Nolan, Thomas V, 1867-1941, Jesuit priest

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Nolan, Thomas V, 1867-1941, Jesuit priest

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  • TV Nolan
  • Tom Nolan

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23 September 1867-24 June 1941


Born: 23 September 1867, Dublin
Entered: 09 October 1887, Loyola House, Dromore, County Down
Ordained: 28 July 1902, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 15 August 1905
Died: 24 June 1941, St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner St, Dublin

Early education at St Stanislaus College SJ, Tullabeg

Father Provincial of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 22 October 1912-21 February 1922

2nd year Novitiate at Tullabeg;
by 1897 at Leuven Belgium (BELG) studying
by 1904 at Linz Austria (ASR) making Tertianship
PROVINCIAL 22/10/1912

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :

JESUITICA: Answering back
Do Jesuits ever answer back? Our archives hold an exchange between Fr Bernard Page SJ, an army chaplain, and his Provincial, T.V.Nolan, who had passed on a complaint from an Irish officer that Fr Page was neglecting the care of his troops. Bernard replied: “Frankly, your note has greatly pained me. It appears to me hasty, unjust and unkind: hasty because you did not obtain full knowledge of the facts; unjust because you apparently condemn me unheard; unkind because you do not give me credit for doing my best.” After an emollient reply from the Provincial, Bernard softens: “You don’t know what long horseback rides, days and nights in rain and snow, little or no sleep and continual ‘iron rations’ can do to make one tired and not too good-tempered.”

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 16th Year No 4 1941

Obituary :

Father Thomas V Nolan

Fr. Nolan died at Gardiner Street in the early hours of the morning of the 24th June, 1941, as a, result of an attack of cardiac asthma.

Born on 23rd September, 1867, of a well-known Dublin family, the son of Edward Nolan and Mary Crosbie, he was educated at Tullabeg College, and, after a short period of University studies, entered the novitiate at Dromore, Co. Down, on 9th October, 1887. He pronounced his first Vows on Xmas Day two years later, at St. Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, whither the novitiate had in the meantime been transferred. Owing to a tired head, he was sent to the Colleges before beginning his philosophy, and spent 6 very successful years at Clongowes as classical master. He did his three years philosophy at Louvain and four of theology at Milltown Park. where he was ordained priest by the late Archbishop Dr. William Walsh, on 28th July, 1902. Third Probation he spent at Linz in Austria in company with the late Fr. Jerome O'Mahony and 18 other fellow-tertians, who included names like the later famous Innsbruck theologians Fathers Lercher and Stufler. Fr. Francis X. Widmann, the Rector and Instructor, gave them apparently the value of their money! Fr. Nolan often recalled the strenuous time he had there, and the feats of human endurance which the hospital experiment involved. On the completion of his training he was sent to Mungret, where he spent 4 years as Prefect of studies, during two of which he was Rector (1906-'8). In 1908 he became Rector of Clongowes and remained in that post till he was appointed Provincial in 1912. He continued to rule the destinies of the Province for the next 10 years amid the varied responsibilities consequent on the world-war and the post-war period. He found time as Provincial to act as President of the Classical Association of Ireland for 1917 and delivered his presidential address before that body oh Friday 26th January, 1917, in the Lecture Theatre of the Royal Dublin Society, taking' as his theme, “Aristotle and theSchoolmen” (cf Proceedings of the Cless. Assoc., 1916-17, pp. 17-46). During his Provincialate the purchase of Rathfarnham Castle was negotiated, and more adequate provision thus made for the scholastics of the Province to attend University lectures.
On the appointment of the tertian Instructor, Fr. Joseph Welsby to the office of English Assistant in Rome, Fr. Nolan was suddenly called upon to step into the breach after the Long Retreat in 1923 and carried the Tullabeg Tertians to the end of their year with conspicuous success and bon-homie. For the next 6 years he was operarius at Gardiner Street. It was during this period, in the autumn of 1920, that he was commissioned by the Holy See to enquire into the status of the Irish Franciscan Brothers of the Third Order Regular. He spent a full month (24th September-25th October) visiting their 14 houses in the dioceses of Meath, Achonry, and Tuam, without a break - a very strenuous work which included inspection of their schools and the meeting with clerical managers. Then there remained the task of revising their constitutions and drawing up his recommendations for the Sacred Congregation. As a result of his labours (to quote a prefactory notice in the Irish Catholic Directory, on the page dealing with the Franciscan Brothers ) : “Pius XI. graciously deigned to praise and recommend the Institute and confirm its constitutions by a Decree dated 12th May, 1930, thereby raising the Order to Pontifical Status.” The Brothers seem to have been extremely gratified by the results of their visitation. They certainly never lost an opportunity of extolling the charity and competence of their visitator, whose call at each of their houses they still hold in treasured remembrance. On hearing of his death this year they assured Fr. Provincial of the genuine sympathy they felt on the loss of their patron and had several Masses offered for repose of his soul. In 1930 Fr. Nolan was appointed Rector of Rathfarnham Castle and guided the destinies of the scholasticate and of the retreat house for six years.
The years of life still remaining to him were spent at Gardiner Street where in spite of failing health he continued to devote himself zealously to the works of the sacred ministry. The last months of his earthly sojourn were frequently punctuated with heart attacks of ever increasing violence, notably on St. Patrick's Day, which he bore with great courage and patience.
Fr. Nolan kept in touch with old Mungret and Clongowes boys for decades. He was always most ready to assist by counsel, influence and even material charity. where possible, those who had fallen from luck or become failures in life. His lifelong interests in the Kildare Archaeological Society, with which he made his first contacts as a young man in Clongowes, are well known, though apparently he never made any contribution to its journal nor claimed any particular competence in things archaeological. He attended regularly the meetings
of the society and was a very popular associate in the various outings undertaken by the members. On an historic occasion in the Protestant Church at Coolbanagher (near Emo) before a large gathering of archaeological enthusiasts who were viewing an ancient baptismal font, he was able to assure the audience in his suavest of manners that this relic of bygone days had only recently been filched from the grapery of St. Mary's shortly before the Jesuits acquired that property!
He was an assiduous retreat-giver. Among his papers appears an accurate list of retreats (5-8 day) given by him between 1904 and 1938. They number 90, The first on the list was given to the Patrician Brothers, Tullow, and the last to the Sisters of the Holy Child, Stamullen, 2-6 January, 1938. R.1.P.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Thomas V Nolan 1867-1941
“Thank God, now” was a phrase ever on the lips of Fr TV Nolan. He guided the destinies of the Province for ten years during the very critical period 1912-1922, taking in the First World War and the Struggle for Independence at home.

He was a classical scholar, being President of the Classical Association of Ireland for 1917, and he found time as Provincial to read his Presidential address on “Aristotle and the Schoolmen”. It was during his period as Provincial that Rathfarnham Castle was acquired and the retreat Movement started.

In 1928 he was appointed Apostolic Visitor to the Irish Franciscan Brothers of the Third Order regular. Their grateful memories of his are an eloquent tribute to the kindness and greatness of the man.

He died in Gardiner Street on June 24th 1941, an outstanding man who had left his imprint on the Province he ruled.

◆ The Clongownian, 1942


Father Thomas V Nolan SJ

The Late Fr T V Nolan was for many years one of the most prominent members of: the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus - in fact, his personality was such that he could not help being prominent in whatever circumstances he might find himself. As a schoolboy in Tullabeg, whether it was in the classroom or on the playground, he was outstanding. Very soon, within less than a month, in fact, after leaving the noviceship, as constant headaches prevented him from following the usual course of studies, he was sent to Clongowes to teach, taking the Second Arts Class of the Royal University. Later, however, his work was chiefly confined to the Junior Grade Honours classes, which he taught with conspicuous success for many years. On leaving Clongowes he studied Philosophy in Louvain and Theology in Milltown Park. After ordination he went to Mungret - first as Prefect of Studies, and then as Rector.

In 1908 he was appointed Rector of Clongowes, and held the post until November, 1911, when he became Provincial. His long term of office (ten years) saw him engaged in many activities. He was prominently identified with the settlement in various parts of Ireland of the Belgian refugees, who came to Ireland in considerable numbers during the last war. He was a member of the Classical Society of Ireland, acting as its President during 1917, when he read a paper to the Society, entitled : “Aristotle and the School men”. He was also closely identified with the Kildare Archeological Society, of which he was Vice-President. He was also, when ever his duties did not call him away from Dublin, a very popular Confessor, especially with poorer boys who came to his confessional from all parts of Dublin.

Shortly after his term of office as Provincial was completed, he was appointed by the Holy See as Visitor to the Irish Franciscan Brothers of the Third Order. This entailed visiting all their houses, inspecting their schools, revising their constitution, and drawing up a recommendation for the Sacred Congregation. This he did to the complete satisfaction of the Brothers and of the Holy See.

Father Nolan's last position of authority was Rector of Rathfarnham College, which he himself had founded when Provincial. He held this position for six years (1930-6). When his term of office had expired, he returned to Gardiner Street and continued to devote himself zealously, as far as his failing health allowed, to the sacred ministry until death claimed him last June.

The following is an appreciation from the pen of one of his most distinguished Clongowes pupils :

The death of Father “Tom” Nolan, which came as a great personal loss to so many old Clongownians, was a particular grief for those who had studied under him as Master at Clongowes in those golden far off years from 1890 to 1896, when he taught First Preparatory and First Junior classes.

In all the fullness and variety of his manifold talents there were surely none greater than his gifts as a teacher of boys in those formative years of youth before the real taste for learning and scholarship had been developed, and when everything for success depended on the personal influence and inspiration of the teacher.

Father Tom Nolan had every gift and every grace that could attract and hold the affection, as well as the attention, of his pupils.

His splendid figure, easy dignity, and manly lucidity of thought and expression made the task of learning seem almost easy and pleasant for his class.

He had above all the teachers at Clongowes of his day the secret of making his class feel that he was one with themselves in the task to be accomplished; he was no passenger holding the rudder lines, but always a stout oar in the boat, at one with his crew.

Not one of those lucky ones who studied under him can ever forget the charm and easy firmness with which he steered their sometimes lagging steps along the rugged path of scholarship; he knew the secret of learning without labour, teaching without tears.

It was inevitable that a man of such gifts as his could not be allowed to remain long confined to the routine of class teaching, and unfortunately for the Clongownians of succeeding years Father Tom never returned to Clongowes again as a teacher after his ordination as a Priest in July, 1902, at Milltown Park,

It was fitting that his last year as a teacher should have produced the great First Junior Class of 1895-1896, which gained twelve exhibitions in a class of twenty boys ; those who were students in that class must still feel proud of having given the beloved master such a fine farewell. For Father Tom Nolan, however, was reserved a great career in the Society in which his early triumphs as a teacher may well have been obscured.

The wider sphere of direction and ad ministration, for which he had, if possible, even greater talents, took him to Mungret as Rector from 1905 to 1908, and from there back to Clongowes as Rector from 1908 to 1911, where his precious and inspiring presence as head of the College more than compensated for his loss as a teacher.

The final recognition of his powers came with his appointment as Provincial of the Society for that long and fateful period from 1911 to 1920, when the fullness and versatility of his gifts were more than ever displayed under the most critical conditions.

He had then reached the summit of his efforts for the Society, and could well look back on a splendid record of achievement, when, after six years as Rector in the serene atmosphere of Rathfarnham Castle, he joined the Community at Gardiner Street, where he died on the 24th June, 1941, at the ripe age of seventy-four years, mourned by the generation of Clongownians who had known and loved him for his great human qualities and infinite charm, but by none more deeply mourned than by those who had known his unforgettable comradeship as teacher and as a friend.

J M Fitzgerald.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1942


Father Thomas V Nolan SJ

Although not a past student of the College, Father Thomas V Nolan, whose death took place last summer, was intimately associated with Mungret, where he was Rector and Prefect of Studies in the years 1905-1908. Mungret boys of those days will remember Father Nolan as a vigorous classical master, a fine cricketer, and a redoubtable opponent on the football field. During his period of Rectorship the National University of Ireland was established; and Father Nolan strongly urged the claim of Mungret, which had such a brilliant record of success in the Royal University examinations, to be made an affiliated College of the new University. To accommodate the growing number students, Father Nolan built the present Refectories, and added an additional storey to the original Agricultural College buildings. He became Rector of Clongowes Wood College in 1908, and in 1912 was appointed Provincial of the Irish Province of the Jesuits. Father Nolan was always keenly interested in the progress and wellbeing of Mungret; and to the end of his life despite his infirmities, he never lost his hearty good humour and, cordiality. He died peacefully at the residence of St Francis Xavier, Gardiner St., Dublin, on June 24th, 1941. RIP


Classical Association of Ireland; County Kildare Archaeological Society

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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-


Nolan, Thomas V, 1867-1941, Jesuit priest

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IE IJA J/307

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