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Browne, Francis M, 1880-1960, Jesuit priest, photographer and chaplain

  • IE IJA J/7
  • Person
  • 1880-1960

Born: 03 January 1880, Sunday's Well, Cork City
Entered: 07 September 1897, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1915, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1921, Belvedere College SJ, Dublin
Died: 07 July 1960, St John of God’s Hospital, Stillorgan, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death

Father RIP 1898 - a Miller. Mother died eight days after his birth in 1880. Youngest of three brothers (1 deceased) and 3 sisters.

Education was at a Convent School in Athlone and then at Belvedere College SJ,then CBC Cork., and Castleknock College

by 1902 at Chieri Italy (TAUR) studying
by 1917 Military Chaplain : 1st Battalion Irish Guards, BEF France

◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
Browne, Francis Patrick Mary
by James Quinn

Browne, Francis Patrick Mary (1880–1960), photographer and Jesuit priest, was born 3 January 1880 in Sunday's Well, Cork, youngest of eight children of James Browne, flour merchant and JP, and Brigid Browne (née Hegarty; 1840–80), who died of puerperal fever eight days after Francis's birth. The family was well-off and owned a large house at Buxton Hill; Brigid's father, James Hegarty, was a wealthy tanner and a JP, and served as lord mayor of Cork. Francis attended the Bower convent, Athlone (1885–92), the Christian Brothers' college, St Patrick's Place, Cork (1892), the Jesuit college at Belvedere, Dublin (1893), and the Vicentian college at Castleknock (1893–7). He excelled in the classics and modern languages, enjoyed sports, and played on the Castleknock first rugby XV. On leaving Castleknock he made a tour of Europe with his brother William (1876–1938) (also a priest and photographer), and took many photographs, which even at this stage showed considerable talent. On his return in September 1897 he joined the Jesuits, and served his noviceship at Tullabeg, King's Co. (Offaly). After his father drowned while swimming at Crosshaven (2 September 1898), his education was overseen by his uncle, Robert Browne (qv), president of Maynooth College and bishop of Cloyne (1894–1935). Francis took his first vows 8 September 1899, and studied classics at the Royal University at St Stephen's Green, Dublin, graduating with an honours BA (1902). At university he was a contemporary of James Joyce (qv), and ‘Mr Browne, the Jesuit’ makes an appearance in Finnegans wake. He studied philosophy (1902–5) at Chieri, near Turin, travelling throughout Italy during the summer holidays and studying Italian painting. Returning to Ireland in 1905, he taught at Belvedere (1905–11), where he founded a cycling club, a camera club, and the college annual, The Belvederian, which featured many of his photographs.

In April 1912 he sailed on the first leg of the Titantic's maiden voyage (10–11 April) from Southampton to Queenstown (Cobh) via Cherbourg. Friends offered to pay for him to complete the trip to New York, but the Jesuit provincial in Dublin refused him permission. He took about eighty photographs on the voyage, including the last one of the Titanic's captain, Edward Smith, and the only one ever taken in the ship's Marconi room. The Titantic's sinking catapulted his work to international attention, his photographs appearing on the front pages of newspapers around the world. His name forever became associated with the Titanic and he assiduously collected material relating to the disaster, which he used to give public lectures.

He studied theology (1911–15) at Milltown Park, Dublin, and was ordained 31 July 1915. Early in 1916 he became a military chaplain in the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, with the rank of captain. Present at the Somme and Ypres (including Passchendaele), he showed great courage under fire, tending the wounded in no man's land and guiding stretcher parties to wounded men. He himself was wounded five times and gassed once, and won the MC and bar and the Croix de Guerre. His commanding officer, the future Earl Alexander, who became a lifelong friend, described him as ‘the bravest man I ever met’ (O'Donnell, Life, 46). During the war he took many photographs, now held in the Irish Guards headquarters in London. He returned to Ireland late in 1919, completed his tertianship (July 1920), and was again assigned to Belvedere. On 31 October 1920 he cycled to the viceregal lodge to make a personal appeal for the life of Kevin Barry (qv), an Old Belvederean.

He took his final vows (2 February 1921) and was appointed supervisor of St Francis Xavier's church, Gardiner St. (1921–8). Because of the damage done to his lungs by gassing during the war, he spent the years 1924–5 in Australia, making a 3,000-mile trip through the outback, where he took many memorable photographs. By now he and his camera were inseparable and he used it widely on his return trip through Ceylon, Yemen, Egypt, and Italy. Returning to Dublin in late 1925 he resumed his position at Gardiner St. and began regularly to photograph inner-city Dublin life, taking about 5,000 photographs of Dublin over thirty years. In 1926 he took flying lessons and took many aerial photographs of Dublin. He became an important member of the Photographic Society of Ireland and the Dublin Camera Club and was vice-president and a key organiser of a highly successful international exhibition of photography (the First Irish Salon of Photography) during Dublin's ‘civic week’ in 1927; further exhibitions were held biennially until 1939. Appointed to the Jesuits' mission and retreat staff, he was based at Clongowes Wood, Co. Kildare (1928–30), and Emo Court, Co. Laois (1930–57).

Many of these were of the great cathedrals of England, which had a particular fascination for him. With war looming, in 1937–8 he was commissioned by the Church of England to photograph the churches of East Anglia to enable their accurate restoration should they suffer bomb damage. In 1939 his offer to serve as chaplain to the Irish Guards was accepted, but he was refused permission from the Irish Jesuit provincial.

Travelling throughout Britain and Ireland, he continued to photograph and assiduously to practise the technical aspects of photography and build up an impressive array of photographic equipment, including his own developing laboratory at Emo. Most experts believe that his talent matured fully in the 1930s. Given a Kodak 16mm cine-camera by his uncle Robert, he shot a film of the eucharistic congress in Dublin in 1932, and made several subsequent films for state and educational bodies. In 1933 he visited the Kodak works at Harrow, north-west of London, and afterwards received a supply of free film for life and regularly contributed articles and photographs to the Kodak Magazine.

In the 1940s and ‘50s he photographed almost every aspect of Irish life – pilgrimages, ruined monasteries, great houses, and leading religious, political, and literary figures – and his photographs featured regularly in Irish publications. Much of his work dealt with new industries and technology, especially his fascination with transport: aircraft, shipping, and trains. A booklet issued by the Department of Health on the ‘mother and child’ scheme in 1951 was illustrated with his photographs. All his earnings from photography (c.£1,000, 1937–54) were forwarded to the Jesuit provincial treasurer and used for the education of Jesuit students.

As his health faded, he resided at Milltown Park from 1957, and many of his photographs from the late 1950s recorded the themes of old age and death. He died in Dublin 7 July 1960, and was buried in the Jesuit plot in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin.

He took an estimated 42,000 photographs throughout his life, but his fame as a photographer was largely posthumous: most of his work lay unnoticed in a trunk in the Jesuit archives until 1986. His photographs were neatly captioned and dated but were mostly on deteriorating nitrate film, and a major restoration effort was required to transfer them to safe film. Photographic experts were astounded at the quality of the work, generally considering it the outstanding photographic collection of twentieth-century Ireland. Fr Browne had all the attributes of a great photographer: a natural eye for line and balance in composition (a talent developed by his study of Italian art) and an ability to anticipate the decisive moment. In photographing people his lens was never intrusive or exploitative, and his sympathy with his subject is always evident. Scenes involving children, in particular, are captured with a natural ease and dignity. He has been described as ‘one of the great photographic talents’ (O'Donnell, Life, 123) of the twentieth century, and compared favourably with the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Since 1986 his work has been regularly exhibited, published in various collections compiled by E. E. O'Donnell, SJ, and featured in television documentaries.

Rudyard Kipling, The Irish Guards in the great war (2 vols, 1923), i, 136, 141, 145–6, 170, 182; ii, 173; Ir. Times, 18 Nov. 1989; E. E. O'Donnell, SJ, ‘Photographer extraordinary: the life and work of Father Browne’, Studies, lxxix (1990), 298–306; id., Father Browne's Dublin (1993); id., Father Browne: a life in pictures (1994); id., Father Browne's Titanic album (1997)

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :

Francis Browne
Few can claim to have seen as much in their life as Francis Browne, sailing on the Titanic, serving in World War I, travelling the world. Not only did he live it but, as an amateur photographer, he also recorded his life and experiences, allowing us today immeasurable insight into that period in our history.
Born in Cork in 1880, Francis Browne was the youngest of eight children. His mother died of puerperal fever not long after his birth and his father died in a swimming accident when he was nine, so Browne was taken care of by his uncle, Robert Browne. After finishing school in Dublin in 1897, Browne went on a grand tour of Europe, seeing France and Italy. For his travels, his uncle bought him his first camera as a present, and this began Browne’s lifelong interest in photography.
Upon returning to Ireland, Browne entered the Jesuit noviciate in Tullabeg. He studied at the Royal University of Ireland in Dublin, where he was classmates with James Joyce. In 1911 he began studying theology in Milltown. The following year, his uncle gave him a ticket aboard the newly built ship Titanic, to sail from Southampton to Queenstown, now Cobh. Browne brought his camera, as was his hobby, and took many pictures. When he arrived in Queenstown he would have continued on the crossing to America, but was told in no uncertain terms by his superior to return to Dublin. When word arrived days later of the sinking of the Titanic, Browne realised how valuable his photographs were and sold them to various newspapers leading to the publication all over the world.
Browne was ordained in 1915, and the following year was sent to Europe where he served as chaplain to the Irish Guards. During his time in the service, Browne was at the Battle of the Somme, at Flanders, Ypres, and many other places at the frontline of the war. He was wounded on five occasions, and was awarded a military cross and bar for valour in combat. During this time too he took photographs, recording life at the frontline.
Returning to Dublin in 1920, Browne experienced recurring ill health from his time in the war, and was sent to Australia in 1924. Never parting from his camera, he took countless photos of the places he saw on his way over, as well as in Australia. After returning, he was appointed to the Retreats and Mission staff, and travelled all across Ireland. By the time of his death in 1960, Browne had taken photographs in nearly every parish in Ireland. When his negatives were discovered, twenty five years later, there were in the order of 42,000 of them. Twenty three volumes of his work have now been published and the importance of his work has been recognised internationally.

The last parting: Jesuits and Armistice
At the end of the First World War, Irish Jesuits serving as chaplains had to deal with two main issues: their demobilisation and influenza. Some chaplains asked immediately to be demobbed back to Ireland; others wanted to continue as chaplains. Of the thirty-two Jesuits chaplains in the war, five had died, while sixteen were still serving.
Writing on 13 November 1918, Fr Frank Browne SJ describes the day of the Armistice:
Isn’t it grand to think that the end has come & come so well for our side: please God it will come for us at home soon, & equally well. Here all is excitement and rejoicing. I happened to be in Dieppe at the fateful 11 o’clock Monday last. I was at the Ordnance store outside which is a great railway siding... Eleven o’ clock was signaled by every engine furiously blowing its whistle. Then nearly all of them proceeded to career up & down the hacks – still whistling. On several of them men sat astride the boilers waving flats & ringing bells. This lasted for 20 mins. On the other side of the quarry Co. of Engineers burst a charge displacing several tons of rock, & then fired Verey lights & flares. But all this was nothing compared with the French outburst in the town. As I drove into the town our car was pelted with confetti by girls, all of whom were gay with tricolor ribbons. The Belgian emigres organised a march through the town with their military band and all the soldiers & Officers present. The bugles were blowing as they entered the main street, which was crowded with rejoicing people. Suddenly, the bugles stopped, & the Band struck up the Marseillaise. For a moment there was a kind of silence, then with a roar, the whole crowd of people took it up. Woman appeared at every window waving flags, & singing: assistants rushed to the doors of shops & joined in the great chorus: children shouted & sang & wriggled through the crowd. It was one of the most inspiring spontaneous demonstrations it has ever been my fortune to witness.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 7th Year No 4 1932

China :

The Seminary Aberdeen :
The Seminary is now in full working order. We have all the ordinary exercises of our houses of studies circles, tones, etc. The students take kindly to the tones and are frank in their criticisms. A variant of the ordinary tones is a sermonette on the Life of Our Lord, We are using the Epidioscope and the beautiful slides which Father Frank Browne so kindly sent us. Thus a more vivid picture of the Gospel scenes is impressed on their minds. They have also given lectures to the village-folk with a Synoscope which Father Bourke brought out.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 35th Year No 4 1960

Obituary :

Fr Francis M Browne (1880-1960)

The song has it that “old soldiers never die, they only fade away”. Fr. Frank Browne was an old soldier who never said die. He just faded away for a few months until the King whom he served so long and so faithfully called him to the eternal colours on 7th July, 1960, in the 81st year of his life.
Francis Mary Hegarty Browne was born in Cork on 3rd January, 1880. He claimed two Alma Maters - Belvedere and Castleknock - and never lost his affection for both. There must have been militarism in his blood, and the instinct for noble deeds and daring exploits. He went the Ignatian way, entering the noviceship at Tullabeg in 1897. At the completion of his noviceship he was one of a group of brilliant scholastics studying for the Royal - Edmund Power, Patrick Gannon, Austin Hartigan and others. In after years he sometimes mentioned his ability to equal and even surpass in classical lore some of these literary geniuses. After three years philosophy in Chieri, Northern Italy, he spent seven years teaching in Belvedere and Clongowes - mostly in Belvedere. During this period Mr. Browne was the life and soul of Belvedere. The college was small in those days, numbering about 250 boys. There he endeared himself to many who in later years reached the top of their professions. It was there, too, that he became wedded to his camera. While doing full teaching he had cycling club, camera club and every kind of outdoor activity except games.
At the conclusion of this long period of colleges came theology at Milltown Park and Ordination in July 1915 at the hands of his uncle, Most Rev. Robert Browne, Bishop of Cloyne. During his theologate he rarely missed opportunities of long treks over the mountains. It was all a preparation for his duties as military chaplain. World War I broke out in 1914 and in 1916 Fr. Browne became chaplain to the Irish Guards in France and Flanders. He was wounded several times, returning home to hospital with severe shrapnel injuries to his jaw, On his return again to the front he served in the same Irish Division as Fr. Willie Doyle, and was close to Fr. Doyle until the latter was killed in August 1917. From then onwards until the war ended in 1918 Fr. Browne was with the Irish Guards and received several distinctions. As well as frequently being mentioned in despatches he was awarded the Military Cross and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
Tertianship was in Tullabeg, 1919-1920, and then Belvedere College for two years. A visitation of the Irish Province took place just then and two appointments made by the Fr. Visitor - Fr. W. Power, U.S.A. were Fr. John Fahy as Provincial and Fr. Browne as Superior of St. Francis Xavier's, Gardiner Street. Both were, in a sense, as a bolt from the blue. The advent of a young priest as Superior of Gardiner Street - especially one so dynamic as Fr. Browne-was quite unusual. He was the youngest member of the community. The quiet hum of church work became a loud buzz during his six years as Superior. He was a great churchman. As well as a very eloquent preacher, he was devoted to the confessional, Moreover he was a man of great taste and made many improvements in administration. But he worked himself to a standstill and had to go on a long rest. The long rest was a trip to Australia. It provided Fr. Frank with plenty of shots for his camera and matter for many illustrated lectures in which he was a specialist.
From 1928 until a few years before his death Fr, Browne was on the Mission Staff of the Irish Province. He was stationed in St. Mary's, Emo from the time it opened in 1931. This life gave him ample scope for his unbounded energy. He loved his rest periods in Emo and his camera provided a helpful and lucrative relaxation. His photographs of places of historic interest in every part of Ireland were eagerly sought after by papers like the Irish Tatler and Sketch. In his scholastic days he had made a reputation for himself as Editor of The Belvederian. Anyone who scans the volumes of that magazine will find some wonderful photographs. It was while there he accepted the invitation to go on the first leg of the maiden voyage of the famous Titanic, later sunk by an iceberg in the Atlantic. Fr. Frank's photos of the inside of this luxury liner were about the only ones extant.
It is hardly to be expected that younger members of any religious order could have a correct view of older members, seen and known only in their decline. It is for that reason possibly that these obituary notices appear. It is only fair that a man's life should be seen in its entirety, God does not look at the last decade of a man's life, or indeed at any one decade. God views the whole span, and so should we. Else we miss much that we ought to know for our encouragement. The Society has its menologies, and wants the lives of Jesuits to be known by succeeding generations. For this purpose the menology is read every day. In this rapid and complex world our dead are too soon forgotten. The Irish Province has had many devoted sons to whose favours we of today owe much.
What were the outstanding qualities of Fr. Frank Browne? They are here outlined in order of priority as the writer sees them after forty, if not more nearly fifty, years of acquaintance.
He was a most priestly man. To see Fr. Frank at the altar was most impressive. There was no sign of slovenliness, speed, distraction. From his ordination till his death he put the Mass first. This had one rather amusing aspect. The pair of shoes in which he was ordained he preserved to the end, and only wore them at the altar. They were known to his colleagues as “The Melchisedeck Shoes”. This, in itself, shows his anxiety to preserve the fervour of his early priesthood. There was always a dignity about Fr. Browne whenever he functioned in the church, A man of fine physique and carriage, he looked magnificent in priestly vestments. But there was no shadow of affectation, no over-exaggeration. It was simple, honest and devout.
This priestliness he carried into the pulpit. He was never cheap, witty, frivolous. His preaching was always impressive, his words well chosen, his examples apt. He had a very friendly and sympathetic approach to his congregation. His confessional was always crowded and never hurried. There was the kindly word for everyone. With the secular clergy he was extremely popular, yet always reserved and dignified. It is the truth that he never forgot he was a priest and a Jesuit. He might at times be demanding, but always in a pleasant way,
He was a brave man-brave in every sense of the word. As chaplain he was rewarded for his courage under fire. The soldiers admired him and the officers revered him because of his calmness under fire. An Irish Guardsman, still alive, wrote of Fr, Browne :
“We were in a church somewhere in Belgium and Fr. Browne was in the pulpit. Shells began to fall all around. We began to look around and up at the roof already with many holes in it. Fr. Browne thundered out : ‘What's wrong? Why don't you listen? Which are you more afraid of - God or the Germans?”
In the home front, when he was in Belvedere College, 1920-1922, many a time when the crash of a bomb, thrown at British lorries passing down North Frederick Street, was heard, Fr. Browne was down to the scene at once to minister to any injured. People scattered in all directions, but he remained firm. In October 1920, because he considered it his duty, he made a personal appeal to the military authorities on behalf of Kevin Barry.
He feared no man and feared no man's views. He never gave in an inch on a matter of principle even to the point of being irascible. One can imagine the influence he excited on non-Catholics in the British Army, A high-ranking officer, later a Field Marshal and a Viscount, had the greatest veneration for Fr. Browne and always wore a medal of Our Lady that Fr. Frank gave him.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Francis (Frank) Browne 1880-1960
Fr Francis Browne was a colourful character, full of life and go. He was famous as a Chaplain in the First World War, being decorated many times for gallantry under fire. A soldier wrote of him “We were in Church somewhere in Belgium, and Fr Browne was in the pulpit. Shells began to fall all around. We began to look around and up at the roof which already had many holes in it. R Browne thundered out “What’s wrong? Why don't you listen to me? Which are you more afraid of, God or the Germans?”
Through the good offices of his uncle the Bishop of Cloyne, Fr Frank travelled in the Titanic, on her voyage from Belfast to Cork, where luckily he disembarked. Being an excellent photographer, he had taken snaps of the interior of that famous ship, which are the onl;y ones extant to this day.
As a chaplain he was equally popular with Catholic and Protestant, and counted among his friends the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII and later again Duke of Windsor. A high ranking Officer, a Field-Marshall and later a Viscount had the greatest veneration for him, and always carried a medal of Our Lady round his neck, which he had received from Fr Frank.
His outstanding devotion was to the Holy Mass. The pair of boots in which he was ordained he kept apart to the end, and in no others did he ever celebrate Mass.
During his period as Superior of Gardiner Street he was responsible for many improvements in the Church, mainly the fine porch and new system of lighting.
The latter part of his life he spent as a most zealous and successful missioner
He died on July 7th 1960.

◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 2002

Farewell Companions : Dermot S Harte

Fr Francis Patrick Mary Browne SJ

If Fr J M O'Connor SJ had a rival for the “Mr. Belvedere” title, it might probably be Fr Frank Browne SJ - another distinguished Alumnus.

Frank was a good friend of mine. I cannot honestly remember where I first met him for he was the sort of person who seemed to have been around forever. He was so unique that everyone who met him felt that they had always known him. From his adventures aboard the “Titanic” and from his days in the hell of the trenches of World War I, when he was a Chaplain in the Irish Guards, he probably became Ireland's most prolific photographer. He was likely to turn up absolutely anytime, anywhere and very often in the strangest of places! I once encountered him on the footplate of a newly acquired locomotive (”The Maeve”) on the Dublin-Cork run covered from head to toe in coal-dust and sundry grime, having made the total journey in company with the driver and fireman and, no doubt, the inevitable camera!

The story of Frank Browne and the 'Titanic' is legendary. He travelled Southampton-Cherbourg-Queenstown (now Cobh) on the vessel during which time he and his camera did noble work! Not too surprisingly, he was prevailed upon to remain on board for the trip to New York. After all the unsinkable! Titanic was the newest and finest ship ever to sail the seven seas! Who wouldn't give their eye teeth for such a once-in-a-lifetime trip? He radioed his Provincial for permission and hoped for the best! The Provincial's return telegram contained five words: “Get off that ship! Provincial”. So an unhappy Frank remained on land whereas the “Titanic” never reached its destination but instead sank off Newfoundland taking with it some 1500 souls.

But there is another side to the saga of Fr Browne and the Titanic! My grandparents' home was in Sandymount directly across the road from the Star of the Sea Church. Early in the twentieth century the then PP prevailed upon my grandmother to accommodate the “Missioners” who arrived twice each year to conduct the Women's and the Men's Retreats. This was to be on a “one-off” basis but like so many “one-offs” the arrangement became permanent and scores of missioners were accommodated over the next 50 or so years. My grandparents died in the 1920's and early 30's and a number of my unmarried aunts and uncles remained. In particular, I refer to my Aunt Moya!

Eventually there arrived on the scene none other than Fr Frank Browne SJ. The main bathroom was immediately commandeered by Frank where all sorts of apparatus were set up by him to ensure that his photographic pursuits remained unhindered. 1 stayed in the old homestead in order to serve his Mass each morning.

One fine morning he and I set off for his Mass as two of my uncles were having breakfast in the nether regions to which they had been banished when a strange spreading “something” was observed oozing under the breakfast room door. The basement was flooding! Loud crashes were heard as ceilings fell down and chaos ensued! The dreaded Frank had put the plug in the bath on the third floor, connected the water to his Developing Tank - and taken off for the Church! So the unhindered water flowed down with fearsome results. How the priests were not banished for ever more - together with my Aunt Moya - must be the greatest miracle since Moses struck the rock! It did nothing to pacify my uncles and their wrath fell on the shoulders of my unfortunate aunt.

But it didn't all end there, for Moya composed a little ditty that started “Father Browne, he didn't go down”. After the retreats, and overcome by remorse for her disrespect to a man of God, she decided that she must be in a state of mortal sin and took herself off to confession. She told me that in confessing this dreadful sin she said to the priest, “Father, I had bad thoughts about a Missioner!” I'll bet that made her confessor sit up and take notice as he was a particularly close family friend! The poor man was convulsed with laughter when he discovered the nature of her “sin” and she was sadly disappointed at receiving a penance of only one “Glory Be”! But she immediately gave up smoking to atone for her temporary lapse from grace - as she saw it!

The last time I saw Fr Browne was on the platform at Limerick Junction station as he returned from one of his many adventures having immortalised on film whatever caught his attention at the time. Whenever I pass through this station, in my mind's eye his Great Spirit still stands there as it did a lifetime ago. I never forget to remember, and to offer a prayer of gratitude for his friendship. Fr Browne was called to his Heavenly Home on 7 July 1960 where no doubt he is still taking photographs, this time, I would imagine, in glorious Technicolour!

After his death over forty-two thousand of his negatives were discovered in Loyola House by Fr Eddie O'Donnell SJ. So the Great Frank who didn't go down, didn't go away either! With the aid of sponsorship from Allied Irish Bank all were restored and three of AlB/Ark Life calendars, including this year's, featured his photographs. I was amazed to see a photograph of myself in one of the earlier calendars taken, I believe, sometime during the '40's.

Seventeen volumes of his photographs have been published and exhibitions in the Guinness Hop-Store, throughout the country, and in the Pompidou Centre in Paris have featured his Dublin Photographs. His 'Titanic' photographs have been exhibited in places as far apart as Hiroshima, Seattle, Chicago, Lisbon, Bruges and Budapest.

I have a feeling that, somehow, he will still be around on the Last Day. What marvellous opportunities for really spectacular photography will then present themselves! I'll bet he is ready and waiting for the off - and is already champing at the bit!

◆ The Clongownian, 1918

Clongowes Chaplains

We should have liked to be able to give a series of letters from Army. Chaplains, Past Clongownians, and former members of the Clon gowes Community, describing their professional experiences. We made considerable efforts and received promises not a few. But in the end, all found that their life was too busy and too irregular to make formal composition of that kind possible, and they one and all shrank from the task. Very often, too, no doubt, there was the fear of the Censor in the background. But notwithstanding this we thought it would be of interest to many readers of the “Clongownian” if we pieced together from these letters the scattered fragments of news coll tained in them. And this is what we have done. We begin with Father Corr, who for several years most worthily filled the position of Editor to this Magazine, and to whom is due the magnificent Centenary Number, 1914

Father F M Browne SJ

Father Browne, who was a master here some years ago, but not a Past Clongownian is with the anc Battalion Irish Guards. He has certainly had considerable variety during his time at the front. He was within the salient of Bourloi Wood when it had its neck cut and barely managed to escape On this occasion he got the bar to the MC. Of this experienc he writes : never went
through any thing like it and I wish there had bee another Lady Butler to pair another Roll Call of th 2nd I G after Bourlon Wood It was one of the saddest sights have ever see Imagine a fair dark night, deep sunken road lined with tiny excavations, some of them covered with oil sheets, etc, and in the middle the wreck of our Battalion. I cannot tell you how many we were when we started nor how many when we ended, for it would be a crime against interfering DORA”. Of his bar to the MC he writes:-“The only thing by which I can account for it was my very narrow escape from walking into the German lines during or rather just before Bourlon”.

During his wanderings Father Browne has not been unmindful of the wanderings of St Brendan, the story of which he has told in his illustiated guide to Lough Corrib. He tells us that he came by accident on an early French poem on this subject, with a commentary, in a Flemish farmer's cottage. This, no doubt, will be an interesting and, we hope, valuable addition to his booklet on this subject.

One little tit-bit of information which he gives us shows how great a change the presence of Irish soldiers must make to a French parish from the religious point of view. “We had a great ceremony on Sunday last - 2,500 Irish, soldiers gathered for Mass in the Cathe dral of --- to honour the new Bishop who presided at the Mass. I said Mass, Father W Doyle preached. Several Generals and big people - all impressed with very great solemnity. We had a guard of honour for the Elevation and trumpeters to play the General's Salute from the organ gallery. Father Doyle preached a very eloquent sermon though he was strictly limited to 15 minutes”. What a sight for the poor French Catholics - the old ones amongst them, no doubt, were brought back in memory to the ages of Faith in the fair land of France!

Delaney, John J, 1883-1956, Jesuit priest and chaplain

  • IE IJA J/29
  • Person
  • 04 July 1883-08 August 1956

Born: 04 July 1883, North Strand, Dublin City
Entered: 23 September 1904, Drongen Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: 31 July 1916, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 02 February 1921
Died: 08 August 1956, St Francis Xavier, Upper Gardiner St, Dublin - Belgicae South Province (BELG)

WWI Chaplain

by 1920 came to Tullabeg (HIB) making Tertianship
by 1933 came to St Francis Xavier (HIB) working

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :

‘From Easter Week to Flanders Field’
From Easter Week to Flanders Field: The diaries of and letters of Fr John Delaney SJ, 1916-1919′ is the latest book by historian Thomas Morrissey SJ. John Delaney SJ walked the streets of Dublin during Easter Week 1916, recording in a diary everything he encountered along the way. This treasure came to light in the Jesuit archives five years ago, and is reproduced in the book and so public for the first time.
The next year, in 1917, John Delaney was sent to the battlefields of Europe, where he served on the front line as an army chaplain. It is his letters, in this instance, that provide a first-hand account of the realities of war. Putting both experiences together, this volume provides an eye-witness account of two major events of the early twentieth century.
Thomas Morrissey SJ brings us through Delaney’s life and times from Dublin to Flanders, later on to service in Ceylon, then his final years back in Dublin. “Ypres, Louvain, Rheims, were before our mind’s eye in a moment and we thought – war had come to us at last. Dublin was in flames. The roar of guns was in our ears, at our very door, and men were falling. Men were dying not on the fields of France or in the trenches of Flanders, but on the streets of Dublin. It was really dreadful; too dreadful to look at, too dreadful to hear, too dreadful to think of… We went down to prayers. I could not help thinking of the poor fellows dying not so far from us amid the shot and shell whilst we repeated in our little chapel, ‘Ora pro nobis’ ”, wrote John Delaney SJ, Thursday 27 April, 1916.
The book was launched on Monday 23 March at St Francis Xavier’s Church, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin. Fergus O’Donoghue SJ, Superior of Gardiner St community, warmly welcomed those at the launch. He said that when that when Todd (Thomas Morrissey) first approached him about the book he advised him that he wouldn’t have enough material and Todd agreed. Then totally unexpectedly he was given a link to published correspondence of John Delaney in the ‘Old Boy’s Journal’ of the Jesuit College in what is now Sri Lanka.
Launching the book, Professor of history Fergus D’Arcy began by reciting a chilling list of the numbers of young men from all the countries involved in WWI who died in battle. The room went very quiet. He called the war “the beast of the apocalypse”, a war “so awful that it raises questions about the beautiful gardens around the world that commemorate it”.
Commenting on John Delaney’s diary entries regarding the Easter Rising, Prof. D’Arcy said his first-hand account, warts and all, was fascinating. Delaney was a chaplain to the Gardaí at the time. For this reason a specially invited guest at the launch was Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey (pictured here with Fr Morrissey). He said he was delighted to represent the Gardaí at the launch of such a book and he wanted to honour the memory of John Delaney SJ who served the Gardaí so well.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 31st Year No 4 1956

St. Francs Xavier's, Gardiner Street
By the death of Father Delaney, on 8th August: we suffered the loss of one of the best-loved priests in the Church. Even though illness had for almost the last two years removed him from his many posts of duty, there were constant affectionate enquiries for him, and requests for his spiritual assistance: up to the time of his leaving Gardiner Street last Autumn he was always ready to come down from his room in response to the latter. Messages of sympathy on his death reached Father Provincial and Father Superior from many sources: large numbers of Mass-cards were left on the coffin: and, at his funeral, the Civic Guards whose Sodality he directed So splendidly turned out such a Guard of Honour as he himself, always so pleased with a uniformed and well-drilled parade, would have thoroughly appreciated. May he rest in peace!

Obituary :

Fr John Delaney (1883-1956)

Fr. Delaney was born in Dublin in 1883 and educated in O'Connell Schools and at Mungret Apostolic School, from which he graduated as B.A. in the old Royal University. In 1904 he entered the Society of Jesus at Tronchiennes, Belgium, and he studied philosophy in Louvain before going to teach for four years in St. Aloysius College, Galle, Ceylon.
Returning to Ireland for his course of Theology, he was ordained in Milltown Park in 1916. The following year he was appointed Army Chaplain and he saw service in Flanders and France during the years 1917-1919, succeeding the late Fr. Willie Doyle as chaplain to the “Munsters”. At the end of the war he returned to the Mission in Ceylon, where he remained until 1932, being Director of Studies at $t. Aloysius College, Galle, for six years and later Principal of St. Mary's College, Kegalle.
During the twenty years he spent in Ceylon Fr. Delaney rendered valuable services to the cause of education in that country, where, in St. Aloysius College, Galle, he succeeded another Irishman, the late Fr. Denis Murphy, as Principal. He was responsible for the building and equipment also of St. Mary's College of the Society of Jesus at Kegalle, with a roll of 600 students.
In 1932 he returned again to Ireland to become an outstanding figure as a giver of missions and retreats throughout the country. In 1944 he joined the staff of Gardiner Street Church, where he remained until his death. At Gardiner Street he was Director of the Sodality for members of the Dublin Metropolitan Gardaí, and Director also of the Arch-Association for Work for Poor Churches, the annual Exhibition of Vestments of which he organised so efficiently. For a number of years he was also responsible for the organisation of Irish Jesụit Mission Week in St. Francis Xavier's Hall; and was the imperturbable Traffic Superintendent-in-Chief of the huge Crowds during the Novena of Grace.
For the last year or two of his life he had been in poor health. He died suddenly and peacefully on Wednesday, August 8th. The Civic Guards, whom he had admired so much, did him honour in death. They formed a Guard of Honour in the Church, acted as pall-bearers and lined the path way to the graveside in Glasnevin. The Commissioner, Chief Superintendents and Superintendents were in attendance in the Church and at Glasnevin.
One shall not easily forget the glamour of his rhetoric in the pulpit or the record of his patience and prudence in the confessional. He was particularly successful in the direction of nuns and of scrupulous people. But, indeed, his guidance as a confessor was sought by all classes of people, and he had the very precious gift of being able to inspire people with confidence in their last moments. I think it was just three years ago that Fr. Delaney was flown to the death-bed of a gentleman in London. This gentleman had been away from the sacraments for many years; he had met Fr. Delaney only once, before, and accidentally; but, when he came to die, he asked for Fr. Delaney to help him make his peace with God.
For the past year Fr. Delaney had been almost completely helpless. He required assistance to even change his position in his chair; he could not feed himself. For a man of such abounding energy formerly this was a particularly heavy cross. Yet he bore it with a superb patience. He never murmured. To Fr. Superior and Fr. Minister he would say : “Is there any thing I could do for you?” He was surely touched to receive Fr. General's blessing a few months ago. To Fr. Superior Fr. General had written : “Nuntium de conditione adeo gravi Patris Joannis Delaney maxime dolebam; cui caro Patri qui in ista provincia et in missionibus indicis per tot annos cum zelo laboravit velim Reverentia Vestra paternam benedictionem significet”. Fr. Delaney was especially pleased that he should have been considered a carus pater. He was indeed beloved by all, by none more than by his community. He was a great community man. But, then, he did all things well.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father John Delaney 1883-1956
Fr John Delaney was born in Dublin in 1883, educated in O’Connell’s Schools and Mungret College, whence he joined the Belgian Province of the Society.

As a scholastic he worked in St Aloysius College, Galle, Ceylon, which he helped attain that position of scholastic achievement, initiated by another Irish Jesuit, Fr Denis Murphy.

Having served as a Chaplain in the First World War, he returned to work in Ceylon until 1932, when he came back to Ireland. Here he became an outstanding figure on the Mission Staff until 1944, when he was appointed as Operarius in Gardiner Street. The glamour of his rhetoric in the pulpit and his patience and prudence in the confessional will not be forgotten. He had a charisma for scrupulous souls. On one occasion he was flown to London to hear the confession of a dying man years away from the Sacraments. This man had only met Fr Delaney once in his life. Such incidents could be multiplied and they speak volumes of the character and spiritual quality of Fr Delaney.

He died on August 8th 1956, a jubilarian of the Society.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1932 : Golden Jubilee

Our Past

Father John J Delaney SJ

Fr J J Delaney SJ was a companion of Father Willie Doyle during the Great War. After years of teaching at St. Aloysius College, Galle, he is now in charge of St. Mary's School, Kegalle, where he has renewed the face of the earth. He is easily the most popular and effective preacher in the island, a wonderful raconteur, and doing no end of good,

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1933

Our Past

Father John J Delaney SJ

Father J J Delaney SJ, (1899-1924) is home from Kegalle, Ceylon. It was said that he came home for a rest. Father John's definition of rest must be change of climate, for he has never ceased work since he returned. He has made a name in Ireland already as a preacher and director of Retreats. On Whit Sunday he received our Sodalists and delighted all the boys with his sermon for the occasion. We have seldom heard so many tributes from them after a sermon.

◆ Mungret Annual, 1957


Father John J Delaney SJ

We regret to announce the death of Fr John Delaney which took place on August 8th. Fr Delaney was born in Dublin in 1883. He was educated in O'Connell schools and Mungret Apostolic School where he graduated as a BA in the old Royal University. In 1904 he entered the Society of Jesus at Tronchiennes Belgium. After Philosophy he taught for four years in St Aloysius College, Galle, Ceylon. Returning to Ireland for Theology he was ordained in Milltown Park in 1916. The following year he was appointed military chaplain and saw service in Flanders and France during the years 1917-19. At the end of the war he re turned to Ceylon where he remained until 1932. Here he was responsible for the building of St Mary's College at Kegalle.

In 1932 he returned to Ireland where he became an outstanding giver of Retreats and Missions. In 1944 he joined the staff at Gardiner St, where he remained till his death. In Gardiner St. he was Director of the Sodality of the Dublin Metropolitan Gardai and Director also of the Arch-Association for work for poor Churches. In his life his guidance was sought by all classes of people in the confessional. He was particularly successful in the direction of nuns. At his funeral the Guards formed a guard of honour in the Church, and acted as pall bearers. They whom he admired so much in life honoured him in death. RIP

McLoughlin, Thomas J, 1886-1963, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1729
  • Person
  • 25 October 1886-12 June 1963

Born: 25 October 1886, Clifden, County Galway/ New Ross, County Wexford
Entered: 07 September 1904, Tullabeg
Ordained: 15 August 1919, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 15 August 1922
Died: 12 June 1963, St Ignatius College, Riverview, Sydney, Australia - Australiae Province (ASL)

Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1931

Father was manager of the National Bank in Clifden and theb in 1891 was transferred to New Ross, County Wexford, where he died in 1896.. His mother who is now provided for by private means now lives in London.

One of two sisters and three brothers.

Early education Convent of Mercy New Ross, and then went to the Christian Brothers there, followed by a time at the Augustinian College there. In January 1901 he went to Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1909 at Leuven Belgium (BELG) studying
Came to Australia for Regency 1911
by 1918 at The Seminary, Kandy, Sri Lanka Mission (BELG) teaching at Seminary
by 1921 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
Tom McLoughlin was educated at CBC Wexford until he went to Clongowes Wood, Dublin, 1901-04. He entered the Irish noviciate at Tullabeg, 7 September 1904, and continued with his juniorate studies at the same place, 1904-06. His philosophy was at Louvain, 1908-11, before regency at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, 1911-16, where he taught and was third prefect. He directed the junior debating and was master-in-charge of the library Theology followed at Kurseorag, Kandy, and Milltown Park, 1916-20. Tertianship was at Tronchiennes .
McLoughlin returned to Australia to teach and was first prefect and rowing master at Riverview, 1921-25. He was not suited to the office of first prefect because he was not the man to insist on discipline with the tact and authority of one more suited to that work. His only interest in games was that Riverview was playing, and he wanted them to win.
He was sent to St Patrick’s College, 1925-35, where he taught French. During this time he also edited the “Patrician”. He was considered a good teacher, making French easy and entertaining for students. His classes were delivered with an almost flippant spontaneity that concealed the careful preparation he put into them. There was always the atmosphere of friendliness and warmth to his classes. He could be strict, but liked incidents to be finished immediately He was a keen handball player and enjoyed a game with the boys. His contact with the Old Boys was much appreciated, and his memory of their activities was most impressive. He received many visits from them. He vigorously promoted the Old Collegians' Association.
From 1936 until his death he returned to teach at Riverview and to edit “Our Alma Mater”. He was also prefect of studies, 1937-50, and chaplain to the Old Boys from 1950.
He was one of the great institutions at Riverview, a much respected friend and patron of the Old Boys. He taught French with some success for many years. He was most thorough and painstaking in everything he undertook, yet he was not at all fussy, a good disciplinarian, very kind and understanding. He was a good influence on every boy he taught.
He showed concern for those in special need, teaching the lower classes by choice. Every night he corrected many French exercises and prepared live classes for the next day. His work on “Our Alma Mater” was also a nocturnal task. One edition had 2,000 names of Old Boys. He had no secretary. He was a great letter writer.
In his declining years he continued to look after the alumni, supervise a few study periods, hear confessions, and edit “Our Alma Mater”. Towards the end he sustained a heart attack from which he died. Over 1,000 attended his funeral Mass at St Mary's Church, North Sydney, some travelling hundreds of miles to he present. The 300 senior boys of Riverview lined the roadway at the cemetery.

Murphy, Denis J, 1862-1943, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/260
  • Person
  • 20 August 1862-20 February 1943

Born: 20 August 1862, Novohaldaly, Rathmore, County Kerry
Entered: 02 February 1882, Milltown Park, Dublin
Ordained: 01 August 1897, St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1899, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway
Died: 20 February 1943, St Beuno’s, St Asaph, Wales

Early education at Carrigaline and Sacred Heart College SJ,. Limerick

Came to Australia 1889 for Regency
by 1898 at Drongen Belgium (BELG) making Tertianship
by 1902 at St Aloysius, Galle, Sri Lanka Mission (BELG) teaching at Seminary
by 1923 at St Wilfred’s Preston England (ANG) working
by 1943 at St Beuno’s, St Asaph, Wales (ANG) health

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
A highly intelligent and interesting man, Denis Murphy began his career in the Society in 1882, and after initial Jesuit studies arrived at Riverview for regency in December 1888. He taught the public exam classes in Latin, Greek, French and mathematics, and was an assistant prefect of discipline until 1893. In the years 1893-94 he taught the lower classes at St Patrick's College before returning to Ireland for theology After tertianship he spent time in Ceylon and England.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 10th Year No 3 1935

Works by Father Denis J Murphy SJ :

  1. “English Idioms and Pronunciation” - Written for Indian students of English. It gives in parallel columns incorrect and correct English idioms. A pamphlet of 25 pages, very helpful for schools in India
  2. “Current Errors in English History” - Two booklets, of about 100 pages each, give true history of important events according to best historians, and show how false is the Protestant version.

Irish Province News 18th Year No 2 1943

Obituary :
Father Denis Murphy SJ (1862-1943)
Fr. Murphy's death occurred at St. Beuno's College, St. Asaph, North Wales, on the morning of 20th February. After spending some time in a Preston Nursing Home he had been transferred to St. Beuno's last summer and, the' unable to offer Mass since 2nd June, he kept up his former interests and maintained contact with Preston, the scene of his labours for the twenty years previous to his death, as well as with the Province. On the very morning of his death Fr. Socius received a letter from the Brother who was looking after him, reporting Fr Murphy's anxiety to give full information of the Masses he had been saying up to his illness and mentioning that he still retains his buoyancy and good spirits and begs to be kindly remembered to the Provincial and the community at Gardiner Street.
Born at Rathmore, Co. Kerry, in 1862, he entered the Society at Milltown Park, Dublin, on February 2nd, 1862, and spent five years as master in Melbourne before pursuing his theological studies. He was ordained priest by the late Most Rev. Dr. Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin, in 1897, and after occupying the post of Prefect of Studies at St. Ignatius' College, Galway, for three years, volunteered for school work in Galle, Ceylon, then under the care of the Belgian Jesuits. Monsignor Van Reeth, S.J., Bishop of Galle, had come to Europe in 1901 in search of a Head for his recently established school for native boys. Father Murphy offered himself for the position. Under his tactful and talented management; the college, from being a collection of mere floorless huts, where boys were taught the elements of the three Rs, became a secondary school of distinction, St. Aloysius College, where pupils were prepared for the Senior School Certificate of Cambridge. After twenty years of unbroken service in the tropics Father Murphy was compelled through ill-health to return to Ireland in 1922. In the autumn of that year began his twenty years' association with the parish of St. Walburge's of Preston, where his priestly zeal and remarkable gentleness of disposition won him all hearts. The diamond jubilee of his entrance into religion was made the occasion last February, of remarkable popular rejoicings in Lancashire.
Fr. John Delaney has kindly set down the following details of Fr Murphy's work in Ceylon : “On his way home to Ireland from Australia for his theology, Mr Murphy's boat called at Colombo. While on shore he visited the Irish Oblate father who was then Parish Priest at St. Philip Neri’s the Garrison Church of the town. Chatting about Mission work on the Island, the Oblate father impressed so much on Mr. Murphy's mind the crying need of English speaking missionaries in such a place that he determined to apply to his Superiors for permission to return as a priest and work in Ceylon. He was strengthened all the more in his desire, as he found that the Society had two dioceses Galle in the South and Trincomali in the East of the Island, as well as the papal Seminary in the Hill Capital, Kandy, where the future clergy of India and Ceylon were being formed by the Jesuit Fathers.
During his tertianship he offered himself to the Provincial for Mission work in Ceylon, His generous offer was accepted, though Fr. Murphy heard no more about it for some time. On his return to Ireland he was appointed to Galway and asked to work up the school there. Many there are to-day who still remember and speak with admiration of the untiring zeal and the fine spirit of work he showed at St. Ignatius.
While Fr. Murphy was working in Galway the Belgian Jesuit Bishop, Dr. Joseph Van Reeth, who was in charge of the Galle Diocese Ceylon, came to Rome on his ad limina visit. While touring Europe in quest of subjects who would help him to found and work up a College in his diocese - a project very dear to his heart - he applied to the Irish Provincial, who remembering the Tertian's generous offer, placed the Bishop's request before him. Fr. Murphy packed up and set sail for the East, accompanied by as German Scholastic, who had joined the English Province for Mission work. That was in 1901. His work was to continue till 1921.
Fr. Murphy's activities in Ceylon can be placed under two heads : (1) the educational, or (2) the directly spiritual :
Arriving in Galle and taking charge of the Boys' School that had a roll of 82 pupils, he commenced his solid, persevering, self-sacrificing work that was to culminate in the great St. Aloysius' College of to-day - a fully equipped Secondary School with Elementary and Commercial Branches complete, side by side with an up-to-date Scientific Department containing a magnificent Laboratory that is regarded as one of the best in the Island.
Getting down to the very rudiments, Fr. Murphy began to lay the solid foundation of a thorough grasp of the English tongue for which the pupils of St. Aloysius' College became so renowned in later years. Parsing, analysis, rich vocabulary and correct idiom he hammered at continuously in season and out of season. People saw the wisdom of his plan and he himself was greatly encouraged when at the end of the first year he succeeded in getting his two Candidates through the Senior Local Cambridge Examination.
Then, he set about training his own pupils, first as monitors then as teachers, some of whom he sent to the Training College, gradually staffing the school with his own past pupils. During his regime he succeeded in capturing twice the much-coveted Government scholarship offered in open competition to all the Colleges of the Island. Before he returned to Ireland he had the satisfaction of seeing over 500 boys housed in a magnificent set of buildings the new St. Aloysius College-designed and completed on really oriental lines. His remarkable spirit of work had a contagious quality, too. His Old Boys testify even, to-day to that, and assert that with his great slogan "Certa Viriliter" emblazoned on the College Coat of Arms as their motto. Fr. Murphy really infused a genuine spirit of work into their lives. His directly spiritual work was equally successful. Starting off with a highly intensified spiritual life himself and remarkable for his spirit of prayer, love of poverty, penitential practises - rarely did he sleep on a bed - he gathered around him souls whose great desire was to be disciples of The Master. He was loved by the children for the wondrous charm of his simplicity. Converts reverenced him as their father. Children of Mary in the Convent and the College were anxious to place themselves under his spiritual direction. Members of religious congregations, many of whom hailed from Ireland, drew inspiration for their lives from his word and his example. His kindness, gentleness and discernment, his Christlike demeanour were an unfailing attraction for all.
For many years he crossed over regularly to Madras for the Annual Retreat of the Irish Presentation Nuns. Their first Convent in Madras was an offshoot of Rahan near Tullabeg. The former Rahan Parish Priest was a brother of the late Archbishop of Madras. These were the links between the two communities. From humble beginnings these Irish Presentation Nuns gradually developed their influence till to-day they are a power in the land through their schools, convents and colleges including the famous Training College of Madras, where the foundations of Catholic education of South China are so well laid.
The secret of Fr. Murphy's success lay in those supernatural qualities which his late Jesuit Superior in Galle discerned when he spoke of him as “a genuine religious and a very saintly man”. The same encomium as was paid twenty years after, when a late Provincial of England alluded to him as “the saint of St. Walburge's” R.I.P.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Denis Murphy SJ 1862-1943
On his way home from Australia, Mr Denis Murphy – as he was then called – called in at Colombo, and was much struck by the lack of priests there. He volunteered for the Mission of Ceylon. His offer was accepted in 1900 on the appeal of the Bishop of Galle for a man to run his recently established school for native boys. Under his management, the school, from being a mere collection of floorless huts became a secondary school of distinction, the present College of St Aloysius. For twenty years Fr Murphy worked in Ceylon.

Then through ill health he returned to Ireland, and he worked for another twenty years on the English Mission at Preston. He celebrated his Diamond Jubilee as a Jesuit in 1942, having been born at Rathmore in Kerry in 1862.

He died at St Beuno’s on February 20th 1943, leaving behind a permanent monument to his zeal in the College of St Aloysius, Ceylon.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1902

Letters from Our Past

Father Denis Murphy SJ


A Jesuit. Father. well known to many .. of our students, and one who takes a great interest in the apostolic school, writes from Galle, Ceylon :

“Some six years ago this diocese had only six Catholic schools. Now there are thirty-six, each & source of numerous conversions and fonning the nucleus of a Chris tian community. The total number of children now attending the Catholic schools is about 2,500; six years ago it did not exceed 700,

We have, however, numerous difficulties to contend against. The Buddhists are encouraged and organised by European spiritualists, like Colonel Alcot and Miss Besant. Then there is the bitter opposition and bigotry of the. Protestants, who have plenty of money and have been in the field a hundred years before us. The Catholics are: poor, and find it difficult to support the priests or teachers. Above all, the workers are too few. Imagine thirty-six schools and forty-two churches and chapels, many of them thirty or sixty miles apart, worked by some eight priests ! Thus it happens that Catholic teachers and children are often months without seeing a priest. And it occurs again and again that schools decay and Catholics 'turn Protestant and Buddhist owing to the want of a priest to look after them.

But wherever a priest is the school fourishes and conversions multiply. Down at Matura, five years ago, there were two flourishing Wesleyan schools. Rev. Fr Standaert SJ, then opened his school of two boys in the church verandah, Now Fr. Standaert's school numbers one hundred and fifty children ; of the Wesleyan schools, one is fast dying, the other already dead.

The climate though hot, is wholesoine and invigorating, sea or land breezes nearly always blow; while our diet, dress, and houses are well adapted to a tropical climate. Hence, I feel the heat less than during an Australian summer”.


The same writer says in another letter :

“The Catholics, having endured a terrible persecution under Dutch Calvinists for 150 years up to the year 1800, are now fast multiplying. Their number at present is about a quarter of a million ; Trotestants are 60,000; the rest, Some 3,000,000, are Buddhists and Mohammedans. This (locese has over 7.coo Catholics scattered over an area as Targe as Munster. Two hundred converts are made yearly. In this diocese we have only twelve priests and need help Dadly. The Singhalese are a gentle loveable race, pos sessing an eastern refinement. Their modesty and humility seem to fit them admirably for the reception of Christianity. Here in Galle a higher Catholic school is sorely needed to keep our boys from Buddhist and Protestant schools. We teach from the alphabet to Senior Cambridge.

Some 'twelve months ago this (St Aloysius), school had a little over one hundred pupils, there are now over two hundred. About half are Catholics, the rest are Buddhists, Mohainmedans and Protestants. Gentle, good, ainiable boys they are. We are getting converts amongst them. About a dozen are now preparing for baptism. The scenery of Ceylon is beautiful, especially around old Kandy, the hill city of the kings, which I visited lately”.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1904

Letters from Our Past

Father Denis Murphy SJ

“I was very glad to hear that you hope to be able soon to send help to Galle. The need is great, and the harvest is ripe. English-speaking priests are sorely needed in Ceylon and India. First, as English teachers in colleges. Second, as Preachers in churches Thirdly, because Continental priests don't well understand British character, ideas and methods, which of course permeate British Colonies. This is certainly an agreeable mission, with. many thousaud Pagans awaiting the light. Caste males no difficulty here; but is a terrible barrier in India, I am sorry I cannot write more, as I hear this eve ping the Singhalese chart of the Via Crucis in the native tongue, while our pious congregation, in many-coloured native costumes, gather in. Still we are only one in thirty-five of the population of Galle. There is great room for conversions. So pray for me with my littie Catholics and non-Catholics.

NOTE - Though Father Murphy is not a Past Student, we think his letter will interest many of our readers, es pecially those who remember him in Galway.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1905

Letters from Our Past

Father Denis Murphy SJ

A great friend of the Apostolic School, now a missioner in Ceylon, writes from St Aloysius College, Gaile

My dusky lads admire the Mungret photos and would like to be in such a grand college. In Ceylon, though the Protestants have built many fine Colleges, the Catholics have only one large College building - St Joseph's, Colombo, but we hope to have a fine college built in Galle very soon.

Of my 240 boys about half are Buddhists and Mohammedans, good little fellows, with the natural law writ clear and deep. Few leave us without Catholic principles and a desire to embrace the true faith, but parents oppose, and helpless boys must prudently yield now; later on we hope they will follow their convictions. We must rely for converts chiefly on the young, the old Buddhists being too corrupt in heart and mind.

Our rival colleges here are the Anglican, the Wesleyan with some 400 pupils, and the Buddhist College supported hy English Theosophists. The latter college was fast dying last year and nearly all its pupils were leaving for St Aloysius' College; but Colonel Olcott came, bought up a large building, bronght out a Cambridge MA, and now that Buddhist institution flourishes.

It is difficult to exaggerate the need of English-speaking priests in India and Ceylon. English education is now spreading rapidly. Every bishop has a college in his diocese and naturally requires as teachers those whose mother tongue is English. Amongst Europeans here, too, there is great need of priests of their own nationality,

So you see there is a splendid field of labour open to Mungret in these lands.

The bishop of Kandy and a Singhalese priest are just giving a mission here. The dialogues, in which the private lakes the rôle of a Buddhist or Protestant asking for information from the bishop, are very interesting and instructive for the people. The bishop, an Italian, learned this plan from the Jesuits in Rome,


The same writer, in another place, sends the following most interesting items :

The people of this country, until some three months since, were cursed by drunkenness, leading to countless murders. But a temperance movement, like Father Matthew's, has spread through the island in an extraordinary manner, and already public houses and law courts are empty; publicans and lawyers are in poverty. For a Buddhist people it is marvellous. They have watchers near every public house, and pledge-breakers are boy. cotted and macle to take on their backs stones or baskets of sand to the Buddhist temples.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1908

Letters from Our Past

Father Denis Murphy SJ

Ceylon - Rev D Murphy., writes from Galle:

We need English), or still better, Irish, aid very badly here, especially for college work. We have now a nice college of some 300 dusky lads and my poor self the only Paddy! We have white boys, chiefly of Dutch descent, called Burghers, and yellow boys - Singhalese and Portuguese - with many black boys of Tamil blood, The latter are industrious when made to be, and by nature very. gentle and obedient.

The Eastern memory is very good. The mind is acute but lacks reasoning power. All these qualities of mind and character are improving under European education.

Lying and theft seem a second nature to young and old here - quite shocking at first. But our boys quickly learn that “honesty is the best policy” in word and deed; so I find them now truthful and honest when they find both esteemed and rewarded; while the opposite bring punishment and disgrace. Amongst my 300 boys I have not had for many months a complaint of loss of books (stolen), which was quite a plague formerly. Our Catholic boys have much piety.

At games we do well. The college holds the champion ship for foothall over the Buddhist, Anglican, and Wesleyan colleges - past and present. The Aloysian club holds the foolball championship of Galle: Aided by four old boys the college played an excellent team of eleven English officers and men from HMS Sealark; and after a hard hour's game the match ended in a draw; and our English opponents acknowledged that Ceylon boys can play a splendid game. Of course all this makes our lads proud of their college, and fosters esprit de corps. The evenings are quite cool enough for Association; but Rugby cannot flourish in the tropics.

An English theosophist bas revived the Buddhist College here in Galle, which was almost dead four years since, having sent nearly all its pupils to us. Our boys though Buddhist grow with Catholic ideas and principles, If we could only gain the parents' permission many would become Catholics. We must wait and pray, con tent with those we do gain.

I like Ceylon climate better than Ireland's. We have no winter, nor is the heat too great; a fresh land or sea breeze constantly blows.

I hope some more will come to us from Mungret. The Easi has greatest need of English speakers.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1909

Letters from Our Past

Father Denis Murphy SJ

Ceylon - Rev D Murphy., writes from Galle:

Very glad missionary thoughts are turning Eastward, especially to India and Ceylon where English speakers are very badly needed. We must help in English countries French and Belgians, who want our aid in a most special way for education and English preaching English Protestant Missionaries swarm over Ceylon and India, but alas ! how few Catholic. May God send us some priests and nuns froin Ireland! I gave two retreats last Xmas in Madras to two large convents of Irish nuns, over thirty in each. Without them the various bible societies with Protestant Englislı nuns in abundance would have nearly all female education in their hands. South of Madras there is not one English speaking nun in India. Very sad !

We are more fortunate in Ceylon. We have the Good Shepherul Sisters from Ireland in Colombo and Kandy, and here in Galle we have a large convent of Belgian and Irish, with threë natiye sisters, all doing excellent work and famous for their Limerick lace. A beautiful convent by the sea bas been established at Matara, twenty seven miles from Galle.

Mr Piler is coming to us next month. You cannot imagine what a change one scholastic makes here or how much good he can du, surrounded and hard pressed as we are by Buddhists and Protestants. We have nine native teachers and a school of 300 fine lads, gentle, obedient; and industrious ; but only halt are Catholics We teach from alphabet to senior Cambridge and soon to London matriculation.

◆ The Crescent : Limerick Jesuit Centenary Record 1859-1959

Bonum Certamen ... A Biographical Index of Former Members of the Limerick Jesuit Commnnity

Father Denis Murphy (1862-1943)

Born at Rathmore, Co. Kerry, entered the Society in 1882 and was ordained in 1897 at Milltown Park. He had spent his regency at Australia before his theological studies. After his ordination he was appointed prefect of studies at St Ignatius', Galway and discharged the duties of his office with marked success for three years. He then volunteered for work with the Belgian Jesuits in Ceylon and for twenty years did splendid work in building up the College of St Aloysius at Galle. He was forced by ill-health to return to Europe in 1921 and was appointed to Sacred Heart College. Here he was engaged in teaching as well as being a member of the church staff. At the end of the year, however, feeling called to do mission work in England, he was sent at his own request to the Jesuit church at Preston where he laboured to the end. He remained a member of the Irish Province, although he had spent only four years of his long life in the actual work of his Province.

Sloan, John G, 1893-1947, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/408
  • Person
  • 06 July 1893-28 December 1947

Born: 06 July 1893, Benagh, Kilkeel, County Down
Entered: 01 October 1924, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: by 1937, Kurseong, India
Final Vows: 15 August 1937
Died: 28 December 1947, Korangi Creek, Karachi, Pakistan - Chigagensis Province (CHG) - Madurensis Mission (MDU) (in a plane crash)

Transcribed : HIB to TOLO 1926 to CHG 1928 (MDU)

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 1 1948

Frs. G. Casey and C. O'Conor represented the Province at the Solem Requiem Mass celebrated at Kilkeel Church, Co. Down on 22nd January for the late Fr. John Sloan, S.J., of Patna Mission (Chicago Province) who perished in the Dakota crash outside Karachi on the night of 27th December. Fr. O'Conor was the Celebrant. A brief account of his career appears below.


Fr. John Sloan (1893-1924-1947) - Patna Mission

Fr. John Sloan (Patna Mission). Many of our Province who knew Fr. John at Tullabeg were shocked to learn of his tragic death in the last days of December, with twenty two others he perished in the Dakota crash just outside Karachi on the night of the 27th. He was at the time Superior of the missionary band (miss. excurr.) and on his way to give a mission.
Born at Benagh in the parish of Kilkeel, Co. Down in 1899, he went straight from the National School to business at John Hughes, Ltd., Liverpool. He appears to have attended night school at St. Francis Xavier's, where he met Fr. Bridge who arranged for his entry to Osterley, from which he came to our Novitiate on 1st October 1924. During the following year he was assigned to the Madura Mission of the Toulouse Province, where he completed his noviceship. He studied philosophy at Shembaganur, and during holidays, when catechising in various mission stations, began to show those talents for preaching which he put to such good use in after years. It was as a philosopher, too, that he started collecting funds for the building of a Church to St. Patrick at Periakulam, South India, a project which was warmly supported by the Bishop of Trichinopoly and was carried through to a successful issue. About 1928 Fr. General granted Mr. Sloan permission to transfer to the Patna Mission of the Chicago Province, where he enjoyed much better health and secured congenial work. On the completion of his philosophy in November 1930, he set out for Patna, where, to his amazement, he found himself Procurator of the Mission and residing at Bishop's House, Banakipore. At the end of the following year he went to Kurseong for theology and was ordained priest on 21st November, 1934.
After his Tertianship he served at various mission stations until 1937, when he became head of a missionary group, engaged in the giving of missions throughout India, a post be held till his untimely death, He travelled extensively by air during the ten years of this fruitful apostolate, and had only returned from the Persian Gulf a few days before the end.
He was the recipient of a personal letter of congratulation from our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, on the success of his work. Fr, Sloan was never in Ireland after he left it as a novice, in 1925.
He is survived by two sisters : Mrs. Harper, Greencastle, Ballyardle, Co. Down, and Mrs. Cavin, St. Anthony, Idaho, and by a brother, Fr. Francis Sloan, pastor of St. Teresa's Church, Midvale, Utah, R.I.P.

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 3 1948

Letter from Fr. J. A. MacSeumais, R. A. F. Staging Post, Mauripur.
“I am still awaiting a plane for Singapore. However, there is a possibility that I may be away tomorrow. This Station is served by Dutch Franciscans from St. Patrick's Church, Karachi. I was in there on Sunday and met the Superior Ecclesiasticus of this Area, Mgr. Alcuin Van Miltenburg, O.F.M. He it was who made all the arrangements for the burial of Fr. John Sloan, S.J. Fr. Sloan was travelling from Karachi Airport to Ceylon, in a TATA Dakota when the plane crashed at Karonji creek about 15 miles from Karachi Airport. The Mother Superior of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and one of her nuns, Mother Anthony, an Irishwoman, were called to St. Teresa's Nursing Home, Karachi to prepare Fr. Sloan's body for burial. He is buried in the Catholic Plot at Karachi Cemetery where several other Jesuits are buried. I visited Fr. Sloan's grave on Sunday and I hope to obtain a photograph of it.
The German Jesuits had the Mission of Sind and Baluchistan, and after the First World War, it was taken over by the other Provinces. In 1935, it was taken over by the Franciscans. There is a magnificent Memorial in front of St. Patrick's, built in honour of the Kingship of Christ and commemorating the work done by the Society in this Mission. Under the Memorial is a crypt and in a passage behind the altar is the ‘The Creation of Hell’ by Ignacio Vas, a number of figures of the damned being tortured in Hell. Indefinite depth is added by an arrangement of mirrors”.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father John Sloan 1893-1947
John Sloan has been described by his biographer as a Francis Xavier from Ulster. Born in Kilkeel County Down in 1898, he was what we might have called a late vocation. At the age of 23 he entered Osterley College in London, under Fr Lester, to fill in the gaps in his education. In 1924 he entered the Irish noviceship, during the course of which he was selected for the Indian Mission. Eventually in India, he was attached to the American Misison at Patna. Here began his life’s work.

The All-India Mission Band, which travelled the length and breadth of India, preaching Missions, mainly to English speaking residents. His conversions were untold, and the harder the case, the better John Sloan liked it. He was also responsible for numerous late vocations. His energy was boundless, though his frame was frail. Being warned by his doctor to take at least a year’s rest, he replied “I am only looking for eternal rest”.

He had just finished a Mission to oil-workers in the Persian Gulf and was on route to Ceylon to begin another campaign. The plane he boarded at Karachi on December 27th 1947 blew up after being air-borne ten minutes, and his broken body was picked up some ten miles from the city. He had had a premonition of disaster and had made a general confession in the Franciscans before embarking.

A truly apostolic soul, the fruits of his work are still to be seen, and many a priest thanks God daily at his Mass, that he met John Sloan.