Mulhall, Hugh, 1871-1948, Jesuit priest and chaplain

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Mulhall, Hugh, 1871-1948, Jesuit priest and chaplain

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09 April 1871-10 April 1948


Born: 09 April 1871, Boyle, County Roscommon
Entered: 11 November 1893, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 1905, Milltown Park., Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1912, Sacred Heart College SJ, Limerick
Died: 10 April 1948, Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin

First World War chaplain.

by 1898 at Stonyhurst, England (ANG) studying
by 1907 at Drongen, Belgium (BELG) making Tertianship
by 1916 at St Aloysius College, Glasgow (ANG) Military Chaplain
by 1917 Military Chaplain : 5th East Lancashire, Witley, Surrey
by 1918 Military Chaplain : Officers Mess Park Hall Camp, Oswestry

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 23rd Year No 3 1948

Fr. Hugh Mulhall (1871-1893-1948)

Fr. Mulhall died on Saturday, April 10th after a few days illness. He had been visibly failing for some time before but had not been confined to bed. On Monday, April 5th, he got a heavy cold, which developed into congestion. He was anointed and received Holy Viaticum on Wednesday night and although he rallied a little next day, he was clearly dying on Friday. This was his seventy seventh birthday and he was very grateful to all the Fathers wbo celebrated Mass for him that morning. His sufferings were increasing but God mercifully put an end to them on Saturday afternoon. R.I.P.
Hugh Mulhall was born at Boyle on April 9th, 1871. His mother was a sister of The Mac Dermott, a fact which Fr. Mulhall never forgot and of which he liked to remind others. He was educated at the diocesan college of the Immaculate Conception, Summerhill, Sligo, from which he went to Maynooth where he spent about four years. All his life he was proud of being a ‘Maynooth man’ and he preserved a vivid memory of his contemporaries. He could tell after a lapse of nearly half a century which of them had got ‘a first of first’, which had ‘led his class’ which had come to high ecclesiastical dignity.
He entered the novitiate at Tullabeg on St. Stanislaus' Day, 1893. In due time, he pronounced his first vows and after a short Juniorate, he spent two years in the Colleges, one year at Galway and one at Clongowes. He was sent to Stonyhurst for his philosophy which he did in two years. He was on the teaching staff in Galway again in 1900. In 1903 he did his theology in Milltown and was ordained there in 1905. He went to Tronchiennes in 1907 for his tertianship under Pere Petit and was sent to the Crescent, Limerick to teach in 1908. As his methods of teaching were original but not calculated to secure success in the examinations, he was transferred to the Church staff. After a year spent at Tullabeg as missioner and operarius in the people's church, he was appointed a military chaplain in the First World War, in 1916. He never went to the Front but served as chaplain to hospitals and camps, at Stobhill, Glasgow, at Whitley, Surrey, and at Oswestry. The four or five years which he spent as chaplain were the most active and pleasant of his life and gave him a stock of memories and stories which he never forgot.
He must have been rather an unsoldierly figure and he was certainly unconventional in manner, but he soon came to show that he was a first-class chaplain. He had an extraordinary gift of interesting people in religion. He was very intelligent, quick and subtle of mind, unusually independent of notes and books. Like Macaulay, he could be said to carry his wealth in his breeches pocket and not in the bank. He had his considerable capital under his hand and could draw on it at once. He had a rare gift of being able to expound a question or situation in a lucid, orderly and winning way. He could show to a prejudiced hostile non-Catholic that even the most ‘advanced’ Catholic doctrines, such as the infallibility of the Pope or the Immaculate Conception, were sweetly reasonable and actually demanded by the general situation. He was devoted to the men and did great good among them. At the mess and in his general dealings with the officers, he produced a deep impression. A point of morals or a question of belief would be mentioned and the Padre would be asked for his opinion. His opinion was always received with respect, if not with approval, he could give the Catholic position clearly and cogently. He undoubtedly exercised a great influence.
In 1921 he was appointed to the Mission Staff. He suffered with increasing intensity from nervous troubles and after a period in a sanatorium in Scotland, he spent some years in Rainhill in the English Province doing retreat work. But his malady got worse and he was obliged to give up active work. In 1931 he came to Rathfarnham Castle where he remained until his death.
Fr. Muhall was emphatically a ‘character’, unusual and remark able in many respects. He attracted attention at once by his great unwieldy figure, with its indication of uncommon physical strength. Almost all his life, he enjoyed good health and never knew what a headache was. For a man with his leisure, he read extremely little, but he had a most tenacious memory and never forgot what he heard from others or learned from his own experience. He loved talking and could not sit in a tram or bus or train without entering at once into conversation with his neighbour. He had great skill in starting and keeping going a conversation. He would have been quite at home in the eighteenth century when conversation was the chief recreation of civilised men. But his conversation was always of a spiritual turn, and it was a proof of his special gift that he could interest anyone in religious matters. His great interest was the conversion of Protestants. He noted every conversion mentioned in the papers, he entered into correspondence with Protestants, he got prayers said for them.
Though he endured constant mental sufferings arising from scruples, fears, inhibitions and excessive sensibility, he was usually cheerful and patient, always ready to talk with a visitor, always bright at recreation. He told a story very well, had a very fine sense of humour. He was always most interested in news about our Fathers and Brothers. It need scarcely be mentioned that his eccentricities, due for the most part to the state of his mental health, did not make religion easier for himself or for others. He was a man of deep child like piety, the Sacred Heart and Our Lady being the chief objects of his devotion.
It is hard to imagine Rathfarnham without the massive figure who sat on the seat near the exit steps, impervious to east wind or rain, or who stumped up and down on the short side walk, leaning on his stick, or who sat for hours at a time at the window of the library, looking out but not at the landscape. He was looking into himself or into the past, for he was inordinately preoccupied with self, in the phrase of the old Greek philosopher, he made himself the measure of all things! It was difficult at times to resist a feeling of pity that such gifts as he undoubtedly possessed, came apparently to so little use. But God's estimate may be very different. We do not know the value that He attached to his suffering and patience. Fr. Mulhall never said a bitter or unkind word about another, he was always studiously mild in his criticism. One who knew him well for most of his life in the Society, described him as the most charitable man he had ever met. We trust that God has given him the peace of mind for which he prayed and sought so long. In pace in idipsum dormiam et requiescam. R.I.P.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Hugh Mulhall SJ 1871-1948
Many of the Province will recall the huge almost unwieldy figure of Fr Mulhall which moved round the Castle during their Juniorate days at Rathfarnham.

He was born in Boyle on April 9th 1871. Having spent about four years in Maynooth, he entered the Society in 1893. During the first World War he acted as chaplain, earning for himself a reputation among the troops for his kindly interest and a special aptitude fro explaining difficulties in religion in a lucid and simple manner.

The War over, he was appointed to the Mission Staff, but the malady from which he suffered for the rest of his life soon made its appearance, and he was forced to abandon active service. He suffered from extreme scruples. This affliction he bore with great patience and humility, never heard to murmur against his lot, but grateful to God who gave him so many good friends among his brethren who tried to help him in his sickness. This cross he bore for 17 years.

He died a happy death on April 10th 1948.


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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-


Mulhall, Hugh, 1871-1948, Jesuit priest and chaplain

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