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Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-
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Australian Mission

The Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia was initiated due to the will of Fr John Joseph Therry (1790-1864), who named the Irish Jesuits as beneficiaries to his property in Australia, and by an invitation to the Irish Province by James Alipius Goold, Bishop of Melbourne (later Archbishop) (1812-1886) to set-up a mission in his diocese. The first two Irish Jesuits, Frs William Lentaigne (1805-1884) and William Kelly (1823-1909), arrived in Melbourne in September 1865. Previously, two Austrian Jesuits, Frs. Kranewitter (1817-1880) and Klinkowstroem (1819-1896) had arrived in 1848 after Jesuit expulsion from Austria. The Austrian Mission centred on South Australia and the Northern Territory. In 1901, the Austrian and Irish missions amalgamated. Australia was made a Vice-Province in 1931 and Fr Austin Kelly SJ (1891-1978) was named the first Provincial of the Australian Province in 1950.

The papers of the Australian Mission provide a comprehensive history of the Irish Jesuit Mission, concentrating on the years 1865-1931. The Irish Jesuits worked as missionaries, educators, writers, chaplains, theologians, scientists, pastors and directors of retreats, mainly in the urban communities of eastern Australia.

Subjects touched upon include: agreements with Archbishops in establishing Jesuit houses in a particular diocese; reflections on the journey to and from Australia; administration of schools, colleges, universities and Jesuit residences - (St. Patrick’s, Melbourne; St. Francis Xavier College, Kew, Melbourne; St. Aloysius, Dunedin (NZ); St. Aloysius College, Sydney ; St. Ignatius College, Riverview, Sydney; St. Louis, Claremont, Western Australia; Newman College, University of Melbourne); parishes - (Norwood and Sevenhills in South Australia; Invercargill (NZ); Melbourne; Sydney; Toowong and Indooroopilly in Queensland); financial documents; expansion of the Mission; and correspondence between Father Provincial in Ireland and Jesuits in Australia. By far the greatest number of letters sent to Father Provincial in Ireland was from Fr. John Ryan SJ (1849-1922) (Superior of the Mission from 11 February 1901-14 June 1908; 9 April 1913-24 October 1917). Until the creation of the Australian Mission as a Vice-Province, the Irish Provincial was kept informed of every minor detail about the Mission and often decision making in Australia was delayed until approval from Dublin was given.

Superiors of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia (1865-1931)
Fr Joseph Lentaigne SJ 1865-1866
Fr Joseph Dalton SJ 1866-1872
Fr Thomas Cahill SJ 1872-1879
Fr Joseph Dalton SJ 1879-2 September 1883
Fr Aloysius Sturzo SJ 2 September 1883-5 April 1890
Fr Patrick Keating SJ 5 April 1890-1 February 1895
Fr Timothy Kenny SJ 1 February 1895-11 February 1901
Fr John Ryan SJ 11 February 1901-14 June 1908
Fr Thomas Brown SJ 14 June 1908-9 April 1913
Fr John Ryan SJ 9 April 1913-24 October 1917
Fr William Lockington SJ 24 October 1917-20 June 1923
Fr Jeremiah Sullivan SJ 20 June 1923-19 March 1931

Vice-Provincials of the Vice-Province of Australian (1931-1950)
Fr John Fahy SJ 19 March 1931-25 August 1939
Fr John Meagher SJ 25 August 1939-1 October 1947
Fr Austin Kelly SJ 1 October 1947-1 November 1950

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Biographical information on Fr Doyle

Biographical information on Fr Doyle including a copy of his birth certificate and memorial card.

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Irish Jesuit Chaplains in the First World War

Thirty-two Jesuit chaplains of the Irish Province served in the First World War. They served on the battlefields of France, Belgium, Egypt and Mesopotamia. Four Jesuits were killed: Frs John Gwynn (12 October 1915), William Doyle (17 August 1917), Michael Bergin (12 October 1917) and John Fitzgibbon (18 September 1918). Two Jesuits died from illness: Frs Austin Hartigan (16 July 1916) and Edward Sydes (15 November 1918).

Approximately eleven Irish-born Jesuit chaplains of the English Province served in in the First World War. They included Frs Timothy Carey (Cork) and Walter Montagu (Cromore, Portstewart, County Derry) who both died on active service. Fr William Keary SJ (Woodford, Galway) initially joined the Irish Province but transferred to the English Province.

The majority of letters are from individual chaplains to the Irish Jesuit Provincial Fr Thomas V. Nolan SJ, (1914-1919). There are some postcards, photographs and medals. Some are rich in details (Fr Daniel Roche SJ, 43 items) others have but an obituary. Includes letters to the Irish Jesuit Provincial from Archbishop’s House, Westminster, England concerning the nomination of various Irish Jesuits as chaplains to the forces and their demobilisation, letters on wages and expenditures of chaplains and the appeal for chaplains. Six Jesuits served with the Australian army.

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Irish Jesuit Chaplains in the Second World War

Twenty-one Irish Jesuit chaplains served as chaplains in the Second World War in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Fr John Hayes, SJ, who died of typhus on 28th December 1944, was the single casualty to the Irish Jesuit Province.

The papers of the Irish Jesuit Chaplains in the Second World War consist mainly of letters and telegrams from individual chaplains to the Irish Jesuit Provincial - Fr Laurence J. Kieran SJ was the Irish Provincial at the outbreak of the War and on 8 September 1941, Fr John R MacMahon SJ became Provincial. Also includes letters to Irish Father Provincial Laurence J. Kieran SJ from various Jesuits volunteering to become military chaplains (1 September 1939-7 April 1941); letters and telegrams from Monsignor John M. Coghlan (Principal Chaplain (R.C.) and Vicar General, British Army, War Office) seeking chaplains to serve in the forces and thanking Father Provincial for those he has offered (1941-1944); memoranda and lists (1942); volunteers’ letters (April 1941-July 1942); correspondence with the Royal Air Force (1941-1945); letters from newly appointed chaplains (1941); miscellaneous letters to Provincial (1941-1945).

1st four left Dublin, 26 May 1941: Richard Kennedy (Tertian); Michael Morrison (Tertian); Conor Naughton (Tertian); Cyril Perrott.
2nd batch, left 1 September 1941: John Burden; Leo Donnelly; John Hayes; Sydney Lennon; Conal Murphy.
9 September 1941: Fr Gerard Guinane.
29 December 1941: Fr Maurice Dowling.

Michael O’Mahoney (1905-1981), County Tipperary, part of the Australian province of the Society of Jesus, served as chaplain in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Irish Jesuit Missions

  • IE IJA MSSN
  • Fonds
  • 1812 - 2020

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Irish Jesuit chaplains

  • IE IJA CHP
  • Fonds
  • 1895-2020

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Irish Jesuits

  • IE IJA J
  • Fonds
  • 1540-2020

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Isle of Man Mission

The Isle of Man Mission material details the building of chapels and schools in Douglas and Castletown by Fr Matthew Gahan SJ (1782-1837) and his work on the island. Born in Dublin, he entered the Society at Hodder, Lancashire, England in 1805 and left for the Isle of Man in 1826. He had previously spent 3 months on the island in 1817 and 1825. When he died there in February 1837, the Jesuit mission to the island ended.

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Jesuit Chaplains in the Vocational Educational Committee Colleges, Dublin

Jesuit involvement as chaplains in VEC (Vocational Educational Committee) Colleges, Dublin can be traced to the early 1940’s when a number of Irish Jesuits taught religion in technical schools in Dublin. From 1951, when Fr John McAvoy SJ (1908-1983) was appointed Spiritual Director of the Centre of Technology in Bolton Street, Jesuits have worked as chaplains at the College of Commerce, Rathmines and at the Colleges of Technology, Bolton Street and Kevin Street.

The material consists of documents which outline the establishment of the College of Technology at Bolton Street; attempts to establish a student centre (1965); chaplains’ correspondence with Fr. Provincial on the status and role of chaplains: problems and issues (1965-1973), ‘John Austin House’, 135 North Circular Road (1974) and a proposal to set up Jesuit house in Dominick Street (1976); Fr. Provincial’s nominations for chaplains (1968-1976); Archbishop of Dublin’s Planning Commission for V.E.C. Colleges (1971-1972); Role of college chaplains ([ ]; 1973); reports (1973-1978); The V.E.C. and chaplains (1973; 1975).

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Jesuit Chaplains to Irish emigrants in Britain

In the late 1940s, Fr Leonard Sheil SJ (1897-1968) travelled to Britain in an effort to serve Irish emigrants. Fr Sheil was a familiar sight on his motorbike visiting building sites, construction camps, mines, steel works, oil refineries and industrial hostels. Frs Matthew Meade (1912-1992) and Kevin Laheen (1919-2019) also provided missions.

General papers on Irish Jesuit missions;

  • Letters to the Provincial from Irish Jesuit missioners which give their opinions and impression of mission work in England (1960-1961);
  • Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants Easter conferences (1960-1977) which concerns the attendance of the Jesuit Provincial (1960-1972) and reports of proceedings, minutes and addresses (1962; 1977);
  • Working Party on the Irish Emigrant Missions in England and Wales (1973);
  • Mission reports and statistics (1966-1975) including Jesuit missions (1966-1970) and Irish Catholic missions in England and Wales (1968; 1974-1975);
  • Jesuit Chaplains in Westminster and Birmingham Archdioceses (1966-1969);
  • Irish Chaplaincy Scheme (1971-1979) including conference reports (1978-1979), details of chaplains and services (1971; 1976-1977) and Jesuit appointments (1974-1979);
  • Irish Centre Advisory Service, Liverpool (1976) and
  • Lillie Road Centre London (1978).

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Jesuit Colleges in Ireland

  • IE IJA SC
  • Fonds
  • 1700-2020

Clongowes Wood College SJ, County Kildare
Coláiste Iognáid, (St. Ignatius’ College), Galway City, County Galway
Mungret College, Mungret, County Limerick
Crescent College Comprehensive SJ, Limerick City, County Limerick
Belvedere College SJ, Dublin City, County Dublin
Gonzaga College SJ, Dublin City, County Dublin
St Declan's School, Dublin City, County Dublin

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Material relating to Fr Daniel Byrne SJ

A file relating to Fr Daniel Byrne SJ concerning his entry to the Society of Jesus (1938) and his death following a car accident in Northern Rhodesia in 1964.

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Material relating to Fr Patrick J Benson SJ

A file relating to Patrick J. Benson, member of the Chikuni Mission who died in 1970. Includes documents relating to his entry to the Society in 1942.

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin

In 1913, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) purchased the 16th century-built Rathfarnham Castle from a Dublin building company, Bailey and Gibson. Initially, the plan was for a noviciate for Jesuit novices and in time, for working men’s retreats to be established at the Castle. However, by September 1913, this had changed to a house of studies for those Jesuits attending university. This decision was made following the change of regulations to the National University requiring students to attend lectures whereas previously they could be prepared for examinations elsewhere. The Jesuit Juniors as they were known would live at the Castle and cycle to lectures at University College Dublin, then located at Earlsfort Terrace in the centre of Dublin. The Jesuits engaged the architect, Charles B. Powell to modify the Castle in the summer of 1913.

Some Jesuits on mission staff lived there. Became a home for tertian fathers (those Jesuits taking a renewal course following ordination) in 1940. Blessed John Sullivan SJ (1861-1933) was Rector of Rathfarnham Castle for the years 1919-1924. Sullivan was a convert and the son of Sir Edward Sullivan, Lord Chancellor of Ireland (1883-1885). Sullivan’s rectorship was significant for the building of the retreat house in 1922, (working men’s retreats at the weekends and boy’s during the week). The Castle continued to function as a Juniorate until 1975 and for retreats until 1986 when the Jesuits sold Rathfarnham Castle. The following year, it was purchased for the nation by the Office of Public Works.

The papers of Rathfarnham Castle concern: the management of Rathfarnham Castle (1911-1995); the Jesuit community (1913-1985); the history of Rathfarnham Castle (1912-1994); the farm (1917-1920); the seismograph (1918-1954) and retreats (1922-1995). Material is in the form of letters, plans, maps and photographs.

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-

Society of Jesus in Ireland pre-1773

  • IE IJA OLD
  • Fonds
  • 1600-2020

History of the Old Society
Catalogues, lists, necrologies
Information on individual Jesuits
Compilations of biographical notes
Transcripts of biographical notes
Jesuit Foundations in different counties

Irish Mission of the Society of Jesus, 1542-1773

Zambian Mission

Since the formation of the Irish Province in 1860, Irish Jesuits have undertaken three main overseas missions (Australia, Hong Kong and Zambia). More than 120 Irish Jesuits have worked in Zambia. The Vice-Province of Zambia was formed in 1969 and the Province of Zambia and Malawi was established in 1992. The Irish Jesuits' work in Zambia is complemented by other Jesuit Provinces such as: Canada; Croatia; Oregon; Poland and Slovenia. The papers of the Zambian Mission chronicle the life and work of Irish Jesuits since their arrival, in what was then Northern Rhodesia, in 1946. The files of correspondence between Irish Jesuits working in Zambia and their Irish Provincials in Dublin illustrate the areas of work that they laboured in: parish work, education and development. Geographically, this took place in the southern part of the country and in the capital, Lusaka. The impact of the Irish presence is seen especially in Canisius High School and Charles Lwanga College of Education in Chikuni, the parishes in the Monze Diocese, and development projects around the diocese.

Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 1860-