Subfonds 1 - Irish Jesuit Chaplains in the First World War

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Irish Jesuit Chaplains in the First World War


  • 1895-2020 (Creation)

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2 boxes

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Administrative history

The Irish Province of the Society of Jesus is the local branch of the Society of Jesus, one of the largest religious orders in the Catholic Church, was formed in 1860, having been a Vice-Province from 1830. When Fr Peter Kenney SJ, led the Jesuits back to Ireland in 1814 after the Suppression of the Society (1773-1814) his first action was to open a new school at Clongowes Wood College. In the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century the Order was associated with training Catholics to take on a leadership role in the emerging independent Ireland.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Deposited at the Irish Jesuit Archives from Irish Jesuit Provincialate.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Thirty-two Jesuit chaplains of the Irish Province served in the First World War. They served on the battlefields of France, Belgium, Egypt and Mesopotamia. Four Jesuits were killed: Frs John Gwynn (12 October 1915), William Doyle (17 August 1917), Michael Bergin (12 October 1917) and John Fitzgibbon (18 September 1918). Two Jesuits died from illness: Frs Austin Hartigan (16 July 1916) and Edward Sydes (15 November 1918).

Approximately eleven Irish-born Jesuit chaplains of the English Province served in in the First World War. They included Frs Timothy Carey (Cork) and Walter Montagu (Cromore, Portstewart, County Derry) who both died on active service. Fr William Keary SJ (Woodford, Galway) initially joined the Irish Province but transferred to the English Province.

The majority of letters are from individual chaplains to the Irish Jesuit Provincial Fr Thomas V. Nolan SJ, (1914-1919). There are some postcards, photographs and medals. Some are rich in details (Fr Daniel Roche SJ, 43 items) others have but an obituary. Includes letters to the Irish Jesuit Provincial from Archbishop’s House, Westminster, England concerning the nomination of various Irish Jesuits as chaplains to the forces and their demobilisation, letters on wages and expenditures of chaplains and the appeal for chaplains. Six Jesuits served with the Australian army.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

All items retained permanently.


System of arrangement

Papers of individual chaplains
i. Patrick Barrett, S.J. (1866-1942)
ii. Michael Bergin, S.J., M.C. (1879-1917)
iii. Francis M. Browne, S.J., M.C. (1880-1960)
iv. Gerald Corr, S.J. (1875-1941)
v. John Delaney, S.J., M.C. (1883-1956)
vi. William Doyle, S.J., M.C. (1873-1917)
vii. John Elliott, S.J. (1857-1942)
viii. John Fitzgibbon, S.J., M.C. (1882-1918)
ix. Joseph Flinn, S.J. (1877-1943)
x. Henry Gill, S.J., M.C., D.S.O. (1872-1945)
xi. John Gwynn, S.J. (1866-1915)
xii. William Gwynn, S.J. (1865-1950)
xiii. Austin Hartigan, S.J. (1882-1916)
xiv. Joseph Hearn, S.J. , M.C. (1854-1941)
xv. James McCann, S.J., M.C. (1875-1951)
xvi. Stanislaus McLoughlin, S.J. (1863-1956)
xvii. John MacSheahan, S.J., M.C. (1885-1956)
xviii. James Magan, S.J. (1881-1959)
xix. Thomas Maher, S.J. (1859-1917)
xx. Patrick Morris, S.J. (1882-1966)
xxi. Hugh Mulhall, S.J. (1871-1948)
xxii. Francis X. O’Brien, S.J. (1881-1974)
xxiii. Jerome O’Mahony, S.J. (1869-1930)
xxiv. Patrick O’Mara, S.J. (1875-1969)
xxv. Bernard Page, S.J. (1877-1948)
xxvi. Henry Potter, S.J. (1866-1932)
xxvii. Daniel Roche, S.J., M.C. (1882-1961)
xxviii. Francis Shaw, S.J. (1881-1924)
xxix. Edward Sydes, S.J. (1863-1918)
xxx. Patrick Tighe, S.J. (1866-1920)
xxxi. Joseph Wrafter, S.J., M.C. (1865-1934)

An Irish Jesuit, Michael Col[e]man, was appointed chaplain from Australia to Egypt, voyage only: embarked 21/09/1915 - terminated 30/12/1915

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

The Irish Jesuit Archives are open only to bona fide researchers. Access by advance appointment. Further details: [email protected]

Conditions governing reproduction

No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the Archivist. Copyright restrictions apply. Photocopying is not available. Digital photography is at the discretion of the Archivist.

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Finding aids

Allied materials area

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Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Individual Jesuit files, for example, IE IJA/J7 - Fr. Frank Browne SJ, may contain further material.

The Rawlinson Papers, Downside Abbey Archives, Bath, England.

The National Archives, UK.

National Archives of Australia.

Archives of the British Jesuit Province

Publication note

Brennan, John Martin. 'Irish Catholic Chaplains in the First World War', M. Phil. thesis, The University of Birmingham, July 2011.

Publication note

Burke, Damien (ed.). 'Irish Jesuit Chaplains in the First World War'. Dublin: Messenger Publications, 2012.

Publication note

Carswell, Simon. ‘The First World War Diary of Henry Gill SJ, June - November 1916’, History Project, Department of Modern History, TCD, 1998.

Publication note

Chaplains Weekly. Publication of the English Jesuits. 1916-1918.

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Irish Province News. Obituaries. 1925-1992.

Publication note

McCann, Fr. James SJ. 'A Catholic Chaplain in the Great War', The Irish Monthly, Vol. 68, No. 805 (Jul., 1940), pp. 372-379.

Publication note

Rafferty, Oliver. ‘Catholic Chaplains to the British Forces in the First World War’. pp33-64 Religion, State & Society, Vol. 39, No. 1, March 2011. Routledge.

Publication note

Burke, Damien. “Irish Jesuit Chaplains in the First World War.” Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, vol. 104, no. 414, 2015, pp. 169-175.

Publication note

Ui Cheallaigh. 'Man of The People. Fr. William Doyle SJ'. 2017.

Publication note

Hope, Carole. 'Worshipper and Worshipped: Across the Divide : an Irish Padre of the Great War, Fr Willie Doyle Chaplain to the Forces 1915-1917' , 2013.

Publication note

Kenny, Patrick (ed.). 'To raise the fallen : a selection of the war letters, prayers and spiritual writings of Fr Willie Doyle SJ'. Dublin, Veritas, 2017.

Publication note

Doyle, William J. G, and Alfred O'Rahilly. 'A Year's Thoughts. Collected from the Writings of Father William Doyle, S.J.'. London, 1936.

Publication note

Kenny, Patrick. “'They Speak His Name With Tears': Fr William Doyle SJ and the Great War.” Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, vol. 104, no. 414, 2015, pp. 157–166.

Publication note

O'Rahilly, Alfred. 'Father William Doyle, S.J. : a spiritual study', 1920.

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Dates of creation revision deletion

1998; 2020




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