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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 Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

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 Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

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 Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

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 Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

St Mary's, Emo, County Laois

Emo Court, County Laois was under Jesuit ownership from 1930 until 1969. Now in the hands of the Office of Public Works, the history of Emo dates back to the Earls of Portarlington in the eighteenth century. The first earl, John Dawson, commissioned the building of Emo Court in 1790; it is one of only a few private houses designed by the architect James Gandon. The Portarlington’s sold Emo in 1920 to the Land Commission and the Jesuits purchased the property in 1930, to be used as a novitiate (house of first formation). The Jesuits found Emo in a dilapidated state, with grass growing up through the floorboards. They made significant structural changes in order for it to function as a novitiate rather than as a family home. Many items were removed however they were stored in the basement (fireplace wrapped in blankets). Renowned photographer, Fr Frank Browne SJ, was one of the first Jesuits to take up residence there and he took many photographs of Emo Court.

In 1969, the Jesuits sold Emo to Major Cholmeley Dering Cholmeley-Harrison. He restored the house, sparing no expense, and donated it to the Irish State in 1995. In 2012 the Office of Public Works opened a permanent exhibition on Fr Frank Browne SJ at Emo Court.

The papers of St Mary’s, Emo concern the management of the Emo estate (1900-1995), establishment of the Jesuit community (1928-1930), maintenance, upkeep and expenditure (1931-1970), forestry and the sale of Emo (1969-1970; 1995). There is some material on the Jesuit community (1934-1962) and novitiate (1930-1969) however there is very little in the way of information on individual novices. Material is in the form of handwritten letters, ledgers, architectural plans, maps and photographs.

Rector of St Mary's, Emo:
Master of Novices, St Mary's, Emo:

John Neary October 1934
Donal O'Sullivan
Paddy Cusack

St Mary's, Emo, Laois, 1930-1969

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 Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, Offaly

Catalogue available here: https://www.offalyarchives.com/index.php/irish-jesuit-archives

The Jesuits bought Tullabeg in 1818 (dedicated it to St Stanislaus) and opened a preparatory school for boys destined to go to Clongowes Wood College, Kildare. St Stanislaus College gradually developed as an educational rival to its sister school. It merged with Clongowes Wood College in 1886. Tullabeg then became a house of Jesuit formation: novitiate (1888-1930), juniorate (1895-1911), tertianship (1911-1927) and philosophate (1930-1962). In 1962, it was decided that the students of philosophy should be sent abroad for study. Tullabeg subsequently became a retreat house and was closed in May 1991.

The papers of St Stanislaus College include information on a history of the area around Tullabeg, building and property (1912-2004), correspondence with Superiors (1881-1971), finance (1912-1990), documents on Jesuit training (1818-1962), retreat house (1949-1960) and artworks (1940-1991).

Material is in the form of letters, reports, architectural plans, notes, maps and photographs (1902-1990). Programmes for plays include Shrovetide at St. Stanislaus College, Tullamore; ‘The Man with the Iron Mask’, ‘All at Coventry’ and ‘The Smoked Miser’ (1885) and for ‘Caitlín Ní Uallacáin’ and ‘Cox and Box’ and details Jesuits who performed (1925).

Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

Irish College, Lisbon

The Irish Jesuit College at Lisbon was established in 1590.
Two bound volumes relating to the Irish College, Lisbon concern the foundation of the college, accounts, custom book and statutes. Analysis of the documents relating to the Irish College, Lisbon by Fr Francis Finegan SJ (1909-2011).

Irish College, Santiago de Compostela

The Irish Jesuit College at Santiago de Compostela was established in 1605. Fr Thomas White SJ (1558-1622) founded Salamanca and went on to become Vice-Rector (for diplomatic reasons the title of Rector was held by a Spanish Jesuit) successively at Santiago (1612) and Seville (1619).

Irish College, Seville

The Irish Jesuit College at Seville was established in 1608/12. For diplomatic reasons the title of Rector was held by a Spanish Jesuit. successively at Santiago (1612) and Seville (1619).

Fr Michael McGrath SJ

Irish manuscripts
Material relating to the lives of saints and scholars
Material relating to the Life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga
Lecture notes and articles
Miscellaneous prose
Poetry

McGrath, Michael P, 1872-1946, Jesuit priest and Irish language scholar

Fr Aubrey Gywnn SJ

Catalogue online late 2020.

Gwynn, Aubrey, 1892-1983, Jesuit priest and academic

Fr Martin Corbett SJ

Catalogue online late 2022.

Corbett, Martin Burke, 1876-1957, Jesuit priest

Fr Francis Daly SJ

Catalogue available 2022.

Daly, Francis H, 1848-1907, Jesuit priest

Fr James Daly SJ

Catalogue available 2022.

Daly, James, 1847-1930, Jesuit priest

Fr Hubert Daly SJ

Catalogue available 2022.

Daly, Hubert, 1842-1918, Jesuit priest

Fr Oliver Daly SJ

Catalogue online late 2022.

Daly, Oliver, 1845-1916, Jesuit priest

Fr Brian Delaney SJ

Catalogue online late 2022.

Delaney, Brian, 1938-1973, Jesuit novice

Fr Martin Cryan SJ

Catalogue online late 2022.

Cryan, Martin, 1924-1978, Jesuit priest

Fr Charles Doyle SJ

Catalogue online late 2022.

Doyle, Charles, 1870-1949, Jesuit priest

Fr Patrick Duffy SJ

Catalogue online late 2022.

Duffy, Patrick J, 1814-1901, Jesuit priest

Fr Peter Dunne SJ

Catalogue online late 2022.

Dunne, Peter, 1917-1980, Jesuit priest

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