Subfonds EMO - St Mary's, Emo, County Laois

Identity area

Reference code

IE IJA FM/EMO

Title

St Mary's, Emo, County Laois

Date(s)

  • 1874-2008 (Creation)

Level of description

Subfonds

Extent and medium

4 boxes

Context area

Name of creator

(1930-1969)

Administrative history

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.

Archival history

Material collected by Irish Jesuits.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

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

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

All items retained permanently.

Accruals

System of arrangement

Material was catalogued in 1999, with some additions in 2009 and 2013.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

The Irish Jesuit Archives are open only to bona fide researchers. Access by advance appointment. Further details: archivessj@gmail.com

Conditions governing reproduction

No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the Archivist. Copyright restrictions apply. Photocopying is not available. Digital photography is at the discretion of the Archivist.

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Related units of description

Irish Architectural Archive

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Publication note

Grimley, Liam. ‘A Jesuit Novitiate’, Jesuit Year Book, pp44-53, 1959.

Publication note

Kilfeather, T. P. ‘Life in the Jesuit novitiate’, Jesuit Year Book, pp48-58, 1956.

Publication note

Kiely, Benedict. 'There was an Ancient House', Methusen and Co Ltd, London, 1955.

Publication note

King SJ, Fr Henry. ‘The new novitiate’, Irish Jesuit Directory and Year Book, pp195-197, 1931.

Publication note

O'Sullivan SJ, Fr Donal. ‘Inside the noviceship’, pp20-28, Jesuit Year Book, 1955.

Publication note

O'Donnell SJ, Fr Eddie. 'Father Browne’s Laois'. Messenger Publications, 2012.

Publication note

O'Sullivan SJ, Fr Donal. “Me a Jesuit?” Well, why not?, Jesuit Year Book, pp128-135, 1954.

Publication note

O'Sullivan SJ, Fr Donal. ‘Have I a Vocation?,’ Jesuit Year Book, pp26-37, 1958.

Publication note

Symondson SJ, Fr Anthony. ‘A Miraculous Survival: Emo Court’, Irish Arts Review, 1996

Publication note

Laois education Centre. Booklet on Emo Court
www.laoisedcentre.ie/Dreamemo/Projectwork/!Booklet%20A4_pages.pdf

Notes area

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