- 21 April 1915 - 18 March 1917 (Creation)
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Born: 29 April 1853, Newry, County Down
Entered: 11 January 1871, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 15 August 1892
Died: 20 June 1942, St Mary’s, Miller St, Sydney, Australia - Australiae Province (ASL)
Transcribed : HIB to ASL 05 April 1931
Cousin of Fr Ignatius Gartlan SJ
Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ
by 1874 at Roehampton London (ANG) studying
by 1875 at Leuven Belgium (BELG) studying
by 1879 at Montauban France (TOLO) studying
by 1901 in Australia
Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1931
◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Note from Charles O’Connell Sr Entry
William E Kelly, Superior at Hawthorn, says in a letter 09 April 1912 to Thomas Wheeler “Poor Father Charlie was on his way from his room to say the 8 o’clock Mass, when a few yards from his room he felt faint and had a chair brought to him. Thomas Claffey, who had just returned from saying Mass at the Convent gave him Extreme Unction. Thomas Gartlan and I arrived, and within twenty minutes he had died without a struggle.
◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280 :
His early education was at St Stanislaus College Tullabeg before he Entered the Society at Milltown Park.
1874-1876 He was sent to Leuven for Philosophy
1879-1880 He was sent for a year of Theology to Montalban, France
1880 Because of ill health he was sent to Australia and was ordained there early by Archbishop Vaughan of Sydney on 22 May 1880, partly because he was not expected to live long. He lived at St Ignatius College Riverview, and with it’s founder Joseph Dalton he helped implement the early spirit of the College. He responded well to the Australian climate and became particularly interested in the Riverview Cadet Corps and Rowing Club. In 1885 the first Riverview regatta was held. In later years he built the Dalton Memorial Chapel, and he strongly urged the continuation of the main school building. However, lack of finances prevent this progressing.
Although he was Irish he had a very strong affinity with the British Empire. Vice-royalty were frequent visitors to Riverview in his time as Rector. His own family were part of the establishment - Lord Russell of Killowen, his cousin, was Chief Justice of England (the first Catholic to serve in this role since the Reformation). He believed that good relations with the establishment were important for the growth and development of the College.
His impact on Riverview was considerable. He was not afraid to spend money, though the debt was considerable, and he continually urged Jesuit Superiors to improve living conditions. In 1908, the visiting Irish provincial said of Thomas that despite his fondness for athletics, he was a very suitable person as Rector. He enforced discipline and was very popular with the people of Sydney, and this left to the success of the College. This report was made by Father John Conmee, when no other College in Australia had escaped criticism.
He was very partial towards sport in the College, and fostered it even at the expense of academic progress. However, his great friendliness with the boys and parents, Great Public School Headmasters and the Sydney establishment made him well known in Sydney. He was most outspoken among Jesuits about Riverview, especially in requesting from Superiors some good teachers. He was also respected outside the College for his contribution to educational committees, but major educational comments came from his very capable Prefect of Studies - James Dwyer, Jeremiah Sullivan, Robert Little and Patrick McCurtin.
He achieved respect and popularity despite the fact that he was not an academic. He had not completed the traditional Jesuit training because of ill health, and he was not involved in much teaching during his time at the College. Prefects of Studies suggested that perhaps he did not always appreciate the importance of regular study periods for the boarders, and they complained about absenteeism among the students, especially the rowers, from classes and study. Dalton and Gartlan began an important tradition at the College of fostering friendly relations between masters and students - Thomas was considered one of the most popular schoolmen ever seen in Australia.
The St Ignatius College Old Boys Union was greatly encouraged by Thomas. At one gathering of these gentlemen, he told them that he believed that the wider community judged the College more by the quality of the Old Boys than by the present students. Furthermore, following Dalton, he believed that the College was so much bound up with the ex-students, that it should not be separated from them. It was his wish that ex-students should be true to the principles they imbibed at the College. In response te Old Boys expressed the idea that they were proud of their old masters that they believed were a factor in their success. They were proud to be taught to be liberal-minded towards one another and fellow citizens. Renewed association with Thomas and his fellow Jesuits helped renew the spirit they had received at school. At his death, the Old Boys remembered him for his cheerfulness and courage, his great kindness, his humour friendship and wise counsel.
At an Old Boys Dinner in 1916, lifelong friend William T Coyle, proclaimed Thomas as the greatest Headmaster New South Wales had ever seen, with only Weigall of Sydney Grammar School being considered his equal. Old Boys were generally effusive in acclaiming the greatness of Thomas, who spent 34 years at the College and sixteen as Rector, in two terms. It has been truthfully claimed, that after its founder (Dalton), the College owed more to Gartlan than any other single man. This claim could truly be made, not only because of the length of years he spent at Riverview, but mainly because of his great affability and talent for public relations.
His kindness and spontaneous charity emerged from his own inner happiness and goodness. His knowledge of and devotion to the students, his enthusiasm for every aspect of school life, his approachability and fatherliness won the hearts of those who knew him. He had a great capacity for remembering names, and was very proud of the success of any Old Ignatian. This was his great strength and major contribution to the development of hundreds of boys he helped educate at Riverview. Knowing he was popular with people probably strengthened him against the just criticisms of Jesuit colleagues. He counted all types of people as his friends.
After he left Riverview in 1919 he worked at St Mary’s, Miller Street until his death in 1942. I his latter years his sight was so bad that he had to say the Mass of Our Lady daily. He lived a long life of dedicated service, and he was loved by those he served.
Note from John Casey Entry
He planned the new entrance to the college past first field, and he supervised the building of the new boatsheds in honour of Father Thomas Gartlan, the first rowing master and former Rector
Note from James O’Dwyer Entry
O'Dwyer's first appointment in Australia was as prefect of studies at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, 1901-04, but it seems that, as he did not continue the policy of previous prefects
of studies, he did not win the approval of the rector, Thomas Gartlan.
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 6th Year No 1 1931
From 23 to 27 August, Riverview celebrated the Golden Jubilee of its foundation... The College was founded in 1880 by Fr. Joseph Dalton, He was “wisely daring enough” to purchase a fine property on Lane Cove from Judge Josephson, The property consisted of a cottage containing eight or nine rooms with substantial out offices, and 44 acres of land, at a cost of £4 500. 54 acres were soon added for £1 ,080, and an additional 20 acres later on completed the transaction. This little cottage was the Riverview College of 1880. The modesty of the start may be measured by the facts, that the founder of Riverview, and its first Rector, shared his own bed-room with three of his little pupils , and when the College played its first cricket out match, it could muster only ten boys to meet the opposing team. By the end of the year the number had increased to 15.
In addition to Fr. Dalton's, two other names are inseparably connected with the foundation of Riverview. The first is that of His Grace, Archbishop Vaughan, who invited the Jesuits to Sydney, formally opened the College and gave the Fathers every encouragement.
The second is the name of the great Australian pioneer, the Archpriest Therry. “One hundred years ago”, says one account : “Fr Therry was dreaming of a Jesuit College in Sydney... and when he went to his reward in 1865 he gave it a special place in his final testament”. Fr Lockington called Frs. Dalton and Therry the “co-founders” of Riverview, and added
that it was the wish of the latter to see Irish Jesuits established at Sydney.
An extract from the Catalogue of 1881 will interest many. It is the first time that Riverview is mentioned as a College in the Catalogue :
Collegium et Convictus S. Ignatius
R. P, Josephus Dalton, Sup a die 1 Dec 1879, Proc_ Oper
P. Thomas Gartlan, Min, etc
P. Joannes Ryan, Doc. 2 class. etc
Henricus O'Neill Praef. mor. etc
Domini Auxiliairii duo
Fr. Tom Gartlan is still amongst us, and, thank God, going strong. Soon a brick building (comprising study hall, class rooms and dormitories) wooden chapel, a wooden refectory, were added to the cottage, and in three years the numbers had swelled to 100, most of them day-boys.
The first stage in the history of Riverview was reached in 1889, when the fine block, that up to a recent date served as the College, was opened and blessed by Cardinal Moran.
The second stage was closed last August, when, amidst the enthusiastic cheering of a great gathering of Old Boys, the splendid building put up by Fr. Lockington was officially declared ready to receive the ever increasing crowd of boys that are flocking into Riverview. The College can now accommodate three times as many students as did the old block finished in 1889. Not the least striking part of the new building is the Great Assembly Hall erected by the Old Boys as a memorial to their school-fellows who died during the Great War.
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A file of letters from Fr Thomas Gartlan SJ, Rector, St Ignatius College, Riverview, Sydney to Fr John Ryan SJ concerning the administration of the college and matters regarding the community.
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