O'Carroll, John J, 1837-1889, Jesuit priest

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O'Carroll, John J, 1837-1889, Jesuit priest

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  • JJ O'Carroll

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01 September 1837-05 March 1889

History

Born: 01 September 1837, Great Charles Street, Dublin
Entered: 13 September 1853, Amiens France - Franciae Province (FRA
Ordained: 1865
Professed: 15 August 1873
Died: 05 March 1889, University College, Dublin

by 1855 at Laval, France (FRA) studying Theology
by 1857 at Montauban, France (TOLO) studying Theology
by 1859 at Feldkirch, Germany (GER) studying Theology
by 1864 at Rome, Italy (ROM) studying Theology
by 1871 at Maastricht College, Netherlands (NER) Studying
by 1872 at Stara Wieś, Subcarpathian Province Poland (GALI) making Tertianship

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
His father, Redmond, was first President of the VdP Society; his mother née Goold was related to the Dease family and that of Lord Justice Naish. His brother Vincent was an Oratorian. Both were educated at Clongowes.

His studies clearly had a linguistic direction, and he became Professor of Modern Languages at Catholic University, and Examiner at the Royal University, Ireland. It was said of him that he was a master of fourteen languages and literatures, and that he could converse in eight. In whichever country he studied, he quickly mastered both the language and dialects, and was appointed as an examiner there in some branches of public examinations. His likeable sanctity impressed everyone he met, and he possessed a remarkable innocence and spirit of penance. On the day of his death, 05 March 1889, he had carried on his research at both Trinity and Gardiner St, and on arriving home became very ill and died.

“We do not exceed the rigid truth when we say that he has left not one in Ireland who could fill his place. He was a master of almost all the languages of Europe ... He was an indefatigable student, always seeking to increased the range of his knowledge ... it was not unusual to have a sailor from a distant place spend time with him .... works on which he was engaged cannot now be completed .... his memory was tenacious, recalling for instance details of conversations that had taken place thirty years before ... he once stated .. that his study of the old Gaelic literature had convinced him that had the literature been allowed naturally to develop, it would have been rich in drama ...he was the last descendant of the O'Carrolls of Ely ... although naturally a bookworm, when at the Roman College he was always ready to companion another ... ”

William Delaney SJ :
“Being in Rome in the year 1866, I was present on many occasions at conversations between J J O’Carroll and a Dutch clergyman named Steins and also a Dalmatian named Jeramaz, with whom he conversed in the Dutch and Slavonic languages. I know these gentlemen intimately, and they assured me that Father O’Carroll spoke their languages with extraordinary ease and correctness. I was preset also several times at Propaganda College when he conversed in Modern Greek with a young Greek who assured me similarly”

Matthew Russell in the “Irish Monthly” :
“One day that St Aloysius and his fellow-novices were ‘at recreation’ - as the phrase is in convents - the question was mooted what each should do if he were told that in a few minutes he was to die. One would hurry off to his Confessor and try receive the sacramental absolution for the last time with the most perfect possible dispositions. Another would run to the chapel and pour out his soul before the altar in fervent acts of contrition. Aloysius said that he would go on with his recreation, for that is what God wished of him at that moment. Father O'Carroll did not guess, on the last morning of his life, that this same question was practically proposed to him, but it so happened that on that last morning he made use of these methods of immediate preparation for death. But his daily habitual life was the best preparation, and for the suddenness of his death was only an additional mercy. ‘Cujus anime propitietur Deus’.”

Father O’Carroll worked on cheerfully and earnestly, though it was known that he suffered from disease of the heart.

(full text appeared in “The Freeman’s Journal”, along with many Testimonials from his peers in various Universities around Europe, the morning after his death)

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father John O’Carroll 1837-1889
Fr John O’Carroll was the Mezzofanti of the Irish Province of the Society. He was master of fourteen languages and literatures, he could converse in eight of others, and could read eight or nine more. Besides the ordinary European languages, he knew Russian, Polish, Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, Serbian, Illyrian and Hungarian.

He was born at 51, Great Charles Street, Dublin, on September 1st 1837. His father was Redmond O’Carroll, first President General of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Ireland, and a direct descendant of the O’Carroll’s of Ely. There were only two sons, Francis who became an Oratorian and died young, and John who became a Jesuit in 1853. He was therefore the last direct descendant of the O’Carrolls.

He showed a linguistic bent early, so that in the various countries in which he pursued his studies, he was able, in a short time, so to qualify himself as to be appointed government examiner in some branches of the public examinations. He had no difficulty in being appointed to the chair of Modern Languages in the Royal University. He was as proficient in Irish as in the other languages, and he contributed frequently to the “Gaelic Journal” and the “Lyceum”.

His death was sudden. On Shrove Tuesday, March 5th 1889, he pursued his researches in Trinity College Library until four o’clock, and then continued them in the library of St Francis Xavier’s Gardiner Street. Hurrying home after five o’clock to University College Stephen’s Green, he was seen to be very ill. There was but time to administer Extreme Unction, before he expired at the comparatively early age of 52. His obituary notice in the Freeman’s Journal contained the following :

“We deplore the sudden death which has taken him off with only a few minutes warning. We cannot but regard it as a national loss. As it is, his fame muct not grow to the measure of his intellectual abilities. But his name will nonetheless remain enshrined in the memory of those who had the good fortune to know him intimately and to learn from him, how transcendent gifts of mind, may be combined with the most touching modesty, and rare endowments of intellect enhanced by the charm of unaffected humility”.

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Franciae Province of the Society of Jesus, 1552- (1552-)

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Franciae Province of the Society of Jesus, 1552-

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O'Carroll, John J, 1837-1889, Jesuit priest

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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-

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O'Carroll, John J, 1837-1889, Jesuit priest

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