Garahy, Michael, 1873-1962, Jesuit priest and missioner

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Garahy, Michael, 1873-1962, Jesuit priest and missioner

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20 October 1873-14 February 1962


Born: 20 October 1873, Cloghan, Birr, County Offaly
Entered: 07 September 1893, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 26 July 1908, Milltown Park, Dublin
Professed: 02 February 1912
Died: 14 February 1962, County Waterford

Part of the St Francis Xavier's, Gardiner Street, Dublin community at the time of death.

by 1896 at Stonyhurst, England (ANG) studying
by 1897 at Valkenburg, Netherlands (GER) studying
Came to Australia for Regency 1898
by 1911 at Drongen, Belgium (BELG) making Tertianship

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Michael Garahy spent part of his schooling at Mungret, and joined the novitiate in 1893. He did philosophy at Valkenburg, 1895-98, and then sailed to Australia and to Riverview, 1899-1904. He taught, looked after boarders and the Sodality of the Angels, all apparently well. When he was moved suddenly from the one class to another, the students of the class protested to the prefect of studies that they wanted him to stay and said, “My word sir, he does get you on”.
Returning to Ireland, his main work as a priest was preaching and parish work.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 12th Year No 4 1937

Rev. Michael Garahy, S.J., and Rev. Ernest Mackey, S.J. have been invited by the Most Rev. Bishop Francis Hennemann, P.S.M DD., to preach at the approaching Centenary Eucharistic Congress - which has already met with a good deal of opposition - to be held at Capetown, South Africa. Dr. Hennemann is Vicar Apostolic of the Western Vicariate of Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope.
Word has come to say that His Lordship is to send full Faculties to the Fathers by air-mail-including power to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation-for the Catholics on Ascension Island and the Island of St, Helena, both of which fall under bis jurisdiction.
They will preach during Congress Week at the Pontifical High Mass and at the Mass Meeting for Men. There will be an official broadcast of these functions, which are to be held in the open air at a short distance from St. Mary's Cathedral.
During the course of their stay in South Africa they are due to deliver special lectures on Catholic Action and kindred subjects to Catholic Men's Societies and to Catholic Women's Leagues. Their programme includes also a series of missions and parochial Retreats throughout the Vicariate beginning at the Cathedral Capetown, as a preparation for the Congress, which is fixed to take place from January 9th-16th, 1938. A special Congress Stamp has been issued to commemorate the event.
At the close of the January celebrations they intend to continue their apostolic labours in the Eastern Vicariate at the request of the Most Rev. Bishop McSherry, D,D,, Senior Prelate of South Africa.
Father Garahy is well-known throughout the country since he relinquished his Chair of Theology at Milltown Park in 1914 to devote his energies to the active ministry.
Father Mackey has been Superior of the Jesuit Mission staff in Ireland since 1927. During his absence in South Africa, Father J Delaney, S.J., Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin, will take over his duties. Fathers Mackey and Garahy leave for Capetown on Tuesday, 24th August, 1937, and are expected back in Ireland about Easter, 1938.
Father Mackey has just received a cablegram from Bishop Hennemann asking him to give the Priests' Retreat at Cape Town

Irish Province News 13th Year No 1 1938

Our two Missioners to South Africa, Fathers Mackey and Garahy reached Cape Town on 23rd September.
The voyage was uneventful. They landed at Las Palmas and visited the centre of the Island.
Writing about the road, overhanging a steep precipice, over which they travelled, Father Garahy tells us : “I realised there was nothing between us and eternity except a few feet of road. It seemed to be a matter of inches when we crawled past other cars coming down.” They paid one more visit before reaching Cape Town, and Father Garahy's description is : “A spot of earth more arid than Ascension it would be hard to find outside the Sahara, and yet it grazes about 400 sheep and some cattle on one spot called the Green Mountain.”
Work began the very day after their arrival at Cape Town - a Retreat by Father Mackey to Legion of Mary, with five lectures a day. On the next Sunday, Father Garahy preached at all three Masses in the Cathedral, and again in the evening, The Mission began on Sunday, 3rd October, and from that date to Christmas the missioners had only one free week.

Irish Province News 13th Year No 2 1938

Our two Missioners, Fathers Mackey and Garahy, continue to do strenuous and widely extended work in South Africa. A source of genuine pleasure to them, and one that they fully appreciate, is the very great kindness shown to them by all the priests, not least among them by the Capuchins from Ireland. In the short intervals between the Missions the two Missioners were taken in the priests cars to every spot in the Cape worth seeing. They are only too glad to acknowledge that they will never forget the amount of kindness lavished on them.
In spite of fears the Eucharistic Congress in South Africa was an undoubted success, A pleasant and peculiar incident of the celebration was an “At Home” given by the Mayor of Capetown Mr. Foster, a Co, Down Presbyterian, to the Bishops, priests and prominent laymen. About 600 were present.

Irish Province News 13th Year No 3 1938
South Africa :

A very decided and novel proof of the success of the South African Mission is given by the letter of a certain Mr. Schoernan, a Dutch Protestant, who owns an extensive estate near Johannesburg. This gentleman wrote directly to the Apostolic Delegate for the Union of South Africa requesting that Fathers Mackey and Garahy should be invited to give a series of sermons and lectures to the non Catholics throughout the Transvaal. He had heard the sermons of these two Jesuit Fathers at the Catholic Congress at Cape Town, and concluded at once that the method and style of treatment of their sermons would make an immense appeal. He himself would be prepared to assist in the financing of such a scheme. “Surely”, he concluded, “Ireland could easily afford to forgo their services for a few months longer.”
The Delegate sent on the letter to Dr. O'Leary, Vicar Apostolic of the Transvaal. to answer. Dr, O'Leary explained that the two Fathers had to cancel many other invitations owing to pressure of work at home.
Mr. Schuman answered the Archbishop through Dr. O'Leary still pressing his own proposal.
The Press, including the Protestant Press, has been equally emphatic as to the success of the Mission. A contributor to “The Daily Dispatch”, a Protestant paper writes :
“A mission for Catholics in East London is now in progress at the Church of the Immaculate Conception. It is being conducted by two Jesuits, Father Mackey and Father Garahy, members of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus..... Hitherto, missions in this diocese have been preached, almost exclusively, by members of the Redemptorist Order.... , A Jesuit mission, therefore, is a change, because the methods and style of the Jesuits are different from those of the other Orders in the Church. There is not so much thunder about the Jesuits. They preach more the mercy of God than His anger and His justice. They appeal more to one's intellect and sense of reason than to the emotions.
It has been essentially a mission to Catholics. Controversial subjects have been avoided, but in the sermons there has been a wealth of information and teaching invaluable even to those firmly established in the Catholic faith. To those not of the faith who have attended the mission, the discourses of the two eloquent Jesuits must have been a revelation. I, a practising Catholic all my life, have heard many missions, both in this country and throughout Great Britain, but I cannot recall one in which the teaching of the Church has been so simply and so convincingly substantiated, or one in which the sinner has been so sympathetically, yet effectively, shown the error of his ways. The sermons were all magnificent orations in which facts, arguments, and reasoning were blended into a convincing whole.”
In another place the same contributor writes :
“Masterly sermons were preached by Father Mackey and Father Garahy explaining, as they have never been explained to the people of East London before, the object of man's life in this world, the difficulties he has to contend with......they have shown how the evils of the present day have all arisen from the misuse of men's reason, how the abandonment of God, and the development of a materialistic creed have set class against class and nation against nation, how man's well-being on earth has been subordinated to the pagan ideas of pleasure and financial prosperity........There has been nothing sensational or emotional in any discourse, but the malice of sin has been shown in all its viciousness.
It has been an education listening to these two Jesuits. The lessons of history, biblical and worldly, have been explained in language that carried conviction, and the teaching of the Church on the problems discussed has been put forward with unassailable lucidity.”

Irish Province News 37th Year No 2 1962

St. Francis Xavier's, Gardiner Street

The passing of Fr. Michael Garahy from amongst us has left quite a big gap in the lives of many amongst the community and staff of Gardiner Street. For some five months the care of him. day and night, had become a constant occupation for many and despite the attention he required and the trouble he could make at times, he won and held to the end the love and affection of all who were so devoted to him by his simplicity and personal charm which stayed with him until his death. He died on Wednesday, 14th February. He was with us all through his declining years except for the last five days when, where he was, meant little to him and the best that could be done became inadequate. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anant. We take this opportunity to thank Fr. Mark Quigley for his appreciation of Fr. Garahy's life's work which is given elsewhere in this issue of the Province News, Very Rev. Fr. Visitor was present at the solemn Requiem Office and Mass at Gardiner Street on 16th February, having travelled up from Tullabeg where he was then on visitation; Fr. Provincial presided; Fr. Superior was celebrant of the Mass; Fr. Tyndall deacon; Fr. Mac Amhlaoibh sub-deacon; Fr. Raymond Moloney, Milltown, M.C. To Milltown Park we are indebted also for supplying the choir. We wish to record our thanks to them for their generous help on all occasions.

Obituary :

Fr Michael Garahy (1873-1962)

Fr. Garahy passed away peacefully on the morning of 14th February. On the 16th a very fitting tribute was given him by the presence of Fr. Visitor, the Very Rev. John McMahon, S.J., by a large attendance from the Dublin houses of the Society and by a great concourse of people. The Solemn Requiem was sung by Very Rev. Fr. M. Meade, Superior, with Fr, Tyndall as Deacon and Fr. McAuliffe as Sub-Deacon. Mr. Oliver O'Brien performed at the organ and rendered the Dead March as the coffin was carried out of the church.
Fr. Garahy was born on 20th October, 1873. He was a native of Cloghan, Offaly, and lived for a time with his grandmother in Birr while attending the Presentation Brothers school. He was also at Mungret during Fr. Vincent Byrne's rectorship, and at Mount Melleray. He entered the Noviceship in 1893, did Philosophy at Valkenburg from 1895 to 1898, was six years teaching at Riverview and one year at the Crescent, Limerick. He went to Milltown for Theology in 1905, and taught the Short Course there for a year before going to the Tertianship at Tronchiennes in 1911. He taught at Milltown again for two years till 1914 when he became Miss. Excurr, and was stationed at Tullabeg. In 1918 he went to Rathfarnham and was there till 1941 when he went as Operarius to Gardiner Street.
It was in 1914 the present writer knew him first. Of his previous life those of our time only knew of him by hearsay. For example we remember Fr. Martin Maher tell that when Fr. Garahy as a scholastic in Riverview was changed from a certain class, the class came to Fr. Maher, who was Prefect of Studies, to ask to have him left with them. “My word, sir”, they said, “he does get you on”. During the past fifty years and more, I think that as a great personality and because of his very distinguished work, Fr. Garahy has filled a very special place in the Province. As a preacher he was quite outstanding. His voice was powerful and melodious, a perfect instrument for the earnestness and conviction with which he spoke, His message was given in a straight-forward style with plenty of clear and solid doctrine. I think the subjects touching on the Incarnation and the Passion showed him at his best and most typical. Once when some of us went to University Church to hear his Seven Words, we heard a priest who had come in only for the last sermon or two say to another, what a pity they had not been there for them all. Eloquent and thundering in some mission sermons, he had a very intimate, conversational and pleasant way in instructions, and also in enclosed retreats, if one can judge by one retreat he gave to the community at Milltown. He was widely known and appreciated for his retreats to the clergy. Fr. C. Mulcahy once told us of the delight of the parish priest of Rahan, who said that Fr. Garahy had given them in Meath “a retreat full of new thoughts”.
His friendly way made him a great favourite with the parish clergy and with many of the bishops of his time. He found it easy to join in conversation with them, and to be interested in the lives and doings of ordinary people. He had no side and would discuss or argue a question with the simplest of people. He once brought me to Cloghan to visit his mother, a very old lady then. They were discussing the war and she was lamenting some act of the Germans in France. “Wasn't that vandalism now”, she said, “It was not, mother”, said Fr. Michael, and proceeded to explain and to defend the Germans' action. He had always a love for the Germans and would recall with pleasure his days in Valkenburg, and sing or quote songs he had learned there.
In our own communities Fr. Garahy was always a centre of interest, and often of liveliness and fun. He was full of interesting anecdotes of his life on the missions. As well as giving missions in Ireland and England, he had gone on a mission tour with Fr. Mackey to South Africa. He allowed himself to be easily drawn into argument, and would defend his point strongly or indignantly, but sincerely and without bitterness. He lent himself willingly to any simple fun that was going. When Fr. Eustace Boylan came from Melbourne, via Rome, full of life at eighty, and spent a memorable month or so at Gardiner Street, he found Fr. Garahy a perfectly sympathetic sharer in his ever-bubbling hilarity and good humour. On hearing that a fire took place in Newry during the evening devotions when Fr. Garahy was preaching, Fr. Boylan gave rein to his imagination in a few verses to the enjoyment of all :

    Fr. Garahy stood in the pulpit
And spoke to the crowd below,
And his eloquence rose to a terrible height,
As the next day's papers show.

But just as his soaring eloquence
Was going to soar still higher,
A puff of wind caught the last few words,
And the neighbouring house took fire,

And so in Newry nowadays
They brighten the streets at night
With prints of Garahy's fiery words
Instead of electric light

And watchmen heat their tea-cans
At funnels of gramophones
Fitted to discs that thundered forth
The missioner's fiery tones.

And later when 'twas learnt that 'twas
The Bishop's strong desire
That Fr. Garahy should come back
To set the town on fire.

The enterprising shopmen
Advertised the coming sales
Of fireproof frocks for the maidens
Asbestos for the males.

The more one thinks of Fr. Garahy, the more one feels the loss of him as a source of inspiration and happiness in the Province. His strong features could at times express sternness or indignation, but it was some thing evil or mean or unjust that would rouse him in this way. And his denunciation of wrong was effective. A well-known member of the con fraternity in Gardiner Street used to call Fr. Garahy “the hammer of the Society”. His normal expression, however, was one of kindness and the most natural, smiling friendliness.
Apart from the preaching activities already referred to, Fr. Garahy achieved the highest standards in preaching on special occasions. One recalls his Lenten Lectures, published in pamphlets under the title of Idols of Modern Society and a fine sermon on St. Peter Canisius. He gave a weekend retreat in Irish in Milltown many years ago, with Fr. Michael Saul, and gave at least one mission in Irish in Co. Kerry with Fr. Michael McGrath,
All his achievements left him the simplest of men, a man without guile. For the last two years Fr. Garahy's life has been one of inactivity because of his great age. He has needed special help. But in his decline he was gentle, serene and happy.
This grand man, Fr. Michael Garahy, goes from amongst us full of merits, to be greeted by a smile more winning than his own, of the Master he served so happily and so well.


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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-


Garahy, Michael, 1873-1962, Jesuit priest and missioner

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Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia, 1865-1931 (1865-1931)

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Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia, 1865-1931


Garahy, Michael, 1873-1962, Jesuit priest and missioner

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IE IJA J/556

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