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Murray, Bernard Aloysius, 1917-2007, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/638
  • Person
  • 01 August 1917-25 August 2007

Born: 01 August 1917, Hillstreet, Drumsna, County Roscommon
Entered: 14 September 1936, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1949, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1952, Belvedere College SJ, Dublin
Died: 25 August 2007, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Coláiste Iognáid, Galway community at the time of death.

Parents were shop keepers. Family lived at Commons Street, North Wall, Dublin.

Second of three boys with six sisters.

Early education was at a National School in Roscommon, and then moving to Dublin at age 7 he went to O’Connells School. (1924-1934) In 1934 he went to St Mel’s College, Longford for two years.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 135 : Spring 2008


Fr Bernard (Barney) Murray (1917-2007)

14 August 1917: Born in Hillstreet, Co. Roscommon
14th September 1936: Entered the Society at Emo
15th September 1938: First Vows at Emo
1938 - 1941: Rathfarnham -Studied Arts at UCD
1941 - 1944: Tullabeg - Studied Philosophy
1944 - 1946: Mungret College, Limerick - Regency
1946 - 1950: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
31 July 1949: Ordained at Milltown Park, Dublin
1950 - 1951: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1951 - 1970: Belvedere College - Minister; Teacher (English, Religious Knowledge - Senior School)
2nd February 1952: Final Vows
1955 - 1962: Teacher in Prep. School
1962 - 1970: Assistant to Prefect of Prep School; Teacher (Religion, Maths and English)
1970 - 2007: St. Ignatius, Galway -
1970 - 1978: Teacher (Art); Ministered in Church
1978 - 1990: Parish Curate
1984 - 2004: Director of Nazareth Fund; St. Vincent de Paul and Legion of Mary
1990 - 1992: Chaplain to Scoil Iognáid
1992 - 2004: Asst. in Church; Asst. Chaplain in Univ. Hosp.
2004 - 2005: Asst. in Church; Director Nazareth Fund
2005 - 2007: Cherryfield - Prayed for Church and Society
25th August 2007: Died at Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Bruce Bradley writes:
Bernard Murray “Barney” as we often referred to him, but Bernard is the name he wished to be known by - was born on August 1, 1917, in Hillstreet, Co. Roscommon, where he spent his early years. While living in Co. Roscommon he attended Kilbride National School. When the family moved to Dublin he was at school with the Christian Brothers, Richmond St., and, as a boarder, at St Mel's, Longford, where he won an All-Ireland Colleges Football medal, of which he was very proud. In later life, he liked to narrate how the medal was lost in the Milltown fire and, long afterwards, he applied to Liam Mulvihill, general secretary of the GAA, and, to his delight, was given a replica. He entered the Society in Emo in September 1936 and was ordained in Milltown Park thirteen years later in 1949.

All his life he worked in, or was associated with, the schools. His regency was in Mungret, 1944-46, and, after tertianship, he was sent to Belvedere, where he was to spend almost twenty years. He taught in both the senior and junior schools and also functioned as minister and as assistant to Junior School prefect of studies, Eddie Murphy. The role of minister included supervision of the boys' dining room at lunchtime and Bernard kept a sharp eye on what happened there. Boys who were showing themselves less than enthused at the somewhat pedestrian fare, or who misbehaved, were apt to find themselves being brought to the phone for a pep talk with their parents at home. For those who were in Belvedere in those years, the friendship between Bernard and the much-respected Fr. Charlie Byrne, producer of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas and considerably his senior, was noteworthy and they were often seen walking together in the city after school was over.

After such a long stint in Dublin, the move to Galway in 1970 was a big change but he responded by re-inventing himself as an art teacher, and staying there for the rest of his very long life, until ill-health forced him to move to Cherryfield in his closing years. It was obvious that he was happy in Galway, and someone who knew him said that he felt it was there that he really found himself. He took over Liam Greene's art classes in the lively years of transition at the 'Jes' under the headmastership of Seán O'Connor. It was a completely new world for Bernard but he quickly made himself at home and had the capacity to make others around him feel at home too. He took on the challenge of teaching art with enthusiasm and applied himself to it methodically. His colleagues enjoyed his friendship and were glad to work with him.

From the start he also worked in the church and, in 1978, he was appointed curate, a role he continued to exercise until 1992. He was particularly committed to house visitation, where his capacity to make contact and develop friendships stood him in excellent stead. He became a well-known figure in the parish, much-appreciated for always seeming to have time and an interesting word with the people he met. When he retired as curate he continued to work in the church and began to assist the chaplaincy team at University College Hospital. He continued this latter work for thirteen years. He is fondly remembered for this by patients and the team alike.

Gradually the boundaries of his parish widened and he took up supplying in a parish in California. It was there that he took up oil-painting in his spare time, a pastime he brought back to Galway. Liam Greene, who knew his work, has written of how observant he was and how aware of details. “The subject matter of his painting was often the same – the wild Pacific Ocean, with waves crashing on the rocks'. He would sometimes speak to Liam of 'the delicate moments when he tried to capture the light reflected on the breaking wave and the difficulty of doing so'. His love of the sea expressed itself in a different form in his commitment to regular swimming in Galway, even into old age.

He was chaplain to Scoil Iognáid for several years. He was director of the Nazareth Fund, which raised money to alleviate hardship for people who had known better times financially, and continued this work for twenty years. It continues to flourish. In his latest years, he began to come to Clongowes to supply for the 'incumbent of the People's Church, wholly equal to the demands of rising early, celebrating every day and preaching to the local people, many of whom he came to know, on Sundays. Towards the end he was troubled by increasing deafness and, in 2005, he suffered a stroke, which brought his hospital work to an end. Fr. Bernard Murray was very independent. He had been attending a cardiologist for a weakening heart in early 2005 and was transferred from hospital in Galway to Cherryfield Lodge on 4th March 2005. He made a full physical recovery from the stroke, but had dysphasia (could not be understood when trying to talk) which was very frustrating for him, but he remained very pleasant, gentle and mobile until 20th August, when he got weak and was confined to bed from then onwards. He died peacefully on August 25, 2007, full of good works and days.

For an Old Friend and Fellow Jesuit
That soothing phrase for "death" doth close apply
To dear old Barney Murray here today:
Just at 4.40 p.m., with quiet sigh,
He left us. He had simply "passed away”.

We'll miss his glowing cheeks and charming smile,
Though communication oral was his problem,
He, none the less, could most of us beguile
With 'buzz-buzz' noises Words? He'd simply gobble-em!

His life was colourful and his heart was large,
He painted many pictures in his day.
His “Fund” for poverty he made his special charge,
His paintings to his friends he gave away.

May God reward this “good and faithful servant”
In ways beyond the scope or need for speech.
We follow “Barney” with our prayers fervent,
Assured that he is not beyond our reach.

Thomas MacMahon SJ, Cherryfield Lodge, Sat. 25h August, 07, at 10.10 pm