Wallace, Martin, 1912-1973, Jesuit priest

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Wallace, Martin, 1912-1973, Jesuit priest

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  • De Bhailís, Mártín
  • Bheartla Tom Rua, Mártín

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12 November 1912-29 March 1973

History

Born: 12 November 1912, Carraroe, County Galway
Entered: 07 September 1938, St Mary's Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 30 July 1947, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1950
Died: 29 March 1973, St Ignatius College, Athelstone, Adelaide, Australia

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Martin Wallace was educated at local schools until he was sixteen, and was a teacher of Irish before entering the Society at St Mary's, Emo Park, 7 September 1938. He studied philosophy at Tullabeg, 1940-43, and did regency at Galway, 1943-44. Theology was at Milltown Park, 1944-48, and tertianship at Rathfarnham, 1948-49. He taught Irish, English, mathematics and religion at Galway, 1949-61, and was assistant prefect of studies for the preparatory school, 1954-60.
It is not clear why he came to Australia, but he taught religion, English, and history at St Ignatius' College, Norwood, 1962-66, and then moved to the new school at Athelstone in 1967. He had been offered job in Ireland to teach Irish, but he wanted to remain in Australia. In his earlier days in Australia he was well liked as a warm, cultured and sensitive man with a love of theology, history and the classics. He was a gifted conversationalist.
But he was also a conservative man, fearful of changes in the post~Vatican II Church and Society He was sensitive in personal relationships and not very tolerant of opinions differing from his own. However, the younger boys that he taught appreciated him, affectionately calling him “Skippy”. He had a lively wit, and was kind to his students. He suffered from insomnia for many years and would pass long nights reading the latest theological journals. He rarely left the community grounds, spending his spare time in the garden constructing an extraordinary series of rock gardens, paths and bridges along the creek that bordered the school property at Athelstone. He was at home with nature where he found peace and serenity.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 48th Year No 2 1973
Obituary :
An tAthair Máirtín de Bhailís (Martin Wallace)
Fadó, fadó, as the old tales tell, a young boy served Mass in his home parish of Cillín, An Cheathrú Rua, Conamara. He was one of the best and most reliable servers, so efficient was he, indeed, and so much at home at the altar that many of the local people predicted that he would one day be a priest. That boy was Máirtín de Bhailís or, as he was known to the neighbours, Máirtín Bheartla Tom Rua. In some parts of Ireland where there are many families of the same surname it is customary to identify an individual by adding to his own name the names of his father and grandfather.
Máirtín, was born on November 12th, 1912 and death deprived him of a mother's care at a very early age. His good father brought up the family on very slender resources and Máirtín had an abiding sense of gratitude to him for his fortitude and devotion to duty. His teacher in the primary school, Micheál Ó Nualláin, considered Máirtín to be one of the brightest lads he had ever had in his school. Educational facilities beyond the primary level were non-existent in An Cheathrú Rua at that time; how he would have benefited from the magnificent post-primary schools there today! Máirtin went into Galway to do a commercial course at the Technical School there. He became secretary of the city branch of Conradh na Gaeilge. Fr Andy O’Farrell, who had known Máirtín from the many vacations which he spent in the Gaeltacht, was President of the branch. He invited Máirtín to become a member of the teaching staff of Coláiste Ignaád. It was a wise and fortunate choice, for he proved to be a born teacher. All who were his pupils have nothing but the highest praise for him. A great friend of Máirtín in those days and for the rest of his life was Mgr. Eric Mac Fhinn, still happily with us.
When Máirtín began to think of the priesthood, An tAth, Eric coached him in Latin for Matriculation. Before he entered the Noviceship at Emo on September 7th, 1938, this good friend took him with him on a trip to Rome. This was one of the great joys of his life. After his noviceship, Máirtín went to Tullabeg for Philosophy in 1940. The 1943 Status posted him back to Coláiste lognáid where he taught for one more year before going on to Milltown for Theology. He was ordained to the priesthood on July 30th, 1947 and said his first Mass at St Andrew’s, Westland Row. On the hill tops round his home parish bonfires blazed a welcome for An t-Ath Máirtín, who was the first priest from the parish within living memory. It was a memorable experience for him and for his family. After Tertianship in Rathfarnham, he was once more posted to Galway as Doc. There he was to remain for over a dozen years until he set sail for Australia.
It was during these years that Máirtín began the work at which he particularly excelled and which gave him immense pleasure translating into Irish selections of the writings of the Fathers. He was a perfectionist and a most painstaking worker in this field. This was well illustrated in a book of his, “Moladh na Maighdine”, which was published by FÁS in 1961 and which proved to be a best seller; it is long since out of print. The work is divided into two main sections. The first, entitled “Moladh na Naomh”, is described by the author as “Tiontú ar na startha is taitneamhaí san Breviarium Romanum i dtaobhi Mháthair Dé”. The second section is called “Moladh Sinsear”, and the author says of this, “Chuir mó a raibh soláimhsithe dtár bprós agus dár bhfilíocht féin i dtaobh Mháthair Dé i dtaca an aistriúcháin”. By doing this, hc wished to show how our ancestors thoughts on Our Lady corresponded to those of the saints and theologians of the universal church, Máirtín was working on a translation of the Confessions of St Augustine and had completed a good deal of it when bo found that An tAth Pádraig Ó Fiannachta of Maynooth was doing a similar work. He very generously loaned his version to An tAth Pádraig. The latter states in the foreword of his book, “Mise Agaistin”' that Máirtín's version as of great help to him.
Those who were privileged to know Máirtín de Bhailís will remember him as a man of immense good humour and warm humanity, an excellent companion. It was a delight to hear him speak in the lovely Irish of Cois Fharraige. One felt regret that he had not been assigned to University studies, for he had a great talent for scholarship and would undoubtedly have distnguished himself in this field. It was a great loss to the Province when, in 1961, he set sail for far-off Australia. Due to the onset of a form of arthritis, his medical adviser urged him to seek a drier climate where the condition could be arrested.
For information of Fr Máirtin’s years down under' we are indebted to his Rector at St Ignatius College, Athelstone. Adelaide, Fr P D Hosking. From his arrival in Australia in 1962 until 1966, Máirtín taught at Norwood, Adelaide, and then moved to Athelstone when St Ignatius College transferred its senior school there. He taught at St Ignatius from that time until his death which occurred in an interval between classes on the morning of March 29th. About a year previously he had had a very serious illness and this, no doubt, had taken its toll on the heart. One feels that, had it been left to his own choice, this how he would have wished to go to God-in harness, so to speak.
In the course of a very moving panegyric at the Requiem Mass for Fr Máirtín, The Rector had this to say: “He was essentially a simple man and a gentle man, but with a roguish Irish humour. It is because of such qualities that he won universal love and affection. When he was very ill last year many of the boys showed great concern and frequently asked about his health, There would be few, if any, of his past pupils who would not remember his quick wit, his deep human understanding and his genuine concern for their well-being. He was a man who had won the undivided loyalty and respect of the young
As a simple man he had a great love for nature, and especially for his garden along the banks of the creek at Athelstone. But at the same time he was widely read, and had delved into numerous books on Spirituality, on history and on literature. He revealed this depth of learning by the scope of his conversation. There were few topics about which he could not rightly claim to have genuine knowledge though he did always say that he was no mathematician!
Above all else he was a priest, a spiritual man, a man who loved God deeply and showed this by every aspect of his life. He He had particular devotion to Our Blessed Lady, he wrote one book about her in his native Gaelic, and translated another one .... We pray for Fr Martin today, that God may receive this gentle soul gently and mercifully. We are grateful for the example and for the memory of such a man who meant so much in our lives at St Ignatius College. The whole school family says goodbye to him today with heavy hearts, but knowing that our part of the world is a better place for his having been in it and lived with us”
Solas na bhFlaitheas dá anam uasal!

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

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Australian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1931- (1931-)

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Wallace, Martin, 1912-1973, Jesuit priest

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