Russell, Matthew, 1834 -1912, Jesuit priest and editor

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Russell, Matthew, 1834 -1912, Jesuit priest and editor

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  • Russell, Matt

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13 July 1834 -12 September 1912

History

Born: 13 July 1834, Ballybot, Newry, County Down
Entered: 07 March 1857, Beaumont, England - Angliae Province (ANG)
Ordained: 1864
Final vows: 15 August 1874
Died: 12 September 1912, Ms Quinn’s Hospital, Mountjoy Square, Dublin

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

by 1864 at St Beuno’s, Wales (ANG) studying Theology 2
by 1865 at Laval, France (FRA) studying Theology 3

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
He came from a very distinguished family and was very gifted. Three sisters entered Religious life. His brother Lord Russell of Killowen, first Catholic to serve as Lord Chief Justice of England.
1860-1865 He taught at Limerick for Regency, and then went to Laval and St Beuno’s for Theology.
1866-1873 He returned to Limerick for more Regency
1873-1875 He was sent to Milltown to complete his studies.
1875 From this time he had various posts in UCD, Gardiner St, Tullabeg and the Gardiner St again, where he spent the rest of his life until he died at Ms Quinn’s Hospital in Mountjoy Square 12 September 1912.

Paraphrase excerpts from Obituary notice of Katharine Tynan :
“Father Russell’s death will have come as a great grief to a great number of people. He was a centre of mental and spiritual health for many of us, and therefore bodily health as well. He was always there, not physically present, but a confidence, a light, a certainty.
For about forty years he fulfilled something of a double Mission in the life of Dublin. He had many personal friendships and gave great care to the poor. But the area I want to focus on is his mission to the young literary people, poets especially, and his work of feeding artistic flame. He took work in the “Irish Monthly” from anyone, no matter their faith or nationality. His own work in Poetry and Prose is well known. ....... Who will be the friend (of writers and artists) now that Father Russell has gone?
He had that most cheerful and lovely personality, very winning, and we used say “robin-like” until illness robbed him of his red cheeks. ... It must be twenty five years since he said he would give up all visiting except of the poor, though he had not the resolve to see this through fully. He had warm personal friendships beyond his work with the poor. He had a whole clientele of working women, such as the two dressmakers who came to him from Limerick looking for patronage. He spoke for the poor because they were inarticulate to speak for themselves. He was a great worker in the cause of Temperance, and an abstainer himself.
(He was Editor of the Irish Monthly for over 40 years.) The “Irish Monthly” gathered gathered in the most unlikely of people. WB Yeats, Frances Wynne and many others, who were unlikely to associate with anything Catholic, did so because of him. Those who came, brought others. Lady Wilde was heard to say “The Irish Monthly had heart behind it” - Oscar Wilde wrote some his earliest poems for it.
My last interview with him in hospital was the most affecting of my life. ...... He was not so far away that he could not remember the children, each one by name. He asked me to forgive someone who had injured me. He talked of the kindness of the nurses.”

Note from John Naughton Entry :
For the last year of his life he was in failing health, and about 10 days before death he was moved to Miss Quinn’s Hospital, Mountjoy Square, where he died peacefully. Fathers Matthew Russell and Timothy O’Keeffe were with him at the time.

Note from John Bannon Entry :
On the evening of his death the Telegraphy published an article on him headed “A Famous Irish Jesuit - Chaplain in American War” : “The Community of the Jesuit Fathers in Gardiner St have lost within a comparatively short time some of their best known and most distinguished members. They had to deplore the deaths of Nicholas Walsh, John Naughton, John Hughes and Matthew Russell, four men of great eminence and distinction, each in his own sphere, who added lustre to their Order, and whose services to the Church and their country in their varied lines of apostolic activity cannot son be forgotten. And now another name as illustrious is added to the list. The Rev John Bannon....

◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
Russell, Matthew
by David Murphy

Russell, Matthew (1834–1912), Jesuit priest, editor, and writer of devotional verse, was born 13 July 1834 at Ballybot, near Newry, Co. Down, second son of Arthur Russell of Newry and Killowen, Co. Down, and his wife Margaret, daughter of Matthew Mullen of Belfast and widow of Arthur Hamill of Belfast. His elder brother was Charles Russell (qv), later lord chief justice of England and Baron Russell of Killowen. Educated at St Vincent's College, Castleknock, Dublin, and Violet Hill, Matthew also studied at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, at a time when his uncle, Charles William Russell (qv), was president of the college. He entered the Society of Jesus on 7 March 1857 and was ordained priest in 1864. He taught (1864–73) at Crescent College, Limerick, and in 1873 founded a journal, Catholic Ireland (later renamed the Irish Monthly), which he edited until his death. He took his final vows on 15 August 1874.

The Irish Monthly soon established a reputation for publishing the work of young writers and contained some of the earliest writings of Oscar Wilde (qv) and Hilaire Belloc. Russell was also a tolerably accomplished poet himself and published collections of devotional verse which included Emmanuel: a book of eucharistic verses (1880), Madonna: verses on Our Lady and the saints (1880) and Erin verses, Irish and catholic (1881). These collections were very popular at the time and he built up a large following. In his capacity as editor of the Irish Monthly he also acted as a friend and confidant to many writers, and was a guiding force behind the Irish literary revival of the late nineteenth century. His correspondence collection in the Jesuit archives in Dublin reflects the influence he had on the Irish literary scene of this period and includes letters from numerous writers and political figures that he befriended and supported, such as Mary Elizabeth Blundell (qv), Aubrey de Vere (qv), Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (qv), Alfred Perceval Graves (qv), Denis Florence MacCarthy (qv), Lady Gilbert (née Rosa Mulholland) (qv), Judge John O'Hagan (qv), James Stephens (qv), T. D. Sullivan (qv), Alfred Webb (qv), and W. B. Yeats (qv). He also corresponded with Hilaire Belloc about literary and domestic matters.

In 1874 he was attached to the staff of the Catholic University in St Stephen's Green and later moved to St Francis Xavier's church, Gardiner St., where he undertook pastoral duties (1877–86). In 1886 he was appointed as spiritual father at the Jesuit-run UCD, returning to work with the Gardiner St. community in 1903. He died on 12 September 1912 and, following requiem mass at St Francis Xavier's, was buried in the Jesuit plot in Glasnevin cemetery. His substantial collection of papers in the Irish Jesuit archives also includes manuscript articles, poems, and devotional writings.

Fr Matthew Russell, SJ, files in Irish Jesuit archives, Dublin; Ir. Monthly, xl, no. 472 (Oct. 1912); WWW; Freeman's Journal, 27 Jan. 1923; Crone; Welch

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 2nd Year No 2 1927

University Hall :
On November 16th the Community at Lesson St. celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Fr T Finlay. As a scholastic, Fr Finlay helped Fr. Matt Russell to found the Irish Monthly and the Messenger. The latter periodical ceased to appear after a short time; it was to be revived later, again under Fr Finlay's inspiration.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Matthew (Matt) Russell 1857-1912
In the County Down on July 13th 1834 was born Fr Mattew Russell of that distinguished family which gave a Lord Chief Justice to England.

He entered the Society at Beaumont in 1857, and in the course of his long and fruitful life, was stationed at Limerick, University College, Tullabeg and Gardiner Street, where he ended his days.

His name will always be remembered in connection with the “Irish Monthly”, which for forty years he made the popular literary magazine of Ireland. He had a special mission to encourage young writers and poets, and named among his protegées such famous people as WB Yeats, Speranza, Katherine Tynan, Francis Wynne, Oscar Wilde. He was no mean writer himself, both in prose and poetry.

Apart from his literary activities, which of course had a strong apostolic bias, he was a great lover of the poor. His light shone in many a wretched home that alas was in darkness. He was a very zealous though unobtrusive worker in the cause of temperance.

He was a man of the most cheerful and winning personality, who formed warm friendships among a very diverse circle, high and low, rich and poor, Catholic and Protestant, a talent which he used to the best of his power for the salvation of souls and the glory of God.

He died a most happy and peaceful death on September 12th 1912.

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

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Angliae Province of the Society of Jesus, 1622- (1622-)

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