Born: 12 April 1717, New Street, Dublin
Entered; 27 November 1725, Nancy, France - Campaniae Province (CAMP)
Ordained: 22 September 1747, Rheims, France
Final Vows; 02 February 1753
Died: 29 September 1784, Dublin
Cousin of William Doyle - RIP 1785 - Ordained with William X Doyle (his cousin) at Rheims 22/09/1747 by Bishop Joppensi
Grand-uncle of Myles Gaffney - RIP 1861 and John Gaffney - RIP 1898
1740-43 taught Humanities at Rheims
1746 Read Theology at Rheims
1749 taught Humanities at Poitiers and Prefect at Irish College
1750 came to Ireland by July
1770 mentioned in Nano Nagle’s letters
1784 RIP and buried at graveyard of St Kevin’s Protestant Church - monument erected
In French Dictionary of Musicians he is referred to as “le Père Augustin”
A famous Preacher and Teacher and was Prefect at Poitiers.
◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
1746 At Rheims studying Theology
1750 Sent to Dublin
1754 In Ireland and teaching Humanities for five years.
His monument in St Kevin’s calls him :
“Pious. doctus, indeffessus, apostolicus confectus laboribus. Divites admonuit, pauperes sublevavit, juventutum erudivit, orphanis loco parentis fuit, de omni hominum genere praeclare meruit, omnibus omnes factus”.
Topham Bowden, and English Protestant, in his “Tour through Ireland” in 1791 says : Austin was a very remarkable character, of extraordinary learning and piety. he was a great preacher and injured his health by his exertions in the pulpit etc”. (cf Battersby’s “Jesuits” and Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS for the full Latin inscription)
◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Place of birth in New Street Dublin was then called Austin's Grounds near Kevin Street.
1737 After his Noviceship studied philosophy for two years at Pont-à-Mousson
1739-1744 Spent the next five years in regency at the College of Rheims.
1744-1747 He resumed his studies at Rheims where he was Ordained 22 September 1747.
1747 Sent to complete his theological studies at the Grand Collège, Poitiers . During these studies he lived at the Irish College and held the post of prefect of Discipline. It is likely that he made his tertianship at Marchiennes before he returned to Ireland in 1750.
1750-1784 Spent all of his Missionary life in Ireland at Dublin. He did many ministries, but is best remembered as a devoted teacher. He died on 29 September, 1784, and is buried at St. Kevin's churchyard, Camden Row, Dublin.
The inscription on his monument aptly sums up his ministry of thirty-four years in the city: “Pius, devotus, indefessus, apostolicis confectus laboribus. Divites admonuit, pauperes sublevavit, iuventutem erudivit, orphanis loco parentis fuit, de omni hominum genere meruit, omnibus omnia factus.”
◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Note from the Myles and John Gaffney Entries :
Their Grand-uncle was the celebrated John Austin, a remarkable Jesuit in Dublin towards the middle of the eighteenth Century.
◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
by C. J. Woods
Austin, John (1717–84), Jesuit priest, was born off Kevin Street, Dublin, on 12 April 1717. He showed promise as a youth, and was said to have come to the attention of Jonathan Swift (qv). He went to France and joined the Society of Jesus in the Champagne (27 November 1735). After a period of teaching the humanities and as prefect of the Irish college in Poitiers, he returned to Dublin (1750) and took his final vows (2 February 1754). Austin soon acquired a reputation there as a powerful preacher and as a friend of the poor. After the society was dissolved by the pope (1773), he was one of twelve Jesuits who wrote from Ireland accepting their new status as secular priests. Three years later he and the other fourteen former Jesuits then in Ireland formed a voluntary association to hold their resources in common, thus anticipating the revival of the society after 1800 and enabling it in 1814 to open its famous school at Clongowes Wood, Co. Kildare.
Austin is best remembered as founder (1760) of a classical school, in Saul's Court, off Fishamble Street, Dublin, which was so well thought of that it was used as the diocesan school for Meath as well as Dublin for preparing priests prior to their going to a seminary on the Continent. His pupils there included Daniel Murray (qv) the future archbishop of Dublin and Michael Blake (qv) who was to reopen the Irish college in Rome in 1824. John Austin died in Dublin on 29 September 1784 having acquired an exceptional reputation for ministering to the poor. He was buried in St Kevin's churchyard and a pyramidal stone erected over his grave. His portrait, by James Petrie (qv), was engraved by Henry Brocas (qv) and published by Bartholomew Corcoran (1792).
George Oliver, Collections towards illustrating . . . Scotch, English and Irish members, Society of Jesus (1835), 214; W. J. Battersby, The Jesuits in Dublin (1854), 94–100; Timothy Corcoran, The Clongowes Record, 1814 to 1932 (1932), 35–6, 39–41; M. J. Curran (ed.), ‘Archbishop Carpenter's epistolae, 1770–1780’, Reportorium Novum, i (1955), 164; Louis McRedmond, To the greater glory: a history of the Irish Jesuits (1991), 108–9
◆ James B Stephenson SJ The Irish Jesuits Vol 1I 1962
FATHER JOHN AUSTIN SJ 1717-1784
We have a great deal of information about eighteenth-century Dublin, much of it trivial or stupid, practically all of it unconnected with the lives of the great mass of the people. In particular, we know almost nothing of the lives of the Irish Jesuits who worked in the Dublin slums. One of the most distinguished was John Austin, who was born in Dublin in 1717. There is a story told about him by Battersby, on what authority I do not know. About 1732 the boy was attending a school near the Deanery where Swift lived. The Dean, after seeing some verses the boy had written in defence of an old but faithful dog, sent for the parents, who said “they wished him to become a priest”. Swift recommended the parents to “send him to the Jesuits, who would make a man of him”.
John Austin entered the Jesuit novitiate at Nancy on 27 November, 1735. He made his vows on 28 November, 1737. He studied logic and physics at Pont-à-Mousson 1737-39. He then went to Rheims, where he was teaching 1739-44, repeated philosophy 1744-45, and studied theology 1745-17. He was ordained 22 September 1747. He studied theology for two more years in the Irish College, Poitiers. After which he presumably made his tertianship. He returned to Dublin in 1750, where he remained until his death: 29 September, 1784.
Of this thirty-four years' ministry in Dublin we know practically nothing. I have been able to find only two contemporary references. The dramatist, John O'Keeffe, who was born in 1747, says: “From the Greek, Latin and French acquired under Father Austin, to whose school in Cook Street I went, my fancy soon strayed to Shakespeare”. An English traveller, after seeing the monument over Father Austin's grave in St. Kevin's graveyard, wrote as follows:
I was surprised such a monument should be erected in this country to a Romish Priest, and was led to enquiries relative to Austin, I was informed he was a very remarkable character in this metropolis about twelve or fourteen years ago, of extraordinary learning and extraordinary piety; that he constantly dedicated all his acquisitions, which were very considerable, to the poor, visiting them in cellars and in garrets; never a day happy that he did not give food to numbers. The principal Catholics, knowing well his disposition, were liberal to him, and he kept his door open to all who were in want; and while the means lasted, was constantly on foot, administering relief to innumerable poor wretches, never resting while he had a single guinea. Besides this, he was a great preacher, and injured his health by his exertions in the pulpit. He was a most affectionate son to an aged mother, she died, and he was overpowered with affliction, he never afterwards raised his head, but dropped into a second state of childhood. He remained in this situation near three years, and would have perished were it not for his brother Jesuits, Messrs, Betagh, Fullam and Mucaile. When he died, his friends who neglected him on the bed of death, erected this monument to his memory.
Gilbert, in his History or the City of Dublin, says:
A portrait of Father Austin, engraved by Brocas, was published by B Corcoran, dedicated to the Roman Catholics of Dublin, and inscribed: “To you the poor were left and you became the guardian of the orphan”. A large house at the end of Archbold's Court in Cook Street was traditionally pointed out as having been occupied by Father Austin, after whose death the court became the residence of Father Magaulay, an excommunicated Catholic priest, by whom nearly all the clandestine marriages in the city were performed and who was commemorated in various popular ballads.
And that is all we know, he worked for thirty-four years in a back street of Dublin, ministering to the poor downtrodden - Catholics of his native city. The fruits of his educational work, in encouraging future priests: and! in forming lay leaders, must have been immense. One of his pupils, afterwards his fellow-worker, was the famous Thomas Betagh, who entered the Society in 1754, and died as Parish Priest of SS Michael and John in 1811.
In the Presentation Convent, George's. Hill, Dublín there have been preserved four letters of Father. Austin, which I have transcribed. As historical documents they are of no particular value. But they have their own interest as a precious memento of this zealous Dublin priest to whom we in these latter days of ease owe so much. In some ways - perhaps in their touch of prim “preachinessi” - they are not very different from the letters which a fervent Jesuit Scholastic might write today. But we see the writer's interest in Catholic education which was later to be his life-work, we can glimpse the life of Catholic Dublin which went on unobtrusively under the shadow of the Castle in spite of persecution. There are passing references to Rev Fr Austin - a well-known Dublin priest - Cousin Will, John Fullam, Peter Bullrill, Peter Cashel and various relatives, whose names, unrecorded in human annals, are written in the Book of Life. These simple letters, redolent of the piety and difficulties of our forejathers, deserve to find a place in an Irish Jesuit periodical :
Pont-à-Mousson, 29 December 1737
Dear and Honoured Parents,
I don't know whether my twelvemonth's silence has been disagreeable to you or not. However it be, I should not have failed to have writ once more this year past, were it not that I expected to hear from you beforehand. But as I waited in vain all the summer and no letter appearing I thought it as good to put off my writing till after my vows; which I have had the happiness to make the 28th of November here in the University of Pont-à-Mousson, where I am to reside in the study of Philosophy for two years, during one of which I shall have the pleasure of enjoying my dear cousin Will's - company for he has been here already one year, but I have not come hither from the Noviceship till the beginning of October last. We have (enjoyed) and do as yet by the grace of God enjoy both a perfect state of health and whether we are together or separated, we find nothing everywhere, both one and the other, but content and happiness. He desires earnestly to tender you his kind love and service.
A little after my arrival here he writ home, for we thought it best to write separately, to the end that if one letter should miscarry, the other might perhaps speed better. I send you this by the post; for though I sent last year's letter - according as I conceived Rev Mr Austin's directions - under cover to Mr. King at Paris, yet as I have received none since from you and consequently am not sure whether you have received mine or not. I have reason to doubt whether that I have not rightly understood the manner of directing which has been marked (for) me, or that it is not very sure, I beg you would be pleased to give my most humble respects to the Rev Mr. Austin, to whose bounty and kindness. I am so gratefully bound. If that manner of directing be sure, I would be glad to know in your first whether I might continue, it at least once a year. I have writ also to cousin Peter Cashel. He will be so kind as to direct yours to me, for I have given him the superscription which might serve whilst I am here, in case you can send by hand anywhere into France.
I should rejoice and give God Thanks to hear that you are in good health and peace of mind; ‘tis, I assure you, the continual object of my poor prayers. But your soul's welfare affects me yet more. Praise be to God I have no great subject of apprehension of that side on your part. I lay He be graciously pleased to augment more and more the care you have for your eternal salvation. It can't be sufficiently deplored how much people forget that only great necessary affair, which ought to be sovereignly preferred to a parcel of frivolous wordly beings that pass and perish every day before our eyes and the which they are sure to enjoy at most, for a short term of years. Pardon a son's boldness who would fain inspire a true sentiment of the necessity of seeking by all means possible. to assure a doubtful eternity - terrible doubt which makes tremble so many persons who live a retired and perhaps innocent life, and which of greater reason ought to imprint a salutary fear in those who are exposed to so many dangers in the world.
'Tis for young persons especially that all is to be feared, and for whom by consequence the most care is to be taken to inspire them . betimes with a great fear of God, a great hatred of vice, and an early love of piety. Redouble, I pray you, your pious industry in that point towards them young children, my dear little brothers and sister. I pray you to embrace them on my part, especially little Dicky - I suppose he begins to read at present. You are to be praised never to let your children want learning according to your means; for no one knows to what God might call him, and though you have too much piety to hinder a child's vocation, yet if he takes even to the world, learning is no burthen. Above all things care is to be taken to preserve his innocence and hinder his. manners from being corrupted; and it is not to be conceived how much one and the other is in danger even already in the very infancy of children, who have too much liberty and who take every ill impression like to wax, The best means you can take is to pray dails for their preservation from sin. Perhaps I make too much the preacher, but I assure you I am so touched with dangers to which I see exposed so many persons whom I love sincerely, that I can't forbear to speak iny mind thereupon. And I would to God that my weak words could prevail upon them who are very near to me and whom I have reason to apprehend stand in need of making such solid reflections for the welfare of their souls. A very pious practice in a family would be the frequent lecture of books of piety; the Introduction to a Devout Life (of S.Francis de Sales) is onė very proper and useful for that end.
I would be glad to hear how it is with my Uncle Simon's family. My love and service to them and all my uncles and aunts, friends and relations, particularly to dear Mrs Doyle and her good family; not forgetting cousin M Dod, to whose prayers I desire to be recommended. My thanks and kind service to all friends who shall be so kind as to inquire after me.
I would seem that I doubted of your prudence if I should caution you not to let inquisitive people know to what design I am away or what I am. You know already what dangerous consequences might hereafter ensue, even where you might apprehend the least. I would not be amiss even if those who know it already were advised to let it drop in silence.
My love to cousin C Maginnis and her family, and recommend to her great care of my little god-daughter. You might please to mark me how that child is. You would do well also to cast a charitable eye sometimes to see how it is with my other little one of Mr Balf's. Be pleased not to fail to let me know the good health of R Mr Austin. I shall expect yours as soon as possible. Don't forget me in your good prayers and those of other good friends. I shan't fail on my poor part, always remaining with God's will and pleasure, dear Father and Mother, your most affectionate .. and dutiful son,
Be pleased not to forget my respects to Mr Milon and the other gentlemen
Pont-à-Mousson, September 9th 1738
Dear and Honoured Parents,
I suppose Cousin Will's letter is already received, for he has writ home about a week ago. If that be, I have no need to repeat to you that the Divine will which has joined us so happily is pleased at present to separate us for a while: he being destined to the in Picardy where he goes to teach, and myself remaining here as yet a year in order to finish my course of Philosophy. He parted this morning. Myself and some others accompanied him a small league out of town, where we quitted each other very cheerfully, considering that in our state we should rejoice rather than repine in accomplishing God's will and pleasure in what He ordains us for His greater glory.
Just as he was going off, your last letter arrived, so that we were already out of the town when it was sent after us. We have also received all the letters which you have made mention of this year. For since my last of April, two or three came into our hands; some of which had delayed somewhat on the road, as appeared by the date - one from Cousin Doyle was dated even of March, 1737. Don't think, dear Parents, that these letters are of any charge to us. Foe in that point as well as the rest that concerns the temporal, such is the bounty of the heavenly providence for us (that) all is paid and prepared to our hands without any care or other application on our part, besides that of our studies or exercises which may serve to our own proper sanctification and thereby put us in (the) state of procuring that or others.
But my so good fortune, far from being a matter of boasting, should rather give me a subject of humbling myself to think that in quitting the world I find myself in better circunstances than I could naturally promise me in embracing it.
I am really charmed and do heartily thank God for the pious sentiments which He has inspired you touching the education of your dear children, as well as by your personal example as by your wholesome instructions. A very important article, and which many parents neglect very often to their future sorrow, is to render the children supple and obedient to the smallest sign of their parents' good pleasure in whatsoever they bid them: so that as soon as ever they begin to have the usage of their self-will, they should be taught to renounce to it; since it is the only root of all sin and were there no self-will there would be no hell. However, it is rather by mildness than rashness that a child's stubborn humour should be thwarted, in ordering calmly but at the same time seriously and inflexibly even the smallest things - were it but to kiss the ground, to quit or take somewhat against his inclinations, or the like.
As I might seem too bold in suchlike discourse as well now as at other times, you may be pleased to consider that, a principal point of our vocation being the pious education of the youth as well as their instruction in sciences, we are wont to make there upon nore frequent and deep reflections than ordinary. And besides I can learn somewhat by the manner wherewith the children of the best families are elevated (=educated) here, where their parents send them in pension very young that they may be reared up more safely in the piety. To all which if you add that my first and chiefest zeal should be for those whom I am obliged before God to hold most dear, you will rather approve than blame this liberty which a sincere and ardent desire. of eternal welfare inspires me.
Then dear little Dicky can read - which perhaps he can already - without doubt you will make him every evening read a little in some devout book before you. If he be accustomed betimes, he'll do it hereafter of himself. There is nothing more capable to imprint the fear and love of God in the minds of old and young than pious lectures well reflected upon and meditated in the presence of God - such as you night see in the Introduction of Sto Francis Sales.
I am very sensible to the kindness of all my good friends and particularly of them gentlemen who did me the honour to remember me in your last (letter). I beg you will be pleased to give to them, every one in particular, my most humble respects and service as well as to all my relations: Uncle Christy, Uncle Richard, Uncle Robin, theirs and Uncle Simon's spouses and families; Cousins Mortimer, Magguinis, Savour, and their families, etc. My kind love and service to Mr and Mrs Fullam. I have lately heard from dear friend Johnny, and answered. I have writ to Mrs Doyle by Cousin Will's last, as we have both by the same to Cousin Molly Dodd.
We enjoy always, blessed be God, perfect health and contentment. Pray take great care of yours. I am, dear Father and Mother, your most respectful and affectionate son,
P.S. - You'll please to direct henceforth: a Monsieur Austin demeurant au College, Pont-à-Mousson en Lorraine. I expect to write soon to Cousin Peter. Be pleased to give the following lines with my respects to Mr Austin.
Rheims, 7th October 1742
Most Dear and Honoured Mother,
I received with pleasure your last letter dated the 4th June, and have been obliged to wait ever since for an hour's leisure to write to you. But now that our yearly vacations begin, you may be sure that my first thoughts are to satisfy you. I sent immediately on the reception of your letter that inscribed to Cousin Will, with whom I have correspondence as frequent as we both please, His answer came shortly after; and as far as I can judge, Cousin Doyle need be no way alarmed as she seems to be at the light ailment of Cousin Will.
“Tis a kind of headache which at most hinders sometimes his application to certain studies, but the which neither interrupts his other occupations nor hinders his being as day and jovial as any other. Pray give my kind love and service to his dear mother and family, to whom I wish you may always acknowledge to your utmost power the obligations which bind me eternally to them. You will please to inform them likewise that Cousin Will goes this next year to dwell at Sens, a town of the Champagne, where he is to continue the same career which he has begun at Laôn and which I am to continue here next year also. They must not be Surprised at these changements of dwelling, for nothing is more common in our state which engages us to go to and fro wherever God's will and His glory calls us.
For my part, blessed be the Lord, I have enjoyed hitherto and enjoy still in these parts good health and contentment. When it shall please Him to treat me otherwise, I hope He will give me patience; but hitherto He has favoured my weakness. After a month's rest and recreation in town and at our country house, our usual application begins. Aid me with your prayers, wherein I have very much confidence; a good mother's prayers and blessing are ordinarily efficacious, and I am persuaded that I owe a great deal thereto.
Don't fail especially to pray every day for my little brothers and to offer them to God Almighty, that He may take them under His protection for what concerns their body and soul. Without His aid all the pains you'll take for their education will be employed in vain. But if God blesses then and gives then His love and fear in their hearts, all will surely prosper with them in the time and in the eternity. Tis what I ask Him each day for them and you. Pray never fail in your letters to inform me of their progress in learning and especially of their piety towards God and docility towards you. For what you have already told thereof has given me a great deal of pleasure and consolation.
I shall dwell here this next year with an Englishman of our family, who comes hither from Liège in Flanders for to study in Divinity. We shall prattle together in our tongue, and that will - serve to recall my English, For I have scarce as yet found time to read over two or three English books I brought hither. And though I have found here enough of English acquaintance, yet do I meet them but very rarely, and even then do they speak French, being partly habiting in this town for to learn that language.
For Johnny Fullam, I don't know whether he remains at Lyons next year or no.. He told me about April last that he expected to go to Poitiers, and that Mr Heneys had gave him so to understand. But as I writ since for to demand the confirmation thereof, and his next answer not having said a word upon that head, I am yet in doubt: thereupon. Pray give my kind service to his parents, and assure them that he was in good health about two months ago when he writ last to me.
We have in these parts this year plenty of corn, wine, etc. But we have this time past so wet and cold windy weather that the vintage, which is commonly finished before this time, is not as yet begun hereabouts, where we are just hard by the fine wines of Champagne and Montagne, For the wars, though we be nigher to them than you, yet I believe, you know as much in them parts by the newspapers as we do here.
My humble respects to Messrs Milan, Sweetman and to the other gentlemen as the occasion presents itself. My kind love and service to all my uncles, aunts, cousins and their families in general and in particular when you see them. My love to my dear little brothers, and charge then in my name to apply themselves heartily to their learning, and especially take great care that they know perfectly their Catechism and what concerns their religion and the fear and love of their Maker, and that it were better to die a thousand times than to offend Him.
I would willingly know what are become my uncle Simon's children, etc., as also if you could inform me - when you shall please to write - where is young Johnny Murphy and whether Laurence Walsh is as yet at Paris or no, or what youths you know of my acquaintance are, come overseas; whether you have had news from Cousin Mortimer or not.
Cousin Peter Bullfill has been partly cause that you have my letter so late. Tis above a fortnight ago since I write to him, and I began this letter immediately after. But as I had promised him in my letter to keep this till I could have news from him (which I have not had since a very long time), I have been obliged to tarry till now, whereas I might have had his answer in four or five days. But indeed he is to be excused, for, as he tells me, he has been sick these several months past and is as yet actually very weak and feeble the which has really appeared in his very short though very friendly letter. Be assured, dear Mother, that I am always, with the utmost respect, your most affectionate son,
Rheims, 22nd October 1743
(On Back.) To Mr Francis Fullam, dwelling in Bridge Street, to be furthered to Mrs Austin, Dublin, Ireland,
(At the top of the first page;) The enclosed is for Mr Milan . You'll please to send me his letter enclosed in yours, if he pleases to send me one. Or tell him my address if he desires to know it: à la Mr Jaquinet, Marchand Fabricant dans la rue Barbatre, pour faire tenir a Mr Austin a Reims en Champagne.
Most Dear and Honoured Mother,
I wrote to you a little before Easter, I suppose you have not writ since, for I have received no letter from you since that wherein you gave me account of my Uncle John's strange discovery. I remain here as yet for next year, and never enjoyed better health than I do at present, Pray let me know if yourself and all your family go well. Also especially I pray you to give me an exact account of my brothers' behaviour towards you, and for their other duties above all in what concerns the piety. Do they pray God heartily and exactly? Dicky should now be capable of reading my letters, and of writing to me even upon necessity. He must send me in your next, if you please, a little sketch of (=by) his hand. If he be not fit for learning Latin, he must read, write and cypher as well as possible he can learn. Let him never fail to read each day some time in a good pious book. When he can do it before you in the evening, twere the best, Make him learn the Catechism to his little brothers, which they must all know perfectly well before all things and as soon as they are capable of learning anything whatsoever. This point is very important, and parents in them parts seem not to know enough their great and strict obligations to have their children instructed principally in what concerns their religion. All the rest without that is not worth while, and yet commonly 'tis what's the most neglected.
If your children fear God, they will be also your consolation, Would to God there were means of giving to children in them poor countries the same Christian education which they receive in these parts. My heart bleeds to see and think upon the difference, without being able to amend it. We see here of how much piety and virtue youth are capable, and how much it depends on those who rear them (so as) to render them such, in keeping them from evil example, bad company and occasions, and in giving them early principles of piety, of good and Christian manners. Parents work and slave day and night for to get bread for their children and to establish them well in the world. Tis very well done. But if they are good Christians well instructed in the faith of an everlasting life (and) an eternal establishment, they should take a thousand times more pains for to procure to their children this latter establishment, and that their souls may be better provided for than their bodies. Many notwithstanding, who pass for very honest Christians in all the rest, are often very bad parents on this head, and have thereupon the most terrible accompts to render at God's tribunal. I could wish with all my heart that many persons who are dear to me were well convinced and frightened with this consideration; they would have reason to tremble thereupon but yet more to act in consequence thereon. Sometimes a letter as this or any other, read to a neighbour or relation seemingly without design, might make them take reflections on such a matter which is so important for the salvation of parents and which damns so many.
Cousin Doyle and. John Fullam are both in good health: the first at Sens and the second at Lyons, there they remain next year, They both salute your kindly. Give my kind love and service to both their families, and testify newly my acknowledgments to Mr Fullam's parents on their receiving always my letters, My love and service particularly to my Uncles Richard and Christy and families; Uncle Robin Walsh and family; Cousins Savour and Maginnis and families, And if anything worth while is arrived in those families, I pray let me know it. My love and service to Aunt Bridget and her family. And let me know if you have tidings of my Uncle Simon or not. My Aunt, does she still dwell with you? Are you in good intelligence together? Nothing more easy nor more natural for two sisters and widows.
All things have been abundant this year in these parts, Has it been so in Ireland and with your little spot thereof in particular? You see I am grown very curious. But nothing which concerns you or yours can be indifferent to me. I know not how I lost again my brothers ages; the pain won't be so great to send me then once more, and I’ll be more careful if I can. Embrace them all three for me and assure then that I pray for them and you every day of my life. If they and you remember me often in praying God, I shall prefer that remembrance to all the other tokens of tenderness ye can give me, All that is not good for the soul passes with the body and avails nought.
For you especially, dear mother, be assured that I have very much confidence in your good prayers. We must one and t'other also be constantly mindful to pray for my dear Father's soul. That piety will be better placed and more useful than a silly grief which serves for nothing, neither to the living nor the dead. Your young ones have especially more need of your prayers than you think. Ofter then each day to God that he may keep them in His love and service in the world or take them betimes out of the world. If you love them truly, that must be your constant wish. Wish me the same, I pray you, and believe me to be always with the greatest affection and respect, dear mother, your most loving and submissive son,
John Austin. Reims, the 22nd October, 1743.
Don't forget, I pray you, when occasion offers to tender my best respects to Mr Milan, and send me tidings of his health. What is become of Cousin Molly Dodd? And Mr Keary, lives he as yet? If Mr Atkins asks after me, give him my humble service.
Professor Alfred O’Rahilly
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father John Austin 1717-1784
Fr John Austin was born in New Street – then called Austin’s grounds – near Kevin Street Dublin on April 12th 1717. We are told that young Austin, who attended the school near St Patrick’s, one day rattled off impromptu verses to prevent some youngsters butchering a dog. Dean Swift heard about this, sent for the boy’s parents, and asked them what they intended for the boy. “The priesthood” answered his parents. Swift then told them to send him to the Jesuits, who would make a man of him. It is thought that the Dean paid for his education.
John became a Jesuit in 1735, returning to Dublin in 1750. He acted as curate to Fr John Murphy, PP of St Michael and John’s. Together with his PP Fr Austin opened a school, in spite of the law, in Saul’s Court in 1760. For several years this was the only and for 50 years the principal school for Catholics in Dublin, as well as being the nearest approach to a Diocesan Seminary.
On the Suppression of the Society, Fr Austin became one of the Trustees of the Province Funds.
He died on September 29th 1784, and was buried at St Kevin’s Churchyard. Two years later an obelisk was erected over his grave by the grateful citizens of Dublin. The following is his epitaph :
“To the Memory of Rev Father John Austin of the City of Dublin, priest and until the Suppression of the Society of Jesus a professed Jesuit. During six and thirty years a pious, learned and indefatigable labourer in the vineyard of the Lord, who after deserving well of the rich whom he admonished, of the poor whom he relieved, of the youth whom he instructed, of the orphan to who he was a father, of all ranks of men, whome he by making himself all in all, was active in gaining to Jesus Christ, on the 29th September 1784, closed, in the 66 year of his age, a life worn out in the sight of the Lord. Religion, weeping for her faithful Minister, on the 8th December 1786 with grateful hand erected this Monument”.
◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
AUSTIN, JOHN, was born in Dublin on the 12th of April, 1717, and joined the Order in Champaigne, on the 27th of November, 1735. After completing the high er Studies, he was employed in teaching Humanities for several years. In 1750, he reached his native city, and obtained a reputation for talents in the pulpit. On the 2nd of February, 1754, he was admitted to his religious Profession.
This good Father, dying on Michaelmas day, 1784, was buried in St. Kevins Church-yard, Dublin. A plain stone monument, of pyramidal form, stands over his grave ; and the following inscription is read on the West and South Panels of the Pedestal. On the opposite sides there is the English translation:
Societatis Jesu, dum fuit, Sacerdoti
In Vinea Domini per annos 36,
Pio, Docto, Indefesso Operario,
III Calendas Octobris, A. D. 1784
Aetatis anno sexto et sexagesimo
Apostolicis, confectam laboribus
Cum morte In conspectu Domini pretiosa
Ministri fidelis Rcligio non immemor
VI Idus Decembris, A. D. 1786
Orphanis loco Parentis fuit
De omni Hominum genere
Omnibus oninia factus
Omnes Christo lucrifaceret.
◆ Fr Joseph McDonnell SJ Past and Present Notes :
16th February 1811 At the advance ages of 73, Father Betagh, PP of the St Michael Rosemary Lane Parish Dublin, Vicar General of the Dublin Archdiocese died. His death was looked upon as almost a national calamity. Shops and businesses were closed on the day of his funeral. His name and qualities were on the lips of everyone. He was an ex-Jesuit, the link between the Old and New Society in Ireland.
Among his many works was the foundation of two schools for boys : one a Classical school in Sall’s Court, the other a Night School in Skinner’s Row. One pupil received particular care - Peter Kenney - as he believed there might be great things to come from him in the future. “I have not long to be with you, but never fear, I’m rearing up a cock that will crow louder and sweeter for yopu than I ever did” he told his parishioners. Peter Kenney was to be “founder” of the restored Society in Ireland.
There were seventeen Jesuits in Ireland at the Suppression : John Ward, Clement Kelly, Edward Keating, John St Leger, Nicholas Barron, John Austin, Peter Berrill, James Moroney, Michael Cawood, Michael Fitzgerald, John Fullam, Paul Power, John Barron, Joseph O’Halloran, James Mulcaile, Richard O’Callaghan and Thomas Betagh. These men believed in the future restoration, and they husbanded their resources and succeeded in handing down to their successors a considerable sum of money, which had been saved by them.
A letter from the Acting General Father Thaddeus Brezozowski, dated St Petersburg 14/06/1806 was addressed to the only two survivors, Betagh and O’Callaghan. He thanked them for their work and their union with those in Russia, and suggested that the restoration was close at hand.
A letter from Nicholas Sewell, dated Stonyhurst 07/07/1809 to Betagh gives details of Irishmen being sent to Sicily for studies : Bartholomew Esmonde, Paul Ferley, Charles Aylmer, Robert St Leger, Edmund Cogan and James Butler. Peter Kenney and Matthew Gahan had preceded them. These were the foundation stones of the Restored Society.
Returning to Ireland, Kenney, Gahan and John Ryan took residence at No3 George’s Hill. Two years later, with the monies saved for them, Kenney bought Clongowes as a College for boys and a House of Studies for Jesuits. From a diary fragment of Aylmer, we learn that Kenney was Superior of the Irish Mission and Prefect of Studies, Aylmer was Minister, Claude Jautard, a survivor of the old Society in France was Spiritual Father, Butler was Professor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology, Ferley was professor of Logic and Metaphysics, Esmonde was Superior of Scholastics and they were joined by St Leger and William Dinan. Gahan was described as a Missioner at Francis St Dublin and Confessor to the Poor Clares and irish Sisters of Charity at Harold’s Cross and Summerhill. Ryan was a Missioner in St Paul’s, Arran Quay, Dublin. Among the Scholastics, Brothers and Masters were : Brothers Fraser, Levins, Connor, Bracken, Sherlock, Moran, Mullen and McGlade.
Trouble was not long coming. Protestants were upset that the Jesuits were in Ireland and sent a petition was sent to Parliament, suggesting that the Vow of Obedience to the Pope meant they could not have an Oath of Allegiance to the King. In addition, the expulsion of Jesuits from all of Europe had been a good thing. Kenney’s influence and diplomatic skills resulted in gaining support from Protestants in the locality of Clongowes, and a counter petition was presented by the Duke of Leinster on behalf of the Jesuits. This moment passed, but anto Jesuit feelings were mounting, such as in the Orange faction, and they managed to get an enquiry into the Jesuits and Peter Kenney and they appeared before the Irish Chief Secretary and Provy Council. Peter Kenney’s persuasive and oratorical skills won the day and the enquiry group said they were satisfied and impressed.
Over the years the Mission grew into a Province with Joseph Lentaigne as first Provincial in 1860. In 1885 the first outward undertaking was the setting up of an Irish Mission to Australia by Lentaigne and William Kelly, and this Mission grew exponentially from very humble beginnings.
Later the performance of the Jesuits in managing UCD with little or no money, and then outperforming what were known as the “Queen’s Colleges” forced the issue of injustice against Catholics in Ireland in the matter of University education. It is William Delaney who headed up the effort and create the National University of Ireland under endowment from the Government.from the Government.