Born: 27 September 1829, Cobh, County Cork / Green Park, Youghal, County Cork
Entered: 20 October 1854, Amiens France - Franciae Province (FRA)
Ordained: 1855, St Francis Xavier, Gardiner Street, Dublin
Professed: 15 August 1866
Died: 03 September 1903, Milltown Park, Dublin
by 1875 at St Beuno’s Wales Rhyl Parish (ANG) health
◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Came from a well known and highly respected family in the Youghal district, and was a general favourite among all classes there.
Early education was local, and then he went to Trinity, and also studied at Clongowes where he did some Theology. He then went to Maynooth for Theology, and was Ordained there. Soon after he Entered the Society.
After First Vows he was sent teaching at Tullabeg, and he was there for twelve years.
He was then appointed Rector of Clongowes. His charm and character won him great admiration and affection from his students there.
He was then sent as Rector to UCD. Here he found his métier. Under his tenure he raised the stature of the College for teaching in Ireland.
When he retired from UCD he was sent to Milltown, and was involved in giving Retreats to Lay people and Religious.
He enjoyed good health up to a few days before his death. He contracted a bad cold which quickly became more serious, and even the ministrations of Sir Francis Cruise were able to impede its progress.
(Taken from “The Freeman’s Journal’ 04/09/1903)
Note from Edward Kelly Entry :
He was to have gone to the Congregation which elected Father Luis Martin of Spain, but bad health kept him away, and Robert Carbery replaced him as 1st Substitute.
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Robert Carbery 1829-1903
Fr Robert Carbery was born in Youghal County Cork on September 27th 1829. Strange to relate, according to his biographer, he went first to Trinity College and then to Clongowes. He was ordained a priest in Maynooth and became a Jesuit soon after in 1854.
He taught for about twelve years in Tullabeg and then became Rector of Clongowes. He is best remembered, however, as Rector of University College. His tenure of office was one of the most successful in the history of the College, and may be said to have constituted it to the centre of higher Catholic education in this country.
The last years of his life he spent in Milltown Park engaged in the work of giving retreats. He died in this house on September 3rd 1903.
He wrote a book on devotion to the Sacred Heart, and his pamphlet on the Novena of Grace did much to spread that devotion.
◆ The Clongownian, 1904
Father Robert Carbery SJ
by Father Matthew Russell
Father Robert Carbery has more than one claim to be specially commemorated in these pages : he was a Clongowes boy, a Clongowes professor, and a Clongowes Rector. He was born in the year of Catholic Emancipation, and sufficiently late in the year 1829 to be from his birth one of the emancipated. His birthday was the 27th of September, a domestic feast in the Society of which he was destined to be a member - not on account of any special devotion to the saints of the day, Cosmas and Damian, but because that day is the anniversary of the confirmation of the Society by Pope Paul III, through the Bull “Regimini Militantis Ecclesia”, dated September 27, 1540.
Robert, son of William Carbery (of Green Park, Youghal), and Elizabeth Olden, was born at the Cove of Cork, which twenty years later changed its undignified name of Cove into Queenstown, in honour of Queen Victoria's first visit to Ireland, with perhaps a better reason than Dunleary had for becoming Kingstown in honour of the last of the Georges. His home, however, was not Cove but Youghal, that interesting old town “at the mouth of the exquisite Blackwater, which is the Anniduff of Spenser and the Avondhu of many an Irish tale and legend”. Here it was that Sir Walter Raleigh.smoked the first tobacco seen in Europe (and much more important), planted the first potato. The house in which he lived is well preserved, with its “outhanging oriel window in which Spenser read the beginning ‘Faery Queen’ to Raleigh”. (Some of these phrases are taken from a delightful paper, At Youghal, by Lady Gilbert, in The Irish Monthly, vol. xix,, pp. 617-627.)
Robert Carbery's father, and his uncle Andrew Carbery, of Shamrock Lodge, Dungarvan, were among the first Catholics appointed to the office of Justice of the Peace after Catholic Emancipation. They were the chief instruments in introducing the Christian Brothers into Youghal and Dungarvan.
I have sought in vain for some particulars concerning Robert Carbery's childhood. The Right Rev Monsignor Keller, the beloved pastor of Youghal, conjectures that young Carbery attended a school established there about that time by a zealous curate, the Rev John Russell, afterwards Dr Keller's predecessor as Dean of Cloyne. († Mr. Joseph Carbery, of Beila Vista, Queenstown, tells me that his brother's first schoolmaster was a : Dr. Edwards.) The little boy from Green Park was not old enough to be a pupil of the classical school conducted at Youghal by the father of the late Father Alfred Murphy SJ, who told Dr Keller'that he was born at Youghal but that his family removed to Cork so soon after that he did not remember the event. The home of Robert Carbery's childhood is now the Green Park Hotel, which transformation implies that it must have been a spacious family mansion. No doubt the boy felt very homesick for it when he was sent to Clongowes in 1844. He went through all the classes there till the summer of 1848. During all his time the Rector of the College was the holy and genial Father Robert Haly, well known as a missioner in almost every parish of Ireland twenty or thirty years ago his work, indeed, was over then, but well remembered; and, as Young of the “Night Thoughts” said of himself, “he has been so long remembered that he is now almost forgotten”. How many are there who can still recall the pleasant old man with the snow-white head stooped down, so venerable looking that in the country parishes the people would say of him, when he and Father Fortescue and Father Ronan were giving a mission, “I want to get to confession to the ould bishop”.
The only record of Robert Carbery's achievements during his Clongowes course that has come into my hands regards the school year 1846-1847. In the academical exercises which wound up the term in July, 1847, he took the part of Bassanio in a scene from “The Merchant of Venice”, and the part of Malcolm in a scene from “Macbeth”; and in the printed list of prizes the name Robert Carbery is very conspicuous. It appears first and alone in Christian Doctrine, and fourth in Natural Philosophy. In the Rhetoric class he was second as regards the examination in the authors studied, while, as regards original composition, he came first in the Greek oration, English oration, Latin Alcaic ode and English ode, second in Latin and French, and third in the Greek ode. In the first class of mathematics he got the second prize, and in the Debate he and his friend Nicholas Gannon of Laragh are marked as equal in their competition for the medal for excellence, A still more intimate friend, whose friendship lasted till the close of his life, won from him the first prize in mathematics. This was Christopher Palles, who has since gained an illustrious place in the history of the legal profession in Ireland as the greatest and the last of the three Catholic Chief Barons of the Exchequer, who have between them filled almost the whole of the long period that has elapsed since the Emancipation Act made Catholics eligible. This high office is now abolished, the Court of Exchequer being amalgamated with the rest of the High Court of Justice in Ireland, though the last, and certainly not the least distinguished holder of the extinct office continues to enjoy the title. Long inay he continue to do so, and to discharge with characteristic thoroughness the duties of President of the Clongowes Union. (Chief Baron Palles's immediate predecessor was David Pigot, who succeeded Stephen Woulfe. The former was grandfather to the Rev Edward Pigot SJ, who has recently been obliged to exchange China for Australia as the scene of his labours. Chief Baron Woulfe, in one of his parliamentary speeches, used a phrase which “The Nation” newspaper adopted as its motto - “To create and foster public opinion in Ireland and to make it racy of the soil”. This half sentence i now all that is remembered of him,)
Robert Carbery spent another year under the care of his Alma Mater, in the class of philosophy, although the register of Trinity College, Dublin, shows that he matriculated there on the 8th of November, 1847, and was assigned as a pupil to Dr Sadlier. He stayed on, however, as we have said, in Clongowes, till the summer of 1848. His acknowledged prowess in the Debating Society had helped to turn his thoughts towards the Bar. We do not know how his vocation was finally settled. We are not allowed to overhear “what the heart of the young man said to the Psalmist”, or rather what the Holy Spirit said to the heart of the young man. Long afterwards he told one of his brothers in religion that the following incident had been the turning point in his career, or at least had some share in fixing his determination to quit the world. He was over in London, enjoying keenly his first sight of the wonders of that already overgrown metropolis. It was the beginning of the year 1849, for he had during his visit an opportunity of seeing Queen Victoria open Parliament in person on the ist of February. The kindness of Richard Lalor Sheil, who was Youghal's brilliant representative in the House of Commons, had secured for his youthful constituent an excellent place for viewing the outside portion of the pageant. Even if it were worthwhile, the details of the scene cannot be verified on the spot at present. The old Houses of Parliament were destroyed by fire in October, 1834. Sir Charles Barry began to rebuild them in 1840. The Lords entered their new premises in 1847, but the Commons did not assenible in theirs till November, 1862. In the building as it stood at the time of which we are writing there was, it seems, a balcony over the entrance, from which one particularly observant pair of Irish eyes looked down upon the expectant throng. Among other things they watched the efforts of a gentleman to provide a somewhat similar coign of vantage for a lady whom he was escorting. There was a corner fenced off by a low iron railing, and it occurred to the gentleman that, if the lady were snugly ensconced behind this railing she would be guarded from the crush and could see in security nearly all that was to be seen. Accordingly a chair was procured and placed against the railing to enable the lady to cross the barrier, but in the hurry of her excitement, or through some sudden swaying of the crowd, she slipped and struck ber forehead violently against one of the spikes. She was hurried off to the nearest hospital, but died before reaching it. Meanwhile plenty of sawdust was scattered over “.. the pathway to hide the blood that had gushed forth profusely, and the ringing cheers of the multitude went up, as the royal carriages with their brilliant escort at last swept in, while no one thought of the poor soul that had just been hurried before the Judgement-Seat. The dreadful contrast of life and death affected Robert Carbery powerfully; and, whatever may have been his hankering after the Bar, he sacrificed it for ever.
He did not, however, enroll himself at once under the banner of St Ignatius. Most of the Twelve Apostles were called twice, the first time not involving so complete and permanent a renunciation as the final “Follow Me”. This dual vocation has its counterpart in many lives. “Show, O Lord, thy ways to me, and teach me Thy paths”. (Psalm xxiv., 4). First, via the road that turns the traveller's footsteps in the proper direction, and then senita, the path that leads him straight to his special destination.
To prepare for the ecclesiastical state, Robert Carbery entered Maynooth College as a student of the diocese of Cloyne, on the 19th of September, 1849, and satisfied the Board of Examiners so well in logic that he was placed at once in the Physics Class, then taught by the holy and gifted Dr. Nicholas Callan. Throughout his course he won the first or second place in nearly all departments of study, his chief competitor and also his closest friend. being a saintly youth from Derry, Patrick Kearney, though I suspect that the third of the triumvirate who were “called to the first premium” was the most solid theologian of the three; this was John Ryan of Cashel - the holy and learned priest of that - southern archdiocese considered by his fellow-priests “most worthy” to succeed the Most Rev Dr. Patrick Leahy. Dr Croke, who was appointed Archbishop by the Holy See, had the most profound confidence in Dr Ryan as his Vicar-General.
It is needless to say that for piety and virtue, Robert Carbery stood very high in the esteem of his superiors and his fellow-students. One proof of the character that he had gained for himself is the fact that in September, 1852, at the beginning of his third year of theology, he was one of the two prefects placed in charge of the Junior House, which comprised the Classes of Humanity, Rhetoric, and Logic. As that was my second year in Maynooth, I was one of his subjects, but not a single word ever passed between us. My most vivid memory of him regards the speech that he made at our festive dinner in the Junior Refectory on St Patrick's Day, 1853. To set his eloquence off to greater advantage his colleague happened to be Peter Foley of Killaloe, afterwards a Jesuit also - he died at St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, Feb 1st, 1893; aged 67 - a holy man, and one of the subtlest of thinkers, but one of the worst of speakers, and - till the end of his life the most inaudible of the race of articulately-speaking men, On the other hand “Carbery of Cloyne” proved that not in vain had he won the prize of excellence ii the Clongowes Debate. He electrified his youthful audience, one of whom guarantees after fifty years the almost verbal accuracy of one passage: “The greatest military genius of modern times, addressing his army before the Battle of the Pyramids, exclaimed : ‘Soldiers of France! from the summit of yonder Pyramids four thousand years look down upon you!’ And to you, students of Maynooth, I will say fourteen bundred years look down upon you, From their place in Heaven our forefathers in the Faith” - but if I went further, my guarantee for literal exactness would fail.
Soon after this God's will became clear to hin. He obtained leave to join the Society of Jesus, beginning his noviceship on the 20th of October, 1854. His friend, Patrick Kearney, continued another year or two in College, on the Dunboyne Establishment before joining the Vincentian Fathers. After he had come to an understanding with his confessor, Dr Thomas Furlong (after wards Bishop of Ferns) on this important point, he told me at the time that he sometimes wavered in his choice of a religious order, casting a wistful glance towards the Society of Jesus on account chiefly of his love for St Aloysius and Robert Carbery - this was precisely the way be put it - but whenever he ventured to moot the matter in confession, Dr Furlong would say: “Beware of the pillar of salt! Beware of the pillar of salt!” - an admonition that would have been more pertinent if the young priest had borne a closer resemblance to Lot's wife by “looking back” in a very different direction.
After two years in the novitiate of St Acheul, near Amiens, in France, Father Carbery was called home to Ireland in the summer of 1856. and was ordained priest in St Francis Xavier's, Dublin, in the presence of his father and mother. He was then placed on the teaching staff of his old “nutrix pientissima”, Clongowes Wood, where be taught for many years with great success. I have heard a very competent judge speak with warm admiration of the care and skill with which he trained his pupils to turn the various authors into good English. (Those who knew Father William Molony SJ, as a nonagenarian may be surprised to learn that Canon James Daniel, himself a clever writer of the journalistic type, praised the elegance of Father Molony's versions of Virgil, etc., when he was his professor at Belvedere College.)
I will not attempt to trace his course year by year. For some years towards the close of the sixties he filled very efficiently the office of Socius to the Master of Novices at Milltown Park, Father Aloysius Sturzo; who is still working in Australia, and who is still remembered with affection and respect in Ireland. A novice thus partly trained by Father Carbery, tells us that the novices recognised a sharp line of distinction between the Father Socius and Father Carbery. The former was a rigid and implacable stickler for rule and regularity, on whose lips the admonition was frequent: “Brother, no innovations!” But if a novice fell ill, or in any other way needed a mother's tenderness, then Pater Socius disappeared and his place was taken by Father Carbery, who was unceasing in his kindness and patient care.
In 1870 he returned to Clongowes as Rector. During his reign the new dormitories and class rooms and the present infirmary were built, the foundation stone of the new wing being laid and blessed by the oldest Clongownian then living, Dr James Lynch, who was also the bishop of the diocese. Since the good old bishop's death, who is the oldest alumnus of Clongowes Wood?
He was succeeded at Clongowes by Father Thomas Keating in 1876, taking his place (but after an interval) as Superior in St Patrick's House, 87 St. Stephen's Green, a house of residence for students of the Catholic University. I had the happiness of being his only companion there, as I had been for his two predecessors, Father Keating and Father James Tuite; and in so small a community I had the opportunity of being more intimately acquainted with him than a much longer term of years might allow in a large community. Father Carbery bore this test admirably. The arrangement with the Bishops of Ireland in reference to St Patrick's House came to an end in the summer of 1880; but Father Carbery was destined to return to St Stephen's Green under different circumstances, succeeding Father William Delaney as Rector of University College April 1oth, 1888, till he was succeeded by him in turn in 1897.
During the years that we have traced thus hurriedly, and especially in the intervals between his terms of office, Father Carbery discharged with great fruit the various functions of a preacher whether in churches or in convent chapels. He had very exceptional qualifications for the pulpit. His voice was excellent for public speaking - clear, penetrating, musical, sympathetic. One who was at Clongowes during his rectorship mentions that, during one year in particular, the Rector preached to the boys almost every Sunday; and - to this day he remembers the impression made by the voice and tone with which he said the prayer, “Come, Holy Ghost, etc”, before the sermon - as in Notre Dame Père Ravignan made the sign of the cross before his sermon so impressively that one of the listeners whispered to his neighbour, “Il a déjà prêché”. One of the boys themselves remembers a beautiful series of sermons addressed to them at this time on devotion to the Sacred Heart, preserved no doubt substantially in the beautiful little treatise which Father Carbery afterwards published on this divine theme. His tall, spare figure, his piercing eye, his refined and ascetic face, added much to the impressiveness of his discourses, which were always delivered with great feeling and earnestness.
Perhaps, however, the intermittent exercise of these faculties, which was all that his other duties permitted; was the best for his efficiency as a preacher. To use a homely phrase, his sermons took a good deal out of him. There are some to whom it costs nothing to speak in public, but generally it costs a good deal to listen to them. I have known Father Carbery to be quite exhausted after a touching charity sermon in St Francis Xavier's, Dublin, and obliged to lie down for a time. He was not a preacher of a robust and massive type, like the Father Peter Kenny of recent tradition, or the present Archbishop of Tuam, but rather of that nervous, electric temperament, of which the best example that occurs to me is the very eloquent English convert, Father Thomas Harper SJ, whom some one described as “a bag of nerves”, and who certainly was a nervous, incisive. preacher.
Immediately after a retreat which Father Carbery had conducted at Maynooth for the priests of the Archdiocese of Dublin, I met Canon William Dillon who died. quite lately. He praised the retreat very warmly. One item of his eulogy was this: “It was intensely gentlemanly”. This criticism, which his friends will recognise as characteristic of the critic, referred to a certain refinement of tone peculiarly acceptable to the Canon's fastidious taste; but this refinement did not hinder the preacher from being at the same time intensely priestly and apostolical.
His retreats were greatly valued in many convents, One of these was given in July, 1870, at Mount Anville, Dundrum, Co Dublin, not to the Religious of the Sacred Heart but to ladies who retired there for a few days from the world. Among these was the Countess of Portarlington, whose notes of the meditations have been shown to me by a lady who enjoyed the same spiritual luxury, and who says that the Father's instructions were most touching and holy. Lady Portarlington was a daughter of the third Marquis of Londonderry, and a fervent convert like her sister-in-law the Marchioness. of Londonderry. Soon after the Mount Anville retreat she fell dangerously ill and sought the assistance of Father Carbery, who had just then been appointed Rector of Clongowes. She recovered however, and did not die till the 15th of January, 1874, in the 51st year of her age. During her last illness Father Carbery's visits to Emo Park were a great consolation to her, and he was asked to speak at her obsequies, Her devoted husband, a kind and liberal man, had gratified the pious desires of the holy Countess (as he calls her in some memorial lines), by building a very beautiful parish church at Emo, and there the funeral words were spoken which are still praised enthusiastically by some who heard them. They won at the time the admiration of a young inan then at the beginning of his brilliant and too short career, Lord Randolph Churchill, who attended as a kinsman, with his father the Duke of Marlborough, the Marquis of Londonderry, the Marquis of Drogheda, and others of that titled class from which the deceased had turned to mingle with “the simple poor she loved so well”, as the bereaved husband wrote afterwards in the lines to which we have alluded, and which begin thus:
“ She rests within that hallowed spot,
Which in those early days she chose,
When first these sacred walls were built,
And first those pious altars rose”.
This was one of the very many death-beds that Father Carbery helped to make bright and happy. He was peculiarly kind and thoughtful about the sick; but when the dying one needed special help, God seemed to bless his zealous efforts in an extra ordinary degree. I remember two famous Irishmen to whom he longed to render this last and best service; but alas he was not summoned, as he had. hoped he might be, to their deathbeds - William Carleton and Isaac Butt. Butt, another great orator; succeeded Sheil as MP for Youghal. Carleton, in his last years, lived in Sandford Road, close to the entrance of Milltown Park, and so was Father Carbery's neighbour and made his acquaintance.
About his own death nothing need be said but that it was the fitting close of such a life. It took place at Milltown Park, Dublin, on the 3rd of September, 1903. Thus September was the month of his entrance into the world and of his two exits from the world He had spent seventy-three years on earth, and forty-eight in the Society of Jesus.
His grave is in Glasnevin. He rests from his labours, and his works follow him.