had been styled the “Apostle of the Isle of Man”.

He was born in Dublin in 1782 and entered for the Irish Mission at Hodder in 1805.

After having filled various positions in Dublin, and having been Minister for six years at Clongowes, he obtained the permission of his Superiors to devote himself to spiritual care of the poor and abandoned Catholics of the Isle of Man, whose spiritual destitution, through being without a priest and deprived of all consolation of religion, touched him to the heart. He had previously visited them occasionally and cheered them with his presence. To their service, he devoted the remainder of his life amid inconceivable privations and difficulties, all of which he bore with great patience and fortitude.

He built two chapels at the two chief centres on the island, Douglas and Castletown. Til his death he remained at his solitary post, bearing unaided the heavy labours of the Mission and keeping alive the faith among the people. To him, under God, is due the preservation of the Catholic faith on the Island.

It is no wonder he died at the early age of 55, worn out with the hardship and labour. But God, who seeth in secret, did not abandon him in the end. In the time of his great need, Fr Aylmer happened to come across to the island to visit him, not knowing he was sick, and arrived at the spot in time to prepare his soul for its last journey.

If you visit St Mary’s Church in Douglas today, you will see in the wall a stone slab, commemorating Fr Gahan as “The Second Apostle of the Isle of Man” – the first being St Patrick himself.

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
GAHAN, MATTHEW, of Dublin; born on the 7th of February, 1782 : entered the Society for the Irish Mission at Hodder house, on the 7th of September, 1805 : after completing his Noviceship there, commenced his Theology at Stonyhurst, and finished it at Palermo, where he was ordained Priest, on the 16th of July, 1810. In the November of the following year, he returned to his native Country, and for five years assisted as Curate in the Parishes of St. Michan and St. Nicholas without, in Dublin. In 1816, was stationed at Clongowes-Wood College, in the capacity of Minister, an office which he filled for six years, when he was ordered back to Dublin as Coadjutor to F. Aylmer, in the residence of the Society in that city. At the end of two years his Superiors permitted him to establish himself in the Isle of Man, the poor Catholics of which were lying like sheep without a Shepherd, and whom he had occasionally before visited and comforted, and cheered with his presence. To their instruction, and relief, and service, he devoted the remainder of his life, amidst inconceivable discouragements, privations, difficulties and labours, all of which he bore with exemplary patience and fortitude. This good Father was called to the reward of his zeal and charity, on the 22nd of February, 1837, aet. 55. Prof. 4, after five days illness. He had built a Chapel at Douglass and Castletown. Future generations will hail him as the Apostle of the Isle of Man “supra modum Apostolus Insulae Monae”.

◆ Fr Joseph McDonnell SJ Past and Present Notes :
16th February 1811 At the advance ages of 73, Father Betagh, PP of the St Michael Rosemary Lane Parish Dublin, Vicar General of the Dublin Archdiocese died. His death was looked upon as almost a national calamity. Shops and businesses were closed on the day of his funeral. His name and qualities were on the lips of everyone. He was an ex-Jesuit, the link between the Old and New Society in Ireland.

Among his many works was the foundation of two schools for boys : one a Classical school in Sall’s Court, the other a Night School in Skinner’s Row. One pupil received particular care - Peter Kenney - as he believed there might be great things to come from him in the future. “I have not long to be with you, but never fear, I’m rearing up a cock that will crow louder and sweeter for yopu than I ever did” he told his parishioners. Peter Kenney was to be “founder” of the restored Society in Ireland.

There were seventeen Jesuits in Ireland at the Suppression : John Ward, Clement Kelly, Edward Keating, John St Leger, Nicholas Barron, John Austin, Peter Berrill, James Moroney, Michael Cawood, Michael Fitzgerald, John Fullam, Paul Power, John Barron, Joseph O’Halloran, James Mulcaile, Richard O’Callaghan and Thomas Betagh. These men believed in the future restoration, and they husbanded their resources and succeeded in handing down to their successors a considerable sum of money, which had been saved by them.

A letter from the Acting General Father Thaddeus Brezozowski, dated St Petersburg 14/06/1806 was addressed to the only two survivors, Betagh and O’Callaghan. He thanked them for their work and their union with those in Russia, and suggested that the restoration was close at hand.

A letter from Nicholas Sewell, dated Stonyhurst 07/07/1809 to Betagh gives details of Irishmen being sent to Sicily for studies : Bartholomew Esmonde, Paul Ferley, Charles Aylmer, Robert St Leger, Edmund Cogan and James Butler. Peter Kenney and Matthew Gahan had preceded them. These were the foundation stones of the Restored Society.

Returning to Ireland, Kenney, Gahan and John Ryan took residence at No3 George’s Hill. Two years later, with the monies saved for them, Kenney bought Clongowes as a College for boys and a House of Studies for Jesuits. From a diary fragment of Aylmer, we learn that Kenney was Superior of the Irish Mission and Prefect of Studies, Aylmer was Minister, Claude Jautard, a survivor of the old Society in France was Spiritual Father, Butler was Professor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology, Ferley was professor of Logic and Metaphysics, Esmonde was Superior of Scholastics and they were joined by St Leger and William Dinan. Gahan was described as a Missioner at Francis St Dublin and Confessor to the Poor Clares and irish Sisters of Charity at Harold’s Cross and Summerhill. Ryan was a Missioner in St Paul’s, Arran Quay, Dublin. Among the Scholastics, Brothers and Masters were : Brothers Fraser, Levins, Connor, Bracken, Sherlock, Moran, Mullen and McGlade.

Trouble was not long coming. Protestants were upset that the Jesuits were in Ireland and sent a petition was sent to Parliament, suggesting that the Vow of Obedience to the Pope meant they could not have an Oath of Allegiance to the King. In addition, the expulsion of Jesuits from all of Europe had been a good thing. Kenney’s influence and diplomatic skills resulted in gaining support from Protestants in the locality of Clongowes, and a counter petition was presented by the Duke of Leinster on behalf of the Jesuits. This moment passed, but anto Jesuit feelings were mounting, such as in the Orange faction, and they managed to get an enquiry into the Jesuits and Peter Kenney and they appeared before the Irish Chief Secretary and Provy Council. Peter Kenney’s persuasive and oratorical skills won the day and the enquiry group said they were satisfied and impressed.

Over the years the Mission grew into a Province with Joseph Lentaigne as first Provincial in 1860. In 1885 the first outward undertaking was the setting up of an Irish Mission to Australia by Lentaigne and William Kelly, and this Mission grew exponentially from very humble beginnings.

Later the performance of the Jesuits in managing UCD with little or no money, and then outperforming what were known as the “Queen’s Colleges” forced the issue of injustice against Catholics in Ireland in the matter of University education. It is William Delaney who headed up the effort and create the National University of Ireland under endowment from the Government.from the Government.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 32 : April 1984


Rev WS Dempsey

Mathew Gahan was born in Dublin in 1782 and joined the (partially restored) Jesuits at Hodder in England in 1805. He studied Philosophy at Stonyhunst (1807-09) and Theology at Palermo (1809-11). Ordained in Sicily in 1810, he returned to Ireland and worked as an operarius in Dublin (Saint Mary's Lane) from 1811 to 1815. He became Minister of Clongowes Wood College in 1816, a post which he held till an extraordinary assignment came his way in 1823. Father William Dempsey, Parish Priest og Peel in the Isle of Man, takes up the story.

The Catholics of the Isle of Man, now numbering two or maybe three hundred, were bereft of a pastor and appealed for immediate help to the Vicar Apostolic of the Northern Province of England.

After some delay, a Father Brown volunteered for the Mission. In the meantime, the Vicar Apostolic arranged with the Irish Jesuit college at Clongowes Wood, then recently established, to provide a resident priest for the Many Mission. And so, about the year 1823, one of the professors at the College, Reverend Mathew Gahan, S.J., nephew of the learned Augustinian with whose name many are familiar as the author of Catholic Piety, took up his new and unpromising post in Douglas.

He was accompanied by an Irish school-master, named John Kelly, whose services were to be of inestimable value to the faith and whose stern discipline was to impress more than the minds of the rising generation. A school was built beside the chapel of Saint Brigid in 1824, and here “Kelly the Roman” (as the Douglas people nicknamed him) presided over his mixed gathering of pupils. The school was mixed in every sense: Catholics and Protestants, girls and boys, rich and poor all crowded together in one small room. The children paid their weekly fees in kind as well as coin, potatoes, apples, cabbages and groceries formed the staple “school pence”.

Father Gahan, however, by no means confined his labours to Douglas. The whole Island was his parish, and regularly he would set off to visit his flock in Castletown, Peel and Ramsey. At that time there were no modern roads, only rough narrow bridlepaths, as Dean Gillow puts it: “rambling at their own sweet will up hill and down dale in the roughest and unreadiest manner conceivable”. There was nothing for the priest but to mount “St Francis' pony”. He tramped afoot over the rocky, shingly or sandy, unformed roads, ofttimes weary and footsore. Once in a way a cart as rough as the roads might give him a lift for a mile or two, but there were to snug railways, or even engineer-planned highways in those days....

Father Ganan was in the habit of visiting Ramsey about four times a year in order to afford the few faithful an opportunity of hearing Mass and receiving the sacraments. He used to send word in advance from Douglas that he was coming on the following Sunday. This message would come to an old Mr Collins, who despatched his son Edward to two Catholics living five miles off at Kirk Andreas, to tell them of the advent of the priest. From Andreas the lad had to strike off across country to Ballaugh village, where four more Catholics lived. Then he made his way home to Ramsey, after a round of more than twenty miles. On the appointed Sunday the little Flock came together in the back parlour of Mr Freel's shop at the bottom of King Street, hard by the Market Place. On these occasions the entire congregation assembled for Mass did not number more than twelve: Only 'the grown-ups were allowed to enter the room. The children were shut out for fear of spoiling the good man's carpet. This arrangement was kept up for a considerable time.

The chief monument to Father Gahan's apostolate is the church of St Mary at Castletown, which he opened in 1826. It had long been his dearest wish to raise a worthy house of God in the ancient capital of the Island, and his appeals to his countrymen in Ireland for this object were many and earnest. Sometimes crossing over in a fishing craft to Killough in Co. Down, he would spend two or three weeks together collecting funds; and the old people used to recall that no Catholic ever died without the sacraments while their devoted pastor was absent on these errands of charity.

Douglas, however, was far outstripping Castletown in population and civic importance; and Father Gahan realized. the need of providing a larger church there, more conveniently situated in the centre of the town. His indefatigable zeal, aided by generous Irish friends, enabled him to purchase an old theatre known as St George's Hall at the corner of Atholl Street, and Prospect Hill. This building was easily and quickly adapted to the purposes of a Catholic place of worship and dedicated to St Francis Xavier. Underneath was a spacious basement, admirably suited to the pedagogic exercises of Kelly the Roman. In the year 1836, just a few months before his death, Father Gahan had the satisfaction of saying Mass at his new chapel. “For the purchase and erecting of this chapel, writes his friend, “Father P Kenney, SJ, he had the leave of the late Vicar Apostolic, Dr Penswick, who even signed a deed empowering Mr Gahan to sell the premises in which the old chapel stood”, though the sale was never effected. Yet when this chapel was on the eve of being opened the present Vicar Apostolic refused to allow it to be opened unless conditions were signed by Mr Gahan and the Provincial Superior which they could not admit. The delay and all, its concomitant disappointments, and the anxieties which it produced, materially affected his health, which had been long, declining. In the course of the winter the oid chapel could not be used as the rain got through the roof, and as the missioner lived in the house at Douglas, he, was not able even in dry weather to go so far. These circumstances occasioned the chapel to be opened in a private way, and the good man knew the comfort of saying Mass in it some months before his death. Father Aylmer went over to see him on the 17th February, to induce him to come to Dublin, to relieve his mental and bodily sufferings, but he only arrived in time to attend him in his last illness. That very evening he had returned from one of his missionary calls, sick in fever, which terminated his edifying and useful life in five days”.

The “second apostle of the Isle of Man”, as Father Gahan had been affectionately styled, was laid to rest in the cemetery of Old Kirk Braddan. A few days later there appeared in the Mona's Herald the following tribute from the pen of a distinguished Protestant contributor: “Among the recent deaths you have had to record in your journal, none has been more generally and severely felt than that of the Rev. MJ Gahan, the clergyman of the Roman Catholic chapel in this town. The Rev. Mr Gahan's kind and amiable character in private life, his unostentatious and extended charity among the poor, without any invidious distinction, is scarcely equalled and seldom excelled. It is now upwards of twelve years since this excellent man commenced his christian labours in this Island, exposed to privations and vexations which few men but himself would have submitted to, and we have reason to believe his constitution suffered great ly from their bane ful effects. His ardent desire was to finish his earthly career in the Island he had adopted, and his memory will long be revered by a numerous circle of friends and admirers of his private and public virtues. I am sure of this - the poor have lost a real benefactor and an indefatigable spiritual guide...”

A marble tablet in the grounds of St Mary's, Douglas, perpetuates his memory in these words: “Friends have erected this monument to the peaceful remembrance of the Rev. Mathew Joseph Gahan, SJ, He left his own people in Ireland to devote himself to the salvation of the inhabitants of the Isle of Man. He was conspicuous for his piety towards God, for zeal towards his neighbour, for kindness to the poor, and for charity towards all. Amidst the hardships of weak health, he was ever unwearied. At length after building two churches he was struck down by fever whilst attending a dying bed, and sweetly expired February 22nd, in the year of sal vation 1837 at the age of 56”.

For a little while Father Aylmer, who attended him in his closing hours of life, remained in charge of his work until the Vicar Apostolic of Northern Ireland, Dr Brown, took over the spiritual administration of the Island. There was some talk at this time of entrusting the Manx mission to the Jesuit Fathers, and even of building a Jesuit college in the island; but it all came to nothing, and the college was subsequently erected in North Wales, under the title of St Beuno's.

In a recent letter to Father socius, Ms Ella Caine of Douglas assures us that Mathew Gahan's grave is still tidy and that she “will continue to look after it” as she has done for several years.

Guidera, Patrick, 1900-1992, Jesuit brother

  • IE IJA J/503
  • Person
  • 06 June 1900-26 December 1992

Born: 06 June 1900, Mountrath, County Laois
Entered: 28 November 1933, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Final Vows: 02 February 1946, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Died: 26 December 1992, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

Part of the Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin community at the time of death

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Painter before Entry

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 75 : Christmas 1993 & Interfuse No 82 : September 1995


Br Patrick Guidera (1900-1992)

6th June 1900: Born, Mountrath, Laois
Worked as painter/decorator for 20 years in the family business
28th Nov. 1933: Entered the Society at Emo
1935 - 1941: Belvedere - Painter
1941 - 1942: Crescent College - Maintenance
1942 - 1948: Emo - Plant Maintenance
1948 - 1990: Tullabeg - Plant and Church maintenance/Fundraiser
1990 - 1992: Cherryfield Lodge
26th Dec. 1992: Died at Cherryfield Lodge

Pat Guidera was a few days short of his thirty-third year, when in the belief that God was calling him to the religious life, he arrived at the door of the Jesuit Novitiate, St Mary's, Emo Park. It was the evening of May 28th, 1933. The decision which brought him that evening from his home in Mountrath to the steps of St Mary's was not an easy one for a man of his age and experience.

Pat was the eldest son in a large family; he was a skilled painter and decorator whose work was widely appreciated. His father and younger brothers had come to rely on his skills and on his ability in dealing with the business side of his and their work. He was, too, a devout Catholic, a popular neighbour, a mature man with, as he tells us himself, serious plans to marry and father a family of his own.

Such in a nutshell was his position when the call to the religious life, of which he had been vaguely conscious, became more insistent. The Hound of Heaven was not to be denied! It was on the occasion of the Eucharistic Congress in 1932 that Patrick made his first outward response. Through the Brigidine Sisters at their convent in Mountrath, he made contact, with his first Jesuit, the late Fr James Whitaker who was conducting the Sisters' annual Retreat. Under this priest's kindly and understanding direction, Pat finally made up his mind to apply for admission as a religious Brother in the Irish Province of the Company of Jesus.

Thus it was that Pat Guidera, after much soul-searching and prayer, came to leave all' to follow the Christ who went down to Nazareth and lived a life of dependence on his parents to whom He was subject. The surrender of his independence as a mature man was, perhaps, at the core of his sacrifice. Indeed, few, if any, of his fellow novices, had anything like the sacrifices to make as those required of him on answering that same call. Surely that tells us something of the mutual love between God and himself as he knocked at St Mary's door. Even then he was a man after St Ignatius' own heart - a man of generous spirit and desiring to be detached from “all that the world loves and embraces”.

After his first chat with the master of novices, Pat realized that Canon Law required him to wait six months in residence at St Mary's before admission to the Noviceship. This proved a wise provision in his case as it gave him time and space to reconsider in a prayerful atmosphere his decision to leave a comfortable home, to forego the happiness of married life and to bind himself to a life of obedience and dependence. It was during these first months he came to appreciate the wise and fimm direction of the late Fr John Coyne of whom Pat was untiring in his praise all his long life. He began his two-year noviceship on Nov 22nd 1933, and immediately entered on the Thirty Day Retreat; after this experience, he never “looked back”.

Now in later years Brother Pat would say that he found his noviceship years a real trial. It is to his credit and to the continuing power of the grace of vocation that he persevered and happily made his first Vows as a Brother in the Society of Jesus.

During the next eleven years, 1935-46, he had ample opportuni ty to exercise his talent as a painter and decorator, first at St Mary's Emo, then at Belvedere and for a short period at Rathfamham. And as was the common practice at the time for every member of the Province, he was expected to be ready and able to help out in spheres of activity for which he had no special training or aptitude. Brother Pat, no doubt, found the words, Ad dom! after his name in the annual Catalogus. In practice it direct ed him to be at the service of all whenever he might be needed. In this, too, he was like his Master who was 'among us as one who serves'. So, as the years went by Brother Pat could be found at work as a carpenter, or electrician, a motor mechanic and chauffeur, a builder in stone, a plasterer, a glazier and general handy-man. This was the patter of his daily work from February 2nd, 1946, when he made his final vows in the Company of Jesus, up to a few years before his death on December 26th 1992.

Sometime in 1948, he was asked to leave St Mary's Emo and go to Tullabeg on loan for the purpose of painting and decorating the People's Church there. However, he remained in Tullabeg for the next forty-two years, 1948-1990. During the years up to 1962, Brother Pat's life was hidden from most of us, even from some of his fellow Brothers! Being a jack-of-all-trades and master of most, he was difficult to find in the labyrinth that was old Tullabeg House and farm out-offices. Moreover, he rose earlier than most and was always a step ahead in his morning prayers. He often breakfasted on the foot and after a long day's toil was the last to retire. In part, this was the kind of life he chose to live. If one permitted a mild criticism, it would be that perhaps our brother was too wedded to his work. But he'd surely have a reply to that.

It would be true to say of him that he was a worrier, a man not easily satisfied with himself or his work, whatever it might be. And if his efforts did not always please others, they did not always please himself. His standards as a religious were high, and high, too, were the standards of work he set for himself. Often finding himself pulled from “Billy to Jack”, often expected to make “a silk purse out of a sow's ear”, our Brother occasionally found his fellow Jesuits disapproving either of his way of acting or of his actual work. He would listen in silence, make little or no defence, offer no excuse, but with head bowed and with a characteristic back ward shovelling of his feet, he would depart with his new instructions, which he feared would not remedy the situation. In such situations, the example of Jesus, the Son of the Carpenter of Nazareth, was a source of strength to him. His way of silence in the face of criticism, of obedience to lawful authority, of charity to all was the way Brother Pat continued to strive to follow Him who is the way for every religious. Like many of his contemporaries Pat lived his life in the Second Degree of Humility with many an excursion into the Third. And in his last years, he came to be like his Master in others ways, too, not least in his love of prayer, in his love of the Mass and in his devotion to the Mother of Jesus. In 1991 he visited our Lady's Shrine at Medjugorje and in 1992 he visited Knock with a group from Rahan and Tullamore.

In 1990, the Lord asked one more sacrifice from his faithful friend - to leave Tullabeg and retire to Cherryfield Lodge. In time he came to accept that too. In the story of his life as told to, and beautifully edited by Fr Eddie O'Donnell, SJ, there is much to admire, much to smile at, and not a little to make one wonder at the loving providence of God.

Edmond Kent SJ

◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1995


The above is Fr Kent's account of Br Pat's life, but Pat, in the months before he died wrote his own autobiography, “The Story of my Life”. What follows are his own words on his years in Belvedere (1935- 41):

I spent most of my life as a Jesuit Brother at Rahan, near Tullamore, County Offaly. I was stationed there for over forty years, from 1948 to 1990. Since that period deserves a chapter all to itelf, what I'm going to do here is bring you from the year I took my First Vows (1935) up to 1948. Okay?

Immediately after taking my vows in Emo, I was transferred to Belvedere College, the Jesuit day school in Dublin. My first job there was to repair the roof of the community building with the help of a couple of handymen. I bought lead sheeting from Lenehan's shop in Capel Street - which is still going strong - and had the work finished in no time.

Then I was asked to paint all the windows on the front of the house. This entailed the erection of a scaffolding, which was quite an awkward operation on account of the “area” beneath the building. We managed it all right. At that time there was a lot more painting to be done on the windows than there would be today. The windows were “Georgian”, with a lot of small panes like those in the houses nearby. In later years, these were replaced by single-pane, plate-glass windows, a mortal sin from the architectural point-of-view.

At that time in Belvedere, there was a fountain in the middle of the school yard. It had a pond or basin around it. I was asked to clear it away altogether. I started this work with the help of a few construction workers but a twenty-six week builders' strike had just started and these lads were told not to work with me. A group of workmen came into the yard and kicked up a shindy, so I was left on my own. One of the priests in the community - Fr Charlie Scantlebury SJ, who was editor of “The Sacred Heart Messenger” for many years - came out to give me a hand.

The militant workmen returned and tried to beat him up! Punches were exchanged and I had to go to his rescue. We waited for the strike to finish before completing that job, although I did a lot of work on it early each morning myself.

Another task I was given was to install electric chandeliers in the Front Parlour. I knew nothing about electricity but decided to have a go all the same. When I was nearly finished, I remember standing up on a ladder to cut off some loose ends with a sharp knife. Suddenly, there was a sheet of flame, a flash like lightning, that knocked me off the ladder. I will never forget that narrow escape.

My next assignment was to paint the school hall, or the “Gymnasium” as it was called. It's where the boys did their drill as part of the curriculum. It's also where the school operas were staged and where the Old Boys held their annual dinners. Everyone was very pleased with the work I did there, especially with the college crest and its motto, “Per Vias Rectas”, painted on the centre of the side wall. Fr Charlie Byrne SJ, was particularly delighted. He was in charge of putting on the operas - usually Gilbert & Sullivan - and he realised he had found someone who could do a proper job on the scenery in future.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939, there were a lot of shortages in Dublin. Coal boats couldn't cross over from England so we had to make do with turf. During the winter of 1939 itself, we still had a fair bit of coal left but Fr Rupert Coyle, SJ, in an effort to spare the fuel, told me to leave off the boiler in the Senior School during the Christmas holidays. There was a bad frost, unfortunately, and the pipes burst, flooding the whole building from top to bottom. There was an awful lot of damage done. I can leave you to guess whose job it was to clean up the mess.....

In 1940 the Rector of Belvedere, Fr John Mary O'Connor, SJ (affectionately known as “Bloody Bill”) received a letter from his opposite number in Rathfarnham Castle, Fr P G Kennedy SJ (the famous ornithologist) asking if he could send me over to paint the chapel. Like Emo and Belvedere, Rathfarnham Castle had ornate Georgian ceilings. The ceiling in the chapel took me over a month to paint. Like Michelangelo in Rome, I had to lie on my back on top of a scaffolding for days on end painting the intricate ornamentation.

When the ceiling was finished I did the walls and the sanctuary and then painted the front and sides of the altar. To restore the altar to its original glory, I had to purchase special gold-leaf paint which was manufactured in Dublin by a firm called Phillips (it can only be obtained from a firm in England nowadays). The Rector and his second-in-command, Fr “Dolly” Byrne SJ, were both very satisfied with what I did.

Then it was back to Belvedere, where the Minister, Fr Leo Donnelly SJ, had a major enterprise awaiting me. Away back in 1881 the Jesuits had bought a house on Temple street (opposite the Childrens' Hospital) and for two years it had been run as a third-level college called after St Ignatius. During the Second World War, this building was being used to house the domestic staff of Belvedere, but it was very dilapidated. I was asked to construct a bridge from the back of Belvedere College, across Temple Lane, into the back yard of “Temple Chambers” as the place was known then. This took quite a while, On account of the shortage of building materials during the war.

Anyhow, we got the bridge built and had to cover it in because it was the object of numerous missile attacks by kids from ... (nearby).

Then I had to renovate Temple Chambers. Another Brother and myself used to sleep there at night, Our rooms were right at the top, with the domestic staff occupying the lower storeys, now nicely re-papered: My room must have been at the front, because I remember being kept awake at night by the crying babies in the hospital across the street. Early in 1941, one of these babies was suffering from a rare-insect bite and screamed all night for weeks on end. He grew up to become Fr Eddie O'Donnell, SJ!

Later in 1941, the Rector of Milltown Park (Fr John McMahon SJ) who had admired my work in Rathfarnham, asked if I could come over and paint the domestic chapel at Milltown. This was a fairly straightforward job in comparison with the one at Rathfarnham. It took me less than a month to repaint the entire chapel.

When I returned to Belvedere during the summer of that year, most of the community were away on holidays. The Bursar, Fr John Calter SJ, was in charge and he asked me to paper and paint the room of Fr Frank O'Riordan. This was a tall order because Fr O'Riordan used to practise playing golf in his room! He'd hang a blanket, so I had to spend ages repairing the plug marks in the walls before the re-papering could start. All went well, however, and Fr Calter was delighted with the finished product, so delighted, indeed, that he decided to move into that room himself! When Fr O'Riordan returned, there was an awful rumpus. But I wasn't there to hear it because I had been transferred to Clongowes Wood.

Gwynn, Aubrey, 1892-1983, Jesuit priest and academic

  • IE IJA J/10
  • Person
  • 17 February 1892-18 May 1983

Born: 17 February 1892, Clifton, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England
Entered: 30 September 1912, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1924, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1929, St Ignatius, Leeson Street, Dublin
Died: 18 May 1983, Our Lady's Hospice, Dublin

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

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
Gwynn, Aubrey Osborn
by Noreen Giffney

Gwynn, Aubrey Osborn (1892–1983), Jesuit priest and academic, was born 17 February 1892 at Clifton, Bristol, England, the second son among six children (four boys and two girls) of Stephen Lucius Gwynn (qv), writer and MP, and his wife and first cousin, Mary Louise Gwynn, daughter of Rev. James Gwynn of Dublin and Bath. Born into an esteemed Church of Ireland family, he was the great-grandson of William Smith O'Brien (qv), the grandson of Rev. Dr John Gwynn (qv), regius professor of divinity at TCD (1888–1907), and the nephew of Edward John Gwynn (qv), provost of TCD (1927–37). On his mother's conversion to Roman catholicism (1902), Aubrey, his brother Denis Gwynn (qv), and their siblings were received into the catholic church at Farm Street, London, and brought up as catholics. Due to the nature of his father's work, much of Aubrey's early life was divided between London and Dublin.

Educated at the Jesuit Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare (1903–8), Gwynn spent a year of private study in Munich before becoming the first student to sign the register at the newly chartered UCD, where he later gained first-class honours (BA, 1912; MA 1915) in classics. When Fr William Delany (qv) admitted him to the Jesuit noviceship in Tullabeg, Rahan (1912), Gwynn intended to join the Chinese mission and work in Hong Kong, but under the guidance of Delany's successor, Dr T. V. Nolan, he entered academic life. After studying for a year at Rathfarnham, he went in 1916 on a travelling studentship to Oxford (Campion Hall), where he was awarded the Cromer essay prize (1917) and graduated B. Litt. (1919). He taught classics and German for two years at Clongowes (1917–19) before spending two years studying philosophy at the Jesuit College, Louvain (1919–21), and a further four years studying theology at Milltown Park, Dublin. He was ordained at Milltown Park on 24 July 1924 and trained for a final year in Exaten, the Netherlands (1926), then took his final vows in Dublin on 2 February 1929.

Initially employed (1927) as an assistant lecturer in ancient history at UCD, Gwynn replaced Daniel A. Binchy (qv) as lecturer in medieval history on the latter's appointment as Irish Free State minister in Berlin. When John Marcus O'Sullivan (qv) resumed his duties as professor of history in 1932, he was so impressed with the young lecturer's abilities that he had his position made permanent. Sixteen years later, in 1948, Gwynn was appointed first professor of medieval history. Actively involved in the administration of UCD, he was a member of the governing body, dean of the faculty of arts (1952–6), and a member of the NUI senate. He also served as president of the RIA (1958–61).

A pioneering scholar, Gwynn wrote or edited numerous contributions to ancient, medieval, and modern history, on such subjects as Roman education, Archbishop Richard Fitzralph (qv) of Armagh, and Irish emigrants in the West Indies. His many articles, numbering over one hundred, as well as his reviews, which he often initialled P. D. (‘Poor Devil’), were published in various journals, including the Journal of Hellenic Studies, Analecta Hibernica, and the Irish Ecclesiastical Record. As a member of the Irish Manuscripts Commission (1943–74) he revived the study and publication of the Calendar of Papal Letters. He was exonerated after being accused, by Regina Zukasiewicz, of stealing her deceased husband's manuscripts (1956). Despite being plagued by bouts of depression, he gained international recognition and an array of awards, among them offers of honorary doctorates from QUB (1964), and TCD (1965) – the second of which he declined. However, Gwynn was not impressed with his honorifics asserting that the only qualifications he required were SJ – alluding to his membership of the Society of Jesus.

Gwynn lived mostly with the Jesuit community at 35 Lower Leeson Street (1927–62), where he was superior of residence (1932–45). A keen supporter of the Missionary Sisters of St Columba and St Joseph's Young Priests’ Society, he helped to establish the latter's civil service branch (1930), advised on the preparing of their constitution (1945), and was editor of their quarterly magazine, St Joseph's Sheaf (1927–49). After he retired from UCD in 1961 he moved to Milltown (1962), where he lectured for two years on church history and tended to the library (1962–6). He remained active, despite failing eyesight, until a fractured femur left him in St Vincent's Hospital; he then moved to Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, where he died 18 May 1983. He was buried two days later, following funeral mass at the Jesuit church, Gardiner Street.

Aubrey Gwynn's private papers, Jesuit archives; file of correspondence between Robert Dudley Edwards and Aubrey Gwynn (1950–68), UCD Archives, LA 22/782–3; F. X. Martin, ‘The historical writings of Reverend Professor Aubrey Gwynn, S. J.’, Medieval studies presented to Aubrey Gwynn, S. J., ed. J. A. Watt, J. B. Morrall, and F. X. Martin (1961), 502–9; Geoffrey Hand, ‘Professor Aubrey Gwynn’, Hibernia (1962), 10; University College Dublin. Report of the president for the session 1961–62 (1962), 72–4; Burke, IFR (1976), 532–3; Geoffrey Hand, ‘Father Aubrey Gwynn, S. J.’, Ir. Times, 21 May 1983, 8; Irish Province News, xx, no. 11 (1983), 348–50, 367–9; Report of the president, University College Dublin 1982–83 (1983), 154; R. D. Edwards, ‘Professor Aubrey Gwynn, S. J.’, Anal. Hib., xxxi (1984), xi; F. X. Martin, ‘Aubrey Osborn Gwynn, 1892–1983’, Royal Irish Academy Annual Report, 1983–4 (1984), 2–6; Clara Cullen, ‘Historical writings of Aubrey Gwynn: addendum’, Aubrey Gwynn, S. J., The Irish church in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, ed. Gerard O'Brien (1992), xiii–xiv; Geoffrey Hand, ‘Aubrey Gwynn: the person’, Studies, lxxxi (1992), 375–84; Fergus O'Donoghue, ‘Aubrey Gwynn: the Jesuit’, Studies, lxxxi (1992); 393–8; Katherine Walsh, ‘Aubrey Gwynn: the scholar’, Studies, lxxxi (1992), 385–92

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 17th Year No 1 1942

Recent articles by Fr. Aubrey Gwynn in the “Irish Ecclesiastical Record” were the subject of a very flattering notice in the 4 October issue of the 'Times Literary Supplement'. They referred to valuable contributions made by him to the history of the Dublin diocese in the 11th century, and in particular to interesting discoveries about Bishop Patrick of Dublin, whom he proves to have been a monk at Worcester under St. Wulfstain and author of the medieval scholastic poems in one of the Cotton MSS.

Irish Province News 58th Year No 3 1983

Milltown Park
Fr Aubrey Gwynn (†)
Aubrey Gwynn went to his Maker at 6.45 on the morning of 18th May: requiescat in pace! The Province will hardly see his like again. From his childhood days in London at the turn of the century, he could remember great events like the funeral of Queen Victoria, and the celebrations on the relief of Mafeking. Yet right to the end he took an interest in everybody and everything; he was in no way out of touch or out of sympathy with the times; he and the scholastics greatly enjoyed each other's company. Again, he was both a consummate scholar and a zealous, devout priest. In his late eighties he was still contributing learned articles to Seanchas Ardmhacha, and was rarely, if ever, missing from his accustomed spot at community Mass. In his earlier years he had been closely associated with St Joseph's Young Priests Society and the Columban Sisters, and both these bodies have contributed appreciations which are printed below. It is also perhaps worth recalling how well Aubrey succeeded in being on excellent terms with staff at Maynooth College and with members of the Hierarchy. At the funeral, Maynooth was represented by Mons. Patrick J. Corish and Dublin archdiocese by Bishop James Kavanagh: Cardinal 0 Fiaich regretted being unable to attend, owing to the death of his own brother (Dr Patrick Fee).
Aubrey is remembered with great affection by the Milltown Park community (here we are gathering into one many golden opinions) as a Simeon like figure, who redeemed the dignity of old age, never grumbled, complained or criticised, was so full of gratitude for his Jesuit vocation; who forty years ago treated scholastics as adults; the last of the generation of giants. He will continue to be remembered for his patient faith, his independence of spirit, tolerance of change, good humour, conviviality at table, debonair gentlemanliness, desire for life and determination to live, helpfulness and encouragement, graciousness, faithfulness and dedication, simplicity and humility.
One member of the community writes as follows: “Every day for ten years Aubrey concelebrated the Community Mass: at 10 am on Sundays, at 5.30 pm on weekdays in term, at 12.15 pm on weekdays in vacation and on Sundays. This showed an impressive willingness to adapt to different hours - a strength of faith which enabled him really to enjoy such varied styles of worship.
His loyalty to ‘The College’ (UCD, represented at the funeral by Mons. Feichin O'Doherty) showed me that an institution can be served with discrimination, with neither cynical detachment nor bland adoration.
His warm interest in each of us in the community was enormously encouraging - so different from the intrusive questioning by those who want to pigeon hole me for some future use, and different from the inattention of those who seem afraid to make human contact with me even for the length of a meal.
Another member expresses his appreciation in the following words: “I will remember Aubrey as a big man, a man who spanned the centuries and felt at home in many of them including much of our own. I will remember him as a grateful man, grateful to God and to us at Milltown. I will remember him as a lovable man who aged with grace and dignity. Finally I will remember Aubrey the priest, who celebrated the daily Eucharist with us faithfully and with determined step.
A fellow-historian and friend of Aubrey's, Katherine Walsh, who dedicated to him her recent work on Archbishop Richard FitzRalph, wrote from Vienna to the Rector as follows: “Kind friends contacted me by telephone and telegram to break the sad news of the death of Fr Aubrey Gwynn, May I offer through you my deepest sympathy to the community of Milltown Park, also to the Irish Jesuit Province, of which he was for so long a distinguished and respected ornament at home and abroad. My personal sense of loss is great - it was not merely FitzRalph that bound me to him. His personal and scholarly qualities were such that I valued his friendship, advice and encouragement very much. Also my husband Alfred learned to share my very deep affection for him and wishes to be associated in this word of appreciation. Our subsequent visits to Ireland will be the poorer without the pleasure of his great company. Requiescat in pace”.
Mr Brendan Daly of Waterford, who was National President of St Joseph's Young Priests Society from 1975 to 1982, sent the following appreciation: “For over forty years, Fr Aubrey Gwynn played a very important part in the formation and development of St Joseph's Young Priests Society. Space will allow for only a brief mention of the highlights of these activities. From 1927 1949 he was the Honorary Editor of ‘Saint Joseph's sheaf’, the Society's quarterly magazine. During most of this same period, he was also a member of a the Society's governing Council. In 1930 helped to establish the Civil Service Branch, and was its chaplain until 1936. He was also actively involved in the formation of other vocational branches. He advised on the preparation of the Society's 1945 Constitution.
Fr Gwynn gave of himself quietly but building up a Lay Society that its identity, purpose and motivation in the Eucharist and membership of the Mystical Body of Christ. He encouraged greater lay participation in the Apostolate of the Church, and imbued members with those ideals that were subsequently to be voiced in the decrees of the Second Vatican Council. He was a true priest of Jesus Christ who helped many lay people to live their own royal . priesthood. He has helped St Joseph's Young Priests Society to build up a rich heritage - a heritage which it values and shares with many, many others'.
The Vicar-General of the Missionary Sisters of St Columban, Sr Ita McElwain, sent the following tribute: Fr Aubrey Gwynn had a long and happy association with the Missionary Sisters of St Columban. This came about through his relationship with Mother Mary Patrick, formerly Lady Frances Moloney, who was a friend and contemporary of his mother. Mother M. Patrick knew Aubrey from his childhood and followed his career with interest. He, in turn, had a lifelong regard for her, and greatly admired her spirit and courage when, at the age of fifty, she joined the little band of women who were destined to become the first members of the Columban Sisters.
“Fr Gwynn was a regular visitor to the Motherhouse at Cahiracon, Co Clare. On at least two occasions he gave retreats to the sisters there, as well as an occasional triduum of prayer to the to student sisters at the house of studies located at Merrion square at that time. The house at Merrion square was cquired in 1942 when Mother M Patrick was superior-general of the he Columban Sisters and Fr Gwynn superior of the Jesuit house at Leeson Street. Father offered to provide a weekly Mass for the sisters, and this continued He advised on the preparation of the for many years. He came whenever he could and took a keen interest in the sisters studies and in the sisters fully in themselves when they were missioned finds overseas. Especially worthy of note was his invaluable help and support to the sisters doing medical studies: this was at a time when it was quite a departure for sisters to undertake the study of medicine and surgery. Fr Gwynn is remembered by us as a devoted priest and renowned scholar; a loyal friend whose invaluable advice and experience were greatly appreciated by a comparatively young and struggling congregation; a very open-hearted and good-humoured man who kept in close touch with us through all the years of our existence. May his great soul rest in peace”.
The following is the text of Aubrey's last letter to the Columban Sisters: 2nd Dec. 1982.
Dear Sister Maura.
Very many thanks to you all at Magheramore for the splendid bird that was duly delivered here yesterday evening as on so many other happy occasions. And my special greetings to those of your community who may remember me from the old days in Merrion square and Fitzwilliam square. I shall be 91 years old next February, and am beginning to feel that I am an old man.
For the past 21 years I have been very happy here, where everyone young and old about here is very kind. And I am ever more grateful for the many blessings I have received during my 91 years. Blessings on you all at Magheramore, and may Mother Patrick, who was my mother's friend, rest in реаcе.
Yours in Xt, / Aubrey Gwynn, S.J.'
The appreciation by Professor Geoffrey Hand appeared in the columns of the Irish Times on Saturday, 21st May.

Obituary & ◆ The Clongownian, 1983

Fr Aubrey Gwynn (1892-1912-1983)

By the death of Fr Aubrey Gwynn the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus has lost one of its most distinguished and well-loved members.
He was born on the 7th February, 1892, at Clifton, Bristol, where his father, Stephen Gwynn, man of letters, historian, poet and member of the Irish Parliamentary Party, was at that time tutoring in a private crammer's. The Gwynn family were descended from Welsh settlers in Ulster during the 17th century, and were noted for the number of them who entered the ministry of the Church of Ireland. They also had a long and distinguished connection with Trinity College. Stephen's father, Rev John Gwynn, was Regius Professor of Divinity 1888-1917, and author of the great edition of the Book of Armagh, whilst his brother, Edward John Gwynn, was Provost of Trinity 1927-37. But the later generation of Gwynns had a strong infusion of Celtic blood, for Stephen Gwynn's mother was the elder daughter of William Smith O'Brien.
In 1896 the Gwynn family settled in London, where Aubrey attended a private preparatory school. He used to relate how amongst the small pupils was one Harold Macmillan – later British Prime Minister - who in some way made himself obnoxious and was sent to Coventry by his schoolfellows. The head master complained to their parents, with dire results for Aubrey, since at that time his father relied largely for income on his work as reader for the firm of Macmillan. In 1902 Mrs Mary Louise Gwynn was received into the Catholic Church and was followed by her children. Two years later Stephen Gwynn decided to return to Ireland and Aubrey was sent to Clongowes. He was accompanied by his elder brother, Lucius, a promising scholar who died at the age of twenty-nine after a long struggle against tuberculosis, and his younger brother, Denis, later a distinguished biographer and Professor of Modern Irish History in University College, Cork. Whilst at Clongowes, Aubrey already displayed his brilliance. He spent two years in Rhetoric class, winning in the first year the medal for first place in Senior Grade Latin, and in the second year the corresponding medal for Greek.
On leaving Clongowes, Aubrey had a year's private study in Munich and then entered University College, Dublin, becoming a member of Winton House, the predecessor of University Hall, He took his BA degree in 1912 and entered the noviceship at Tullabeg. After the noviceship he studied at Rathfarnham for a year, preparing for the MA and travelling studentship. The two years of the studentship were spent at Oxford, ending with the B. Litt. degree and Cromer Greek prize. Then followed two years teaching classics at Clongowes, philosophy at Louvain, theology at Mill town Park, ordination in 1924 and tertianship at Exaten, Holland, 1925-26.
Father Gwynn's first entrance into the life of University College was in 1927, when he was appointed lecturer in Ancient History. From then on, he was the recipient of one distinction after another. He became lecturer in Medieval History in 1930, professor of Medieval History in 1948, Dean of the Faculty of Arts 1951-56, member at various periods of the Governing Body of University College and of the Senate of the National University, President of the Royal Irish Academy 1958-61. In 1964 he was awarded the honorary degree of D. Litt. by Queen's University, Belfast.
As lecturer and professor Father Gwynn won universal praise. On his retirement in 1962, he was made the recipient of a Festschrift, a volume of essays on medieval subjects, edited by three of his colleagues, J. A. Wal . B. Morrall and F. X. Martin, OSA. The contributions by some twenty scholars from Irish, British, continental and American universities, were evidence of Father Gwynn's reputation outside Ireland. In the Foreword Professor Michael Tierney, president of University College, Dublin, emphasised the esteem in which Father Gwynn was held in his own country.
The essays gathered in this book are a well-deserved tribute to a man who has been a leader in historical work and in general scholarship for more than thirty years ... His unanimous election as President of the Royal Irish Academy was already evident of the position he held in the Irish world of learning... for a quarter of a century he has been the leader and teacher of a band of young scholars, and his pupils have achieved fame outside Ireland in countries where his own reputation had preceded them.'
Reviewing this volume in the Irish Times, another tribute was paid to Fr Gwynn by Professor F. S. Lyons, (later Provost of Trinity College) :
“Perhaps we are still too close to assess the full impact of Fr Gwynn on medieval studies in Ireland. But even now we can recognise that it has been very great. Great not only by virtue of his talents which, rather casually maybe, we have tended to take for granted, great not only because of the extent and quality of his published work, but great precisely through the influence he must have exer ted as a teacher”.
In addition to his constant work as lecturer or professor, Fr Gwynn displayed throughout his life an extra ordinary activity as a writer. Three of his major books are considered to be standard works of their kind, Roman Education from Cicero to Quintilian, Oxford, 1920, The English Austin Friars in the time of Wyclif Oxford, 1940. The Medieval Province of Armagh 1470-1545, Dundalk, 1946. He also collaborated with District Justice Dermot F Gleeson in producing the monumental History of the Diocese of Killaloe, Dublin, 1962. But, in addition, a flood of articles poured out from his pen, or rather typewriter. In the volume above referred to, Rey Professor Martin has listed over fifty of these articles, which are not articles in the ordinary sense, but learned monographs on ancient, medieval and modern topics. And this does not include the book reviews which he contributed steadily over the years to Studies and other learned journals. In this connection, a piece of Province folklore is worth preserving. Formerly book reviews in Studies were signed only with the writer's initials. Fr Gwynn felt that the initials AG were appearing with monotonous frequency, and alternated them with P.D. Asked what these letters signified, he smilingly replied ‘Poor devil'.
Although Fr Gwynn played such an active part in the life of University College, this did not mean that he he was in any way remote from the life of the Province. On the contrary, he was a most loyal and devoted member of it. He was a good community man, always in good humour, interested in the doings of others and ready to put his talents at their disposal. During his long stay in Leeson Street (he was Superior, 1932-'45), he did much to advise, encourage and help our Juniors who were passing through University College. For a considerable period he acted as editor of St Joseph's Sheaf, the organ of St Joseph's Young Priests Society, and enticed to write articles for it, thus giving them a useful introduction to the apostolate of writing. His loyalty to the Society in general was manifested by his constant study of its history, and many his articles dealt with the apostolate of Jesuits in various ages, especially on the foreign missions. Fr Gwynn had a special interest in the missions, and had close links both with our own missionaries and with others throughout the country, notably the Columban Fathers and Sisters.
On his retirement from University College, Fr Gwynn moved to Milltown Park. He lectured for two years on Church History and acted as librarian, 1962-6, but it became clear that he was no longer able for such tasks, and the rest of his retirement was devoted mainly to the revision of his articles on the medieval Irish Church, with the purpose of publishing them in book form. This again proved too much for his failing powers, and his final years were spent as a semi-invalid, consoled by the kindly care of the Milltown community, who came to regard him as a venerable father figure. His ninetieth birthday was signalised with a concelebrated Mass and a supper at which he received an enthusiastic ovation. He was reasonably active to the last until a fall resulted in a broken femur, the effects of which he was unable to recover. After some was weeks in St Vincent's Hospital, he was moved to Our Lady's Hospice, where he died peacefully on 18th May. His funeral at Gardiner Street was the occasion of a remarkable ecumenical event. It was presided over by BishopJames Kavanagh, representing His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, and some of the burial prayers were recited by Right Rev.George Simms, former Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin and of Armagh, whose wife is a cousin of Fr Gwynn.
Fr Aubrey used to relate an incident which occurred when he was studying at Oxford. When the time came to submit part of his thesis to his supervisor, he followed the old Jesuit custom of inscribing the letters AMDG at the top of each sheet. The manuscript was returned to of him addressed to Rev A M D Gwynn, The writer unconsciously hinted at a truth. The familiar letters may not have been Fr Aubrey's initials, but they were most certainly the inspiration of his life.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 30 : December 1983


Sister Sheila Lucey

A Columban Sister working in the Philippines pays tribute to the life and work of Father Aubrey

I first met Father Aubrey Gwynn in August in 1945, when I was assigned, straight after my profession, to our house of studies at 56 Merrion Square. Even then he had become a kind of Guardian Spirit to our young student sisters - some were studying medicine, others nursing, and I and a companion were taking up arts.

It was through Mother Mary Patrick that our sisters had come to know Father Gwynn. It seems that she had been a friend of his mother's. So, when the Columban Sisters came to Merrion Square in the early 40's a friendship started .which was to last throughout Fr Gwynn's long life.

His special concern was for the young student sisters. It was he who started the tradition of an eight o'clock Mass on Sunday morning, for the Merrion Square community, so that the students could have a longer sleep. He made it clear that there was to be no getting up earlier to study! When he couldn't come himself, he arranged for one or other of his brethren in Leeson St, to say the Mass, In later years, in the late 40's and early 50’s, he came for daily Mass.

Invariably he came for Midnight Mass at Christmas, in his very best attire, a beautifully-cut long clerical dress-coat. That was always a big occasion, and he seemed to enjoy every moment of it. Indeed, he was part of so many community celebrations in those years.

I remember how well he cooperated with all our clandestine preparations for Sister Mary Veronica's Silver Jubilee.

Right from the beginning, I found him a fascinating and stimulating personality, and a warm friend. He took a keen interest in each of us and in our studies. At the end of my first year I was asked to switch from German, as a degree subject, to history, which it was considered would be more useful on the missions. Certainly he made a difficult change easier for me. For two years I was his student. He initiated me into realms of history which were new to me, so I found his lectures valuabie, though I learned more from him outside the lecture-room than inside. Each vacation he arrived over to our house with an armful of books for me to read during the break, and he didn't limit himself to history - he also brought along some critical works on the English writers I was studying.

But it was after I finished my basic degree, and was sent on for graduate studies, that I really got to know Fr. Gwynn. At that time, he was coming for daily Mass, and at least a few times each week I was asked to see him in the parlour while he was having his breakfast, Those breakfast sessions stretched out longer and longer! He was so much of a medievalist that he could enter into all aspects of my MA thesis, on The Ancren Riwle (a medieval rule for anchoresses, which was also a treatise on the spirituality of that kind of life).

Later, when I got into my doctoral thesis, he got even more involved. This was right into his field, because the topic (English Prose Written by Irishmen in the Seventeenth Century) turned out to be as much historical as literary. It couldn't be otherwise in such a century, so full of religious and political controversy. From Professor Hogan I had imbibed a life-long appreciation of seventeenth century Eniglish literature. Now under Fr Gwynn's unobtrusive prodding I discovered for the first time that I had a glimmering of and historical sense after all!

Working on those seventeenth century writings, many of them anonymous, or written under pseudonyms, one had to be something of a literary sleuth. To satisfy" Fri Gwynn the evidence had to be exact and complete. He was a scrupulously honest scholar, and he expected those he worked with to be the same.

I certainly owe it to Fr Gwynn that I was able to persevere with my research and complete my PhD thesis. Theoretically Professor J.J. Hogan was my adviser, but he was an extremely busy person in those years. Besides he wasn't, familiar with the writings I had got into. In practice, Fr. Gwynn was my adviser and strong support throughout the years when I worked on my PhD thesis.

Indeed, many growing points of my life I seem to owe to Fr Gwynn. He it was who first launched me into print. While I was still a student he got me to review a book for Studies, a distinct honour in those days. (in fact, Fr Burke-Savage, the editor, asked that I used a nom de plume because “he didn't want all the nuns in Ireland to be wanting to get into the pages of Studies”. Shades of women's lib!). This was how I earned my first cheque for writing, and no later cheque ever made me feel so proud, (Strictly speaking my payment should have been the book, but Fr Gwynn purchased this for the Leeson St. house).

Another growing-edge of the mind happened when I'r Gwynn persuaded my superiors to allow me to go to Oxford and to the. British Museum in London, so that I could research by topic more thoroughly. Many of the writings. by Irishmen of the seventeenth century survive as very rare books, some indeed as single copies. The British Museum has some of them, others are in Oxford and Cambridge.

Father got quite a thrill out of sending me off on my Grand Tour, and he went to great pains to ensure that my visit would be a success. I went armed with letters of introduction to David Rogers of the British Museum, Fr. Basil Fitzgibbon of farm St.,and the library authorities in Oxford, He wrote beforehand to the Holy Child Sisters in Cherwell Edge, Oxford, where he knew some of the Sisters - his own sister had been a member of the congregation - and enjoyed their hospitality while I was in Oxford.

Of course, I fell in love with Oxford, as he intended me to, and he listened with happy amusement, as I shared my excitement with him on my return. This happened more than thirty years ago, in November December, 1950, yet it is still vivid in my memory. There was I, a young inexperienced person, given a welcome into the fellowship of scholars, and accepted as one of themselves. Ah, the daring and courage of youth!

Thinking back over all this, I believe I have hit on something very basic to. Fr. Gwynn's character, and very important: he helped people to grow. His own standards were high, and he helped others to live up to their highest potential, to a potential they weren't aware of until he pointed it out.

He was, too, a man of great patience and kindness. I'm sure a scholar of his calibre must have had to make many adjustments in trying to understand us young students. But his kindness bridged all distances. He had a genuine respect for others, and he paid: tribute to any gifts a person had, even if still in the bud!

It wasn't all an academic interchange. He had a puckish sense of humour, and those eyes could twinkle even over such daily dilemmas as “the problem of toast and butter: If I take more toast, I'll need another butter-roll, and if I take another butter-roll I'll need more toast to finish it!” At breakfast, one morning in our basement dining-room, I heard my gong ring upstairs. When I emerged at the top of the stairs, there was Fr. Gwynn, with a quizzical look on his face, saying: “How do you expect a fellow to eat his porridge without a spoon?” I had brought him in his breakfas. “You'd better stick to the History!”

Another time - I think it was when I was about to leave on my Oxbridge adventure - Fr Gwynn told me to kneel down for his blessing. Then, as I got up off my knees, he chuckled and told an anecdote about some Irish bishop, who was reputed to have said to his priests: “How did I get this cross on me belly? ... HARD WORRUK, YOUNG MEN, HARD WORRUK!” And he acted it out, standing tall and sticking out his chest.

He had a delightful sense of humour. I wish I could recall other incidents. I remember a letter he wrote shortly after he retired from UCD. He had been offered a chair of Philosophy (or History) in Milltown Park, he said, only to discover it was a sofa he had to share it with Fr. John Ryan!

It was while I was a student in Merrion Square that his father died. In fact, I answered his phone-call telling us the news. His father had been failing for some time - he lived to be a great age - and all the time Fr. Gwynn kept hoping that his father might be given the gift of faith before death. That did not happen I can recall the grief in his voice that morning over the phone. Later he described the funeral for us, saying how strange it felt to be an outsider at one's own father's funeral. As far as I remember, a dispensation had to be got from the Archbishop of Dublin, so that he could attend and, at the graveside, it was the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin who officiated and blessed the remains, while Stephen Gwynn's priest-son stood apart, on the fringe.

The faith; not given to his father, was very precious to him. In those years immediately after his retirement from UCD he got joy and great fulfilment from instructing some young. TCD students, converts to Catholicism. He referred to this in a number of letters written in those years.

It was in such things, and at such times, that the quality of his own spirituality shone through. It was never obtrusive. Yet, when he sensed that a person was anxious, or that obedience was hard, he knew how to say the right thing, or do just what was needed, tactfully, with gentleness and good hunour. He seemed to have a great, yet sensibly balanced, respect for obedience. But it was
his kindness and compassion, a compassion learned through his own suffering, that made him the person he was for others. There was always that the feeling that he too had been through it all.

He was a marvellous person to give anything to. He received as graciously as he gave, and never took a gift for granted. About two years ago I had a letter from him, thanking.me for the gift of a book on Philippine culture. Actually I hadn't been the person who sent it, but I had talked about him to someone who sent him the book as a result of our conversation - Fr. Miguel Bernad, SJ.

During all my years in the Philippines we corresponded a few times each year. Then, while I was in Ireland, from 1970 to 1979 I met him many times, mostly in Milltown Park, but once in the University club. On that last occasion we walked across St. Stephen's Green together - just imagine that!

There were times, too, when I went over to Milltown Park, only to learn that Fr, Gwynn wasn't well and couldn't see visitors. Then I knew that my old friend was deep into one of his bouts of severe depression, and I suffered with him. That finely-honed, brilliant mind, and yet the dark shadow of depression that hung over him so often ...

The last time I saw him, before I left for the Philippines in 1980, he was in great form, and he took some mischievous delight in my reaction to his beard. When I remarked that he looked the spit image of George Bernard Shaw, he said, “Sister Helen (he liked to call me by my old name), I would expect more originality from you!” Then he told me about all the other people who had made the same comparison, including a lorry-driver who had stopped beside him on the road and called out, “I thought Bernard Shaw was dead!” He was really enjoying his masquerade.

In his last letters to me, he told me about his latest and dearest research, the paper he was requested to write for the Royal Irish Academy, on the Mass in Ireland in the early Middle Ages. Much of it was based on a missal that had come to light in recent times. (Am I right?) He spoke of this paper with warmth and enthusiasm, as being the culmination of his life-work. I do hope that his failing eye-sight allowed him to finish this work, so dear to his heart.

I marvel at the courage of this man who, even at the age of ninety, was still using to the full those rare gifts God had given him, and sharing with us the fruits of his long years of reflection and study. I do not know now he died. I hope that his mental faculties were as sharp as ever. It would be poignantly sad if such a brilliant mind were dulled.

I thank God for the gift of this most dear friend, and for all that he has been to all the Columban Sisters.: His death is a personal loss for me. I miss him very deeply.

Hennelly, Francis G, 1913-1989, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/507
  • Person
  • 05 April 1913-13 February 1989

Born: 05 April 1913, Ballindine, County Mayo
Entered: 03 September 1930, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1944, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1947, Clongowes Wood College SJ
Died: 13 February 1989, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

Part of the Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin community at the time of death

Early education at Str Jarlath’s College, Tuam, County Galway; Tertianship at Rarthfarnham

Hyde, John, 1909-1985, Jesuit priest, theologian and Irish language scholar

  • IE IJA J/37
  • Person
  • 19 November 1909-31 May 1985

Born: 19 November 1909, Ballycotton, County Cork
Entered: 01 September 1927, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1941, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1945, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Died: 31 May 1985, Our Lady's Hospice Harold's Cross, Dublin

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

Early education at St Colman’s College, Fermoy, County Cork

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 60th Year No 4 1985


Fr John Hyde (1909-1927-1985)
(† 11th May 1985)

Five minutes alone with John Hyde was more than sufficient to convince anyone that here was a very remarkable man.
No matter what the occasion or topic of conversation, vibrations of peace and depth accompanied his economy in words, his concentration on what was said qualified a head-down self- effacement that had become second nature to him, and a curious sense of his having a firm hold on spiritual priorities was unconsciously communicated in a simple way. It is not easy to write with confidence about a man like that, difficult to avoid the tendency to confuse first impressions with fact and difficult to steer clear of conclusions based on oft-repeated anecdotes that lent them- selves to good-humoured inflation. John seldom spoke about himself and left no trace in his room of anything directly autobiographical although inferences can indeed be drawn from many folders of notes on spirituality, local history and theology. Yet, granted the right atmosphere and the appropriate question that he could see did not stem from mere curiosity, John would be self revealing where he felt his own experiences would be the source of encouragement to another. What follows is coloured by a few self-revelations of that kind. It is based on the memories of many who gained much from living with him in community over the years; it is also dependent on the recollections of very many non-Jesuit friends particularly in the Midlands who knew him in a way that was not possible for his confrères.
John Hyde was born in the bilingual community of Ballycotton, attended the local National School (in bare feet some of the time) and in his teens was privately tutored in French by two retired ladies in the district who recognised his promise and his eagerness to learn. This promise was confirmed during his years “on scholarship” in St Colman's College, Fermoy, where his early interest in the priesthood led him, by way of a College retreat by Fr Timothy Halpin, towards the Society, The move to the noviciate in Tullabeg in 1927 was in fact a reasoned preference for a disciplined community way of life over the fairly predictable career that would have begun had he accepted the free place in the Irish College in Rome offered him by the Bishop of Ross. While Tullabeg represented a cultural shift for John, Rathfarnham and UCD was a greater one which he found socially difficult but spiritually and academically agreeable. At this time he read widely in the history of the Society and continued a noviciate habit of close contact with the lives of Jesuit saints. Philosophy, Tullabeg 1933-1936: he was glad to be back in the country but felt sad at being separated by Province custom from the local people whose difficult lot at that time he appreciated through his own Ballycotton roots. The scholastic codices he used at this period bear witness to his meticulous efforts to understand and also to his predilection for Irish since many of his own notes in whatever language are written in gaelic script.
Regency in Belvedere and in Galway was traumatic. I remember him just shaking his head and waving his hands without comment in typical fashion when I asked him about the experience of standing before a class of irrepressibles who, as we can readily imagine, would often take advantage of his natural shyness and imitability. He admitted to being particularly lonely in the Society at that time and this loneliness remained during the Milltown theology years when, in moments of depression, and disturbed by the effects of his lack of interest in current affairs, he wondered whether his Jesuit option had been wise. He met the challenge by strengthening his belief in two principles that later would occur frequently in his lectures and conferences – that God is always faithful and that no one is asked to undertake unbearable burdens. Ordination in 1941 was followed by a fourth year during which he recalled efforts to translate abstract doctrine into homely metaphors in order to assist one or other of his contemporaries in the pre-Ad Grad repetitions; thus were laid the foundations of that metaphor-laden pedagogy of later years which benefitted his so many as he would, for example, expressively compare original sin with a puncture in a tyre and describe the Lutheran position on human nature after Eden in terms of the irremediable effect of a fall into a bottomless pit instead of the reparable injury resulting from a fall from a tree to the ground that characterised orthodox doctrine. Soon after the Tertianship Long Retreat in Rathfarnham, the Milltown years of of preferred study and inactivity exacted their toll as John contracted pleurisy and tuberculosis and spent some months in two Dublin nursing homes. The earlier depression increased during long hours gazing at walls and ceilings, as he felt his life to have been a failure and his studies useless. Providentially, and at least initially at his sister's request, he was moved to Tullabeg to recuperate. The depression gradually lifted over two years during which the philosophers recognise how helpful he could be and to confirm for themselves the reputation for asceticism and insight that had in fact preceded his arrival among them. As his strength returned, he entered at depth into the study of Aquinas which he would develop through his life. Also through the confessional and parlour apostolates, he took his first steps in the contacts with the sick and elderly which were to become such a prominent feature of his life. Both activities restored his self-confidence and confirmed his trust in the 'the divine plan that governs all by governing each'; he never looked back.
Appointed to the academic staff in 1946, John's talents for pedagogy at this particular level and his reputation for consistency developed enormously over sixteen years of quiet, unassuming application. To the uninitiated, his codex pages could be enigmatic, their elliptical, staccato format and expressly Aristotelian-Thomist inspiration difficult to follow without long reflection on the sources, but to those attending lectures with patience, these pages were prized, stimulating understanding for all and inspiring the more speculative minds to further originality of expression. In the countryside, his reputation grew as he became a familiar sight in Tullamore, Clara, Pullough and Ballycumber, cycling in all weathers to respond to some call for his presence and blessing. His familiar figure represented for the Midland people an ideal charismatic holiness which his interest in their individual difficulties abundantly confirmed. Others might say what he did, other priests might come to anoint or absolve, but none could measure up in their rural eyes to what they found in John at a time when lasting consolations were rare enough and Bord na Móna not yet fully established as a secure source of income. He was very much at ease with them in their humble circumstances, frequently brought cakes or sweets for the children began to that we, the philosophers, gathered up for him as he cycled away after our villa day alfresco meal, and relished the tea and home-made bread they laid before him, following, in some cases, his guided tour of the farmyard and his . solemn blessing of the household.
The move to Milltown in 1962 saddened him even though he could clearly see the hand of God in the decision. He found it extremely difficult at that time to sympathise with the scholastics' preference for urban life and the cultural possibilities it would afford; for him, philosophical reflection and a fully committed religious life demanded, at least in formation years, something like the quasi-monastic enclosure of a place like Tullabeg. While respecting the judgement of “those who know about these things”, he felt that both studies and prayer would suffer. Later in Milltown, the establishment of the present Institute and the increasing extra-mural concerns of all the students were also great puzzles to him and on many guarded occasions he lamented what he considered to be an inevitable drop in academic standards. Environment and concentration were of paramount importance to him; prevailing ephemeral interests were distractions best avoided until such time as religious and academic foundations were well and truly laid. Certainly, too, he was saddened by his own enforced separation from the rural scene and from the people who meant so much to him. On one occasion he admitted that God also wished then to remove him also from the Jesuit community dimension that he found supportive in the Bog-years: from now on he would find common interests at community recreation so much rarer and so his lapses into silence became habitual.
Yet he applied himself to theology with enthusiasm even though he sincerely felt himself unequipped to teach it. This last admission would surprise anyone present in his classes but the 'I'd like to run away' comment, made several times to me at least, was sufficient indication that his awareness of his own inability to communicate effectively with modern trends and sophisticated minds ran deep. He worked at a steady pace, relying on critically chosen authors and reviews, checking the accuracy of references with a keen suspicion of generalisations, and was always unmoved by trends that for lesser minds would prompt radical revision. While he was always uneasy about his own ability for accurate communication of what he himself knew to be true, and very much aware of many fields for related investigation, the gates to which he never had time or energy to open, his contribution to our understanding of scripture-based meaning and development cannot be overestimated. It is hoped that a fairly comprehensive assessment of that contribution may be made elsewhere, but at least here it is worth noting that the major concern in his teaching was to bridge the gap between an over-speculative systematic theology and our own religious experience, in line with the early Lonergan stress on self-appropriation which had delighted him in his later years in Tullabeg. That particular con cern is clear on almost every codex-page he produced.
While in Milltown, concern for the sick and elderly continued undiminished through an enormous correspondence, visits to hospitals and to Mountjoy jail, parlour contacts and his return visits to the Bog in summer, at Christmas and at Easter. Up to a year before his death he was out on the bicycle if weather permitted, or, whatever the weather, if an urgent request came to him to visit some direct or indirect acquaintance who had been transferred from the Midlands to a Dublin hospital. He was particularly sensitive to the loneliness felt by country people suddenly removed from their own environment to Dublin; visiting them became a primary concern and I have heard first-hand accounts of after noon trips to the hospitals at Cappagh, Peamount, Blanchardstowni, Loughlinstown and Rathcoole. On a few occasions “the machine let me down” and once, in a winter storm, he walked back from Tallaght satisfying himself when he got home with tea and bread in an empty refectory after supper. This last incident could be paralleled by many other occasions both in the Bog and in Milltown when his own well-being took second place to the demands of his preferred apostolate; it was quite common for him to put the thought of supper out of his mind because of a parlour call or an urgent visit by sudden request. Superiors had to be watchful but so often John, even during his last months, indeliberately escaped their vigilance.
Invalid contacts in Tullabeg brought him to Knock in the mid-sixties and he established a relationship with invalids at the shrine that lasted until he died, Instrumental in the development of a Pious Union of Handmaids (which includes a special status for invalids) as the first stage towards the establishment of a Secular Institute, John worked steadily on their Constitutions, regularly wrote to the member-invalids in various parts of the country, visited some of them in their homes (taking advantage the free travel pass) and directed their annual retreat in Knock each August.
This year I was privileged to follow in his footsteps and could sense the depth of the invalids' grief at the fact that he was no longer with them as before. Yet his spirit remains as they prize memories of his quiet concern, his reading-visits to those who were blind and the customary blessing with a relic of John Sullivan which he constantly carried in his hatband. As with Midland recollections, the accounts of cures effected through his prayers, of extraordinary foresight with regard to eventual recovery, of flourishing families and farms due to his spiritual advice, and of problems solved merely by his presence and concern, are manifold.
Not until his death could we realise his life-long hobby-interest in the local histories of Ballycotton and Offaly. He has left copybooks, odd pages and letters, sheets of statistics and meticulously traced maps which bear witness to hours spent in the National Library, the Public Records Office, the Royal Irish Academy and similar places.
Lists of local populations with names, dates, land valuations and property mingled in his room with genealogies, land-charts and press-cuttings sent him by like-minded enthusiasts. His correspondence on the subject, frequently in reply to requests from people descended, as I understand it, from Ballycotton emigrants, extended to America and Australia; he was in regular contact with local archaeological societies, in 1982 he gave a lecture to the Cloyne Literary and Historical Society that was much appreciated, and pursued right up to the end. This work will not be lost to sight; photo copies will be sent to the appropriate societies.
From his notes and copybooks, it is also clear that his love for the Old Testament Canticles was not a transient one: the publication of his own translation in Irish of The Song of
Songs (Laoi na of Laoithe; it has been incorporated in An Bíobla Naofa) and a typical staccato style commentary, is but the outward evidence of an interest in a readily understandable
conception of divine love that informed his unique approach to the theological tracts on grace and charity - a prime example of his efforts to bridge that aforementioned gap between
systematics and experience.
His scattered preparatory notes on various retreats for religious, his simple but forceful articles in An Timire, his conferences on prayer (it disturbed him to find these typed and distributed), some domestic exhortations and his circular letters to invalids are a mine of practical spirituality, simply expressed, that many feel would repay editing and composite publication. The very idea the extent of would have appalled him for he was genuinely convinced that he had little to offer to a modern, outwardly sophisticated readership, and was self persuaded that his own lack of style and polish in English composition would be the an obstacle. In spiritual matters, could not but keep things simple and frequently professed incompetence in the field of the discernment of spirits; he would never have envisaged himself engaged in directed retreats - 'I wouldn't know what to say' - the admission was sincere. With individuals who came to him for spiritual advice, he consistently turned to scriptural principles leaving inferences to be drawn by his confidant; for those with little practice in spiritual thought, he provided one or two provocative parables from everyday life, but even then would never presume to make the directly personal application himself. His relationship with sisters is not easy to interpret. Undoubtedly he was a favourite retreat-giver in the old style, certainly he helped many individually in their convents and in parlours, but it was clear to us that he felt very uneasy with the post-Vatican aggiornamento that closer relationships with male communities understandably brought sisters into. His attitude was by no means anti-feminist - quite the opposite, as I could see from the Knock situation. I can only ascribe it to a combination of natural shyness and lack of common ground for conversation on the one hand and on the other, a personal desire to be at ease in the refectory (this applied particularly to his later Tullabeg visits) with those whom he knew well, an attitude that will be readily appreciated by those who have themselves spent the morning or afternoon hours in concentrated study.
Self-effacement was characteristic of the man, so clear in each of his apostolates and accentuated over the years in the Society where he eventually became content with his position outside the cultural mainstream. He could never have more than a passing interest in current events, in radio or newspapers, never watched television, and was in touch with developments only through side-references in review articles and very occasional press headlines noticed during his usual dinner-hour peek at the obituaries in the recreation room. Consequently he was happy to be unobtrusive and remain silent in small-talk recreations and sophisticated company. He suspected his unconcern and social awkwardness, as he saw it, would be disconcerting and, unless directly addressed by one of the company, he preferred to withdraw without fuss to the peace and that meant so much to him. His oft-noted absence at Province funerals and functions was quite typical - “these things are not for me” became a principle of ever-increasing application. Some found him a difficult person to live with because of his self-depreciating manner which, however, was certainly not feigned. It was not just shyness. He seemed to think that his own simplicity of outlook and sincere lack of interest in ephemera automatically placed him on a very low rung of the social ladder and he never had any incentive to climb. He willingly stepped back to give way to anyone - this was what God had decreed for him, and he accepted it. In the refectory he was seldom able to join three others already seated even though he would genuinely welcome them if they joined him, and the familiar sight of John standing back until all others were served just underlined his consistency. Yet in conversation, particularly with one or two, he could sparkle if the topic were congenial - local history or some curiosity of the Irish language or news from the Midlands, but anything polemical was avoided: if pressed to take sides on any issue, he would invariably appeal to some general principle and leave it at that. On administrative issues, he would express no opinion. Many post-Vatican moves, inspired by authority whose judgement he always respected, were a puzzle to him, and many were distinctly at variance with his own religious ideals, but he was con tent to accept in silence so much of which he knew he could never be a part. At the same time he was never on the side of the prophets of gloom: here his theological perspectives came to his aid as he insisted daily on an eventual realisation of the divine plan and on the reality of Providence at work in the world.
In theology or spirituality, John seemed to have a built-in radar for that 'phoniness' that sometimes made people uneasy. Many times in his room I have sensed its beeps either in relation to something I said or in his expressed views on some books or articles that had quiet caught the popular theological eye. He very much lamented the general trend towards concentration on man rather than on God as a theological starting point and felt much in tune with Hans Urs von Balthasar who, from a position of greater learning, confirmed his attitude and underlined the soundness of the general approach of Thomas Aquinas, whose work and personality were so dear to John. Simplicity of faith, whatever the later reasoning, was a factor that John could sense so well and his lectures or conferences implicitly emphasised its importance in pastoral or academic activity. Another point of absorbing interest was his quiet insistence that in general we do not have sufficient faith in what God wants to do for each of us - John 15:5 was one of his favourite texts; and his nose for the pelagianism subtly interwoven in the pages of popularising theologians was quite remarkable. His own faith in the prayer of petition (“like a shop with well-filled shelves: it's all there but we must ask”) surely accounts for some of the unusual events that so many Midlanders have attributed to his concern and prayers.
With so few of his personal notes available, it is not possible to do more than draw inferences regarding his own spiritual life. Certainly reverence was a key feature. Memories of John kneeling rigidly in the chapel, head down and oblivious to all around him, come easily to mind as does the recollection of him offering Mass in a subdued emotionless voice (he never concelebrated, through rather than from principle) and the studied concentration that would accompany the simple blessing of a rosary. His pre-lecture retreat prayer that all our actions be directed solely (with a deliberate emphasis on the word) to the praise and service of God seems to have been a reflection of his life. In his last month he did mention that his priestly intention had always been that he might be able to imitate “the Master” as closely as possible within the limitations imposed by his retiring dispositions and by the academic calling which he fully accepted but would all too willingly have passed to others better able to do it than himself. He gave himself credit for nothing: the Isaian potter moulding his clay to suit his plans was an image of God that was dear to him - probably John mentioned it in every retreat he gave. At every stage of his life, “I did the best that I could do” - the divine plan daily worked out in this unusually faithful and selfless way of service for others. His own interests were secondary. Many recall how he would gladly interrupt any work to answer a call to the parlour, giving as much time to that as his visitor needed. If we went to him in his room,we knew indeed that we and not he would have to terminate the interview, and this was particularly difficult to do in his last year, since, with his powers of solitary study for long periods on the wane, he seemed more and more to welcome individual company..
A final pointer to another characteristic known only to those who knew him fairly well whether in community or on his pastoral rounds - his sense of humour. Many stories have been told of cryptically witty remarks he made, sum ming up a situation or a character in a way that would have occurred to no one else and displaying his own satisfying cleverness in a broad tight-lipped smile. He thoroughly enjoyed the bantering conversation of a refectory foursome even though his own contributions would be infrequent - and these would invariably raise a laugh. Some years ago, Fred Crowe, visiting Milltown, looked forward to chatting with John because of all he had heard about him. Asked after two days during which they had not met if he would recognise John, Fred replied that he thought he would, “He's the man in the refectory who sits with his head down seemingly uninvolved with all that was being said by the other three ... until after a while he looks up, says something very briefly, and the three burst into loud laughter ... the memory is typical. It confirms what we all knew - that his reclusiveness was not the whole story but had to be qualified by a subtle mischievousness which, perhaps, is a key to an understanding of the loneliness that he sometimes keenly felt. It is well worth noting that in Midland homes and with the Knock invalids he is remembered so well for his general cheerfulness and contagious happiness.
So much more could be and will be said about Fr John. He mystified some people, was much admired by others. He cannot be stereotyped in anything he ever did. All of us were affected by him in some way or other and we know that we will never meet anyone quite like hiin again. After a very fruitful life he slipped away as quickly and unobtrusively as he would have wished. The memories and his influence remain.
B. McNamara

As the end approached, the attractiveness of goodness warmed me to Fr John Hyde. Although he suffered a great deal, he never complained. He often ended a description of his day with the phrase, “I've no complaints”, and one was left with the impression that he spoke from a deep sense of acceptance.
While he would have preferred to die at home, he accepted the decision that he would die in Our Lady's Hospice. When the time came to go, twenty-four hours before he died, he took only what he could carry in his small leather case and neither hat nor coat. The journey in the house car was clearly, in his mind, his last. He didn't speak of the future but rather of the present and the present was grand.
Those who attended him at the Hospice, doctors, nurses and sisters, felt cheated that he died so quickly after his arrival. "We would have liked to have nursed him for a little longer", one of them said to me. They too had been touched. In life John taught that the christian life is but a preparation for death. In death John demonstrated that he practised what he preached. May he rest in peace.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 40 : September 1985

A Personal Appreciation : John Hyde

Paddy Gallagher

Fr. John Hyde died on 31st May, 1985. Writing from Canada, a former student of his and a former confrère of ours sent INTERFUSE these pages appreciation of a devoted friend.

Shortly before his death, John wrote to me in Canada saying that he was not in pain and that he was really looking forward to seeing God. God has since fulfilled that desire and, like Zacchaeus up in the tree, John must have a great view. One is left with a deep feeling of peace and fulfillment; the words, consummatum est, seem to express the meaning of it all.

For ten steady years and then, in much more sporadio fashion, for another fifteen, I had the privilege of close conversation with a friend who shared all he had so generously. My fondest memory of John is being with him in his room thinking out some difficulty. There was no need to pretend to be learned when you were with him because closeness to God coupled with a naturally gifted intelligence enabled him to discard these attitudes. John accepted you as you were with all your stupid questions and awkward formulations. I could not count the hours I spent asking questions while he patiently listened. During my years as a scholastic in Clongowes, I spent three Summers in the Bog and many an evening after supper he would come into the library and talk. His eyes would light up and he would haul out book after book selflessly putting the of his insight and learning at my disposal in an utterly selfless way. I felt deeply honoured and very humbled in the presence of a highly intelligent and very kind saint in a remote place in the Irish midlands.

John was deeply aware of his limitations and often spoke to me about them. By temperament he was a solitary and it was a measure of the power of God in the Society of Jesus coupled with John's own unwearying efforts that he was enabled to communicate intellectual light and much goodness and kindness.

Conversation with him could be very difficult because those long silences could easily unsettle someone not used to them. He was no good on Church politics or the news and his small talk was nearly always about some person he knew or some locality he was familiar with. He hated writing and found it very painful. Often he said to me that, when writing and stuck for a word, the Irish equivalent or some line from our Irish literature would come more easily to him. He was incredibly shy and felt quite lost in company other than that of close friends and simple people. With sophisticated people he was not at ease and to the best of my knowledge John did not seek out the modern unbeliever or the alienated Catholic in any great number.

The combination of certain aspects of John's temperament and the course of events from his early fifties onward could easily have led to bitterness and negativity. His sharp mind, which could be devastating, and his solitary bent, which was most at home in the older world of Irish life, could have resulted in a minefield detonating whatever came in its path. The closing of Tullabeg, certain changes in the Society's and the Church's way of life, the breakdown of Irish culture, the demise of philosophy as a serious formative factor in modern life, all these things could have conspired to corrode and embitter this small, quiet man because for John these were serious matters and he felt them deeply. John's finer qualities, however, kept these influences at bay and he chose to live out of his more positive talents, I found in him a profound docility to the truth of things; the deepest respect and care for the mind which God gave him to respond to this truth; and a limpidly pure heart. He drew deeply from his love of Christ, his love of the Society, the riches of Irish culture, his thorough knowledge of the wisdom of western Christianity and from his untiring work among the disadvantaged, to respond to the challenges in his life.

It was this man, then, with all his limitations and talents, that was thrust into the maelstrom of modern theology and, out of obedience, went to live in the city. How would he react? The temptation was to stick to the older textbooks but John's concern for the truth ruled that out. He found serious inconsistencies within then so he patiently set out to rework the whole system and made what I think was his finest achievement: a coherent wh philosophy and revelation are thoroughly and consistently integrated into a theology. It is a body of work which to some extent satisfied his own integrity and which he honestly felt addressed the fundamental problems of the world after the manner of Gaudium et Spes. It is here that we find John's attitude towards modernity and while he had many “No’s” to say to it, nevertheless much more significant are the clear signposts which he thinks will keep us on our way to the truth. The following is an effort to identify these signposts and I trust they do justice to his thought. If they are unsatisfactory, then I urge the reader to go to “The Sheets” themselves: Tolle, lege!

John insisted on the importance of asking a penetrating question on a fundamental problem and following it through to the end with intellectual integrity. While this seens obvious in theory, in practice it is extraordinarily difficult. It accounts for the painstaking care which he took over each minute step as he moved on in the truth. Secondly, he insisted on the importance of being keenly aware of the unity of the truth and that we must come to grips with the foundations of that unity. This point accounts for the architectonio quality of his thought. Lastly, he insisted that we must make "God in Christ reconciling the world to himself" the focal point of all our questions. John was ever orientated towards God in Christ and, both in his living and thinking, this ruled him entirely. This last point means that his thought is at once a nourishing spirituality and a sati intellectual project.

Towards the end of his life, John was getting tired and he found it harder to concentrate and remember what he was reading. He had always made God in Christ the centre of his life and now he began to speak much of the greatness of God and His great love. He often spoke to ne saying that he would love to be able to make the beauty and the goodness of God the central explanatory factor in his understanding of Being but that he was too old now and, besides, he didn't think he had the originality and talent to work it out as he would like it to be done. I suppose that is one of the things I will always remember about him, the ability to pick out, in the complexity of modern reflections, an original, energing contribution; the ability to indicate lines of possible development; and the humility to say that it was beyond his capability to do it justice. What more can you ask of anyone?

This insight into God's beauty and goodness was matched by a corresponding warmth and breadth in his kindness. A few instances involving myself made it for me to overlook it. When I came home from Canada and met him for the first time in Milltown as an ex-Jesuit, I simply did not know how he would react. I need not have feared. We talked for hours and then it was time for dinner. John always enjoyed his meals - I think food was the only material thing he used up in large quantities unless we take paper and ink into the reckoning! He stood up and invited me to dinner with the community. I was very embarrassed and did not wish to intrude. He would hear none of it and asked very firmly and clearly did I want to have dinner. No doubt it seems a small gesture; but to me it revealed his very real kindness and sensitivity. The last memory I have of him as I left him in August 84 is seeing him bending down, rooting behind a wee curtain and rummaging in a large, brown paper parcel, “I have something you might like to see”, he said, thrusting a small book at me. “Would you like a copy?” he asked. I was deeply moved. John had never in his life considered anything he wrote worth giving to anyone. Gladly, I took it. It was Lóchrann do no Chosa do Bhriathar, a published collection in Irish of his spiritual articles over the years. As I quietly closed the door of his room behind me for the last time, I said to myself that it was now much easier for me to believe that truly God is wonderful, very kind and absolutely brilliant.

Is aoibhinn dó sin a bhfuil grásta Dé ar a anam. Is é atá sa bhás dó sin oscailt an dorais go dté se isteach san áit is fearr dá    bhfuil.

Happy is he whose heart is full of God's grace. For him, death means the opening of a door so that he may go into the very best place there is.

Interfuse No 54 : September 1988

Poem : Neil O’Driscoll


(Dedicated to Dick and Colin)

A countryman he was in speech and style,
His manner mild, hands clasped waist-high,
He looked out on the world with pensive glance.

Mostly 'twas listening that he did, forever probing
Mysteries as others talked -
And talk they did for many an hour,
He all the while pondering with modest smile.

The odd word from his lips were weighted
And awaited by the one for comfort come,
A crumb of wisdom shared with others
Yet oft by them repeated to their friends.

He had a human side and liked the cup of tea
With folk who lived nearby, on bike he'd come,
In wind and rain to visit and console, and bless the cow.

Well-read he was, sure wisdom was his line,
Could argue with the best and smile the while!
Questioning and searching lest his students slip away
With half learning, feeling 'twas quite simple after all.

A man of God with habits rare,
Pursuits more normal did not figure there.
No idle talk, no papers or T.v. could drag him
From the mystery there for all to see -
if only they would look
Beyond the veil of God-made "tings" to One Who fashions all.

But now he's gone, his spirit's free,
He's surely with Aquinas. Con Lonergan, Joey,
Tying all the ends unravelled here below,
And beckoning to us lest we should lose our way.

Interfuse No 99 : Winter 1998


Harold Naylor

It is now forty years since that beloved wailing voice said: “Walk seeking the Truth, with one hand in that of Thomas Aquinas”. I also recall the echoes of his prayer before Theodicy class (1958) in Tullabeg: “Send forth your wisdom from Your Holy Throne, that she may labour with me and lead me, so that we may be pleasing to you....”

John Hyde came into my life during the First Vows Retreat in Emo in 1953 and we remained close friends. Unfortunately I did not study Theology in Milltown, but I called on him whenever I could. In 1957 he'd been engrossed in reading Bernard Lonergan's Insight, which he told me was the work of a biennium, but by 1972 in Milltown he had passed on to Urs von Balthasaz, whom he told me was a real theologian!

All people can know the Truth and so know God, and come to their final destiny. This is the basis for human dignity and human rights. Without this people are just production units or tools for those in power. But people are not always intellectuals or intelligent, and most are devoid of resources. But as God loves the poor, so did John Hyde make ordinary people the focus of his life.

We used to call him the Cardinal of Pullagh-where the River Barrow flows. Here he was revered as a saint by farmer and old aged, sick and poor. And this came from his devotion to the Truth, revealed in Jesus Christ, as the ultimate goal of creation and of our personal lives.

The love of wisdom is not only for the brilliant and sophisticated but is mostly for the humble. And I saw it in John Hyde, who spent hours preparing for a lecture to the dozen or so of us philosophers. The afternoons and free days were spent with people on their pilgrimages to eternal joy.

I consider him to have come from south Tipperary, as his strong accent betrayed. In 1976 I called in on his secondary school in Clonmel. He joined the Society from Clongowes but was looked upon by his contemporaries as a joke. Small and insignificant he had bad health as a scholastic. After Tertianship he was in a tuberculosis sanatorium and then sent to Tullabeg to recuperate. By chance, he was asked to take a few classes to fill in for Professors. He prepared so assiduously and explained so simply in his monosyllabic words, summarised succinctly on the blackboard in colour chalk, that he was a great success. He spoke to us, not repeating what he had read or relating past experiences. This helped to deal with ordinary people, training us in pastoral approaches, not in self centred showmanship. His wit was scintallating, but his humour often barbed. I think he had deep wounds from people who looked down on him. Charlie Chaplin had the same hang-up from his early days in the East End of London. But John Hyde was leading us to be close to the sick and suffering, the poor and marginals to bring them the light of the Gospel Truth.

He had a horror of superficiality and verbiage. When people speak of what they did not know, I often saw his verbal stiletto flash with "What do you mean?". His remarks on people we knew found their mark in loud laughter in the class room, but they also encouraged the pursuit of truth. He was like the wise man waiting on the path were wisdom walks, stalking like a hunter, and yet always aware that wisdom lead to truth which is a gift.

His class were unique. What he had to teach was summarised in colour chalk in a few words on the blackboard. His wit was colourful and sharp. Some remarks were full of irony, others of innuendoes referring to people we all knew. He was painstakingly trying to form pastoral priests and to form honest people who sought truth and witnessed it in their lives.

I read The Tablet of London. I am sure John Hyde would have spent his time like this. I always saw him meditating on the Scriptures, and referring to Thomas Aquinas. I knew he spent much time in the library consulting monographs and serious papers on what he was teaching. He never did special studies so he did not have the ways of university folk. I imagine him the type of revered village school master, who knew what he taught and loved those he taught, leading them to truth,

He did no light reading - but he read people's eyes - those of the poor and suffering, the sick and humble. He hardly looked at the daily press or listened to the radio, and of course there was no TV in his days. He was a priest. And people want such people to bring the Truth of revelation to them. They want people who have experienced the things of God and the life of grace and they found it in John Hyde.

In the October 24 issue of The Tablet I read a summary of Pope John Paul II's encyclical on Fides et Ratio. As I carefully read the lines I recalled John Hyde, who entered the truth and made his home under the shade of Wisdom and dwelt there. He sought wisdom like the hunter watching his prey and waited in its path to receive truth.

In the pages of The Tablet are recorded the struggles of many Catholics and other Christians. There are voices of dissent and criticism, John Hyde was one who received the ultimate truth about human life and shared it with others. He had the wonder awakened by the contemplation of creation. But central to his life was the light of revelation, the mystery of the saving plan of God, and the ultimate truth about human life given in the Paschal Mystery

Philosophy today is sometimes relegated to tidying up thinking, or analysis language. It avoids ultimate questions like: "Why is there something instead of nothing?" Philosophy tends to talk of opinions but sheers away from absolutes and certainties. But we say that every truth is but a step towards the fullness of truth which will appear with the final revelation of God. And there
can be no real dialogue unless we have a firm basis of belief and understanding of what we affirm as truth.

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth. Today humanity is faced with the pressing issues of ecology, peace and the coexistence of different races and cultures. Christians, with the light of Faith, need to collaborate with followers of other religions and other philosophies to work for the renewal of humanity.

We need a firm vision in life and this comes from certainties which truth gives us. And we can know the truths of who I am, where I come from and where I am going, and why there is evil. We proclaim certitudes to help in steps to attain greater truth which leads to the fullness of truth which will appear with the final revelation.

Knowledge is to lead to rigorous modes of thought and produce a logical coherence of affirmations made in the organic unity of content. We are called to direct our steps toward a truth which transcends us. Too many are adrift no longer seeking the as radical questions about the meaning and foundation of human existence.

Jesus is the revealer of God, who gives the ultimate truth of life and the goal of history. Apart from Jesus the mystery of existence remains an insoluble riddle. Only in the light of Christ's passion death and resurrection are we to find answers to our dramatic questions.

Freedom is not realised in decisions against God, as it is He that enables our self-realisation. Christian revelation is the loadstar for all, and it is only when we return deep into ourselves that we will find where truth is. And this truth is gratitutous and not the product of our efforts.

Thomas Aquinas is proposed as a model of a man of faith and reason in the fullness of revelation. There are the pitfalls of eclecticism, scienticism, pragmatism, and even biblicism to mention but a few.

In Hong Kong, there is a background of Chinese thought and culture, but a much stronger current of technological and financial factors. The logic of the market economic often prevails and there is every confidence in technology. But technology is only an instrument and if not guided by ultimate truths can harm humanity.

Philosophical ethics must look to the truth of the good.

In Christ is revealed the mystery of love, truth and meaning. The truth of Christ is the one definitive answer to humanity's problems. Such a philosophy provides a potent underpinning for the true and planetary ethics which the world needs. All people are to find their grandeur in choosing to enter the truth, to make a home under the shade of wisdom. Just as Mary lost nothing of her true humanity and freedom in giving her assent to Gabriel's summons, so philosophy loses nothing of its freedom when it heeds the summons of the Gospel truth.

John Hyde would delight in such words - I remember him as one hidden in the truth.

And I look to this new encyclical guiding my thoughts and leading me deeper into the Truth of God.

Kavanagh, Michael A, 1805-1863, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/45
  • Person
  • 11 October 1805-13 February 1863

Born: 11 October 1805, Harold's Cross, Dublin
Entered: 19 September 1823, Amiens, France - Franciae Province (FRA)
Ordained: 24 September 1836
Professed: 02 February 1846
Died: 13 February 1863, St Francis Xavier, Gardiner St, Dublin

by 1829 in Clongowes Wood College SJ

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
His father died when he was very young, but his mother was able to attend to his education, and as soon as Clongowes was opened, he was sent there, and she was happy to put him in the care of Peter Kenney. His friends there were keen that he would be come a Jesuit.
Once he finished school he Entered and did his Noviceship in France.
After First Vows he went for studies in Physics at Paris, under Moigno and Lejariel. He was then sent to Clongowes for Regency, where he taught Classics for several years.
When he finished Regency he was sent to England for Theology, and was Ordained at Stonyhurst by Dr Briggs.
1837 He came back to Clongowes, teaching the higher classes with great success, and was appointed Rector in 1850, a position he held for five years. he faithfully adhered to the old custom of wearing a Court Suit on Academy Day.
1855 He was sent to Gardiner St as Operarius, and worked thus for some years. Unfortunately towards the end he suffered greatly from scruples and so was unfit to work. he died quite suddenly in the end. All through his final sickness, he was patient and kind to all.
He was a great classical scholar, a good poet, very zealous, and a pious observant of his faith.

Kenny, Patrick, 1889-1973, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/217
  • Person
  • 08 November 1889-17 March 1973

Born: 08 November 1889, Tullamore, County Offaly
Entered: 07 September 1909, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 15 August 1922, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1968, St Francis Xavier, Gardiner Street, Dublin
Died: 17 March 1973, Our Lady’s Hospice, 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

Nephew of Timothy Kenny - RIP 1917 and Peter Kenny - RIP 1912

by 1913 at Stonyhurst, England (ANG) studying
by 1924 at Hastings, Sussex, England (LUGD) studying

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 48th Year No 2 1973
Obituary :
Fr Patrick Kenny (1889-1973)
Our Church in Gardiner St, can have witnessed in its long history, few if any more impressive tributes to one of our dead than was paid there recently at the funeral of Fr Kenny. The Church was well filled with members of the Faithful who were joined on the occasion by an especially large number of members of the province. Some twelve or fourteen priests joined to concelebrate the Mass amongst whom Fr Eric Guiry, Fr Kenny’s Rector was principal concelebrant. The Choir from Milltown Park ably conducted by Michael McGuckian added solemnity to the funeral liturgy of the day.
After a long life of sixty four years in the Society and a rather long period of failing health prior to his death, Fr Kenny died in the late evening of St Patrick's Day, in the Rehabilitation unit of the Irish Sisters of Charity at Harold’s Cross. The tribute paid by Fr Guiry at the beginning of the Mass to Fr Kenny’s life and work in the Province - simple and straightforward - emphasised the ministry of service to the Province and the members of the Province which had been the dominant note in the appointments he had had. The same theme was reflected in the Prayers of the Faithful which were so thoughtfully composed and movingly expressed.
Service of the Province in its own members was indeed Fr Kenny's life’s work from the time of his ordination onwards. It was a service self-effacingly rendered in a well-founded spirit of faith and supported by a conscientiousness in religious observance which added to precept the support of personal example.
Fr Kenny was born in Tullamore 1890. His father, another Patrick, was a brother of two members of the Irish Australian Province (as it then was) of the Society - Fr Timothy Kenny, who was successively Irish Provincial and Australian Superior in the 1880s-90s and Fr Peter Kenny who died in Dublin in 1912. Fr Kenny’s father died while Paddy was a young boy. The family moved to Dublin and it was natural enough that he should go for schooling to Clongowes. He was on the roll of the College from 1901-09. During an interval of that period he was threatened with a delicacy and spent a year in the South of France for the benefit of the air; the remedy apparently was effective, - the symptoms did not recur.
He entered the Society at the age of twenty in the year 1909. He did his noviceship in Tullabeg and after that spent a year as a Junior studying at Milltown Park. His next move was to St Mary’s Hall Stonyhurst for philosophy. He was then appointed in 1916 to the prefectorial and teaching staff at Clongowes. In 1920 he proceeded to Milltown Park for theology returning to Tullabeg for Tertianship in 1924. In 1925 he remained there as Minister of the House and Socius to the Master of Novices.
In 1927 he succeeded Fr Larry Potter as Minister at Rathfarnham Castle where he did a great deal to put into shape the new Juniorate wing occupied for the first time twelve months earlier. From the first, he showed a concern and kindness for the aged and infirm which remained characteristic of him throughout his life.
On his arrival at Rathfarnham he was already of course well acquainted with practically all the younger members of his community, initiating that kindly interest in them that he maintained to the end. In 1930, he was appointed first Superior of the new noviceship house at Emo. Here as with the setting up of the new Juniorate quarters in Rathfarnham he took an immense interest in organising the house and in endeavouring to restore the grounds which had been neglected previously while the house was unoccupied. Later on he was Minister at Clongowes for a term of years, Minister at Milltown Park, Vice-Rector there, Rector at Rathfarnham Castle, Economus at Leeson Street and in his later years operarius in Gardiner St. In all these occupations service of Ours was his principal commitment. The years add up to an imposing total, punctuated here and there by historic incidents of one kind or another for Fr Kenny had a disconcerting charism of being at times in just the places where he was least expected to be found. Some of these incidents, to the recalling of which he was later a listener and into which he entered with a wry smile, centred on the summary judgment delivered, on occasion, with a gleam of grim humour that discouraged further debate!
But while we pay well merited tribute to his work within the Province as such, we would be mistaken if we considered that his activities were wholly thus confined. Fr Kenny was interested in helping those in need whoever they might be: he was interested also and took his share in the work of retreats and triduums. For some years he was official Director of Mission and Retreats for the Province. In Gardiner Street he was most conscientious in regard to his duties in the Church where his absence will assuredly be mourned. His was a well-filled and well-spent life.
His interest in the work for poor churches was engrossing and persisted in sedulously even in declining health; the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Conference with which he was associated practically from his arrival at Gardiner St, and which devolved to Fr John Neary when Fr. Kenny's energies were failing were eloquent witnesses of what was possibly Fr Kenny's most abiding interest in the poor.
We offer sincerest sympathies to his two devoted sisters Mrs Matson and Mrs Martin in their loss. RIP

◆ The Clongownian, 1973


Father Patrick Kenny SJ

By the death of Fr Paddy Kenny the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus has lost one of its most devoted members, and Clongowes a sincere and loyal friend. Patrick Kenny was born in 1889 in Tullamore, where his father was a well known solicitor. On the latter's death in 1890 the family moved to Dublin. Paddy began his school career with two years at the Dominican Convent, Wicklow, and came to Clongowes in 1901. During these early years his health was not good, and, as a precaution, he spent the year 1906-07 in the south of France. He then returned to Clongowes from 1907-09. In the 1908 Clongownian he appears in a group of the officials of the Pioneer Association, and in the following number as one of the house officials in charge of the school shop, and also in a most interesting group of the last 1st Arts class of the Royal University, with their class master, Fr. John Sullivan.

Paddy Kenny entered the Society of Jesus at Tullabeg in 1909. He studied Philosophy at Stonyhurst from 1912 to 1915, and then worked for five years as prefect and master in Clongowes. His four years of theology were spent in Milltown Park and Ore Place, Hastings, with the French Jesuits who had opened a house there on their expulsion froin France, and he was ordained priest in 1924,

Father Kenny early showed a marked gift for administration, and for the rest of his life he was continually employed in posts of responsibility, Minister in Tullabeg, Rathfarnham, Clongowes, Milltown Park, Gardiner St, Superior in Emo Park, Vice-Rector in Milltown, Rector in Rathfarnham Castle. There was nothing spectacular in his tenure of office in these various houses, but, viewing his long and active life as a whole, it stands out as a most remarkable example of whole-hearted devotion to duty, inspired by the highest spiritual motives. He was utterly unselfish, or, to put it in a more positive way, utterly devoted to the welfare of others. This showed itself particularly in his care for the sick, his charity towards the poor, the trouble to which he went to help others in their difficulties. Those who knew him well will agree that the amount of time he devoted to his own pleasure or relaxation was minimal His one desire seemed to be that he should be on the job and at the disposal of others at any time. Nor was there anything cold or impersonal about his devotion to duty. Rather, it was inspired by a really warm and kindly love for others and a sympathetic understanding of their needs.

It has been mentioned that Father Kenny had Father John Sullivan as his class master in Clongowes. He was afterwards often associated with Father Sullivan, during his years as a scholastic and as Minister in Clongowes. In the latter capacity he was constantly in attendance on Father Sullivan in his last illness, and administered the sacrament of Extreme Unction to him before he left Clongowes. Father Kenny had the greatest admiration for Father Sullivan, whom, indeed, he resembled in many characteristics, notably his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and his kindness towards the poor, and it was due to his urgent representations that the Life of the Servant of God was published, which, in turn, led to the introduction of his Cause of Beatification.

Father Kenny is survived by his sisters, Mrs Anne Martin and Mrs May Matson, to whom we offer our sincere sympathy.

Lawler, Brendan, 1909-1993, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/515
  • Person
  • 29 October 1909-16 June 1993

Born: 29 October 1909, Bunclody, County Wexford
Entered: 01 September 1926, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 17 July 1938, Innsbruck, Austria
Final Vows: 02 February 1944, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Died: 16 June 1993, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

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

Eldest Brother of Donald - RIP 1984 and Ray - RIP 2001

Early education at Clongowes Wood College Sj

by 1933 at Valkenburg, Limburg, Netherlands (GER I) studying
by 1936 at Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria (ASR) studying

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 8th Year No 4 1933

Father T. Corcoran's labours in connection with the examinations for the Higher Diploma had scarcely concluded when he had to betake himself to Holland to preside at the second International Congress of Catholic Secondary Education. The meetings of the Congress took place at the Hague each day from 31st .July to 5th August.
Their Excellencies, the Bishops of Holland, were patrons of the Congress, which was attended by some 350 delegates representing the leading Catholic countries. Among the delegates were about 45 members of the Society from lands outside Holland. Prominent among the visitors were the Provincial of the Paris Province, with various Rectors and Prefects of Studies from our French Colleges. Père Yoes de la Brière, the Rectors of Brussels, Namur, Liege and other Belgian Colleges, Fathers Errandonea, Herrera and others from Spain,the French Oratorian Sabatier and various distinguished lay-men from Germany and Italy.
Cardinal Pacelli, in the name of the Holy Father, sent a long and cordial telegram of good wishes to the Congress , also the Nuncio Apostolic in Holland, who was prevented by serious illness from attending in person.
In the absence of the Nuncio the final allocution was delivered by the Bishop of Haarlem, after the Rector Magnificus of the University of Nijmegen and Father Corcoran, as President of the Congress had already spoken. Mr. J. O'Meara from Louvain Messrs. B. Lawler and C. Lonergan from Valkenburg acted as assistants to Father Corcoran at the Hague.
A splendid paper on “The Present Condition of Secondary Education in Ireland” was read by Dr. John McQuaid, the President of Blackrock College. All accounts agree in stating that the Congress was a brilliant success.
As the proceedings at the Hague coincided with the Biennial Conference of the World Federation of Education Associations, Father Corcoran was unable to be present at the functions in Dublin, but an important paper from his pen was read by Mrs McCarville, Lecturer in English in University College, Dublin. This paper expounded the Catholic philosophy of Education.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 77 : Summer 1994 & Interfuse No 82 : September 1995


Brendan Lawler (1909-1993)

29th Oct. 1909; Born, Bunclody, Co. Wexford
Early education: Clongowes Wood College
Ist Sept. 1926: Entered the Society at Tullabeg
1928 - 1932: Rathfarnham - studying Science (biology) at UCD
1932 - 1935: Valkenburg, Holland, studying Philosophy
1935 - 1938: Innsbruck, studying Theology
17th July 1938: Ordained at Innsbruck
1939 - 1940: Tertianship, Rathfarnham
1940 - 1941: Tullabeg, Professor of Cosmology and Biology
1941 - 1943: 35 Lower Leeson Street, Private Study
1943 - 1962: Tullabeg - Professor of Cosmology and Biology. (From 1953 - '59 he was Rector)
1962 - 1968: Loyola House - Socius to Provincial
1968 - 1992; Milltown Park: Secretary, Institute of Theology/Philosophy, and Lecturer (Philosophy), (1982 Assistant Registrar)
1993: Cherryfield Lodge. Hospitalised in The Royal, Donnybrook and then in Our Lady's Hospice.
16th June 1993. Died Our Lady's Hospice.

For many members of the Irish Province the name of Brendan Lawlor is synonymous with memories of the philosophate in Tullabeg, Once can see him still on a dark day in the tiered lecture-room, reading from the yellowing pages of his cosmology notes or play-acting as to whether the continuum could be found in the drawer or under the table. These memories can be crowned with those of drowsy afternoon sessions with diverting slides portraying the innards of the amoeba. In retrospect one can only admire the patience and endurance of those who, after years of no mean scholastic attainment, accepted from the Society the “world without event” of life in Tullabeg.

Brendan had a distinguished scholastic career behind him when he came to Tullabeg as Professor of Cosmology and Biology in the autumn of 1943. He was one of those “stars” who had been picked out for a four-year Juniorate (1928-1932), ending up with a MSc in biology. In the autumn of 1932 he made his way with Con Lonergan to do his philosophy with the exiled Germans in Valkenburg, and then in 1935 both of them went on to join Donal O'Sullivan for theology in Innsbruck. It was typical of the man that he could spend those years so close to the drama of the rise of Hitler and the Anschluss of Austria and so rarely speak of these momentous events afterwards. Even the theology of the times was rarely mentioned by him, though Innsbruck in those years was the centre of “kerygmatic theology” and of the liturgical and catechetical renewal spearheaded by JA Jungmann. Within a short time of Brendan's leaving Innsbruck the house in Sillgasse was turned into the headquarters of the Gestapo, but Brendan by that time was safely back in Ireland doing further studies in Leeson Street.

It will come as a surprise to most people to realize that by far the longest period Brendan spent in one place was not Tullabeg but Milltown Park. He spent nineteen years in Tullabeg at a stretch, being Rector there from 1953 to 1959. He left the midlands in 1962 to become Socius to the Provincial (1962-68), and after those six years in Eglinton Road was assigned to Milltown Park, where he was to spend the next quarter of a century. For many years during this period he did some teaching in the area of logic, but his principal task was to look after the administrative staff of the Institute and to keep the scholastic records of the students. He was also responsible for organizing what came to be called “Saturday Theology”, a very successful programme of lectures for extra-mural students which, over a period of twenty years, introduced innumerable religious and laity to the mysteries of Vatican II.

For a person who in many respects was the quintessence of predictability, Brendan could be a source of hidden talents. The last instance of this came about only a few weeks before his death, when his community was presented with an amazingly competent landscape which Brendan had painted during occupational therapy in the hospice. Who would have thought that we had another Paul Henry in our midst? Then there was his early interest in the scriptures, which eventually bore fruit in his book, Epistles in Focus, widely read in Ireland at the time, and for many years the only scholarly book on scripture by a member of the Province. During his years as Professor in Tullabeg, he rarely, if ever, published anything in philosophy, but in his final years in Milltown he had some published work in Milltown Studies, includ ing one article of which he was particularly proud, “The Star of Implication” (Milltown Studies, no.5).

Those who knew Brendan in the two main periods of his life, that in Tullabeg and that in Milltown, will have been struck by the contrast between the two, especially if one was a scholastic in the earlier period. In Tullabeg he seemed constrained by the stricter regime of the times. In Milltown his natural humour and spirit of companionship blossomed, so that he became one of the most appreciated members of the community. He maintained amazingly good health, even after retirement, and took a great interest in all that was happening in the world, not least in the world of sport, Brendan before the television-set, with cigarette in hand, was one of the fixtures of Milltown life during those years. This continued up to the time that the onset of Parkinson's necessitated his hospitalization. The decline that set in developed with a speed that surprised us all. The disease took him from us within a matter of months, and so he died at the impressive age of 83. May he rest
in peace.

Ray Moloney

Maguire, Richard, 1906-1993, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/528
  • Person
  • 31 October1906-21 January 1993

Born: 31 October1906, Rutland Street, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1935, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 29 July 1943, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1946, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Died: 21 January 1993, Our Lady's Hospice, Dublin

Part of the Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin community at the time of death.

by 1958 at Holy Name, Manchester (ANG) working

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 82 : September 1995


Fr Richard Maguire (1906-1993)

31st Oct. 1906; Born, Rutland Street, Dublin
Educated at St. Agatha's/Christian Bros., North Richmond Street, Dublin.
Employed as Solicitor's Clerk for 13 years.
7th Sept. 1935: Entered the Society at Emo
1937 - 1940: Philosophy at Tullabeg
1940 - 1944: Theology at Milltown Park
29th July 1943: Ordained
1944 - 1945: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1945 - 1952; Mission Staff, living at Emo
1952 - 1957: Mission Staff, living at Rathfarnham
1957 - 1960: Church work, Holy Name, Manchester
1960 - 1965: Mission Staff, living at Belvedere
1965 - 1969: Mission Staff, living at Manresa
1969 - 1973: Minister at Tullabeg
1973 - 1979; Chaplain to Incurables Hospital, Donnybrook, living at Milltown Park
1979 - 1989: Chaplain to Incurables Hospital, Donnybrook, living at Leeson Street.
1989 - 1993: Cherryfield Lodge
21st Jan. 1993: Died at Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross

Richard was born in Dublin, educated by the Christian Brothers and worked as a solicitor's clerk for 13 years before entering the Jesuit Novitiate in 1935 at the age of 29. He was a member of the Legion of Mary before he entered and remained a Legionary at heart all his life.

After a short course of studies he was ordained in 1943, eight years after joining the Novitiate. Following Tertianship, he served on the Mission Staff for twenty-one years, ministered in the Church of the Holy Name, Manchester for three years, was Minister of the House in Tullabeg for four years and in later life spent sixteen years as chaplain to the Royal Hospital in Donnybrook, In his mission and retreat work he put a number of young men in contact with the Society and they became, and still remain, eminent and excellent Jesuits.

Richard was gifted with a beautiful singing voice and in early life received great commendation from Mrs. Boylan who taught singing and led a famous choir. Mrs. Boylan was the mother of Dom Eugene Boylan (Cistercian), and his Carthusian brother in Parkminster,

Richard acknowledged himself that the most suitable work for him was the chaplaincy to the sick, many of whom were incurably ill, in Donnybrook's Royal Hospital, and he was confirmed in his view by Father General in a personal letter on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee as a Jesuit in 1985. In 1989 he retired to Cherryfield Lodge but he battled bravely with declining health, away from his beloved Community in Leeson Street. Early in January 1993 he asked to be admitted to Our Lady's Hospice at Harold's Cross, and died there on January 21st. May he rest in peace.

Edward Keelaghan

McAvoy, John A, 1908-1983, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/286
  • Person
  • 17 August 1908-26 July 1983

Born: 17 August 1908, South Bank, Middlesborough, Yorkshire, England
Entered: 01 September 1926, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1939, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1942, Belvedere College SJ, Dublin
Died: 26 July 1983, Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin

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

Grew up in Rathfriland, County Down
Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 58th Year No 4 1983

Gardiner Street
The summer months saw the passing of two members of our community. Fr Johnny McAvoy († 26th July), who had given us an outstanding example of cheerful endurance during his long struggle with ill health, was the first to go. As noted in our last report, he had had to return to Cherryfield Lodge some months ago, to receive special care. At the very end, however, he moved to Our Lady's Hospice, where he died after a brain haemorrhage which mercifully saved him from prolonged suffering.
Fr Paddy Coffey, who died almost a month later († 19th August), was also attached to our community, though he had been living at St Joseph's, Kilcroney, or many years. It is no exaggeration to say that he was a legend in the Province for his amazing will-power and persistence. It would have been fascinating to listen in to his last battle of with the Lord! His ever-widening circle of friends will miss his gentle but determined winning ways.
May he and Johnny rest in the the serenity of eternal peace.


Fr John McAvoy (1908-1926-1983)
The 1st September 1926 saw some half-dozen Clongownians arrive at the noviciate in Tullabeg. (Their number was increased by one a couple of weeks later.) One of the six was introduced to me as John McAvoy from Rathfriland, Co Down. To me he looked like a sturdy member of the CWC rugby XV that earlier in the year had for the first time won the Leinster senior cup, snatching it from Belvedere.
Transferred from the rugby field to the noviceship soccer pitch, John's sturdiness became very evident.In those days we were dressed in full regalia for the game!) Again it was seen to full advantage when, with another novice in tandem, he was yoked under the shafts of the big farm cart used for collecting the bountiful shedding of foliage from the beautiful trees lining the avenue. I recall one day before the Long retreat hearing John and some others of the, CWC group talking about some saint or other. I asked what saint was being discussed, and was told “John Sullivan”. When I confessed that I had never heard of him, I was obviously I “just a Dublin jackeen who doesn't know our saint”.
John did the home juniorate in Rathfarnham and philosophy in Tullabeg, where we were part of the first batch of philosophers, returning there after a mere two years absence.I have no recollections of John during those years, as my presence in the Castle and in Rahan was somewhat intermittent. In 1936 however we came together again for theology in Milltown, and were ordained just before the outbreak of World War Two. At the completion of the fourth year of theology we were back again in the familiar surroundings of the Castle for tertianship under the direction of Fr Henry Keane.
At the end of this long period of gestation Fr John and I found ourselves in Belvedere, where his talents became very apparent and likewise his determination that each talent must bear worthwhile fruit. Most noticeable at this time was his conscientious application to his work class-room and his training of the Senior XV. The boys found his drive and enthusiasm highly infectious; no less so the sense of discipline he inspired. These characteristics of John's training became very evident when shortly after the war the Old Belvedere club went on tour in France. The bulk of that team had been trained by Fr John.
Despite his heavy work-load Fr John never, I feel sure, lost sight of the purpose of so much activity. I doubt if he ever 'missed out on the things of the spirit that are the hallmark of a good Jesuit priest. He was an example of sustained regularity in the performance of his spiritual duties.
John moved to Mungret in 1946 and returned to Dublin in '51, having been Vice-superior of the Apostolic school for his final two years in the college. Gardiner street became his final home in the Province, and it was here that he showed himself to be a most versatile man. For 24 years he aught in Bolton street College of Technology; studied privately and took a BA degree in UCD; learned a good deal about printing; was involved in the work of the Church, especially during Holy week and other big occasions.
In Bolton street the teachers held Fr John in high esteem for his priestly influence on both students and staff. This influence was such that many of his students in later life knew him as a trusted friend and adviser. On finishing his teaching career, John began to feel his way to becoming a first-class printer. He was listed in the Province catalogue as. Typogr Prov and during his final years produced much excellent work for both the parish and the Province. At this time also he became chaplain to St Joseph's Home, Portland row. Nothing that the sisters asked of him was ever too much for Fr John, who was so dedicated to the work that he continued to make his way to the convent on foot, until so far advanced in his illness he could no longer walk there because he was unable to eat. During these latter years he was Director of the Bona Mors Confraternity. His association with Bona Mors went back a considerable number of years. Its influence on him was such that from the time he knew his illness was terminal he became so merry and full of laughter that every member of the community was edified beyond measure. John's chief recreational outlet was fishing in season with rod and line. Lake and river were his haunts on vacations and odd free days. One year however he decided on the sea, and signed on with the skipper of a Howth or Skerries trawler for a part if not all of his villa time. He described the long hours of back bending work as really exhausting, but debilitation was more than offset by luscious steaks and other good foods - so good that the moment his head hit the pillow he fell asleep. His work on board the trawler was delightful - gutting the fish!
A man of many parts, John McAvoy was a priest well and deeply formed by the Spiritual Exercises. No matter how much he gave himself to others and their concerns, he was giving himself to God. The talents he received must already have been doubled for him by the One he served so wholeheartedly.

◆ The Clongownian, 1983


Father John McAvoy SJ

Despite having surpassed the allotted span of three score and ten years, the announcement of Fr John McAvoy's death on 26th July brought back many recollections and memories of him to not a few Old Clongownians, both those of his own time and those of a later vintage. He took a humble pride in being an Old Clongownian, and those who knew him realised that it was his years at Clongowes that prepared and formed him into the man, the priest, and Jesuit that he became.

Among his many achievements when he finished his years as a boy in Clongowes was the winning of a Leinster Senior Schools' Cup medal when he played as a forward on the team that for the first time brought the Cup to his school in 1926. More than fifty years later he returned to Clongowes, along with the surviving members of that historic team, to join in the celebrations to mark the return of the Cup in 1978.

He joined the Jesuits in 1926, came back to teach in his old school as a Jesuit scholastic for three years up to 1936 and was ordained a priest in 1939.

Anyone who knew Johnny - as he was known to his Jesuit confreres - realised he was one who loved life and loved people. His direct North of Ireland approach (though born in England he came to live in Co Down at a very early age before coming to Clongowes with his brother Jim who died as a young married man) won him many friends and respect among his fellow Jesuits and those he worked with and met. He won the friendship and trust of the many young people he dealt with. Among them were the boys of Belvedere College where he taught for five years and in 1946 trained the Senior Cup Team that won the Cup in 1946. Later it was the same during his five years in Mungret College. His greatest sphere of influence was the last thirty-two years of his life which were spent in the Jesuit Church in Gardiner Street, over twenty of which he was chaplain and priest-teacher in the College of Technology in Bolton Street.

It was at the request of Dr McQuaid, Arch bishop of Dublin, for a Jesuit to work full-time in the Dublin Vocational Educational system that Fr McAvoy was appointed to the position in Bolton Street in 1951. His success there in adapting to new surroundings and circumstances and his organising ability gradually won him the respect and confidence of the CEO, the Vocational Committee and the teaching staff not only of Bolton Street but also of other Vocational Schools in the city. For over twenty years his influence as a priest, a teacher and a friend on the students and staff of the college was enormous. His dedication and energy there paved the way for requests for other Jesuits to work in the Dublin Vocational schools.

His love of life and many friendships continued to the end. A serious operation some ten months or so before his death slowed his pace of living. As a dedicated fisherman he was forced to lay aside his rods, and to forego many other interests. Despite discomfort and suffering he was young at heart to the end. He departed peacefully and happily from the life he loved and during which he did so much for God and for others. For several years before his death Fr McAvoy was director of the Bona Mors (Happy Death) Sodality in Gardiner Street Church. There he counselled others to prepare for a happy death. This he received himself on 27th July.

Donal Mulcahy SJ

McCaffrey, William, 1894-1936, Jesuit brother

  • IE IJA J/1689
  • Person
  • 23 April 1894-18 February 1936

Born: 23 April 1894, Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone
Entered: 20 November 1920, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Final Vows: 02 February 1932, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway
Died: 18 February 1936, Our Lady's Hospice, Dublin

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

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Farmer before entry

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 11th Year No 2 1936
Obituary :
Brother William McCaffrey

Brother William McCaffrey was born at Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone, on the 23rd April, 1894. He entered the novitiate at Tullabeg on the 20th November, 1920. The noviceship over, he remained in Tullabeg, working in the garden, until 1928, when he went to Galway to be employed in the same kind of work. After two years there he was changed to Rathfarnham to act as Infirmarian, where he spent a year, and was then transferred to the Crescent, (cur pen Disp).
In 1932 he was back in Rathfarnham, this time (Cur. Val.) as a result of lung trouble. In the hope that the bracing air of Wicklow would do him good, he was sent to the Newcastle Sanatorium in that county. It failed to have any effect, and, after a brief stay, he was placed under the care of the Irish Sisters of Charity at the Hospice tor the dying, Harold's Cross, Dublin. Under their kind care he lingered on for some years , but nothing could save him and he died Tuesday, 18th February, 1936.
In 1934 he was attached to Milltown Park. A few days before he died, Father C. Power, Rector, gave him the Last Sacraments and on the morning of his death he was attended by the Minister Father D. Hayes. RIP

McEntee, Hugh F, 1887-1953, Jesuit brother

  • IE IJA J/1705
  • Person
  • 01 October 1887-21 August 1953

Born: 01 October 1887, Loughrea, County Galway
Entered: 05 May 1920, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Final Vows: 02 February 1931, Clongowes Wood College SJ
Died: 21 August 1953, Our Lady's Hospice, Dublin

Part of the Clongowes Wood College, County Kildare community at the time of death.

Brother of Timothy McEntee - LEFT 1921

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Draper before entry

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 28th Year No 4 1953
Obituary :
Brother Hugh McEntee
When Brother McEntee went to hospital no one imagined that his health was to deteriorate the way it did. After a period of convalescence, he returned to Clongowes for a short time. We were surprised to see the great change in him. Clearly he had lost his customary vigour.
During this brief period, he could be seen making his way slowly along the corridor, trying to exercise himself that he might regain some of his previous energy to fit himself once more for his work as Sacristan, The boys, who always held him in high esteem, noticed his weakened condition and to members of the community they expressed their hope that Brother McEntee would soon be hale and hearty once again and be back in the Sacristy. But it was not to be, for despite further medical attention, he continually failed in health, finally in the Hospice of the Dying, on August 21st, he passed peacefully away, having received the Last Sacraments.
He was born at Loughrea on October 1st, 1887, and was educated there. As a young man he set up his own drapery business in the same town. After some time he sold out and came to Dublin where he was in employment at T. Lyons and Co., Wholesale Drapers, Chathan Row. Here he was remarkable for his piety and zeal, chiefly manifested by a striking devotion to the sick, as well as his constancy in assisting in the enrolment of large numbers of boys in the Brown Scapular. As regards. the latter devotion, he had great faith in the revelation to St. Simon Stock, namely, that those members of the Brown Scapular who died in the proper dispositions would be released from Purgatory on the Saturday following their death. Hence, it was that he prayed that he would die on a Friday, and his prayer was answered.
On May 5th, 1920, he entered the novitiate at Tullabeg. He remained at this house until 1927 when he was transferred to Clongowes. With the exception of the period 1938-1944 when he was in Mungret, Brother McEntee spent the rest of his religious life at Clongowes.
As Sacristan of the Boys' Chapel and the People's Church, he was a model of order, neatness and efficiency. He had a constant loyalty and an abiding interest in his work, and was always most obliging and charitable. The local boys, whom he had instructed in Mass-serving and as Benediction acolytes, were very devoted to him. The boys in the college looked upon him as a necessary part of Clongowes, where he was erroneously but affectionately known as “Brother McGinty”. A past pupil, now a priest in the Dublin Diocese, said that as a boy he was most impressed by the brother. This good priest confessed that in his public request for prayers to his congregation he unconsciously reverted to his student days and referred to “Brother McGinty”. No doubt, the good brother appreciated the slip.
Brother McEntee's earlier devotion to the sick revealed itself in is religious life by his thoughtfulness in sending Catholic booklets, leaflets and holy pictures to hospitals and orphanages, and these undoubtedly brought consolation and assistance to many souls.
May he rest in peace.

◆ The Clongownian, 1954


Brother Hugh McEntee SJ

Many Clongownians will regret the passing of Brother Hugh McEntee SJ. He was born on October 1st, 1887, and died on August 21st, 1953, having given the greater part of a holy life to Our Lord's service in the Society.

Both as refectorian and sacristan, he was most painstaking and efficient. His desire to diffuse happiness and pleasure in others, especially young boys, was ever : active ; his keen sense of humour was at call whenever occasion demanded; his manner was friendly, genial. and kind. But more than all his other commendable qualities, one may recall his practical devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He never spared himself in order to have the Boy's Chapel and the People's Church always spotlessly clean and ornate. Every sacred vessel and even the least candlestick seemed, with the perfect lustre of each, to tell the Hidden God really present in the tabernacle, the true story of his own heart's adoration and love.

His piety did not begin merely when he entered the Society. Even as a young man, when he owned a drapery business in Loughrea, Co Galway, he had a remarkable zeal for the sanctification of souls. He was an active and eager auxiliary of the local clergy in the work of enrolling boys and young men in the Brown Scapular of the Blessed Virgin.

He first came to Clongowes in 1927, when he was appointed refectorian and here he remained until July, 1938. After six years in Mungret College, he returned to us as sacristan. His last illness was long and painful but his resignation to God's will was most exemplary. RIP

Nash, Robert, 1902-1989, Jesuit priest and writer

  • IE IJA J/300
  • Person
  • 23 April 1902-21 August 1989

Born: 23 April 1902, Cork City
Entered: 01 September 1919, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1931, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1934, Clongowes Wood College SJ
Died: 21 August 1989, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

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

by 1927 in Australia - Regency at Xavier College, Kew
by 1933 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship

◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
Nash, Robert
by Patrick Maume

Nash, Robert (1902–89), Jesuit priest and apologist, was born 23 April 1902 at Cork, third and only surviving child of Robert Nash (d. Southampton, 21 November 1901) and his wife Delia (née Kearney). He was brought up in Limerick by his mother and maternal uncle Joseph Kearney, a shop worker, and was educated at St Mary's convent school, St Munchin's day school, and Mount St Alphonsus College, Limerick, a minor seminary for the Redemptorist order. Nash was heavily influenced by his mother's fervent catholicism, which had been reinforced by her unhappy childhood and adult bereavement. He subsequently thought she was over-protective but that she did not exert any undue influence on his choice of vocation; he made the priesthood his life's ambition. After the Redemptorists decided that his health was too weak for the religious life, Nash approached the Jesuit order and entered the Jesuit novitiate at Tullabeg, near Tullamore, on 1 September 1919.

Nash took his vows as a Jesuit in 1921. After three years in the Jesuit training house at Milltown Park, Dublin, he was sent on the Australian mission, 1925–8, then returned to Milltown Park for four years’ theological study. He was ordained to the priesthood on 31 July 1931. He subsequently spent ten months’ tertianship at St Beuno's College in north Wales. His superiors retained him in Ireland out of consideration for his mother, who died in 1949. He soon became well known as a preacher and leader of retreats.

Nash's first article on spiritual matters appeared during his scholasticate, when his superior asked him to write up his trial sermon; he eventually published at least twenty-eight books, one of which (Is life worth while? (1949)) sold 100,000 copies, and more than 300 pamphlets. He had the gift of expressing himself in simple and direct language. Nash's world view was uncompromising: he preached a popularised version of Ignatian spirituality, with its emphasis on total commitment. Every moment was seen as participating in the fateful choice between heaven and hell; his compulsive writing reflected fear of wasting time. Even the mildest worldly pleasures came under suspicion as distractions from eternity or occasions of sin. This view lay behind his most notorious pamphlet, The devil at dances, which appeared during the clerically inspired campaign against unsupervised dance venues in the 1930s. Its opening description of a young woman at a dance hall, who notices that the attractive stranger with whom she is dancing has cloven hooves, was read literally by naive readers, producing widespread fear and scrupulosity. One of Nash's books was an annotated edition of St Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual exercises, which formed the basis for his extensive activities as a retreat master; his guides to prayer, such as The priest at his prie-dieu (1949), drew on Ignatian techniques of visualisation and were widely used in the formation of seminarians.

From 1951 to 1985 Nash wrote a weekly column on religious matters for the Sunday Press, the first of its kind in an Irish newspaper; in 1954–85 he also published daily ‘Phone calls’ (brief sixty-word reflections) in the Evening Press. During lengthy visits to Australia in 1956–7 and America in 1964 he provided the editor with a year's columns in advance – an indication of his professionalism, his fluency, and the extent to which he saw himself as preaching a timeless and unchanging message independent of day-to-day events. He calculated that he had written more than a million words for his column; in its latter years he was often accused of manipulating readers through fear of hellfire, but this discounts his utter conviction of the reality of the danger and his own duty to warn against it. He asked much of his readers, but no more than he demanded of himself; his life was so focused on its central objective that all other pursuits seemed trivial to him.

Nash's greatest popularity occurred during the 1950s, when readers could see themselves as part of a triumphant worldwide church battling uncompromisingly for the faith delivered to the saints. He was ill at ease with many developments after the second Vatican council; he acknowledged that the new relaxed approach was helpful in winning souls who might previously have been antagonised, but feared that excessive toleration of heterodoxies within the church and downplaying formal ritual might blind people to their spiritual needs. He never appeared on television: ‘the typewriter was the instrument I knew best so I stuck with it’ (Irish Times, 22 Aug. 1989). In 1980 Nash was a founder member of the third world aid group Action from Ireland (AfrI).

Nash retained a faithful, ageing readership until he ceased to write his column in 1985, declaring that it was time to say ‘What I have written I have written.’ He intended My last book (1983), a combination of autobiographical recollections and advice on prayer, to live up to its title (it concludes with meditations on death and heaven). He was lured back into print by admirers urging that if another book saved one soul it would be worth while; in 1986 he published My last phone call. Nash spent his last years in the Jesuit community at Gardiner Street, Dublin, where he continued to hear confessions until a year before his death. Early in 1989 deteriorating health led to his transfer to Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin, where he died 21 August 1989.

The vast contemporary popularity of Nash's writings, whose structured and fervent certainties contrast with the colloquial soothings of later Irish religious columnists, says much about the enthusiasms and restrictions of late Tridentine Irish Catholicism. Nash lived to see the aspirations he embodied condemned, ridiculed, or forgotten by a generation with less restrictive lives, new horizons, and different aspirations; he himself was virtually forgotten within a few years of his death.

Robert Nash, My last book (1983); Evening Press, 22 Aug. 1989; Irish Press, 22 Aug. 1989; Ir. Times, 22 Aug. 1989; Irish Catholic, 24 Aug. 1989; Sunday Press, 27 Aug. 1989; Monsignor James Horan: memoirs 1911–1986, ed. Micheál MacGréil (1992)

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Robert Nash joined the Society in 1919, and after initial Jesuit studies came to Australia and Burke Hall in 1925 as prefect of discipline and teacher. He loved his time there and was sorry to be recalled for theology in 1928.
He was later famous for his popular books on prayer, such as “Priest at his Pre-Dieu”, “Nun at her Pre-Dieu”, which caused a good deal of frustration among the intellectual professors who could not get their learned works published. His many pamphlets led Nash to being in considerable demand as a missioner and retreat director.
He returned to Australia, 1962-64, trying to start the popular Irish Mission, but it did not work. Nash gave house retreats at Watsonia, and amongst his points on one occasion he encouraged the scholastics to imagine the number of mortal sins being committed that night within a mile of the college. This taxed the imagination of the scholastics somewhat as the area within a mile of the college was still largely bush and farms. He must have considered the few farmers to be a sinful lot! Robert Nash remained productive in writing and preaching until almost the end of his life.
He was not lacking in confidence!

Neary, John J, 1889-1983, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/303
  • Person
  • 20 August 1889-24 October 1983

Born: 20 August 1889, Rathgar, Dublin
Entered: 05 October 1908, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 15 August 1922, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1927, Shiuhing, China
Died: 24 October 1983, Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin

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

by 1917 at St Aloysius, Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
by 1927 first Hong Kong Missioner with George Byrne
by 1950 at St Beuno’s, St Asaph, Wales (ANG) Tertian Instructor

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Father Neary

Only a few septuagenarians and octogenarians in the Hong Kong public can have even faint memories of Father John Neary, who died in Ireland last week, aged 94. He has nevertheless his little niche in our history. He was one of the two Jesuits - Father George Byrne was the other - who came here on 2 December 1926, to start Jesuit work in Hong Kong. Their early decisions have influenced all later Jesuit work here.

He stayed here only five years. In 1931 his health broke down and he had to return to Ireland, where, as Master of Novices or as Instructor of Tertians, he played a large part in the formation of most of the Jesuits now in Hong Kong.

Memory of him lasted long even in this city of short memories. In my earlier years here, I was amazed to find a variety of people still asking for news about him many years after his departure. The late Father Andrew Granelli, P.I.M.E., spoke more and more of Father Neary as his own life neared its end. Their friendship had outlasted forty years of separation.

Father Neary never forgot Hong Kong. When I visited him two years ago he was already 92, but he was full of eager and probing questions about developments here. Streets and buildings and people were still fresh in his memory. He had shortly before been greatly cheered by a visit from Archbishop Tang, whom he remembered as a young Jesuit Student. His thoughts were with us to the end. He deserves a few inches of space in a Hong Kong Catholic Paper.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 4 November 1983

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
Born in Dublin in 1889, his early education was at Mount Saint Mary’s in England.

In 1926 Fr John Fahy appointed him and George Byrne to respond to the request from Bishop Valtora of Hong Kong for Jesuit help.

He visited the Jesuits in Macau and Shiuhing as well as Shanghai. Their first project was Ricci Hall at Hong Kong University together with work at Canton Cathedral. he held Wah Yan in great esteem.

By 1931 he had health issues. He was sent back to Ireland where he had an outstanding period at Belvedere College SJ, and became Novice Master

Note from Paddy Finneran Entry
With the encouragement of Michael Murphy he then entered the Novitiate at St Mary’s, Emo under the newly appointed Novice Master John Neary.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 2nd Year No 2 1927

Fr Pigot attended the Pan-Pacific Science Congress in Tokyo as a delegate representing the Australian Commonwealth Government. He was Secretary to the Seismological Section, and read two important papers. On the journey home he spent some time in hospital in Shanghai, and later touched at Hong Kong where he met Frs. Byrne and Neary.

Irish Province News 59th Year No 1 1984


Fr John Neary (1889-1908-1983)

In this age of questionnaires and surveys it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that we might at some time be pondering as to which Irish Jesuit could claim to be most mimicked. I'm pretty sure that one contestant, namely John Neary, would far outstrip the others. He would have a head-start for two reasons: first, his mannerisms were easy to copy even by those not particularly gifted at mimicry; and secondly he guided into the Irish Province of the Society a greater number of candidates than any other known Master of Novices. He held that formative position for eleven years and indeed had contact with novices for a further nine years while he was Spiritual Father in Emo.
Mimicry can be cruel, of course, but it can also be harmless, and in this case I think it was a measure of the affection which he generated. His tones, his manual and facial gestures, his some what quaint turns of phrase, were prime targets for his would be copiers; but there was never any hint of malice or ill-feeling in the imitation. I'm sure he cannot have avoided hearing the echo at odd times: and I'm equally sure that he would not have felt any resentment. He would probably have merely chuckled to himself.
My acquaintance with him (to which this account is naturally restricted; let others tell the rest of the story) was confined to the noviceship period, a brief month or so in the Tertianship, when he filled in for Fr Hugh Kelly and finally the last seven years of his life at Gardiner street and Our Lady's Hospice. Opinions differ as to his value as a Master of Novices. Others are better qualified to judge; I found him kindly and discerning. He could harden and raise his voice at times, he could give virtue', but it was always to those who could take it; it was never crushing or ridiculous, in the full sense. Incidentally, I never did discover whether the “honking” which preceded his appearance around the corner was necessary throat-clearing or an early warning signal – and likewise with the slipper-dragging routine (this certainly was no “pussyfooting”, by any count!).
Though he was a firm believer in de more he used to illustrate the good use of creatures by changing routine to fit in with exceptional weather. During both our years in Emo the lake froze hard (enough to allow horses with padded hooves to pull tree-trunks from one side of the lake to the other) and we were all herded out to learn to skate, willy-nilly. As everyone knows. he had a great interest in bee-keeping, too, but it was only the chosen few, the “discreets”, who were allowed to assist him and involve themselves in this speciality. His appreciation of the health-giving properties of honey (and, later on of half bananas!) was to last to the end of his days. A spoonful, given semi-secretly in his room, was considered an infallible cure for anything from the blues' to a heavy cold.
There was never any doubt about his zeal. Fr Tom Ryan wrote of him: “Zeal for conversion was always characteristic of him. During his theology in Milltown Park he had Protestant converts continually on hand”. Altogether he spent twenty years in Emo and was in Gardiner street for about the same length of time. There he continued, unobtrusively, this work of finding and instructing those who were interested in the faith. I think his special interest in converts and in ecumenism may have stemmed originally from his enormous devotion to Cardinal Newman and his writings. Many were the cuttings from newspapers and the Tablet concerning Newman that he left behind. (He had apparently one of those love-hate relationships with the Tablet - castigating it vigorously for its anti-Irish attitude, yet waiting breathlessly for the next issue. Indeed, one of the few naughty memories about him is the image of the hand appearing suddenly around the reading room door, casting deftly on to the table that missing copy of the Tablet. I think it must have been his greatest crime, the nearest thing to an inordinate attachment!).
He lived a frugal style of life and showed a practical sympathy with the poor, as evidenced by his devotion to an respect for the St Vincent de Paul Society. A little incident he related illustrates this fact, and, as å by-product, his type of humour (faintly wicked at times). On one occasion the conference members he directed were discussing the amount of assistance they should give to what is now called a “single parent” of several children from different stock. He told me that he dissuaded the brothers from providing the double-bed requested by the lady in question!
His greatest achievement of all was, without the slightest shadow of doubt, our mission to China. Fr Ryan wrote: “He may to a very great extent be said to have been the originator of the Irish Province mission to China. It is almost certain that it would not have been undertaken at the time it was, but for him”. Some time before he had to retire to Our Lady's Hospice I thought it would be worthwhile recording his memories of the start of that mission. So I interviewed him in his room, with the aid of a cheap tape-recorder and found him surprisingly co-operative. (He adapted to modern inventions, customs and changes extremely well). It was only afterwards that I discovered a similar account written by him for the 1933 Jesuit Year Book. A comparison of the two versions proved how accurate his memory was. Moreover, after his death I read some of the correspondence he had with Fr Fahy. This not only proved his great power of almost total recall about this period of his life but also revealed his humility while confirming what Fr Ryan wrote. Before that, even from his own account, I had not realised how much he had manoeuvred Fr Fahy into beginning the mission, and how much the Provincial was guided by him. He gave the impression, of course that he was only doing the bidding of his superior!
Although he spent less than five years in Hong Kong, his heart remained there for as long as it beat. As he said himself, he was always interested in the mission and listened avidly to the reports of those who came back home on visits. The ultimate proof of his intense interest was to be given at the very end of his life. During the last few months before he died there were long periods when he obviously thought he was in Hong Kong or that the conversation of his visitors referred to the colony as he knew it
In his notes on the history of the Jesuit Mission in Hong Kong, the late Fr Tom Ryan, one of the earliest superiors of that Mission, wrote at considerable length about Fr Neary and I think he is worth quoting yet again. Many of the qualities he spotted in “Pa Neary” will be easily recognised:
“Fr John Neary, a Dublin man. educated at Mount St Mary's in England, was ... absolutely matter-of fact and down to earth. He was of great precision of thought and speech, and even of movement. He had not much imagination, but he had an excellent sense of humour and had great natural kindness. As he suffered seriously from asthma, he never would have been sent to a foreign mission except for the great interest which he had in missionary work ... He had absolutely no ear for music and could distinguish ‘tones’ with difficulty, so the study for him was doubly hard, but he recognised the difficulty and practised the tones for hours on end every day, to the dismay at first of his teacher, since he compelled him to listen to him until he got them right. The result was that even though there was always something artificial in the way in which he spoke Chinese, his absolute accuracy was commented upon by all”.
He died as he had lived, unobtrusively - almost secretly. For two nights he appeared to be on the point of departure ... but, as usual, he refused to be hurried. His great faith and serene piety were marked by the fact that his lips were moving continuously in prayer. On the second night, before we left the bed side, his nephew, Fr Peter Lemass, recited the prayer for the dying composed by his beloved John Henry Newman. Early next morning, as though in a final demonstration of his sleight of hand, he slipped away in our absence. He could not quite fool the nuns, however. A large group of the community, including their provincial, had gathered around and they were praying with and for him as he breathed his last light breath. It was not, of course, the end for him, but, as more than one Jesuit which many came to see and admire; remarked, it was the end of an era for the Irish Province.

Ó Cathain, Seán, 1905-1989, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/317
  • Person
  • 27 May 1905-26 December 1989

Born: 27 May 1905, Belfast, County Antrim
Entered: 31 August 1923, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1938, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1941, St Ignatius, Leeson Street, Dublin
Died: 26 December 1989, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

Part of the Sacred Heart community, Limerick at the time of death

Had studied Medicine for one year before entry

by 1930 at Berchmanskolleg, Pullach, Germany (GER S) studying

◆ Interfuse
Interfuse No 82 : September 1995


Fr Seán Ó Catháin (1905-1989)

27th May 1905: Born in Belfast
31st Aug. 1923: Entered the Society of Jesus
1923 - 1925: Tullabeg, novitiate
1925 - 1929: Rathfarnham, juniorate: MA (UCD) in Celtic studies
1929 - 1931; Pullach bei München, Germany: philosophy
1931 - 1934: Galway, regency
1934 - 1939 Milltown Park
1934 - 1935: private study,
1935 - 1939 theology
1938: Ordained a priest
1939 - 1940: Rathfarnham, tertianship.
1940 - 1946: Leeson Street:
1940 - 1941 private study,
1941 - 1946 University Hall, vice principal, private study culminating in a PhD.
1946 - 1948: Clongowes, teaching
1948 - 1978; Leeson Street:
1949 - 1966 Lecturer at UCD's department of Education;
1966-1973 Professor of Education;
1950 - 1959 Inspector of studies in colleges of the Province.
1973 - 1978 writing.
1967 - 1973: Superior.
1978 - 1989: Limerick (Sacred Heart Residence): church work, librarian. In 1982 (also in October 1989) he suffered a stroke which impaired the memory function of his brain. After spending some time in St. John's Hospital, Limerick, he was removed to Our Lady's hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin
26th Dec. 1989: Died

The following additional details concerning Seán's academic career have been gleaned from the Report of the President, UCD, 1972-3 (section on retirements) and 1989-'90 (obituary section). Seán gained four diplomas, all with first-class honours (the middle two in Irish), from one or other of three Irish university colleges: pre-medical (UCC, 1923), BA (UCD, 1928), MA (UCD, 1929), HDip in Ed (UCG, 1932). For his PhD in Ed (UCD, 1941) his thesis was on 'The diffusion of Renaissance ideals of education in the schools of the Jesuit Order'. 'During these years (seemingly 1932-48) he acted as an Assistant Extern Examiner (through Irish) in Education for the National University of Ireland.

Seán Ó Catháin was the second son of Seán and Kathleen nee Dinneen. Seán senior was a native of Kilbeheny, near Mitchelstown, while Kathleen from Rathmore, Co. Kerry. It was in London at the turn of the century that Seán, who had succeeded in the examinations for the civil service, found himself posted for work at the department of customs and excise. Kathleen Dinneen had qualified as a primary teacher and found employment also in London. They were both the children of Irish speaking parents.

Sometime about 1904 Seán Ó Catháin was transferred to Belfast. Some day a curious enquirer may discover whether his transfer was by way of promotion or downright exile to dour Belfast, where there were fewer Gaelic Leaguers!

Here our own Seán was born, and baptised at the parish church of the Sacred Heart, Oldpark Road. In due course he was confirmed at St. Patrick's parish church, Donegall Street. After primary school he was sent to St. Malachy's college and had all but completed his secondary schooling when his father was once more transferred to a very different location of the customs and excise. This time it was to Cork, not far from his native place. It is almost certain that the transfer was scheduled for the late spring of 1921 - a very significant date. Britain was busily partitioning Ireland in the administrative sector in preparation for political partition and the opening of a new Six-county parliament on 22nd June 1921. In fact, the separation of the administrative files of government had been going quietly on even before the general election and victory of Sinn Féin in December 1918! All this underhand work was unknown or unsuspected, apparently, by the young republican politicians, the heirs of 1916!

Seán junior resumed his secondary schooling at the North Monastery CBS in June 1922. He entered the medical school at UCC, but in the event he was not destined to become a medical doctor.

In 1923 Seán senior was transferred to Dublin, In August Seán junior entered the novitiate at Tullabeg, and in due course made his first religious profession. In after years he often spoke of his privilege to have spent his first year as a novice under the direction of the saintly Fr. Michael Browne. He went to Rathfarnham Castle where he was to spend four years. At UCD he won scholarships; at home he was a live-wire in the Irish Society, and every Christmas distinguished himself as an actor in the Irish plays. He crowned his career at Rathfarnham with a first-class-honours MS in Celtic studies.

He was next appointed to the philosophate at Pullach, where he graduated DPh of the Gregorian university. Bilingual from infancy, it is not to be wondered at that he acquired an enviable mastery of the German language. Later he added Italian and French to his linguistic accomplishments.

Back in Ireland he was appointed to Galway for his regency, and it was during this period that Fr. Timothy Corcoran, professor of education at UCD, began to take an interest in Seán as a future successor in his own chair at Earlsfort terrace. These were happy years in a youthful, full and flourishing province, with only an occasional rumour of trouble trickling into Ireland from Hitler's Germany. But peace in Europe was already openly threatened when Seán was ordained priest in 1938. By the summer of 1940 he had completed his fourth year of theology and made his tertianship.

He was now appointed to Leeson Street for private study. Here under the watchful eye of Fr. Corcoran he began his studies in education that would lead to another doctorate. By an odd turn of events his prospects of eventually succeeding to the Chair of Education diminished considerably before the year was over. Fr. Corcoran's health had not been robust of late but he battled on - not only conducting his own lectures but also supplying for his assistant, Mr. W J Williams, who had recently suffered a stroke. It was anticipated that Williams, who was within a very few years of retirement, would resign, but when Fr. Corcoran himself was obliged on medical grounds to resign in September 1942, Williams declared he was going forward for Fr. Corcoran's chair. Meantime the Provincial and consultors (at the urging of members of the Hierarchy) put forward the name of Fr. Fergal McGrath as candidate. (No complaint was ever heard from Fr. Seán.) However, as soon as Fr. McGrath learned of Williams' intention, he immediately withdrew his name - and Williams secured the professorship. He had to retire in 1948. Since 1942 Fr. Seán was stationed as vice-warden at Hatch Street, where he continued work on his doctoral thesis. At the end of this study he spent the years 1946-48 as a master at Clongowes, and 1950-59 - with his characteristic thoroughness - Seán carried out the duties of inspector of our province's schools.

In 1948, when the chair of education was once more vacant, Fr. Seán allowed his name to go forward, and found overwhelming support in the electoral body. However, for the next eighteen years he enjoyed the title (and salary) of lecturer only and not professor. It was an open secret that the late Professor Michael Tierney had used all his considerable influence to downgrade the chair of education. Tierney's hostility dated from the time (1920's and 1930's) when his political views attracted strong opposition in The Catholic Bulletin, on the editorial board of which Fr. Timothy Corcoran's word was law.

In 1966 came belated acknowledgement of Fr. Seán's ability and worth when he was accorded the rank of professor. However, I always felt that the seven years during which he held the professorship were wearying if not even distasteful to a man of his sensitivity. It is enough to recall here that in 1968 student unrest in France spilled out all over Europe and across the Atlantic, and in the universities civilised behaviour, good manners and respect for any authority were the first casualties.

During his later years as professor, when he was also superior at Leeson Street, Seán's health was not robust. He suffered much from sleeplessness, yet during the thirteen years I lived with him he never missed an appointment and was exemplary for punctuality. A product of the old school, that is, brought up in the province to value the necessity of co-operation whether in teaching, church work, parochial missions etc, he lived in no ivory tower of academia. He was interested in everybody and everything connected with the Irish province, and that meant all our fathers, scholastics and brothers, and the works they were engaged in. He had an authentic apostolic bent, as could be deduced from his active interest in the work of two societies, one named after St. Vincent de Paul and the other called St. Joseph's Young Priests. He was an excellent community man, incapable of pulling a long face at table or recreation: he simply radiated a sense of fun. It was a delight to hear him enter the lists with Fr. Frank Shaw, My own impression was that if they had chosen the law for their profession, both would have gained celebrity as advocates.

As superior, Seán tended to be over-scrupulous, but against this he was particularly caring for the sick and generously sympathetic in times of bereavement. Like Fr's Fergal McGrath († 1988) and Redmond Roche († 1983) he acquired an almost legendary reputation for attendance at funerals. 1973 seemed to be the end of his active life; early that autumn he resigned from the chair of education and two months earlier had been replaced as superior of Leeson Street. The next five years he spent in quiet study and in a ministry within his capacity.

An unexpected challenge awaited him in 1978. The Provincial was faced with diminishing manpower, and one of our churches, the Crescent, rather urgently needed an operarius. The difficult proposal was made to Seán, a Dubliner of long standing, and now in his seventies. Generously, as was the custom of this province, he answered the call of duty and courageously entered on a new and unaccustomed way of life. In Limerick, while his fragile health remained, he gave of his best; but the last years must have been frustrating for a man of his once boundless nervous energy. In 1989 he seemed to rally somewhat, and twice at least attended funerals in Gardiner Street, but his years were telling against him. At length he had to go into St. John's hospital, Limerick, whence he was taken back to Dublin to spend the short time that remained to him at Our Lady's hospice, Harold's Cross. There, on St. Stephen's Day, God called him home.

Tá an tAthair Seán imithe uainn ar shlí na firinne, agus tá uaigneas orainn dá dheasca sin go bhfeicimid arís sna Flaithis é; ach idir an dá linn guímis go bhfaigh a anam dilis suaimhneas síoraí, go raibh sé faoi bhrat Mhuire i radharc na Trionóide.

Proinsias Ó Fionnagáin

O'Brien, Patrick JT, 1910-1991, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/686
  • Person
  • 26 December 1910-21 March 1991

Born: 26 December 1910, Nenagh, County Tipperary
Entered: 14 September 1935, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 29 July 1943, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1953, Canisius College, Chikuni, Zambia
Died 21 March 1991, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin - Zambiae Province (ZAM)

Part of the Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin community at the time of death

Part of the St Ignatius, Lusaka, Zambia community at the time of death

Transcribed HIB to ZAM: 03 December 1969

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1938 at St Aloysius Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
by 1946 at Lusaka, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - - First Zambian Missioners with Patrick Walsh
by 1947 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Before Fr Paddy entered the Society at Emo in1935, he had already attended university, was a graduate and a solicitor in the family firm. He was born in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, Ireland in 1910 and went to school at Clongowes Wood College. After his novitiate, since he was already a graduate, he went straight to philosophy in Jersey, the French-speaking philosophate in the Channel Islands. He stayed there two years but as World War 2 had broken out, he returned to Tullabeg, Ireland to finish his philosophy. After his theology at Milltown Park he was ordained in 1943.

After tertianship in 1945, he volunteered to come to Northern Rhodesia which he did with Fr. Paddy Walsh in 1946. He went to Chikuni to teach until he moved to Lusaka to St Ignatius as parish priest for nine years where he was also chaplain to the hospital and taught at both a primary and secondary school. He alternated with Mgr Wolnik as chaplain to St .Francis and Regiment Church.

He taught at Munali Secondary School and Hodgson Trade School and gave spiritual talks to the Dominican Sisters and the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood. For a year he was secretary to Archbishop Kozlowiecki. Then he went to the Southern Province as parish priest in Choma for three years and chaplain to the hospital, 1959 to 1961. He acted as education secretary at the Catholic Secretariat in Lusaka for six months in 1962, teaching again at Munali and Chalimbana where he was also chaplain to the two institutions. From 1969 to 1974 he was secretary to Archbishop Milingo, and from 1974 to 1988 he was secretary to the Papal Pro-Nuncio. All the occupations of parish priest, chaplain, teacher, secretary, fitted into his educational background.

He had an abiding sense of the presence and the majesty of God. He found God in simple daily devotions like the Rosary. He was also fascinated by the wonders of nature and the discoveries of science. In them he found material for prayer. All these things for him were reflections of the wisdom, the power and the love of the Creator. He was a great reader and liked to communicate what he had assimilated in retreats, in sermons and even in conversation. He was interested in people, keeping in touch with his many friends, and being ecumenically minded with people of other denominations.

He was always ready to ‘uphold his priestly ministry even when it cost’. In his early days in Lusaka, a young man involved in a fatal shooting came to Fr Paddy for advice and counselling. The young man gave himself up to the police and Fr Paddy was put into the witness box and asked to testify that the incriminating weapon, a rifle, had been handed to him by the accused. Fr Paddy refused to give evidence and was committed for contempt of court.

A newspaper reported:
“What is described as the most sensational murder trial ever to be held in Northern Rhodesia came to an abrupt end when the magistrate at Lusaka dismissed the case against Lawrence Sullivan, 24, who was charged with the murder of Mrs. Christina Margarita Fuller. The sensation was caused by the persistent refusal of a priest, Fr P J O'Brien, S.J. to take the oath as a witness. Fr. O'Brien maintained that there ‘there was a conflict of duties’ and, although warned by the magistrate of the risk he look, said he could not give evidence which might look like a breach of confidence. He insisted that it was for the public good that a man or woman who had done something seriously wrong should feel free to have recourse in confidence to their priest or minister of religion”.

A fall which seriously damaged his hip and other long standing health problems, brought him back to Ireland to the Jesuit Nursing Unit in Dublin in 1989. On 21 March 1991 at the age of 80, Fr Paddy died of a heart attack. He was a wonderful story teller!

Note from Maurice Dowling Entry
After the war, when the Jesuits in Northern Rhodesia were looking for men, two Irish Jesuits volunteered in 1946 (Fr Paddy Walsh and Fr Paddy O'Brien) to be followed by two more in 1947, Maurice and Fr Joe Gill. They came to Chikuni.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Solicitor before entry

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 21st Year No 1 1946

Frs. O'Brien and Walsh left Dublin on January 4th on their long journey to North Rhodesia (Brokenhill Mission of the Polish Province Minor). They hope to leave by the "Empress of Scotland" for Durban very soon.

Irish Province News 21st Year No 2 1946

From Rhodesia.
Frs. O'Brien and Walsh reached Rhodesia on February 21st. They were given a great welcome by Mgr. Wolnik. He has his residence at Lusaka and is alone except for one priest, Fr. Stefaniszyn who did his theology at Milltown Park. Lusaka is the capital of Northern Rhodesia and is a small town of the size of Roundwood or Enniskerry.
Fr. O'Brien goes to Chikuni, which is a mission station with a training school for native teachers. Fr. Walsh is appointed to Broken Hill. where he will work with another father. ADDRESSES : Fr. Walsh, P.O. Box 87, Broken Hill, N. Rhodesia; Fr. O'Brien, Chikuni P.O., Chisekesi Siding. N. Rhodesia

Fr. P.J. T. O'Brien, Johannesburg, Africa, 10-2-46 :
“We docked in Durban on February 6th. The Oblate Fathers, who had come to the boat to meet ten Christian Brothers from Dublin, very kindly took us in, The trains were crowded with holiday-makers and demobilised soldiers. We reached Johannesburg on the 9th, and the Oblates again invited us to stay with them. We hope to catch the train for Livingstone to-morrow night. The voyage was quite pleasant, though things were a bit congested on board, as the ship was carrying a lot of troops : 2,000 Basutos and 800 coloured Cape soldiers got on at Suez.

Irish Province News 22nd Year No 1 1947

Departures for Mission Fields in 1946 :
4th January : Frs. P. J. O'Brien and Walsh, to North Rhodesia
25th January: Frs. C. Egan, Foley, Garland, Howatson, Morahan, Sheridan, Turner, to Hong Kong
25th July: Fr. Dermot Donnelly, to Calcutta Mission
5th August: Frs, J. Collins, T. FitzGerald, Gallagher, D. Lawler, Moran, J. O'Mara, Pelly, Toner, to Hong Kong Mid-August (from Cairo, where he was demobilised from the Army): Fr. Cronin, to Hong Kong
6th November: Frs. Harris, Jer. McCarthy, H. O'Brien, to Hong Kong

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 4 1948
Fr. P.J. O'Brien writes from Lusaka (N. Rhodesia), 16th September :
“Fr. Dowling's cable arrived a few days ago bringing the welcome news that he and Fr. Gill expect to sail for Cape Town on 12th October. May I again say how very grateful we all are for sending the two Fathers. They will be a great acquisition here, especially to the Secondary School. African Secondary Education is non-existent in this country, except for one Government school (and another for teachers). Hence the Department of African Education hopes for a lot from the new Catholic Secondary School. In fact it expects that the Jesuits will show what can and should be done in this line, and that we will give a lead to the whole country and to itself. It is very important, of course, that we should do so, and play a big part in Secondary Education, for it is the Africans who have received this who will form public opinion amongst their fellows and form it for or against the Church..
I had a three week's rest in Livingstone recently with the Irish Capuchins, who treated me with the greatest kindness and hospitality. I was very glad to meet their Provincial, Fr. James, who was out on visitation. Their Mission is to the south and west of us ; the Italian Franciscans are to the north, and the White fathers are in all parts to the east.”

◆ The Clongownian, 1947

Clongownians in Mission Fields

Father Paddy O’Brien SJ

“Chikuni” is one of several Mission Stations which are under the care of the Polish Jesuit Fathers. It covers an area almost as large as Ireland and is right in the “Bush”. The nearest thing that could be called a “town” is 90 miles away, with some hamlets in between. Scattered throughout it are 45 village schools, each of which is a little parish, and some 10,000 native converts. Here, at the centre, is a large church, a Convent of fotre Dame Sisters who have a day and boarding school for native girls, and our own African “Clongowes” with some 300 pupils.

To do all that is required we have four priests, one aged 84. Two do the parochial work in the church, the third travels through the outlying districts, to say Mass, administer the Sacraments and supervise the work of the native teachers in the village schools. This leaves the fourth - your humble servant to look after “Clongowes”, where, for lack of anyone else, he fills the offices of Prefect of Studies, Teacher, Minister, Procurator, Higher, Lower and Third Line Prefect, Spiritual Father and Infirmarian. For, alas, ince 1939 only one priest has been able to reach Rhodesia from Poland. And the nearest priest is distant from Chikuni to the North 90 miles, to the East 230 miles - in both cases Polish Jesuits; to the South 150 miles and to the West 220 miles - in both cases Irish Capuchins. 250 miles to the South-east are the English Jesuits.

The Missionary, who expected to go about with a Crucufix in one hand and a Grammar of the Bantu languages in the other, is surprised to find the younger members of his flock studying the History of the Mongol Invasion of China, and explaining in examinations “the difference between Hieroglyphics and Cuneiform Writing and who used each”.

In school all the ordinary subjects are done and the boys are so anxious to learn that the severest punishment one can give them is to keep them away from Class or Study. Just recently a deputation came for permission to begin study at five o'clock in the morning.'

Most of the teaching is done through English and the boys spend much of their recreations searching through dictionaries for new words the longer the better. One of them spoke to me recently - with obvious pride - of the “tintinnabulation” of the bell.

The only other European on the school staff is a Notre Dame Sister, so that from early morning to late at night there is rarely a free moment in which to answer your own or other letters. Teachers and boys are coming to my office all day long about the usual school questions. Sometimes there is a queue waiting as I come back from the church after Mass in the morning. Often they are messengers from the Out-Schools, with a 40 mile walk ahead of them when they take back the answer, who must be attended to there and then. One person could be busily occupied with the numerous circulars from the Department of Education and the Returns to be sent in there - lists of pupils with the courses they are following lists of teachers - of whom there are 65, including those in out-schools - with their qualifications and years of service; lists of boys exempt from the Poll-Tax which all male Africans pay above a certain age, etc.

The boys suffer a good deal from tropical ulcers, mostly on the leg, which may be duc in part to their urvaried diet, which consists almost entirely of mealies : any other food they look on as mere hors d'oeuvre. The dressing of these and the attending those who are down with a bout of malaria is part of the daily programme.

And here are a few of the hourly requests that come from the villagers living round about us and which have prevented me from completing the three-page description of Chikuni which I wrote at odd moments during the past six weeks :

“May I have a loan of your bicycle; some M and B for my pneumonia; a testimonial to a new employer ; a new shirt; a Certificate that I did a course in Carpentry an envelope to send a letter; some medicine to cure my uncle who has been bitten by a snake; some thread to stitch my clothes; an old newspaper to smoke; an empty tin to carry water; quinine for malaria; some paraffin oil; a three-halfpenny stamp; a piece of rubber for the valve of my bicycle; change of a shilling; and a “Holy Mary”, ie, a medal”. Or again : “Will you buy some dead - very dead - fish? send my tax to the District-Commissioner? cure the baby's sore eyes? order this book for me from South Africa or London? take my photograph; dress this wound; buy a baboon for three shillings come out with the lorry and bring to the church a dead man; write away for this medicine that I read about in the paper; lend me some money kill the insects in my house; make my “friend” stop trying to beat me; mend my clock; cut this part of my face here, for I am suffering in the veins of my ears?”

O'Mara, Patrick, 1875-1969, Jesuit priest, chaplain and missioner

  • IE IJA J/552
  • Person
  • 13 March 1875-23 March 1969

Born: 13 March 1875, Limerick City, County Limerick
Entered: 14 August 1892, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 26 July 1908, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 08 December 1967, St Francis Xavier, Gardioner Street, Dublin
Died: 23 March 1969, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

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

Cousin of Joey O’Mara - RIP 1977

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

Chaplain in the First World War.

by 1896 at Valkenburg Netherlands (GER) studying
Came to Australia for Regency, 1898
by 1910 at Drongen Belgium (BELG) making Tertianship
by 1918 Military Chaplain : 58th CCS, BEF France
by 1919 Military Chaplain : 33rd CCS, BEF France

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Patrick O'Mara began his long life in the Society in 1892 at the age of sixteen, entering the novitiate at Tullabeg. At the end of 1898 he arrived at Xavier College to teach mathematics to senior boys and was first division prefect, 1901-02. He wrote a book on arithmetic, but apparently no copies survive.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 1st Year No 1 1925
Of the various pamphlets issued, half a million copies were distributed during the past twelve months. Devotional booklets are in especial demand, particularly the “Holy Hour” books, by Fr. P. O’Mara, of which 63,ooo copies were sent out during the past year, and an equal number during the preceding year

Irish Province News 2nd Year No 4 1927
Messenger Office :
Of reprinted pamphlets by Ours, 370,000 copies have already been bought up. Fr P O’Mara’s “Holy Hour” book, “An Hour with Jesus” easily holds the record. It is in its 45th edition, and the companion book “Another Hour with Jesus” is in its 21st.

◆ Irish Province News 44th Year No 3 1969 & ◆ The Clongownian, 1969

Obituary :

Fr Patrick O’Mara SJ (1875-1969)

Father Patrick O'Mara was, by a large margin, the senior member of the Irish Province. Though six months younger than Father Eddie Dillon (still happily with us). he entered almost five years earlier. He had completed the long span of 77 years in the Society and was in full activity up to within a year of his death.
He was born in Limerick on March 18th, 1875. His father, Stephen O'Mara, M.P., was the founder of the well-known family business and was several times Mayor of Limerick and later a member of Seanad Eireann. Patrick was the eldest of a family of nine. One of his brothers, Stephen, was, like his father, several times Mayor of Limerick. Another, James, played a prominent part in the national movement, which has been chronicled in his biography by his daughter, Mrs. Lavelle. The third brother, Fonsie, was prominent in business life in Limerick and Dublin. He too played an active part in the national movement and in 1918 was elected as the first Sinn Fein mayor of Limerick, The distinguished singer, Joseph O'Mara, director of the O'Mara Opera Company and father of Father Joseph O'Mara, was an uncle of Fr. Patrick's, being the youngest brother of Stephen O'Mara, M.P.
Patrick O'Mara was educated for four years at the Christian Brothers College. Limerick, and for another four at Clongowes. He entered the noviceship at Tullabeg in 1892. Amongst his fellow-novices we find some names once familiar in the Province, Patrick O'Brien, Esmond White, Michael Egan and Thomas O'Dwyer. After a year's juniorate at Milltown Park, he went to Valkenburg for philosophy, and at the end of his three years course was appointed to Xavier College, Melbourne, in what was then the Australian mission.
He spent seven years at Xavier. from 1898 to 1905, both prefecting and teaching. Father O'Mara so long outlived his contemporaries that no detailed information is available about these early years. He was, however, evidently a keen and able teacher of mathematics, and published in 1903 a textbook entitled Reasoned Methods in Arithmetic and Algebra for Matriculation Candidates, which went into at least four editions.
In 1905 he returned to Ireland for theology at Milltown Park, and was ordained on 26th July 1908. After tertianship at Tronchiennes, he taught mathematics and physics at Mungret for three years, and was then appointed to the mission staff. Rathfarnham Castle had just been opened as a Juniorate (1913). and he was a member of the founding community, together with three fellow-missioners, Fathers William Doyle, Joseph Flinn and William Gleeson. The catalogues assign him to Tullabeg from 1914 to 1916, but those who were at Rathfarnham during those years think that he remained there during all his time as a missioner, This was the period of the First World War, and in 1917 Father O'Mara was appointed a military chaplain (there were twenty two Irish Jesuit chaplains that year) and saw service at the 58th and 33rd casualty clearing stations in France. He rendered particular service to Portuguese troops and was awarded a decoration, : Officer of the Military Order of Christ, by the Portuguese Government.
In 1919 Father O'Mara returned to Rathfarnham and there followed a long period of work as a missioner. Here again we are faced by the difficulty that he so long outlived his contemporaries that information about this period of his life is scanty. It is certain, however, that he was a most devoted and successful Missioner. He was an orator of the old style, somewhat theatrical in his delivery, but most appealing to the congregations of those days. He took immense pains in preparing his sermons, and it is recalled that on his first appointment to the mission band, he went to England for a course in voice production. He was indefatigable in the laborious work of visitation and hearing confessions, and he was blessed with a strong constitution which made him a most reliable confrère, always ready for the most difficult assignment.
When Father O'Mara returned from the war to Rathfarnham, Father John Sullivan had just been appointed Rector. Father O'Mara contributed to the biography of Father Sullivan an incident which occurred in the November of that year. On his way back from a mission, Father O'Mara's bag was stolen from the platform of the tram on which he was travelling. The loss was a grievous one, as the bag contained the manuscripts of his mission sermons and retreat notes. On arrival at Rathfarnham, he confided his trouble to Father Sullivan, who assured him that he would immediately go to the chapel and pray for the restoration of the notes. Father O'Mara, though it was late at night, started jotting down all that he could remember of his notes, which were the result of years of work. At 11.30 p.m. Father Sullivan came to his room to tell him that a telephone message had been received from the Augustinian Church in Thomas St. to say that the bag, unopened, had been left at the door of the monastery. Father O'Mara's account concluded : “I was convinced at the time that it was a direct answer to Father Sullivan's prayers. I have not changed this opinion”.
In 1928 Father O'Mara was appointed to the staff of Gardiner Street, and entered on the activity which is most closely associated with his name, being appointed Director of the Sodality of the Sacred Heart, which involved the giving of the Holy Hour. This activity was interrupted in 1931, when he was appointed Rector of the Crescent College, Limerick. Here he undertook several extensions and improvements in the church, and was responsible for the installing of a new organ. On his return to Gardiner Street in 1934, he was at first assistant director of the Pioneer Association, but in 1937 reassumed the directorship of the Sacred Heart Sodality and the Apostleship of Prayer, which he retained for the next thirty years, as well as that of the Ladies' Sodality of the Blessed Virgin. During all this time his most notable activity was the giving of the Holy Hour, which became almost legendary in Dublin and its outskirts. He took the utmost pains in its preparation, and carefully wrote out fresh matter for each occasion. Many of the prayers and devotions which he used were embodied in four booklets entitled Hours With Jesus, the first of which had a circulation of over a million copies, whilst the others ran into the hundred thousands. His style of preaching was inighly dramatic, perhaps excessively so for some tastes, but it certainly appealed to his crowded congregations. It was remarkable that even in quite recent times, when preaching has to some extent lost its former attraction, "Father O'Mara's Holy Hour" was always certain to fill the church to overflowing.
If the old age of everyone were like that of Father O'Mara, the science of geriatrics would be superfluous. Until he was into his nineties, his appearance never changed. His abundant black hair was only slightly touched with grey, and he could have been taken for a well-preserved man in the late sixties. He continued in active work almost to the end of his life, hearing confessions, directing his two sodalities at Gardiner Street. He also directed the past pupils' sodality attached to the Dominican convent, Sion Hill, Blackrock from 1938 to 1966, when his health forced him to relinquish it. This sodality is one of the oldest in Ireland having been founded in 1852.
When one attempts to give some idea of what kind of man Father O'Mara was, two characteristics stand out. Firstly, he was utterly devoted to his priestly work. His sermons and his famous Holy Hour were prepared with laborious care. He was a devoted and sympathetic confessor He was always ready to share in work which lay outside his own particular sphere. Thus, he took a keen interest in the annual Foreign Mission week in Gardiner Street, to which the members of his Ladies' Sodality gave valuable assistance. Secondly, he was deeply devoted to the Society and the Province. He took the keenest interest in all that was going on, and was generous in his encouragement of others, especially of younger men. Those who were asked to help him were the recipients of praise so lavish that it might have seemed mere flattery but that his genuine gratitude and goodwill were so apparent. He employed on some occasions an amusing little technique, praising some work done for him, a sermon or talk, but adding : “Still, I think it was only your second best”. This was not meant to discourage, but rather to emphasise the fact that his praise was not undiscriminating.
It was only in the last year of his life that his health began to fail, and only in his last months that increasing weakness made it necessary for him to leave Gardiner Street for Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross. He retained to the last the whimsical good humour that had characterised him all his life. Very shortly before his death, his confessor mentioned that a taxi was provided for him to visit Father O'Mara each week, and protested that he could very well come by bus. “But”, said Father O'Mara, “think of the prestige I get among the other patients by the fact that my confessor comes in a taxi”. His death occurred on March 23rd, and, as was to be expected, immense crowds gathered in Gardiner Street to express the reverence and gratitude they felt towards one who, for so many years, had spoken to them so movingly of the love of the Sacred Heart of their divine Lord. Requiescat in pace.

Roche, George Redington, 1869-1953, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/377
  • Person
  • 21 November 1869-12 December 1953

Born: 21 November 1869, Monivea, Athenry, County Galway
Entered: 07 September 1889, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 10 July 1905, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1908, Clongowes Wood College SJ, Clane, County Kildare
Died: 12 December 1953, Our Lady's Hospice, Dublin

Part of the Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin community at the time of death

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1893 at St Aloysius, Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
by 1900 at Stonyhurst, England (ANG) studying
by 1907 at Drongen, Belgium (BELG) making Tertianship

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 2nd Year No 4 1927
Clongowes :
Fr. G. Roche has been appointed Rector of Clongowes. The College is not absolutely new to him. He was there for six years as a boy. As a Jesuit he was gallery prefect, third line prefect, lower line prefect for four years, and higher line prefect for nine. He put in the rest of his time as minister and prefect of discipline at University Hall, and as Rector of Mungret.

Irish Province News 29th Year No 2 1954
Obituary :
Father George R Roche
George Philip Redington Roche was the sixth of the eight children of Thomas Redington Roche J.P. and Jane Redington Roche, and was born on Nov. 21st, 1869, at Rye Hill, Monivea, Athenry, Co. Galway. This property had belonged to his grandmother, Eleanor Redington, whose family originally came from Mayo, and whose husband was Stephen Roche of Cork. George Roche's mother, before her marriage, was a Miss Cliffe, of Bellevue, Macmine, Co. Wexford. She belonged to one of those prominent High Church Protestant families whose conversion to the Catholic Church caused such a sensation just a hundred years ago. The most notable of these were the Rams of Ramşfort, and an interesting account of their conversion and also of that of the Cliffes was published by Burns & Oates in 1901 under the title. Some Notable Conversions in the County of Wexford. The author was Rev. Francis J. Kirk, an Oblate of St. Charles, formerly Protestant Rector of Gorey. The book contains a long letter from Jane Redington Roche describing the almost simultaneous though independent conversion of all the members of her family and their reception into the Church in Paris by Père de Ravignan in 1856. Mrs. Roche was a most fervent Catholic and a woman of strong character. She was noted for her imperturbable calm, a characteristic which her son inherited.
At the age of about ten George Roche was sent to school at Oscott. After two years the school was closed to lay pupils and he went for another two to Ushaw, but in 1883 was transferred to Clongowes together with his elder brother Charles, who as a young man went out to the Gold Coast and died there in 1897. The records state that George commenced his studies in Third of Grammar, his Professor being Mr. Richard Campbell.
There is little information available about his school days. A master with whom he was particularly friendly was Fr. James Colgan, who frequently visited his home and is thought to have influenced his vocation. He manifested an early enthusiasm for his favourite sport of cricket. It occupied all his spare time in the holidays and he showed no taste for country sports. He used to relate how on one occasion the Clongowes cricket XI played a match against the Mental Home in Carlow. George was bowling and the batsman, a patient, was palpably 1.b.w. However the umpire, an attendant, unhesitatingly gave him “not out” whispering to George, “I'll explain to you later”. When the batsman was finally bowled out, the attendant explained, “That man thinks he's a pure spirit. He’ll let you put him out any other way, but he can't be 1.b.w.”.
George Roche left Clongowes in 1889 and entered the noviciate at Tullabeg on September 7th of that year. Fr. John Colgan was his Master of Novices and Fr. David Gallery Sociuş. They were succeeded in the following year by Fr. W. Sutton and Fr. R. Campbell. Amongst his fellow novices were Fathers O. Doyle, J. F. X. O'Brien, H. and F. Gill, J. Kirwan, D. Kelly, J. Casey, L. Potter and T. Corcoran. He did a year's juniorate at Milltown and one year of philosophy at Jersey, returning to Clongowes in 1893 as Third Line Prefect, under Fr. Devitt as Rector and Fr. Fagan as Higher Line Prefect, two men whom he always admired. He also figures in the Catalogue as cur. instrum, mus. Fr. George's best friends will agree that the duties of this office must have been purely administrative. From 1894 to 1899 he was Lower Line Prefect and master. He then completed his two remaining years of philosophy at Stonyhurst and returned to Clongowes in 1901 for a year as Higher Line Prefect under Fr. James Brennan as Vice-Rector, From 1902 to 1906 he studied theology at Milltown, being ordained in 1905. After a year of tertianship at Tronchiennes, he once more returned to Clongowes, at the close of Fr. Devitt's second period of Rectorship, as Higher Line Prefect. He remained in this office for ten years under Fr. T. V. Nolan and Fr. N. J. Tomkin. It was during this period that he built the Higher Line pavilion which has since done such useful service. In 1915 he took over the Principalship of University Hall. In 1922 he was appointed Rector of Mungret, leaving there in 1927 to become Rector of Clongowes and Consultor of the Province. At the end of his term in Clongowes he worked for a year as Operarius in Gardiner St., 1933-34, then went to Rathfarnham as Spiritual Father and Assistant Director of the Retreat House. He was back once more in Clongowes from 1938 to 1945 as Spiritual Father to the Community, Assistant Procurator, Director of the junior sodalities and editor of The Clongownian. In 1945 his health began to fail and he was transferred to Rathfarnham so that he might more easily receive treatment for the diabetes which had long troubled him. In December 1950 he had a slight stroke and was removed to St. Vincent's Nursing Home. He never recovered and in April 1951 it was decided to move him to Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross. He grew steadily weaker, though suffering no pain and retaining all his usual placid cheerfulness.
On December 9th, 1953, he was anointed by his Rector, Fr, P. Kenny, and died on December 12th at 8.15 p.m.
The mere recital of the various offices held by Fr. Roche during his long life gives an indication of the worth of his work for the Province, There was nothing spectacular in it but it was all most solid and valuable. Wherever Fr. Roche went he did his job conscientiously and successfully and handed things over in good shape to his successor. Throughout the long span of his life be kept on doing the ordinary things. well ; one never expected him to be spectacular, one could not picture him as anything other than reliable.
If any portion of his work is to be singled out for special praise, it would obviously be the influence he exerted over boys and young men. He had almost all the gifts that make a man acceptable to the young. He was--to use a hackneyed but here applicable phrase-& man's man. He was straightforward to the degree of bluntness, ostentatiously courageous, able to preserve his good humour in adversity, incapable of harbouring a grudge, healthily unsentimental yet possessed of a really tender kindness which was all the more attractive because it was manifested in deeds rather than in words. A mother sending her son to Clongowes asked a friend, an old Clongownian, to write to Fr. Roche: and ask him to be kind to the boy. “You needn't worry”, was the reply. “George Roche couldn't help being kind to everyone”. He had, naturally, a particular interest in and special ties with Clongownians since he spent altogether just forty years of his life at Clongowes and had a deep attachment to his Alma Mater, but old Mungret boys and past students of the Hall can testify also to his sincere solicitude for their interests.
I have spoken of the placidity he inherited from his mother. This did not mean that he was incapable of emotion. To some he may have appeared stolid, but his imperturbable manner was not due to lack of feeling. On him, as Rector of Clongowes, there devolved the anxious task of carrying through the erection of the New Building which went on from September 1929 until the summer of 1933. There was a period when serious difficulties arose. I happened to meet Fr. Roche in Dublin at that time, I asked him conventionally how he was and I can recall the revelation he made to me when he replied in his usual almost brusque way, “Worried to death”. He knew the family history of almost every boy who had passed through his hands, and no one was capable of greater sympathy in the inevitable misfortunes that life brings to every family.
Another characteristic I have mentioned was his courage. This was manifested particularly during the time when he was Principal of University Hall, 1916 to 1922. It was a disturbing time in the history of our country and Fr. George had a difficult task since many of the young men under his care were involved in the political movements of the day. One instance will give an idea of the situations that arose and the way in which he dealt with them. The Hall was raided one night by the Auxiliary police. Fr. George's sister, Miss Isabella Roche, the only now surviving member of his family, was living nearby and . from the fact that the lights in the Hall were on all night knew that something untoward was happening. Next day Fr, George came to give her an account of the raid. A tremendous knocking came at the door and when Fr. Roche opened it he found a large force of the Auxiliaries, mostly in a state of inebriation and waving automatic pistols. He asked what they wanted and the leader replied : “We have come to search this house”. “Well”, said Fr. George, as imperturbably as if he were addressing a crowd of unruly Higher Liners, “you needn't make such a row about it”. The words were recorded by himself and those who knew him will recognise them as authentic and realise the courage they manifested.
Fr. Roche was a man of deep, if unostentatious piety. He was completely unworldly, simple and unpretentious. Though he worked untiringly to help his old pupils on in the world, one always felt that his paramount interest was their spiritual welfare, that the first question he wanted an answer to was "were they keeping straight?" His characteristic spirituality is manifested in two little works which he published, Meditations on the Passion, published in two parts by the Irish Messenger Office and now in its eighth edition (eighty-first thousand) and The Divinity of Jesus Christ, published by the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland. They are both solid, straightforward works, largely based on Scripture and breathing that warm, simple, virile devotion to the Person of Our Divine Lord which was the mainspring of the author's devoted life. In him the Province has lost one of its most loved and revered members.

◆ The Clongownian, 1954


Father George Redington Roche SJ

Father George Roche was called home to his reward on the evening of December 12th, 1953. He had reached a fine old age at the time of his death, but he will long be missed by his religious colleagues and the countless friends be made through out his long connection with Clongowes,

George Redington Roche, sixth child of Thomas Redington Roche was born at Monivea, Athenry on Nov. 21st, 1869. His early-school years were spent at Oscott and Ushaw but in 1883 he came to Clongowes where he was to spend the next six years.

He entered the noviceship at Tullabeg in 1889 and, after his first religious profession, was sent for his earlier studies to Milltown Park and the house of the Paris province at Jersey. He then returned to Clongowes as Third Line Prefect and after a year was advanced to the management of the Lower Line. The years 1899 1901 were spent at his philosophical studies in Stoneyhurst but he was here for another year as Higher Line Prefect before he began his theological studies in Milltown Park, where he was ordained in 1905. On completing his tertianship at Troncbiennes, he returned once more as Higher Line Prefect to Clongowes and filled that post until 1915. One tangible memorial of his term of office is the Higher Line Pavilion, which has given so many years of useful service while it forms a graceful landmark in the grounds of the College.

In 1915, Father Roche left Clongowes to take up the wardenship of University Hall where he remained until his appointment to the Rectorship of Mungret in 1922. He came back to Clongowes again, this time as Rector, in 1927. The tangible memorial of his rectorship is the New Building which was begun in 1929. Succeeded by Father Fergal McGrath as Rector in 1933, Father Roche spent the next four years in Dublin but returned for his last period in Clongowes in 1938. He was now close on the scriptural sepuaginti anni, yet we find him posted as Assistant Procurator, Director of the Junior Sodalities and Editor of the Clongownian. He returned, however, to Rathfarnham, in 1945, as he was suffering from diabetes and needed the treatment which could be got more easily in the city than in a country house. The last three years of his life were spent at The Hospice for the Dying, Harold's Cross.

From the foregoing account, it will be seen that for many years of his active life, Father Roche filled posts of responsibility. It is unnecessary for the present writer to emphasise the fact that he filled success fully the positions of trust given him by the Society. The fathers and mothers of boys who were entrusted to his care, past pupils on the threshold of life's responsibilities and in need of a steadying band and a word of kindness, can all testify to the deep understanding and humanity of this great priest. But his religious colleagues, too, will long cherish the memory of Father Roche, both as Superior and as colleague.


The Late Fr George Redington Roche

An Appreciation

Father George halted on the ground floor gallery at Rathfarnham Castle where he had been walking with no little difficulty. When I asked him if he was getting better his reply was unhesitating “I have no ambitions about getting well - I am ready”. Shortly afterwards, a severe stroke added to his other infirmities and necessitated his removal to the Hospice for the Dying at Harold's Cross. His speech and memory were gone and it seemed as if the end was only a matter of days. Yet, almost two years afterwards he was still alive. During a visit to the Hospice his nurse said to me “We never had a more gentle or obedient patient”, and she might have added “more resigned”. What astounded those who called to see him was the fact that, despite his helplessness and sufferings, never did they hear a complaint uttered by him. Shortly after his arrival at the Hospital, Father George, greatly to every one's surprise, improved considerably in his speech and his memory made a remark able come-back. True, he was looked after with devoted care.

I set down here some few impressions of visits paid him. We were conversing one day for some little time when I said : “Father George, you must be in your present state, the winner of great blessings for the Society's missionary efforts”. With touching simplicity he answered : “I hope so”. On a visit to the Hospice some time later, full of admiration for the extraordinary patience with which he accepted everything, I suggested suddenly, but quietly : “Father George, you, as his Rector, gave Father John Sullivan the final absolution and consolation as he was about to die, so Father John must be at help to you now”.. Caught off his guard, his answer came. unhesitatingly “Indeed he is, and constantly very near me”.

Father Roche looked forward to visits from his friends and at all times was. interested in any news, however trivial, about Clongowes where a long part of his life, from boyhood to Rector, was spent. With Old Clongownians, he had amazing contacts, far and near. He seemed to have a genius. for finding out the weaker type who found it hard to stand up to the world's cruel usage. In his own undemonstrative way he proved a tower of strength to that weaker member who needed advice, encouragement and help.

Father George loved a quiet joke and this, coupled with a delicate sense of humour, made him a pleasant companion. He had a simple directness which marked a natural shyness. Until one came to know Father George well, his shyness tended to embarrass others. Yet, it came to be almost an endearing trait, when one entered into his friendship.

A life-long interest of his was, of course, the Clongowes Rugby and Cricket Teams which he knew intimately all over the years, either as a player himself when a a boy or afterwards as a Line Prefect. He told me that he played as a boy on the first Rugby Fifteen that Clongowes ever turned out. I never tired of the story, which I set down here with the typical questions and answers :

“Did you score!” “No”. “Where did you play?” “Full back”. “Who won the match?” “Nobody”. “Why?” “We never finished it”. “What happened?” “The Match was abandoned”. “Why?” “One of the Opposition Players died on the field”.

Again, when he played Cricket in Galway for the Community when on holidays :

“How did you get on?” “Not too well”. “Why?” “None of us did too well”. “Why?” “Our Opponents fared worse”. “Was it the weather?” “No”. “Why?”! “The crease was wretched”. “Did you enjoy the match?” “Not so much until it was over”. “Why?” “One of the other side said the ground was very poor, which the farmer owner overheard and indignantly objected, saying: ‘It was the best land in Galway’.”

In the evening of his life at the Hospice for the Dying, it was a long way back to his achievement in 1895, when, playing for the Community at Clongowes, he got four consecutive wickets in five balls for no runs.

The beautiful Pavilion ·which he, as Higher Line Prefect, and his great friend, the late Tom Cullen, erected in the Cricket grounds and is so much admired on Union Day, was built on the profits of the shop, or if you prefer so to put it, on the innumerable bars of chocolate which the boys consumed in those days of plenty and cheapness. This will be, for many years to come, please God, a worthy memorial of this great man who loved Clongowes so deeply. I leave to historians of Clongowes in the future, the story of his part in building the new Clongowes. He was Rector when this gigantic undertaking was got under way and before he relinquished office he saw the boys housed in a building that is the justifiable pride of Clongowes today.

He lies in Glasnevin. The life of a great soul, a great gentleman and a kind-hearted confessor has passed peacefully to its close. Full of charity, full of years and full of sympathy for all who came his way, he will be sadly missed. His long weary wait at the Hospice was eased by the skill and constant care of the nursing staff and consoled by and comforted by the devoted attention of his Rector, Father P J Kenny, whose care it was to bring to his old Higher Line Prefect the last comforts and Rites of Holy Church.

Sidney B Minch

Rogers, John K, 1905-1976, Jesuit brother

  • IE IJA J/380
  • Person
  • 03 April 1905-09 May 1976

Born: 03 April 1905, Belfast, County Antrim
Entered: 08 February 1932, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Final Vows: 15 August 1942, Milltown Park, Dublin
Died: 09 May 1976, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

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

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - KEVIN J Rogers; Drapers Assistant before entry

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 51st Year No 3 1976

Obituary :

Br John Rogers (1932-1976)

It was in 1933 that I first met Br John Rogers in the novitiate at Emo, and later on I lived some fifteen years with him at Milltown Park. So I think I knew him fairly well, although he was always a bit reserved, shy almost. He was a gentle and cultured man, a fine pianist and had a gift of dedication to anything he took in hand. After his noviceship he went to Milltown Park and spent all his life there, except for two short spells at Roehampton to study firstly nursing and later bookbinding.
Living with him I was always struck by his devotion and dedication to his allotted tasks. Milltown Park being a big sprawling building, it was edifying to say the least, to see Br Rogers during a flu epidemic (in pre-antibiotic days, remember) making three trips a day carrying food trays all over the house. When the disastrous Milltown fire of 11th February, 1949, necessitated new buildings, his wish to have a six-bed infirmary incorporated in the plans went unfulfilled. He read quite a lot about medicine and nursing, and this along with his devotion to duty was one of the reasons why he was such a good infirmarian. He combined this duty with his work as bookbinder until some six years before his death. Over the years he built up a fine workshop, acquiring good machinery at bargain prices, and his knowledge and craftsmanship advanced so well that he was recognised by the trade as one of the finest bookbinders in Ireland.
His devotion and regularity and prayer were striking and must surely have been the source of his perseverance and patience. Some three years ago he developed a very troublesome growth alongside the breast, which meant annual visits to hospitals and an operation to arrest growth. The infection, however, spread and eventually resulted in his death, which took place at Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross. I visited Br John there a few times, and his patience and resignation were obvious, although he admitted that he had suffered a great deal, especially during his treatment at St Vincent's hospital, Elm park. He was an excellent religious and a true son of Ignatius, and I am sure he will have a very high place in heaven.

As one who joined his community in the latter years of John's life, I think of him as a master bookbinder. He really loved his work, and spoke with warm affection of Fr Cyril Power, then his rector, who appointed him to the job forty-two years ago. John often reminisced about the difficulties in procuring the various machines for his art. He attended auctions and picked up old machines that needed repairs. These repairs he did himself, and was very proud of being able to do a first-class job on a machine that was bought for a pittance. As he advanced in age, he asked for an assistant, and found a most willing helper in Br John Ronan.

It is estimated that Br Rogers bound ten thousand books in his forty-two years on the job. If anyone wanted a little binding job done, he was most obliging. No matter what it was, from making an old keepsake look like new, to binding a writer's thesis, he would say “Yes; come back in a few days”.
Besides being bookbinder, which occupied him six full days a week, he was also infirmarian to the large community. He was shrewd and clever, often diagnosing the patient's complaint before the doctor was called. Milltown always had many old people who needed nursing and care, and John always kept a supply of medicines for this. Unlike today's system whereby the man in the room next door to the sick person looks after him, John had to carry trays up many flights of stairs to many people in an epidemic. For this tireless labour of love, the Lord will surely reward him. For one who admitted he had not got a 'bedside manner', we can only guess at the personal sacrifice this must have cost him. John was relieved of this office some seven years ago due to his failing health
Another of John's talents was cooking. This job he did equally well, but it was not a long-term assignment,
What kind of man was John? After his early education at the hands of the Christian Brothers, he continued to educate himself, and read extensively. He was a cultured man and a musician, playing the organ and piano superbly. There was one subject on which he confessed his ignorance: sport, His main hobby was stamp-collecting. He often said that his large collection would be worth quite a sum of money when he had gone. If one wanted to thank John for some favour he had done, a gift of stamps meant more to him than anything else.
He was a solitary: no one knew him intimately. I think that in many ways he was a lonely man, and in this he probably suffered quite a bit. As a religious, he was regular at his duties, being an early riser. Although he agreed with changes in the liturgy, he never participated in these changes himself, but kept faithfully to his earlier devotions.
The last two years of John Rogers's life saw a series of seven operations on a cancerous growth under the arm. He suffered greatly during this period. When the old trouble was seen to return, he was most resigned and worked away at his job quite resignedly. For the last six months right up to the morning of his death, he was in great pain, apart from the relief that modern medicine can provide.
I am satisfied now that John is enjoying the reward of his steadfastness. He has answered the invitation he received forty-four years ago : “Come, follow Me!”

Scally, James, 1902-1948, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/395
  • Person
  • 12 August 1902-30 January 1948

Born: 12 August 1902, Cloneygowan, County Offaly
Entered: 01 September 1919, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 14 June 1932, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1935, Clongowes Wood College SJ
Died: 30 January 1948, Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1924 in Australia - Regency at St Aloysius College, Sydney
by 1927 at a Sanatorium in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
by 1934 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
James Scally entered the Society aged sixteen, in 1919 at Tullabeg. He went to Australia after only a year of juniorate for his health in late 1922, where he taught and was assistant prefect of discipline at St Aloysius' College. By 1926 his health seems to have recovered sufficiently to return to Ireland for philosophy and theology, followed by tertianship at St Beuno's 1933-34. His health thereafter became indifferent, but he undertook administrative posts such as minister of Tullabeg until his death at a relatively young age.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 23rd Year No 2 1948
Fr. James Scally (1902-1919-1948)
Fr. James Scally died at Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin on January 30th. He was born in 1902 at Cloneygowan in Laoighis. He went to school first to the Christian Brothers in Portarlington and then to Clongowes. He entered the Society in 1919. From 1911 to 1926, he taught at St. Aloysius' College, Sydney. He studied philosophy and theology at Milltown Park and was ordained there in 1932. After his tertianship at St. Beuno's, he was master in Clongowes until 1936 when he went to Tullabeg. He remained there for five years during which he was Minister. He came then to Belvedere where he was at first associate-editor of the Irish Monthly and ‘The Madonna’ and then master until 1945. During the last years he was in Rathfarnham. His health, which had never been robust, forced him in the end to give up all active work.
These dates and places give a cold record of Fr. Scally's life. They reveal little of the friend whose early death we keenly mourn. They tell nothing of the high courage which made possible their record of work undertaken and accomplished.
Fr. ‘Jim’ Scally was gifted by God with an unusually attractive character. He certainly had no enemies, even in the very mildest meaning of the word. Rather was he loved by all who knew him, Without the slightest affectation or conscious effort on his part, he quickly won the sympathy and friendship of those he net. Some twelve years ago he met friends of the present writer, and then only for a few brief days, and after that never saw them again. They never forgot him, never failed to ask for news of him; they were deeply grieved at the news of his death. His serious illness at Christmas caused sorrow to his friends in the Community at Tullabeg, a sorrow which was shared at more than one hearth in the neighbourhood where each year the same question was asked with unaffected feeling: ‘Will Father Scally never come back to us again’??
It is not easy to describe or disengage the qualities which thus attracted. Father Jim or Seamus, as he was known to many, was naturally shy and reserved - though not unduly so - and he was modest almost to the point of diffidence. Those natural qualities he transformed and raised through his piety to the level of good, round Christian humility, still unforced and still attractive. He was sensitive, too, and this quality God was to use to his sanctification. He was intensely and transparently sincere, and to those who knew him well, that sincerity was very deep and very real. It was closely allied to a great earnestness in his life, the unfailing consciousness which he ever had of the high ideal of his priesthood and of his religious calling. At the back of everything he did and said, and not far back, there was always that great seriousness of purpose, that concern about the things of God. I can certainly recall many conversations with Father Scally from which I came away not only edified, but inspired. The Exercises of St. Ignatius and the matter of his own retreat were subjects on which he would speak with enthusiasm and eagerness. In Tullabeg in the years after his ordination, he planned great things which God did not ask him to accomplish. True to the spirit of the second and sixteenth rules of the Summary, he was far from neglecting the sanctification of himself, applying himself seriously to that most difficult pursuit, and the years that followed gave him rich opportunity. For years he kept at the work allotted to him when true zeal only and a deep religious spirit could have supplied for fast failing physical strength. When he could do nothing else, he prayed, and two days before he died, when his physical suffering and discomfort were intense, he was still striving to read his Office, and his only anxiety was that he would not be able to receive Holy Communion every day. Unconsciously, as I imagine, repeating the words of Father Damien, he said : “Without Holy Communion I do not think I would be able to carry on at all”.
It was Father Plater, I think, who threatened to haunt to his discomfort whoever would dare to write his life. On reading what I have written here, I confess to the fear of some such visitation if I leave it at that. For no one would repudiate more vehemently than Fr. Jim, any attempt at ‘saint-making’ in his regard. He had his faults and no one was more conscious of them than he, and none more concerned about them. Further, to those who knew him not, these words picture one who was dull and grim and deadly serious, my only excuse is that words cannot capture things so elusive and immaterial as the sparkle of the eye and the playful chuckle which told of a keen, fresh, though quiet, sense of humour which never left him even when illness pressed most heavily on him. Father Scally was laid to rest on the second of February. On that Feastday of Our Blessed Lady, thirteen years before, he had taken his final Vows in religion. When he died, though young in years, he was mature in the things of God. The way which God had chosen for his sanctification was the difficult road of sickness. As the years went by God asked more and more from him, and to the end he gave generously and courageously. In him the offering of the Sume ac Suscipe - that consummation of the Exercises - in a very literal sense was given and received. He was a model to us all.
Suaimhneas síorraidhe d'á anam, agus leaba i measg na naomh go raibh aige

◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1948


Father James Scally SJ

We learned with deep regret of the death of Fr James Scally SJ, which took place on January 30th this year, He had been on the staff of Belvedere for some years before going to Rathfarnham Castle in 1945. He had been at school at Clongowes and entered Tullabeg, at that time the noviceship, in 1919. As a scholastic he had spent some years in Australia, chiefly at Riverview; and was ordained at Milltown Park in 1932. After his tertianship, which he made at St Beuno's, Wales, he was. appointed to teach at Clongowes; but the work in the class-room was too exacting on his strength, which was not at all robust; and in 1936 he was appointed Minister of Tullabeg, which in 1930 had been made the Philosophate of the Irish Province. He held that office for five years.

He made an excellent Minister. He was painstaking, methodical, very practical, pleasant and easy to deal with, and very considerate and kind. He was very popular with the Philosophers; and did all he could to make life pleasant in that remote region. The Philosophers of that date will remember what a genial Master of Villa he made ; and they were grateful for all he did to help the games, the plays, the boating. They will remember the canoe which he got Fr Vincent Conway, of the Australian Province, to construct - which some wit called “The Scallywag” - in which he used to navigate the network of waterways, which surround Tullabeg, the canal, the Brosna, the Cloddagh, the Silver, with their diminutive, meandering tributaries. In due season he did a bit of shooting or fishing. He was very happy at Tullabeg.

But all his life he had to struggle against a weakness of the lungs. As a Scholastic he had spent some months in a sanatorium. The disease gained ground and he had to curtail his activities. To his energetic and zealous temperament this enforced inactivity grew very trying. He liked to give retreats and do other spiritual work; and after his death his voluminous, methodical, collection of spiritual notes showed what attention he had given to qualify himself for this ministry. In the last few years the disease gained ground rapidly. He was always courageous and uncomplaining, and struggled on against his growing weakness. In the last few months the disease had attacked his throat, and he suffered greatly. He received the news that he was dying with perfect resignation. He was anointed on the afternoon of January 30th, 1948, and two hours later death came to release him from his sufferings. By his patience and constant prayers he had greatly edified all who came near him in his illness. He was only 45 years.

To his parents, his brother and sisters we offer our deepest sympathy.

◆ The Clongownian, 1948


Father James Scally SJ

Father James Scally died at Our Lady's Hospice, Dublin, on January 30th. He as born in 1902 in Cloneygowan in Offaly, He went to school first to the Christian Bothers in Portarlington and then came to Clongowes. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1919. From 1922 to 1926 he taught at St Aloysius' College, Sydney. He studied philosophy and theology at Milltown Park and was ordained there in 1932. Soon he came as master to Clongowes, staying until 1936 when he went to Tullabeg as Minister. He then went to Belvedere as associate-editor of the “Irish Monthly” and “The Madonna”. The last years of his life he spent in Rathfarnham Castle. His health, which had never been robust, forced him in the end to give up all active work.

These dates and places give a cold record of Father Scally's life; they reveal little of the friend whose death we keenly mourn; they tell nothing of the high courage which made possible this record of work undertaken and accomplished.

Father Scally was gifted by God with an unusually attractive character and was loved by all who knew him. Without the slightest affectation or conscious effort on his part he quickly won the friendship and sympathy of those he met. People with whom he came in contact only for a very short time never forgot him, never failed to ask for news of him, and were deeply sorry when they heard of his death. When news of his last serious illness came, it brought sorrow to many homes where the same question was often asked with unaffected feeling: “Will Father Scally never come back to us again?”

In the years after his ordination, Father Scally planned great things which God did not ask him to accomplish; but he did seize the rich opportunity of self-sanctification and sacrifice that was offered to him and for years he kept at the tasks allotted to him, when, certainly, true zeal only and a deep religious spirit can have supplied for fast failing plıysical strength. To what degree of perfection he attained in the end God alone knows but I venture to say it was a very high degree indeed.

If, to those who knew him not, these words picture one who was dull and grim and deadly serious my only excuse is that words cannot capture things so elusive as the sparkle of the eye and a playful chuckle which told of a keen, fresh, though quiet sense of humour which never left him even when illness pressed most heavily upon him. But at last that illness came to an end and it was on the Feast of Our Blessed Lady, the second of February - the feastday on which thirteen years before he had taken his final vows in religion - that he was laid to rest.

Suaimhness síorraidhe d'á anam agus leaba i measg na naomh go raibh aige.

Sullivan, Blessed John, 1861-1933, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/415
  • Person
  • 08 May 1861-19 February 1933

Born: 08 May 1861, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1900, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 28 July 1907, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1915, Clongowes, Wood College SJ
Died: 19 February 1933, St Vincent’s Nursing Home, Dublin

Part of the Clongowes Wood College, Naas, Co Kildare community at the time of death.

by 1903 at Stonyhurst England (ANG) studying

◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
Sullivan, John
by Conor Harper

Sullivan, John (1861–1933), Jesuit priest, was born 8 May 1861 at 41 Eccles Street, Dublin, the youngest child in a family of four sons and one daughter of Edward Sullivan (qv), barrister, and his wife Elizabeth (Bessie) Josephine (née Baily) of Passage West, Co. Cork. There is an impressive perspective from the doorstep of the old Sullivan home sweeping down to the elegant and noble dimensions of St George's church, Hardwicke Place, where John was baptised into the Church of Ireland on 15 July 1861. Soon after John's birth, the Sullivan family moved to the more fashionable south side of Dublin where they settled at 32 Fitzwilliam Place. This was to be the Sullivan home for more than forty years. John had one sister, Annie, and three brothers, Edward (qv), Robert (who drowned in a boating accident in Killiney Bay), and William, a resident magistrate. According to the tradition of the time the Sullivan boys were brought up in their father's protestant faith and their sister Annie followed her mother and was raised a catholic.

In 1873 John and his brother William were sent to Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, as their older brothers had been before them. Portora's reputation had grown considerably under Dr William Steele (qv), an enlightened and progressive headmaster. John's years at Portora were happy. In one of his few published writings he gives an insight into his school life, writing of his first arrival at Portora ‘bathed in tears’, but when, five years later, the time came for him to leave he wept ‘more plentiful tears’. After Portora he became an undergraduate at TCD, where in 1883 he was awarded the gold medal in classics. Having achieved a junior moderatorship in classics, he started to study law. But in 1885 he was devastated by the sudden death of his father, then lord chancellor of Ireland. He subsequently continued his studies at Lincoln's Inn, where he was called to the English bar in 1888. Due to his inheritance, he was financially comfortable, and was noted for his fashionable dress and good looks. He travelled a great deal throughout Europe and was a cycling enthusiast. While in Greece he visited the monastery of Mount Athos and was deeply marked by the experience.

In December 1896, to the utter surprise of his family, he became a catholic and was received into the church at Farm Street Jesuit church in London. His family was ‘shell shocked’ when the news reached Dublin, according to Nedda Davis, granddaughter of his brother William. Not that the members of his family were hostile to his decision. His mother was a devout catholic but John had never shown any particular interest in religion. More surprises were to follow when his manner of life changed sharply. He adopted a simple style of living that was also reflected in his manner of dress. From this time he was a regular visitor to the Hospice for the Dying in Harold's Cross in south Dublin, and helped the poor in many ways. Then in September 1900 he entered the Jesuit noviciate at Rahan, which was known as Tullabeg, near Tullamore, Co. Offaly. In September 1902 he took his vows for life as a member of the Society of Jesus. Having studied philosophy at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, he returned to study theology at Milltown Park, where he was ordained on Sunday 28 July 1907. He was then sent to teach in Clongowes Wood College in Co. Kildare. From that time, with the exception of the period 1919–24, when he was rector of the Jesuit house at Rathfarnham Castle, he was a member of the Clongowes community. Most of the boys whom he taught considered him to be different to other Jesuits. He was regarded as a holy man but, like many a good scholar, was a poor teacher.

His reputation for holiness went far beyond the classroom at Clongowes. He also ministered from the People's Church, which served as a chapel of ease to people who lived in the environs of Clongowes. He was much sought after as a confessor and spiritual guide. The poor and the needy found him to be a reliable friend, and he was a constant visitor of the sick. Stories of his care of the sick are legion, as are claims to have been cured by his prayers (detailed by Fergal McGrath in his biography). His reputation as a healer continues, and his cause for canonisation has been pursued.

Sullivan lived a rugged and ascetic life. His meals were simple, mainly a diet of dry bread, porridge, rice and cold tea. He slept little, spending most of the night in prayer. His room at Clongowes lacked even simple comforts. The fire in winter was lit only when he was expecting a visitor. His life of austerity and prayer reflected the hardship and simplicities of the early Desert Fathers. He wore the worn patched clothing of the very poor. To the time of his death he was in demand as a preacher of retreats to religious communities of men and women, which again provided an experience of holiness rather than eloquence. One interest from the past which he maintained was an interest in cycling. His old-fashioned bicycle was a familiar sight on the roads around Clane, and he was known to have cycled to Dublin on more than one occasion to visit the sick. When not travelling by bicycle, he usually walked, a stooped, shuffling figure.

Nothing is known of his political views at a time of political upheaval in Ireland. He always maintained close contact with his protestant family who reciprocated his warm affection and concern. His brother Sir William (d. 1937) travelled from England to be with him when he was dying.

He enjoyed good health until shortly before his death, maintaining his rigorous round of visits to the sick, giving retreats and working in Clongowes. On the morning of 17 February 1933 he suffered violent internal pain and was brought to St Vincent's nursing home on Leeson Street where he died 19 February 1933. He was buried at Clongowes but his remains were exhumed in 1960 and transferred to the Jesuit church of St Francis Xavier on Gardiner Street. The popular novelist, Ethel Mannin, based her novel Late have I loved thee (1948) on Sullivan's life.

Fergal McGrath, Father John Sullivan (1941); Mathias Bodkin, The port of tears: the life of Father John Sullivan, S. J. (1954); Morgan Costello, The saintly Father John: John Sullivan S. J. (1963); Fergal McGrath, More memories of Father John Sullivan (1976); Peter Costello, Clongowes Wood. A history of Clongowes Wood College 1814–1989 (1989); McRedmond; Conor Harper, ‘Father John Sullivan – a man for others’, The Clongowes Union centenary chronicle (1997)

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/fr-john-sullivan-sj/fr-john-sullivan-sj-portrait/

Fr John Sullivan SJ: A short biography
ohn Sullivan was born in Dublin on 8 May 1861. His father, the future Lord Chancellor of Ireland Sir Edward Sullivan was a Protestant. His mother, Lady Bessie Josephine Sullivan was a Catholic. John was baptised in St. George’s Protestant Church on 15 June 1861 and brought up in the Protestant tradition of his father. From his earliest years John enjoyed the benefits of a home which radiated warm affection, high culture and sound scholarship.
In 1873 John followed in the footsteps of his brothers and went to Portora Royal School, Enniskillen in Northern Ireland which had the reputation of being the most eminent Protestant school of the day. He spent happy years at Portora and in later years admitted that he went to Portora “bathed in tears” but when the time came to leave he “wept more plentiful tears”.
After Portora, John went to Trinity College Dublin. He distinguished himself in his university studies and in 1885 he was awarded the Gold Medal in Classics. After gaining a Senior Moderatorship in Classics, John started to study law. It was at this time that his father, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland Sir Edward Sullivan, died suddenly. The shock had a devastating effect on John.
The promising young scholar left Ireland and continued his legal studies at Lincoln’s Inn in London where he was called to the Bar in 1888. At this time, due to his inheritance, he was very comfortable in financial terms, noted for his fashionable dress and handsome appearance. He travelled extensively around Europe and was a keen cycling enthusiast. He stayed at the Orthodox monastery of Mount Athos in Greece and was friendly with the monks.
Then, in December 1896 at the age of 35, he made a momentous decision. He was received into the Catholic Church at the Jesuit Church, Farm Street, London. From this time onward a marked changed was noted in his manner of living. On returning to the family home in Dublin, he stripped his room of anything that was superfluous, satisfying himself with the simplest of furniture on a carpetless floor. The young man, who was formerly noted for his fashionable dress, contented himself with the plainest of clothes.
He became a regular visitor to Dublin hospitals and convents where he was a welcome visitor. He had a remarkable gift for putting patients in good humour and showed special sympathy toward the old, bringing them gifts of snuff or packages of tea and reading for them from religious books.
In September 1900 John Sullivan decided to enter the Society of Jesus. The two years of novitiate in St. Stanislaus College, Tullamore, were followed by studies in philosophy at Stonyhurst College in England. From the beginning, he was clearly different to other Jesuits. He gave himself completely to his new way of life. All who lived with him were struck by his dedication to prayer and to religious life. Despite his outstanding gifts, he never paraded his knowledge but was always careful to help others whenever possible.
In 1904 he came to Milltown Park to study theology and he was ordained a priest on 28 July 1907. He was then appointed to the staff in Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare where he was to spend the greater part of his life as a Jesuit, apart from the period 1919-1924 when he was Rector of Rathfarnham Castle, the Jesuit House of Studies in Dublin.
Fr. John’s reputation for holiness spread rapidly around Clongowes and the neighbourhood. Despite his brilliant mind and academic achievements it was his holiness that was recognised. Many revered him as a saint. He prayed constantly – he walked with God continually – he listened to Him and he found Him and God worked through him. Many who were in need of spiritual or physical healing flocked to him and asked his prayers – and strange things happened. The power of God seemed to work through him and many were cured.
He was always available to the sick, the poor, anyone in need. The call to serve God in serving those who suffered in any way was a driving force for the rest of his life. He was always caring for others – a source of comfort and peace to anyone in trouble. He brought many to God by pointing out the way that leads to the deepest and ultimate peace. He was always at prayer whenever possible. Every available moment was spent in the chapel.
He walked with God and lived every conscious moment in his nearer presence. At times he hardly seemed to notice the ordinary world around him. He was in constant union with his Maker and cared little for the material things of life. One old lady who lived near Clongowes managed to penetrate the secret of his extraordinary holiness: “Fr. Sullivan is very hard on himself – but he is never hard on others”. He ate the plainest of food and lived a life of severe penance. He left everything in order to follow the call of his Lord and Master and he found the riches of a different order. What a contrast with the rich young man of his earlier years!
Fr John Sullivan died in the old St. Vincent’s Nursing Home in Leeson Street, a short distance from the Sullivan family home on 19 February 1933. Since that time, he has been revered by many as a saint. During his lifetime many flocked to him in times of trouble and anxiety, confident of the power of his prayers – and that confidence continues. He is still loved and remembered.
Servant of God in September 1960; Venerable November 2014; Beatified 13 May 2017


Blessedly funny
Blessed Elect John Sullivan once asked a student what the ladies were like in his Latin class, to which the student replied ‘Rather plain.’ A gleam of amusement came into Father John’s eyes as he exclaimed: “In God’s name, there, I didn’t mean that. What are they like in Latin?”
It is in this light that I look into the personality of probably the holiest Irish Jesuit in tangible memory (1861-1933). So much of our lives are influenced by early days. John came from a blessed childhood in a happy, loving home. He had three brothers and one sister to play with as he grew up in Dublin and his parents invested in his education at Portora Royal School in County Fermanagh.
John won the college gold medal in Classics at Trinity College Dublin and later pursued law. Through a long, slow process of conversion, John’s protestant viewpoint became a Catholic one, and he entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1900. A fellow-novice Mgr. John Morris stated, ‘Were it not for his sense of humour, he might have awed us, as all were conscious that he was very holy.’
He was fast-tracked to the priesthood and sent to Clongowes Wood College, the Jesuit boarding school in County Kildare. Schoolboy John Fitzgerald remembered him fondly: “Meeting you on a stone corridor on a bleak cold winter’s evening he would clap those hands and say, ‘Cheer up, cheer up’. Yes, we loved Father John, or Father Johnny O as we used to call him.”
Moreover, Father Sullivan expressed himself through his physical appearance. “His boots were mended and mended again and again until they became a joke, but when people tried to get him a new pair he would have none of it.” For someone who was once dubbed the best dressed man in Dublin, his old friends and family must have been stirred by this drastic change, in line with the ruggedness of St. Francis of Assisi, one of his favourite saints.
Father John was not dependent on external conditions to make him happy. He beamed with the inner joy of faith and tried to guide others along their paths. He once recounted to a fellow-Jesuit, with an appreciative smile, his efforts to get an old man to take the pledge. “Ah Father,” was the reply, “you never saw a jolly party round a pump.”
I am inspired to follow in Father John’s footsteps; it is delightful to see how his wit was compatible with his holiness. Like him, I pledge to embrace the cheerfulness of our Church.

◆ Irish Jesuit Missions : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/fr-sullivan-the-last-witness/

Fr Sullivan: the last witness
Fr John Fitzgerald SJ, the last surviving Jesuit to have been taught in Clongowes by Fr John Sullivan, shared some precious memories at the commemorative Mass :

The bones of Fr John Sullivan are your precious possession. They draw his clients from near and far. If John is beatified, St Francis Xavier’s will be a place of pilgrimage like St Thomas a’Becket is at Canterbury, Blessed Pope John XXIII at St Peter’s, Bl. Mother Teresa at Calcutta, and as Cardinal Newman will be at the Oratory in Birmingham. The people in a quiet corner of County Kildare still keep such fond memories of John. They were greatly saddened when his bones were taken away from them for Gardiner Street in 1961. It is a sad separation they will always feel. In fact his grave has been visited ever since.
The relocation of Father’s bones is as good for his cause as it is for you who give them this new home. You have always by your devotion shown how grateful you are to have him. You bring him day by day the stories of your needs – they are always pressing and often sad. John listens – he was always a ready and eager listener to others’ worries.
Coming to St Francis Xavier’s was in a sense a homecoming. John had been baptised in Temple Street (St George’s), and Dublin was his home until he joined the Jesuits. During the years in Clongowes, the City’s hospitals, the Mater included, were within range of his trusty old bicycle.
Sometimes people have asked me what was he really like. Some have a nagging impression that he must have been an ascendancy type, as his father was a baronet and he had passed through Portora Royal School to Trinity College. My own memory of him – clear and vivid – is of a humble, entirely self-effacing person, riveted on the one thing necessary, the commandment of love. He was completely focussed on the needs of others, particularly of the poor and suffering. For him the face of the Lord was there. Gardiner Street would have been an ideal assignment with so much sickness, suffering and poverty all around in the hungry years between the wars.
Clongowes in its rural isolation does not seem an ideal place for one so drawn to the poor and suffering. I knew John in the last three years of his life – my memories are boy’s memories – a child’s impressions – but still so vivid. His appearance so well captured in Sean Keating’s drawing – the sunken cheeks, the fine crop of brown hair, the bowed head, the penetrating eyes – a true man of God. I remember his wrinkled leathery hands. Meeting you on a stone corridor on a bleak cold winter’s evening he would clap those hands and say “Cheer up, cheer up, cheer up”. He well knew the mood of small boys – short of funds, nursing chilblains and facing into two hours’ study. I have a memory of Johnny O shuffling quickly from the sacristy, head bowed, halting at the altar rails – a welcome interruption to the evening rosary. Always he would describe a visit he had made to some sick or dying person. He was no gifted story-teller, no gifted preacher. There were no embellishments; sincerity shone through, telling of his complete devotion to the sick and needy.
John was occupied with the People’s Church and the boys’ spiritual needs with very little teaching. He took the smallest ones for Religion classes. Often we delighted to annoy him by rowdiness and irreverence. This drew the condemnation we intended: “Audacious fellow – pugnacious fellow!” Deep down we revered him, but we played on him.
If some day you visit the Boys’ Chapel, you see at the back on your left Fr John’s Confessional. The “toughs” – the ones never selected as prefects and who won no prizes – were most often there. The smaller boys would crowd into his very bare room after supper. We would come away with rosaries and Agnus Deis which John got from convents he knew. The People’s Church is the easiest place for a visitor to find. There is where John spent long hours and helped so many in times of trial. There he prayed long after the boys were tucked in bed.
Father John was our Spiritual Father. His life and interests revolved round the boys’ spiritual needs. He took no part and had no interest in our games – never appeared at matches, debates, concerts or plays. Free time meant time for prayer or the sick. No use asking Johnny O to pray for victory at Croke Park today, but he will listen to your sorrows, he will pray for your sick and departed ones.
The day of Fr John’s funeral in 1933 comes back clearly. I was in the youngest group and so was up front in the Chapel, and near the coffin. I tried without success to cut off a splinter – as a keepsake, a relic. We had been privileged to know Fr John for three years. Not everyone is so blessed – perhaps only a few have been close to saintliness in one who so well mirrored the Lord Jesus, the Suffering Servant. It is a joy to be here in St Francis Xavier’s and to share your treasure – the Venerable John Sullivan.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 8th Year No 2 1933

Obituary :

Fr John Sullivan

Needless to say the entire Irish Province keenly feels the loss of one of its holiest and most esteemed members, Father John Sullivan. He died at St; Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, Sunday, 19th February, 1933.
The Father Rector of Clongowes has very kindly sent us the following appreciation, written by Father Mulcahy :
It was in Clongowes that Father John spent twenty of the thirty-three years of his religious life. Thirty-three years in the Society is a comparatively short time. but these years were so full that one must truly say that Father Sullivan explevit tempera multa. The impression left on us all is that he has left a blank that bewilders us with its greatness. One does not feel that he is gone from us. One half expects to and him going about his multitudinous spiritual activities as usual. Death, especially in a college full of young life, is usually associated with an uncanny feeling , but, for us in Clongowes for the boys as well as for the community the effect of his death is rather one of triumph, of pride in having possessed such a man of God, of still possessing him but with greater power to help, with a wider sympathy for our weaknesses and our needs, with a truer interest in us in those things that matter.
Last evening two Lower Liners were talking to me about him and the remark came quite simply from one of them, a very ordinary lad in a low class, “Sir, is it not a great thing to be able to say .that you were taught by a saint?, and the funny thing is that we knew it even when we ragged him a bit.” And the other chimed in in the patois of the Line. “Sir, you never hear of a man they knew was a saint while he was dodging about”.
Born in Dublin, 8th May, 1861, the third son of the late Sir Edward Sullivan, Bart., formerly Master of the Rolls and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. he was educated at Portora School. In the Clongowes Museum are three large silver medals won there:; for English Literature in 1877, the Steele Memorial Prize, ]uly, 1879 and another Midsummer 1879 " In Classics." . He graduated at T,C.D., where he won several medals. We. have one 1883, “Literis Humanioribus feliciter excultis. His classical attainments were of a very high order and not of the dry-as-dust kind, for he made several walking tours in Greece, Macedonia and Asia Minor to trace out in stone and dust the lore he loved.
1898 saw him received into the Church and on September 7th, 1900, we find him in Tullabeg. He did Philosophy at Stonyhurst, 1902-04 , Theology at Milltown Park, 1904-07. The rest of his life he spent in Clongowes, except 1913-14 when he was in the Tertianship at Tullabeg, and 1919-24 when he was Rector of Rathfarnham Castle - twenty years of unceasing care for the souls of the boys in the college, which care did not stop when they had left for the bigger world of life. A large sheaf of telegrams and letters received by the Rector expressing sympathy on the news of his death shows how this care was appreciated.
In charge of the public church attached to the college, he came into touch With an ever-growing circle of the faithful. His life, already more than fully occupied, was invaded by those who came long distances to ask his advice, to avail of his ministrations as Confessor, to ask for his blessing on the sick and, as they insisted, to hope for a cure even of cases despaired of by doctors. The poor and the sick and above all the dying were, one is hardly afraid to say, his “joy”. The reverence in which he was held and the confidence in him was shown very simply the morning of his funeral. Father Rector had said Mass at 9 o'clock in the public church, the old boys' chapel. When the Mass was over the congregation moved up quietly to the coffin and all, many kneeling, blessed the coffin repeatedly, placing on it objects of piety, rosaries, crosses prayer-books, etc, Later when the grave, was filled in and bishop and priests and boys had moved away, the people who felt that now his power was greater than ever, came to carry to their homes some of the earth that covered him. “O Grave, where is thy victory”.
So our loss to the eye is a gain to our faith.
"One example, out of many that might be given, of the power of his prayers may be cited : A man was dying in a neighbouring town. He had refused to see a priest though urged to do so by the nurse who was nursing him and by the doctor. Word was sent to Father Sullivan to come to see him. Father Sullivan, however, was not able to go, but sent word that he would say Mass for him at 9 o'clock the following morning. At 9.30 on that morning the man of his own accord asked for a priest and was prepared for death which took place on that day.
Father Sullivan's last illness was very brief. On Monday, 6th February, the doctor ordered him to the infirmary, as, amongst other things, one of his arms was showing nasty signs.
This did not appear to be serious and the arm was practically healed on Thursday the 16th when he was allowed up. He said that he had not felt better for fifty years. About 11am on Friday he complained of very severe pains. The doctor was sent for immediately, and as he was not satisfied sent for a surgeon who declared that an immediate operation was necessary. At 3 p.rn Father Sullivan was removed in ambulance to Dublin, and was operated on about 5 pm. This revealed a very serious state of affairs, and the doctors could
hold out no hope of recovery. Father Sullivan lingered on until Sunday night, and died at 10.55. He had been conscious all Friday and Saturday, and had received Holy Communion
on each day. When asked how he felt his invariable answer was “' Wonderfully well, thank God”. After the operation he suffered very little pain.
Father G. Roche has been good enough to send the following extract from a letter :
Although never having met him, I know him well through the boys. I think the way they expressed themselves in their weekly letters home plainly tells what they thought of him. “Father Sullivan (we call him the Saint, Mum) is dying, you will be sorry to hear. By the time this letter arrives he will probably be in heaven. A strange coincidence, the night, Sunday and Monday, Jim (an elder brother who has left school) could not sleep thinking of Father Sullivan and his devotion to the Sodality, and he told me that he felt he must keep on repeating whatever prayers were usual, seeing all the time Father Sullivan. He was shocked when a friend passed him on a paper yesterday and asked : Did you know him?”
Father Roche adds : " Father Sullivan died at 11pm on Sunday, the very night that Jim saw him. A great many requests for relics have come to us.

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 1 1948

The Tribunal for the Informative Process in Fr. John Sullivan's Cause was set up by Dr. McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin, on the 24th October, 1947. The first Session was held at Archbishop's House on 30th October ; subsequent Meetings will take place at the Presbytery, Upper Gardiner Street. Fr. Charles O'Conor is Vicepostulator. The following letter was addressed to the Province by Rev. Fr. Provincial on the occasion of the setting up of the Tribunal :

28th October, 1947 :
Reverend and dear Fr. Rector,
PX. In a letter dated 24th October, 1947, His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, writes :
“I have great pleasure in informing you that I have this day instituted the Tribunal for the Ordinary Informative Process in the Cause of the Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God, John Sullivan, Priest of your Society”.
The first session of the Tribunal, appointed by His Grace, will take place at Archbishop's House next Thursday at 12 noon. It is the first stage in a very long process which we hope and pray may one day have its happy issue in one of our own Province being raised to the honours of the Altar. I commend the Cause, now about to be opened, to the prayers of all ; and I ask each priest to say a Mass (first intention) and those who are not priests to offer Mass, Holy Communion and the Beads once for the success of the Informative Process which begins on Thursday.
May God, who glorifies those who glorify Him, be ever increasingly honoured in the honours given to His servant ; may Ours be more powerfully and effectively incited to strive for that sanctity proper to the Society by considering this new and contemporary example of virtue ; may our Province in its present necessities have in Father John Sullivan a powerful intercessor with God.
Commending myself to Your Reverence's holy Sacrifices and prayers.
I remain,
Yours Sincerely in Xto.,

Irish Province News 24th Year No 1 1949

On 6th November Fr. Daniel O'Connell, of the Viceprovince, who during his stay in Ireland gave evidence in Fr. Sullivan's cause, left Southampton for U.S.A. on 6th November.

Irish Province News 27th Year No 1 1952

As the result of close upon seven years of fairly constant work, official registration of evidence in the two preliminary processes De Fama Sanctitatis et de non-cultu, in connection with Fr. Sullivan's Cause, has now been completed. These processes provide the evidence that must enable the Congregation of Rites to determine whether the matter of the Cause is one deserving of the official sanction of the Church or not.
In all something over fifty witnesses have been examined: roughly about two thirds of whom were from the Province—the rest externs. Except for certain inaugural meetings of the Ecclesiastical Court at which his Grace had to preside (which were held at Archbishop's House) all but one of the meetings for registration of evidence have been held at Gardiner St.
At an early date in the proceedings Fr. Curtin who was acting Notary of the Court was replaced by Fr. Michael Brown, Archbishop's House, and somewhat later the first President of the Court, the late Archdeacon MacMahon, took ill and died. Very Rev. Canon Neary, already a member of the Court, was appointed new President and Dr. O’Halloran of City Quay was added to complete the requisite number of judges. Mgr. Dargan and Fr. Barry of High Street have been all the time attached to the Court. At all times the members of the Court have showed great interest in the Cause and have manifested a graciousness and generosity that has been most striking. They have had more than a hundred sessions involving their presence at Gardiner St. from 11 a.m. till about 4 p.m.
The next stage in the proceedings is to have all the evidence transcribed and collated with the original record after which al will be ready for transmission to Rome.
Great help has been given by many in the Province by the distribution of leaflets and relic cards. A considerable number of records of favours of most varied kinds has also been accumulated. From letters received it is clear too that a great many Masses and prayers are being constantly offered for the success of the Cause.

Irish Province News 28th Year No 2 1953

A further stage in the Cause of Beatification and Canonisation of Fr. John Sullivan was reached in the New Year : edicts concerning his Writings were simultaneously issued by the Archbishop of Dublin and by the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin in their respective dioceses.

The following is the text of Dr. McQuaid's edict :

To the Clergy and the Haithful of the Diocese of Dublin.
In accordance with the Instructions of the Holy See, which requires that writings (if any) attributed to Servants of God whose Causes of Beatification and Canonization are being canonically investigated should be collected and examined we hereby command the Clergy and Faithful of this City and Diocese who possess any writings of the Servant of God, Father John Sullivan, S.J., such as sermons, letters, diaries, autobiographies, whether written by him in his own hand or by others at his dictation, to present themselves within the space of one month from this date at Archbishop's House, Dublin, for the purpose of handing over such writings or properly authenticated copies thereof. Any person knowing that writings of the above-mentioned Servant of God are held by others is bound to communicate his information to Archbishop's House, Dublin.

John Charles,

Archbishop of Dublin,
Primate of Ireland. Given at Dublin, this 1st day of January, 1953.

Irish Province News 35th Year No 4 1960

The final session of the Ordinary or Informative Process in the Cause of Beatification of the Servant of God, Father John Sullivan, S.J., was held at Archbishop's House, Dublin, on 4th July. His Grace the Arch bishop, Index Ordinarius in the Process, presided.
In the lengthy final session, the Acta were read and signed by all present, after they had been formally authenticated by the Archbishop. The evidence of the sanctity and heroicity of virtue of Father John Sullivan, evidence in regard to his writings and non cultus, which had been collected during the course of the Process and transcribed into ten bound volumes, was placed in a specially-made oak container, sealed in eight places, inside and outside, by His Grace in the presence of the Delegate Judge, the Assistant Judges and the Officials of the Process. Six additional seals were then set on the container and it was entrusted, together with a sealed letter of His Grace, to the Vice-Postulator of the Cause, Very Reverend Fr. Charles O'Conor, S.J., Provincial, for personal transmission to the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome.
This evidence will be examined by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, which will then decide in regard to the holding of a further Process, known as the Apostolic Process, in the Cause.
The authentic copies of all the original documents in the case were then sealed by His Grace the Archbishop and placed in the Archives at Arch bishop's House, until such time as the Holy See may direct that they be reopened.
The case containing the evidence was brought to Rome in August by Mr. Seán Ó hÉideáin, Secretary at the Irish Embassy to the Holy See. It was given diplomatic coverage through the courtesy of the Department of External Affairs.

Irish Province News 36th Year No 1 1961

The exhumation of the remains of the Servant of God, Fr. John Sullivan, S.J., and their transference to St. Francis Xavier's Church, Upper Gardiner St., Dublin, took place on 27th-29th September. This step was taken by the Vice-Postulator of the Cause of Fr. Sullivan, Very Rev. Fr. Provincial, on the advice of Fr. Paul Molinari, the Postulator, and with the approval of Very Rev. Fr. General and the Ordinaries of the archdiocese of Dublin and the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, and the permission of the respective public authorities.
The proceedings at Clongowes were presided over by Right Rev. Mgr. James J. Conway, P.P., V.G., appointed Judex Delegatus by His Lordship the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, assisted by Right Rev. William Miller, P.P., V.G., Promotor Fidei. His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin was represented by Rev. Michael Browne, D.D., Notarius. Witnesses to the identity of the grave were Fr. P. Kenny, S.J. (who was Minister of Clongowes at the time of the burial in 1933) and two employees of Clongowes, John Cribben and Frank Smyth. Fr. Molinari, the Postulator, who had come from Rome, remained until a late stage in the exhumation; Fr. Provincial, Fr. B. Barry, Fr. Socius, and Fr. H. Lawton Rector of Clongowes, were present throughout. The doctors charged with the examination of the remains were Dr. Edward T. Freeman, Dublin, and Dr. George O'Reilly, Kilcock, Dr. Brendan O'Donnell, Medical Officer, Co. Kildare, Mr. Joseph Reynolds, Inspector, Public Health Department, Naas, and Mr. Patrick Coen, Chief Health Inspector, Dublin Corporation, represented the public authorities. The actual exhumation was carried out by two gravediggers from Glasnevin Cemetery, under the direction of Mr. John Doyle, Superintendent. Half-a-dozen members of the Garda Siochana, under the direction of Chief Super intendent O'Driscoll, Naas, were on duty to secure complete privacy for the proceedings.
At 10 a.m, on 27th September, the clergy, witnesses to the identity of the grave and gravediggers assembled in the Castle, and took the required oath not to remove anything from the coffin or to place anything in it which might be regarded as a relic. At the graveside all present were warned by the Notarius that the same obligation applied to them under pain of excommunication reserved to the Holy See. The exhumation commenced at 10.30 a.m. The day was fortunately fine, though very cold. At a few minutes before twelve, when the excavation had reached a depth of about four feet six inches, the breastplate of the coffin was found, and just as the Angelus was ringing, the outline of the coffin became visible. It was apparent that the headstone and cross had not been placed exactly over the coffin, so that what now appeared was one side of the coffin, This necessitated further excavation to remove the earth from the other side. It was also apparent that the lid of the coffin had decayed. From now on, the excavation was very slow, trowels only being used for fear of damage to the remains. About an hour later, the feet of the remains were uncovered, the boots being intact, Finally, when the grave had been considerably widened and as much as possible of the earth removed, it was found that the sides and bottom of the coffin were intact, and that thus it could be raised completely from the grave. This was accomplished at 5.40, and the coffin was placed in the hearse - again just as the Angelus was ringing and brought in procession to the People's Church and thence to the adjoining classroom. The two doctors worked from 7.30 to 10.30 p.m, preparing the remains for re-burial. These were laid out on a pallett covered with white silk and then transferred to the inner oak coffin, into which was put a copper cylinder containing the authentication signed by various witnesses, clerical and lay. The leaden coffin surrounding the inner coffin was then closed and soldered and sealed in two places with the seal of the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. During this process, Dr. Freeman dictated to the Notarius a full account of the exhumation and the medical findings. Finally, at 1 a.m. the leaden coffin was placed in the outer oak coffin, which was transferred to a catafalque in the People's Church.
Next morning, Fr. Rector celebrated Mass in the presence of the remains, the church being filled with the senior boys and many of the faithful. Immediately after Mass, pilgrims from the surrounding country side and even from distant areas began to arrive in large numbers and continued all day. At 7 p.m. a queue of over a hundred was waiting outside to secure admittance to the church. At 9.30 p.m. the coffin was transferred to the Boys' Chapel. The following morning, 29th September, the stream of pilgrims began again. Their devotion on both days was most edifying, evidencing itself by their kissing the coffin and touching it with beads, prayer-books and other objects of devotion.
At 2 p.m. the Absolution was pronounced by Fr. Rector in the presence of the Community and boys. The funeral procession then proceeded up the avenue, preceded by the entire school and followed by a large crowd of the faithful and some fifty cars. At the front gate, the boys lined each side of the avenue. The procession then proceeded to Dublin. At almost every house and crossroad groups of people had gathered, and knelt as the hearse passed. At Clane and Celbridge, schoolchildren lined the route. At Lucan, two Garda patrol cars joined the procession, going in front to secure an uninterrupted passage. On arrival at the city, a Garda motor cyclist gave warning to the Gardai on duty on the quays, who stopped traffic from the side streets. As a result of this careful organisation, spontaneously arranged by the Garda authorities, the procession reached Gardiner Street punctually at a few minutes to 4 p.m.
It was received on the steps of the church by Most Rev. Dr. McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin. With him were the Bishop of Nara, Most Rev. Dr. Dunne, the Archbishop of Malacca, Singapore, Most Rev. Dr. Olcomendy (who was visiting Dublin), Right Rev. Mgr. Boylan, Right Rev. Mgr. O'Reilly, Right Rev. Mgr. Glennon, Right Rev. Mgr. Deery and Right Rev. Mgr. O'Regan. The members of the Province paid a most worthy tribute to the saintly memory of Fr. Sullivan, some 250 of them being present. Though no publicity had been given to the proceedings, the church was crowded, Much credit is due to Fr. M. Meade, Superior, Fr. D. Mulcahy, Minister, and Fr. J. McAvoy, who acted as marshal, that the ceremony was conducted so smoothly and with such dignity. After the Absolution, the remains were brought to the vault which had been specially built, adjoining the Sacred Heart chapel. The vault was blessed by His Grace the Archbishop, who was assisted by Very Rev. Canon O'Donnell and Very Rev. M. Canon Boylan. The coffin was then deposited on two pillars of limestone, the ornamental grille was closed, and the ceremony concluded with the singing of the Benedictus by the Milltown Park choir. That evening, there was an uninterrupted stream of pilgrims to the vault, and the indications since then are that it has been accepted by the people of Dublin as one of their recognised places of pilgrimage.

The Roman Documents Referring to the Cause of Fr. Sullivan
Beatificationis et Canonizationis
Servi Dei IOANNIS SULLIVAN, Sacerdotis Professi Societatis Iesu.
Instante Rev-mo P. Paulus Molinari, Generalis Postulator Societatis Iesu, Sacra Rituum Congregatio, vigore facultatum sibi a Ss-mo Domino nostro IOANNE PAPA XXTII tributarum, benigne indulget ut processus ordinarius informativus super fama sanctitas, vitae, virtutem et miraculorum in genere Servi Dei Ioannis Sullivan, Sacerdotis professi eiusdem Societatis Iesu, clausus sigillisque munitus in Actis eiusdem Sacrae Rituum Congregationis asservatus, aperire valeat : servatis omnibus de iure, stylo et consuetudine servandis.Contrariis non obstantibus quibuslibet.
Die 16 Septembris 1960.
S.R.C. Praef.

Prot. 956-2/960
Beatificationis et Canonizationis
Servi Dei IOANNIS SULLIVAN, Sacerdotis Professi Societatis Iesu.
Clausus sigillisque munitus invenitur in Actis Sacrae Rituum Con gregationis processus ordinaria potestate in Curia Dublinensi instructus super CULTU NUNQUAM PRAESTITO Servo Dei Joanni Sullivan, Sacerdoti professo Societatis Jesu. Hinc Rev-mus P. Paulus Molinari, Postulator Generalis eiusdem Societatis, a Sanctitate sua humiliter postulavit ut dicti processus aperitionem indulgere benigne dignaretur. Sacro porro eadem Rituum Congregatio, utendo facultatibus sibi ab Ipso Ss-mo Domino nostro JOANNE PAPA XXIII tributis, benigne annuit pro gratia juxta preces: servatis omnibus de jure, stylo et con suetudine servandis.
Contrariis non obstantibus quibuslibet.
Die 16 Septembris 1960.
S.R.C. Praef.

Beatificationis et Canonizationis
Servi Dei IOANNIS SULLIVAN, Sacerdotis Professi Societatis Iesu.
Rev-mus P. Paulus Molinari, Generalis Postulator Societatis Iesu, ad pedes Sanctitatis Suae provolutus, humiliter postulavit ut processus ordinaria auctoritate in Curia Dublinensi constructus super scriptis Servi Dei Ioannis Sullivan, Sacerdotis professi eiusdem Societatis, et in Actis eiusdem Sacrae Rituum Congregationis, clausus sigillisque munitus, asservatus, rite aperiatur. Sacra porro eadem Rituum Congregatio, vigore facultatum sibi a Ss-mo Domino nostro IOANNE PAPA XXTII tributarum, attentis expositis, benigne annuit pro gratia iusta preces: servatis omnibus de iure, stylo et consuetudine servandis,
Contrariis non obstantibus quibuslibet.
Die 16 Septembris 1960.
S.R.C. Praef.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father John Sullivan SJ 1861-1933
In Eccles Street Dublin, on May 8th 1861, John Sullivan, of Sir Edward Sullivan, Bart. later Attorney-General, Master of the Rolls and finally Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Sir Edward was a Protestant, his wife was a Catholic, and as was common in those daystheir daughter Annie, the eldest of the family was baptised and reared a Catholic, and the boys as Protestants. So, John Sullivan was baptised into the Protestant Faith in St George’s Church, Temple Street. John was sent to Royal Portora School in 1873 where he remained for six years.

In 1879 he won a classical scholarship to Trinity College, did his law degree at Lincoln’s Inn, London and was called to the English bar in 1888. The followed a period during which he travelled extensively on the Continent. In 1889 he was received into the Catholic Church by Fr Michael Gavin SJ, at Farm Street, London. Three years later he entered our noviceship at Tullabeg, and was ordained at Milltown Park by Archbishop Walsh in 1907.

He spent almost all his life at Clongowes, with an interval as Rector of Rathfarnham, 1919 to 1924. Being in charge of the People’s Church, he devoted himself with intense zeal to the sick and the dying, and acquired a reputation for extraordinary sanctity and the working of miracles.

He died on February 19th 1933, and almost immediately there sprang up, on the part of the people a spontaneous cultus to him. The initial step in his cause for canonisation was taken up in 1947 with the setting up of the Judicial Informative Process. The final step in Ireland was taken in July 1960 when the evidence as to his heroic sanctity was forwarded to Rome in bound volumes.

Meantime it was decided to translate his body from the cemetery in Clongowes to Gardiner Street. On Tuesday September 27th, the body was exhumed in the presence of official witnesses. It was not found incorrupt. On September 29th, encased in a set of coffins, the body was solemnly conveyed to Dublin, and placed in a beautiful new tomb visible to the public. There it lies awaiting the verdict of the Church, the object of veneration daily of hundreds of visitors.


Bob Thompson took an interesting initiative in writing to the senior members of the Province who knew our Servant of God - whether as boys in Clongowes Wood or as fellow members of a Jesuit Community. Here are the ten replies received.

My acquaintance with Fr John Sullivan is limited to the retreat he conducted for my vows for September 2nd, 1930. Emo was only three weeks old when we started that retreat. An Ambulacrum served as a Chapel, but Fr Sullivan spoke to us in the Conference Room. There was an aisle between two rows of tables with a dais in front of one row. Fr Sullivan always came into the room with a quick lively sort of run, and would drop on his two knees on the floor, not the raised edge of the dais.

When he spoke, all the while he held a crucifix in one hand, and stroked his dark greying hair with the other. He seemed to find all he wanted to say on the crucifix.

Three things I remember about that retreat. First, it was a marked contrast to the one I heard the previous year from Fr Michael Browne. Fr Browne was austere, severe and for me awesome . Fr Sullivan seemed to spread around him a warmth and a kindliness.

The second thing is a letter he read to us. He introduced it by saying: “These are not my thoughts, but they are the thoughts of an elderly priest in the Province and I give them for what they are worth”. The letter went something like this:

You are going to give the novices their retreat. Would you please impress on them the importance of the virtue of Charity. I'm an old man in the Province now and I can honestly say that I have experienced very little Charity, but I have met with an awful lot of diplomacy...

The third thing that remains with me is that while he made no effort at eloquence, and often cut short descriptions with an "and all that", he could still be very graphic. I can still see and hear his account of Peter's reaction to John's “It is the Lord” - “SPLASH” and Peter is in the water".

During that retreat I was anything but filled with consolation. I can still remember a glow of happiness when I made my confession to Fr John. I can't recall what I said, or what he said, but I can't forget the joy and peace I felt leaving his room.

One other memory of those days: Fr Lol Kearns - go meadai Dia a ghlóir - made that retreat too. He used to tell this story against himself. He knew Fr John had the reputation of being a saint, and he wanted to be able to say that he had visited the saint in his room, so he concocted a difficulty.

“Father in my class in Mungret I could name eight boys who would have been better suited to be Jesuits than I am. I ask myself why did God call me, rather than one of them?”

“Ah now! Carry on! Carry on! and thank God for his bad taste”.


Fr John Sullivan was Rector of Rathfarnham Castle during my first year there as a junior. One's first impression of him was quite frightening -- the gaunt face, the shabby clothes, greenish but scrupulously clean, the extreme austerity of his meals.

But in short time one became aware of something extra ordinarily attractive about him. It is difficult to put into words, but one came not merely to "make allowances" for him, or just to like him, but genuinely to love him. His one aim in life seemed to be to prevent anyone admiring him. In that he failed miserably.

One of the older Jesuits told me how, at a meeting of the Classical Society of UCD, which Johnny was persuaded to attend, the Juniors who were there were immensely impressed by the deference shown to Johnny by their Professors and several Dons from Trinity College. One got accustomed to being accosted in the avenue by some poor person who had come a long way “to see the priest who works miracles”.

Johnny had a puckish sense of humour which normally was kept strictly hidden. But on one occasion which I heard of it popped out. Paul O'Flanagan, who later became a splendid preacher, was doing Science, and tried by all means to avoid the chore of preaching in the refectory. However, on the last available day Paul was summoned by the Rector. One excuse after another were exposed in their feebleness by the stern Rector. Then Johnny said with what must have been a twinkle in his eye: “In God's name there, aren't you in charge of the seismograph?” “Yes, Father”, said Paul. “Well, wouldn't it be a terrible thing if there was an earthquake and there was nobody there to attend to it? You had better not preach”.

I remember very vividly the satisfaction with which Johnny read out in the Refectory the announcement of the appointment of Fr John Keane as his successor as Rector. It was as if he was muttering to himself “that's one in the eye for you, John Sullivan”.

He was unforgettable. He was a Saint.


I was in Clongowes for two years only - 1931-1933 - as a Scholastic, and during those two years Fr John was resident there.

He was Spiritual Father in the community, and he gave the Customary Domestic exhortations in the Domestic Chapel. As a scholastic, I recollect that we were obliged to visit him from time to time and, if we failed in that duty, I recall that he would come to see us in our rooms and talk to us about any matter that we might like to discuss with him. He was always helpful, kind and friendly.

One small matter concerning him remains vividly in my memory. During lunch-time break when we came to the refectory, he would gently ask us to sit down, and he would come around with the tea pot, pouring the tea for us, saying that we were hard at work and that he had nothing to do. While this caused me personally a little embarrassment it also filled me with admiration for his humility and fraternal charity.

We were aware that he regularly visited the poor, the sick and distressed people in the surrounding district and frequently one would see him moving fast - trotting really - down the avenue from the college in pursuit of that work. It was also well known, of course, that people came regularly to consult him and to seek his advice and direction in their troubles, worries and needs. I think I am also right in saying that during school hours (classes, recreation or otherwise) he was always available in a room in the college for pupils who might wish to visit or consult him.

There is nothing further which I feel that I could add of a personal nature concerning Fr John. Of course, all of us were well aware of his undoubted sanctity and his fully committed
Jesuit way of life.


Reams could be written about Fr John. I knew him and had him for my confessor - 1924-1926. Most patient and kind to all of us, especially his class. He had combined sixth year for RK, a most unruly lot and poor Fr John had no control, but we revered and loved him so he got us to learn something about our religion.

I entered the Noviceship from that class and persevered, Fr John's prayers!? One night during recreation I was in the library - Fr John had forgotten to pull down his blind. He was on his knees praying before a crucifix. I didn't read a word watching him - face transformed, immobile. A man devoted to God - all of us know that. May he be raised to the altar.


The only contact I had with Fr Sullivan was a retreat at Emo Park around 1935. Most of us found it rather dull and boring. It was obvious to all of us that he was a very saintly man. He spent very little time at meals, and piety seemed to 'ooze' from him.

He had a great devotion to Our Blessed Lady, and if you met him in the house, or grounds, he had his rosary beads in his hands.

I never lived in the same community, and so I cannot say much more about him.


A master was out ill. Two classes were put together (usually disastrous). Fr John was teaching them religion. He was going through St Luke's Gospel with great fervour but we were talking all the time - this almost entirely because of the mixture of classes. He would read on and comment as if he didn't notice, then he would stop: “Too much talk, too much talk, Jim E. down there you're not listening, not listening to St Luke the most beautiful book in the whole world, not listening there”. But sometimes when our ignorant and unmannerly talking almost drowned him he would get really angry and give out forcefully, mostly in the same words as above. Then he would perceptibly repent of his anger and end up with a joke and as good a smile as he could manage, always with the words: “Can't get a word in edgeways, trying hard, no hope, no hope”.

There had been snow for days and days. Everyone cooped up. no games. During “shop” one day Fr John came down and offered to take his classes - or perhaps the whole Higher Line - out for a walk. A good many came. We went out the front gate and did a circuit on the road. Many walked abreast with him. I forget what he was talking about. It might have been his travels in Greece. Perhaps half way around he struck for home across the snowy fields. Before us we saw a wide slobbery gap into the next field. Cattle had churned a large area of it into slush. Seeing it he repeated “C'mon, c'mon, c'mon” and started off in a wobbly run. I think his hands were up his sleeves. We all joined in and slushed through the muddy gap. We did the same in the next gap.

He was walking down the Higher Line Gallery, keeping close to the wall and very bowed. I saw his knee through a very loosely half-stitched vent in his trouser. Either the gown or the trouser had a green black shiny look.

I was in the infirmary in a room with two others. Fr John came in and knelt in turn at each bed to hear confession. He said a few encouraging words I think, but I don't remember.

He said the boys' Mass every day. Often he would stop on the way out - and I think sometimes on the way in - near the altar rail and speak rapidly with great sincerity and feeling. You didn't understand all he said, but he made an impact.

The windows of the old chemistry room faced across towards the study building, and faced the window of Fr John's room. One day a boy in the class called us over to the window; through the window of Fr John's room we could see him at his kneeler praying. We were not surprised.

His room was off the study stairs, the Higher Line dormitory opened on to the same stairs. On the way down the Mass in the morning the so-called “toughs” used to line up for confession.


As it was my privilege of living for sixteen years in the same community with Fr John, my most vivid recollections of him are his heroic practice of poverty in his personal life, and his utter dedication to all who were poor, to the sick and needy in a wide area around Clongowes. His names is held in awe to this very day by the relatives of all those people he had helped, both spiritually and physically, and indeed, by the many who never met him or had any connection with him. He is a living presence around Clongowes.

Though there are many accounts of Fr John's powers of healing, I am glad to recall Mrs. Tom Smyth's story to me about herself. Long before my time, she was an invalid, and not able to move around. When the family were out, they would close the door for safety sake. On a certain day there was a loud knock on the door. She didn't answer it. Then there was a second, and so she crawled up with the aid of a chair. When she opened it she recognised Fr John. He said he was looking for the invalid. “Can you help me? I am the invalid Father”. He told her to kneel down. It caused her intense suffering. He nearly drowned her with holy water and prayed over her (her own words). That is the limit of my knowledge. She was happily married to Tom Smyth when cured, and lived a long life.

She died only last year. When I was on retreat in Clongowes, I felt sad to think of other days when we played cards in the farm yard with Tom and his wife,


Although I have never lived with Fr John Sullivan as a member of the Jesuit Community at Clongowes, I did, in fact, live for five schools years, 1928-33, under the same roof as “Johnny-O”, as we boys affectionately called him among ourselves. Nor was I taught by him, save on rare occasions when one of our regular teachers being absent, Fr John might be sent to look after us'. I can only recall one such occasion, when he made his usual hurried entry into our noisy classroom and without ado knelt, with head bowed, to recite the “Hail Mary”, as was the custom among the Jesuit masters in my time. With eyes still downcast, but occasionally glancing at the class, he stood before us and put a question on Geography to the class in general. "Where is Bessarabia, there! Bessarabia, there?", Glancing hopefully from one side of the silent class to the other. As I recollect, only one boy gave a satisfactory answer. Father John went on to tell us of some of his personal experiences in the South-Eastern part of Europe, including his visits to the Orthodox Ministries in Greece.

To the query “did I know him?” my first inclination would be to say, “yes, of course, I knew him”. Didn't everyone at Clongowes know him, and know him for what he undoubtedly was, a very holy Jesuit priest, first and last! Didn't he offer Mass, Monday to Friday, in our presence at 7.30 in the morning? Didn't he often ask our prayers for some sick or dying person; for some old Clongownian or Jesuit what had died? Didn't we see him kneeling outside his Confessional, (the one nearest the entrance on the left-hand side) several nights of the week, as we boys came out of supper? Didn't we know that on Saturday nights, the ‘hardened sinners’ amongst us found refuge in his ‘box’!!. Didn't we hear, day in, day out, from Jesuit Brothers, Scholastics and Priests how great was the demand for his help, not only by local people in trouble or in sickness, but from people far off? And more to the point, didn't we see or meet with him as he made his way, hurriedly to be sure, thro' the chattering throng of boys on the old Lower Line Gallery or elsewhere, talking now to one, now to the other?

I recall quite clearly two such occasions when he spoke to me in the midst of the 'madding crowd'. The first was on the noisy Third Line Gallery. I turned around to find him standing behind me with head slightly bowed, and his left hand brushing back the hair off his forehead - (this was a characteristic gesture). “What's your name, boy?” he asked. I told him. “I know your brothers”, was his reply. He then said, “Are you a Pioneer?”, and before I could answer “No, Father”, he said; “You know, you ought to be, for the love of God”. “Yes, Father”, I said. “Be in the Sacristy before Supper”, he replied and was gone. So I became a “probationer” (at the age of 14) on that day and a Pioneer two years later. It didn't cost me anything then or later, thank God, although it was much later that I came to appreciate the graces which flowed from this 'chance' meeting with a holy priest.

The second such meeting was equally unexpected and abrupt. It happened in October 1932, a few months before his death, on February 19th, 1933. He appeared from nowhere in the middle of a crowd of higher-liners and this time with the ghost of a smile on his rugged face, eyes lowered and hands half-clapping. Without any introduction, he kept repeating. “The word is VISCERA, VISCERA, VISCERA, not VISCERIA, VISCERIA. A common word there”. I was nimble in mind in those days and I knew almost immediately that he was correcting my pronunciation of a word - I'm sure there were many others - which occurred in the “Evening Office of the Dead” which the members of the Sodality of Our Lady used recite at their Saturday night meetings in the Sodality Chapel in the Castle. “Thank you, Father”, I muttered, and he ended the interview as he had begun it; “Yes, VISCERA, a very common word, there”. He was off again.

I might underline here a fact about Fr John's spirituality which made a deep and lasting impression upon me. It was his devotion to the Holy Souls. As this is a very Catholic devotion, he must have learned it, either from his mother or after his conversion, when his reading would have opened up the wonderful possibility of his being able to keep his dead relatives and friends for whom, up to this, he was not accustomed to pray. Whenever, or however he came across this practice, he made it part and parcel of his daily prayer life. In his week-day Masses and in his Sodality Masses on Saturdays, we boys were asked to pray for some person recently deceased. On rare occasions, too, we were asked to pray for some “poor man or woman dying in great pain”. The Holy Souls were for him the poorest of the poor because tho' they were in need, they could neither help themselves nor beg for help from the living! The doctrine of the Communion of Saints was one that appealed to him. For Christ's words were as true of them as any of the living: “As often as you do it to one of these, my least brethren, you do it for me”. Father John was ever on the “look-out for Christ in need”.

There was a third meeting which comes to my mind. My two brothers and myself had got permission to go to Dublin on a Playday in Autumn 1931. We had to rise early to catch a Provincial Bus that passed thro' Clane about 7.45 am on its way to the City. As we made our way we came to the straight part of the road which ends at the “Jolly Farmers”, we saw Father John jogging towards us. He evidently had been out on a nearby sick-call or bringing Holy Communion to some regular client and was returning “at speed” lest he be late for the Boys Mass at 8.00 am. He slowed down as he passed saying “God Bless you have a good day there” and was gone. I mention this passing encounter to record what I and the boys of my time frequently witnessed, namely his jogging along the avenue or around the Higher-Line track in the early morning. This, no doubt kept him fit; for physically fit he was, despite the austere life he freely lived so that he might be a minister of God after the example of Christ. Indeed, he had to keep fit, if he was to reach so many sick persons by walking or by riding his bicycle. Although I never saw him riding, I heard about it, some years before I went to Clongowes, from my mother. My eldest brother, John, took very ill at Clongowes on October, 1924. He was operated on in Dublin but given very little hope of recovery. Father John used to ride up from Clongowes in every kind of weather, spend half an hour praying over the dying boy. And then, off again back to Clongowes. After several days, when his life hung on a thread, my brother started to recover, and finally did so. My mother always maintained that her son's recovery was due to the prayers of Father John.

Tyndall, Robert J, 1897-1989, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/424
  • Person
  • 05 September 1897-10 December 1988

Born: 05 September 1897, Monkstown, County Dublin
Entered: 31 August 1914, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1928, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1931, Mungret College SJ, Limerick
Died: 10 December 1988, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

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

by 1923 in Australia - Regency at Studley Hall, Kew
by 1930 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
Robert Tyndall was educated by the Vincentians at Castlenock and entered the novitiate in 1914. Regency was at Xavier College, Burke Hall, 1921-25. He looked after boarders, taught classes, ran the library and even managed junior cadets, all with great success. Tyndall had considerable capacity for friendship, from Archbishop Mannix to his smallest students. Many of these friends maintained a lifelong correspondence with him.

White, Esmonde, 1875-1957, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/442
  • Person
  • 15 March 1875-28 April 1957

Born: 15 March 1875, Madras, India
Entered: 07 September 1892, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 26 July 1908, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1910, Sacred Heart College SJ, Limerick
Died: 28 April 1957, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

Part of the Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin community at the time of death

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1896 at Valkenburg, Netherlands (GER) studying
Came to Australia for Regency, 1898
by 1909 at Drongen Belgium (BELG) making Tertianship

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Though born in India, Esmonde White was educated in Ireland. For regency he went to Riverview .There he stayed a relatively brief time, teaching and being assistant prefect of discipline, before departing in the autumn of 1901 for the same position at Xavier until 1905, when he returned to Ireland. From 1909 he was involved in the school ministry in Ireland.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 32nd Year No 3 1957
Obituary :
Fr Esmonde White (1875-1957)
Within a period of twelve months, Rathfarnham has lost four of its older men. Perhaps none of them has left so big a gap as “the quiet man”, Fr. White. Yet so it is; for, shrouded though he was in an almost fantastic silence, Fr. White was always there. Religious duties, meals, recreation, from none of these did he ever absent himself. He could be called bi-lingual inasmuch as his chief contribution to recreation was the statement, in Irish or English, “No doubt at all about it?” Perhaps he was on more familiar terms with the birds, whose calls, especially that of the cuckoo, he could faithfully reproduce. Certain it is that he never said an unkind word. No one who knew Fr. White would infer that this was merely the negative virtue of a very silent man. In the first place, it is certain that he had not always been so silent. In his student days at Valkenburg he had acquired so good a mastery of the language as to merit, in later years, the emphatic comment of a German Jesuit : “That man speaks German well”. Moreover his genial charity showed itself very positively in action, for he loved to see people happy. One who was with him in the colleges remarked: “He was always doing odd jobs for others and made so little compliment about them that, in Belvedere for example, if anyone wanted something in Woolworths, he had only to ask Fr. White, and off he went!”
Fr. White was born on 15th March, 1875 in Madras, India. Educated in Clongowes, he gained his place in the three-quarters on the Senior Cup team, played a useful game of Soccer, and bowled on the Cricket eleven. To the end of his life he bowled, left-arm, silently, at invisible wickets - one of his most characteristic gestures. He entered the Society at Tullabeg in 1892, studied philosophy at Valkenburg, and spent the seven following years in Australia, teaching at Xavier and at Riverview. He was ordained at Milltown Park in 1908, did his Tertianship at Tronchienues and spent the remainder of his long life in the class room. All told, he taught for thirty-eight years. He taught at the Crescent from 1910 to 1914, being Prefect of Studies for the two latter years, He was at Belvedere 1915-19, and again from 1923 to 1937, having been in the meantime Minister and Socius at Tullabeg and Prefect of Studies at Galway. Then after a year at Emo and two years at Rathfarnham, as Spiritual Father, he went back to Belvedere, 1941-47, as Sub-Minister. After one year at Milltown Park he came in 1948 to Rathfarnham, where he remained until his death.
With the drawbridge of his interior castle perpetually up, he seemed very happy within, as he tunefully hummed and whistled, to the edification of the brethren without. He loved Belvedere College and when, after a stay of two years in Rathfarnham, he saw his name again on the Belvedere status, he literally danced with joy, at the sober age of sixty-five! While Prefect of Studies in Belvedere Junior House, he combined gentleness with severity in such perfect measure that a past pupil recalls: “He hit very hard with the pandy bat but obviously felt every bit as miserable about it as the unfortunate victim!” The same pupil added, and none of us could deny the tribute: “He was one of Nature's gentlemen!” Those of us who lived with him would suggest that Grace played a bigger part than Nature in making Fr. White one of the kindest of men.
His last illness was short. Some six weeks after leaving Rathfarnham for the Nursing Home, his condition suddenly worsened and he died in the Hospice on 28th April, Before leaving Rathfarnham, he made an interrogation of unusual length: “Two questions are puzzling me”, he said to the indefatigable infirmarian. “First of all, who are you?” When Brother Keogh had identified himself, Fr. White went on: “Secondly, who am I?” With sincerity and truth we can all answer the second question : “One white man!” May he rest in peace!

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Esmonde White SJ 1875-1957
To those who lived in community with him, Fr Esmonde White seemed to be almost shrouded in an fantastic silence. He certainly was a perfect man, according to St James, for he never offended with the tongue, his remarks being confined to “No doubt at all about it”, said either in English or Irish.

Born in Madras, India, in 1975, he was educated at Clongowes, where he acquired a reputation as a left-hand bowler, whence, no doubt, he developed a gesture common with him to the end of his life, bowling left-handed at invisible wickets.

His life as a Jesuit was spent mainly in the Colleges and the classroom, a ministry of 40 years at least. He was mathematical in his observance, never absent from a duty, ever easy to oblige others, the quintessence of kindness, A model of motivated observance, close to God always, he yielded up his spotless soul to God on April 27th 1957. In the words of his obituary “He was a white man”.

◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1957


Father Esmonde White SJ

Fr White was born on 15th March, 1875, in Madras, India. Educated in Clongowes, he gained his place as a three-quarter on the Senior Cup team, played a useful game of Soccer, and bowled on the cricket cleven. And anyone who knew him or was taught by him will know that to the very end of his life he was to be seen as he walked along, occasionally bowling, left-arm, an invisible ball at an invisible wicket.

He entered the Society of Jesus at Tullabeg in 1892, studied Philosophy at Valkenburg, and spent the seven following years in Australia. He was ordained at Milltown Park in 1908, He taught at the Crescent, Limerick, from 1910 to 1914, being Prefect of Studies for the two latter years. He was. at Belvedere 1915-1919, and again from 1923 to 1937, having been in the meantime Minister and Assistant to the Master of Novices at Tullabeg and Prefect of Studies at St Ignatius College, Galway, Then, after a year at Emo and two years at Rathfarnham as Spiritual Father, he went back to Belvedere from 1941–1947. From then until his death he was at Rathfarnham.

He loved Belvedere and when after a stay at Rathfarnhamn, he once again was changed to Belvedere we are told that he literally danced for joy, and that at the very sober age of sixty-five! He was Prefect of Studies in the Preparatory School for a period and for all his perpetually good humour knew well how to wield his sceptre of office. His most outstanding characteristic was his fantastic power of silence; he wasted no words. But it was a good-humoured silence, which missed little enough of what was going on and certain it is that his thoughts were always kindly since he never said an unkind word. Those of us who lived with him would suggest that Grace played a bigger part than Nature in making Fr White one of the kindest of men.

◆ The Clongownian, 1957


Father Esmonde White SJ

Father Esmonde White was born in Madras, India, eighty-two years ago. Having left Clongowes, he joined the Novitiate at Tullabeg in 1892. He studied philosophy at Valkenburg in Holland and was then sent to the Australian Mission where he was Prefect and Master for six years, first in Kew College, Melbourne, and then at Riverview, Sydney.

He returned to Ireland in 1905 and completed his theological studies at Milltown Park, Dublin, where he was ordained in 1908. He also studied at Tronchiennes, Belgium. He was Master and Prefect of Studies at the Sacred Heart College, Limerick, from 1910 to 1914, and at Belvedere College, Dublin, from 1915 until 1919, when he was appointed Minister and Assistant Master of Novices at Tullabeg.

He was later in cliarge of studies at St Ignatius' College, Galway. In 1923 he returned to Belvedere, and remained there until 1937, when he was transferred to Rathfarnham Castle. May he rest in peace.

◆ The Crescent : Limerick Jesuit Centenary Record 1859-1959

Bonum Certamen ... A Biographical Index of Former Members of the Limerick Jesuit Commnnity

Father Esmonde White (1875-1957)

Born at Madras, India and educated at Clongowes, entered the Society in 1892. He pursued his higher studies in Valkenburg, Milltown Park and Belgium. He was ordained in 1908. Father White was a member of the Crescent community from 1909 to 1914 during which time he was prefect of studies. Most of his teaching career was spent at Belvedere College.