Walsh, Patrick J, 1911-1975, Jesuit priest and missioner

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

Walsh, Patrick J, 1911-1975, Jesuit priest and missioner

Parallel form(s) of name

  • Walsh, P J
  • Breatnach, Padraig
  • 韋靈思神父
  • Walsh, Patrick Joseph
  • Paddy Walsh

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

17 February 1911-02 May 1975


Born: 17 February 1911, Rosmuc, County Galway
Entered: 01 September 1928, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 29 July 1943, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 15 August 1946, Broken Hill, Southern Rhodesia
Died: 02 May 1975, Vatican Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa - Zambiae Province (ZAM)

Transcribed HIB to ZAM : 03 December 1969

Early education at Mungret College SJ; Tertianship at Rathfarnham

by 1937 at Aberdeen, Hong Kong - Regency
by 1939 at St Aloysius, Sydney, Australia - health
by 1940 in Hong Kong - Regency
by 1946 at Lusaka, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - First Zambian Missioners with Patrick JT O’Brien
by 1947 at Brokenhill, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working
by 1962 at Loyola, Lusaka, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) Sec to Bishop of Lusaka

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
In 1926 and 1927, a team of three boys from Mungret College at Feis Luimnighe (Limerick Festival) swept away the first prizes for Irish conversation and debate. The three boys were native Irish speakers. They were Seamus Thornton from Spiddal who became a Jesuit in California and later suffered imprisonment at the hands of the Chinese communists, Tadhg Manning who became Archbishop of Los Angeles and Paddy Walsh from Rosmuc who joined the Irish Province Jesuits in 1928.

Fr Paddy was born in the heart of Connemara, an Irish speaking part of Ireland and grew up in that Irish traditional way of life, a nationalist, whose house often welcomed Padraic Pearse, the Irish nationalist who gave his life in the final struggle for Irish independence. Fr Paddy came to Northern Rhodesia in 1946 and felt an immediate sympathy with the aspirations of the younger and more educated African nationalists.

For regency, he went to Hong Kong, China, but a spot on his lung sent him to Australia where he recovered in the good climate of the Blue Mountains. Back in Ireland for theology and ordination in 1943, he once again volunteered for the missions, this time to Northern Rhodesia where he came in 1946.

His first assignment was Kabwe as superior and education secretary. Chikuni saw him for two years, 1950 and 1951, and then he went north to Kabwata, Lusaka as parish priest where he constructed its first church. From 1958 to 1969 he was parish priest at Kabwata, secretary to Archbishop Adam, chaplain to the African hospital and part-time secretary to the Papal Nuncio. He became involved in the problems of race relations, an obvious source of prejudice, and he had a hand in setting up an inter-racial club in Lusaka where the rising generation of both Africans and Whites could meet on an equal footing. His own nationalist background led him to participate in their struggle which he embraced with enthusiasm. When many of the leaders were arrested and sent to prison, Fr Paddy was a constant source of strength and encouragement, especially for their bereft families. He administered funds for their support which in large part came from the Labour Party in England. He was a friend of Kenneth Kaunda and looked after his family and drove his wife to Salisbury to visit Kaunda in prison. Within six weeks of Independence, Fr Paddy had his Zambian citizenship and at the first annual awards and decorations, the new President Kaunda conferred on him Officer of the Companion Order of Freedom.

In 1969 Fr Paddy had a heart attack and it was decided that he return to Ireland. As a mark of respect and appreciation, the President and some of the ministers carried the stretcher onto the plane.

Fr Paddy recovered somewhat and returned to Roma parish in 1970 but his health did not improve and it was felt that a lower altitude might improve things, so he went back to Ireland and Gibraltar to work there. The Papal Nuncio in South Africa, Archbishop Polodrini who had been in Lusaka, invited Fr Paddy to be his secretary in Pretoria. He accepted the offer in 1973. 0n 2 May 1975 Fr Paddy died in Pretoria of a heart attack and was buried there, a far cry from Rosmuc.

Fr Paddy was completely dedicated to whatever he did, especially in the African hospital where he ministered and he bitterly complained to the colonial powers about the conditions there. He had a great sense of loyalty to people, to a cause, to the Lusaka mission, to the Archbishop himself and to the welfare of the Zambian people and the country.

At the funeral Mass in Lusaka, attended by President Kaunda and his wife, the Secretary General, the Prime Minister and some Cabinet Ministers, Kaunda spoke movingly of his friend Fr Paddy. He said that he had had a long letter from Fr Paddy saying ‘he was disappointed with me, the Party, Government and people of Zambia because we were allowing classes to spring up within our society. Please, Fr Walsh, trust me as you know me, I will not allow the rich to grow richer and the strong to grow stronger’.

Archbishop Adam wrote about Fr Paddy who had worked as his secretary for eleven years: ‘It was not very easy to know and to understand Fr Walsh well. Only gradually I think I succeeded – sometimes in quite a painful way. But the more I knew him the greater was my affection for him, and the respect for his character and qualities. Apart from his total dedication, I admired his total disregard for himself, his feeling for the underprivileged and his deep feeling for justice’.

Note from Maurice Dowling Entry
After the war, when the Jesuits in Northern Rhodesia were looking for men, two Irish Jesuits volunteered in 1946 (Fr Paddy Walsh and Fr Paddy O'Brien) to be followed by two more in 1947, Maurice and Fr Joe Gill. They came to Chikuni.

Note from Bob Thompson Entry
With Fr Paddy Walsh he became friends with Dr Kenneth Kaunda and other leaders at the Interracial Club. This was all during Federation days.

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :


A hundred years ago, Paddy Walsh was born in Rosmuc to an Irish-speaking family that frequently welcomed Padraic Pearse as a visitor. Paddy was the first Irish Jesuit missionary to “Northern Rhodesia”. He felt a natural sympathy with the leaders of the struggle for independence. When Kenneth Kaunda (pictured here) was imprisoned by the Colonials, Paddy drove his wife and family 300 miles to visit him in Salisbury gaol. As a citizen of the new Zambia, Paddy was trusted by Kaunda. He upbraided the President for permitting abortion, and for doing too little for the poor. Kaunda revered him, insisted on personally carrying the stretcher when Paddy had to fly to Dublin for a heart operation, and wept as he eulogised Paddy after his death: “This was the one man who would always tell me the truth without fear or favour.”

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 21st Year No 1 1946

Frs. O'Brien and Walsh left Dublin on January 4th on their long journey to North Rhodesia (Brokenhill Mission of the Polish Province Minor). They hope to leave by the "Empress of Scotland" for Durban very soon.

Irish Province News 21st Year No 2 1946

From Rhodesia.
Frs. O'Brien and Walsh reached Rhodesia on February 21st. They were given a great welcome by Mgr. Wolnik. He has his residence at Lusaka and is alone except for one priest, Fr. Stefaniszyn who did his theology at Milltown Park. Lusaka is the capital of Northern Rhodesia and is a small town of the size of Roundwood or Enniskerry.
Fr. O'Brien goes to Chikuni, which is a mission station with a training school for native teachers. Fr. Walsh is appointed to Broken Hill. where he will work with another father. ADDRESSES : Fr. Walsh, P.O. Box 87, Broken Hill, N. Rhodesia; Fr. O'Brien, Chikuni P.O., Chisekesi Siding. N. Rhodesia

Fr. Walsh, Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia, 16-2-46 :
Fr. O'Brien and I arrived in Durban on February 6th, having come via Port Said and the Suez Canal. The voyage was a tiresome one, as the ship was overcrowded - in our cabin, a two-berth one in normal times, we had thirteen, so you can imagine what it was like coming down through the Red Sea and the east coast of Africa. We had a large contingent of British soldiers as far as Port Said. They got off there to go to Palestine. We had also about six hundred civilians, demobilised service-men, their wives and children. We had ten Christian Brothers, two Salesian priests, two military chaplains (both White Fathers), six Franciscan Missionary Sisters going to a leper colony quite near Bioken Hill, four Assumption Sisters, and two Holy Family Sisters, so we had quite a big Religious community.
Our first stop was Port Said where we got ashore for a few hours. We moved on from there to Suez and anchored in the Bitter Lakes for a day and a half. There we took on three thousand African (native) troops, most of them Basutos. The Basuto soldiers were most edifying. There were several hundred of them at Mass every morning, very many of whom came to Holy Comnunion. They took a very active part in the Mass too - recited the Creed and many other prayers in common, and sang hymns in their native language, and all this on their own initiative. They are certainly a credit to whatever Missionaries brought them the Faith.
Our next stop was Mombasa, Kenya, then on to Durban. The rainy season was in and it rained all the time we were there. We arrived in Joannesburg on Saturday night, February 9th. We broke our journey there, because we were very tired, I had a heavy cold, and there was no chance of saying Mass on the train on Sunday. We were very hospitably received by the Oblate Fathers, as we had been also in Durban. I could not praise their hospitality and kindness to us too highly. Many of them are Irish, some American and South African. We remained in Jo'burg until Monday evening and went on from there to Bulawayo. We had a few hours delay there and went to the Dominican Convent where we were again most kindly received - the Mother Prioress was a Claddagh woman. We were unable to see any of the English Province Jesuits. Salisbury, where Fr. Beisly resides, would have been three hundred miles out of our way. Here at Livingstone we visited the Irish Capuchians. We were both very tired, so we decided to have a few days' rest. We have visited Victoria Falls - they are truly wonderful. The Capuchians have been most kind to us and have brought us around to see all the sights. It is wonderful to see giraffes, zebras and monkeys roaming around. Recently one of the Brothers in our mission was taken off by a lion. We expect to come to Broken Hill on Wednesday night. Most of our luggage has gone on before us in bond. We were able to say Mass nearly every day on the boat, except for a few days when I was laid up with flu. I think we are destined for the ‘Bush’ and not for the towns on the railway. It is very hot here, but a different heat from Hong Kong, very dry and not so oppressive. On the way up here we could have been travelling anywhere in Ireland, but they all say ‘wait till the rainy season is over’.”

Irish Province News 21st Year No 4 1946

Rhodesia :
Fr. P. Walsh, P.O. Box 87, Broken Hill, N. Rhodesia, 15-8-46 :
“On the day of my final vows I ought to try to find time to send you a few lines. My heart missed a few boats while I glanced down the Status to see if there was anyone for Rhodesia. Fr. O'Brien and I are very well and both very happy. I met Fr. O'Brien twice since I came out, once when he came to Broken Hill, and again last month when I went to Chikuni to give a retreat to the Notre Dame Sisters who are attached to our mission there. Chikuni is a beautiful mission. The school buildings there are a monument to the hard work done by our lay brothers. The brothers whom I have met out here have struck me immensely. They can do anything, and are ready to do any work. Yet they are wonderfully humble men and all deeply religious. I am well settled in to my work now, You may have heard that I have been appointed Superior of Broken Hill. I am blessed in the small number of my subjects. My main work continues to be parish work among the white population. As well as that I am Principal of a boarding school situated about eight miles outside Broken Hill. We follow the ordinary school curriculum for African schools, and we also have a training-school for vernacular teachers. Most of the work is done by native teachers. I go there about three times a week and teach Religion, English and History One lay-brother lives permanently at the school. He is seventy two years of age but still works on the farm all day. The farm is supposed to produce enough food to support the boys in the school (and sometimes their wives), The hot season is just starting now. It has been very cold for the last month. L. have worn as much clothes here in July and August as ever I wore in the depth of winter at home. Although we do not get any rain during the cold season, still the cold is very penetrating. It will be hot from now till November or December, when the rains come. We were to have Fr. Brown of the English Province here as a Visitor. (He was formerly Mgr. Brown of S. Rhodesia). He had visited a few of our missions and was on his way to Broken Hill when he got a stroke of some kind. He is at present in hospital. One leg is paralysed completely and the other partially. He is 69 years of age, so he will hardly make much of a recovery. It is difficult to find time for letter writing. I seem to be kept going all day, and when night-time comes there is not much energy left”.

Irish Province News 22nd Year No 1 1947

Departures for Mission Fields in 1946 :
4th January : Frs. P. J. O'Brien and Walsh, to North Rhodesia
25th January: Frs. C. Egan, Foley, Garland, Howatson, Morahan, Sheridan, Turner, to Hong Kong
25th July: Fr. Dermot Donnelly, to Calcutta Mission
5th August: Frs, J. Collins, T. FitzGerald, Gallagher, D. Lawler, Moran, J. O'Mara, Pelly, Toner, to Hong Kong Mid-August (from Cairo, where he was demobilised from the Army): Fr. Cronin, to Hong Kong
6th November: Frs. Harris, Jer. McCarthy, H. O'Brien, to Hong Kong

Irish Province News 50th Year No 2 1975

Obituary :

Fr Patrick Walsh (1911-1975)

In 1926 and 1927 a team of three boys representing Mungret at Feis Luimnighe swept away first prizes for Irish conversation and debate. Small wonder, since they were all native speakers. All three of them became missionary priests. Séamus Thornton, SJ suffered imprisonment at the hands of Chinese communists; Tadhg Manning is now Archbishop of Los Angeles, and Paddy Walsh was one of the six boys three “lay” and three “apostolic” - who joined the Irish Province from Mungret on the 1st of September, 1928.
The transfer of the novitiate from Tullabeg to Emo took place about a month before his first vows, Juniorate at Rathfarnham and UCD, and Philosophy in Tullabeg followed the normal pattern, but for regency Paddy went to Hong Kong. Before long, a spot was discovered on his lung and he was sent to the Blue Mountains in Australia, where he felt his isolation from the Society, but where he was cured. Ordination in Milltown (1943) and Tertianship in Rathfarnham completed his course and then, in 1945, an urgent cry for help came from the Polish Province Mission to Northern Rhodesia. Paddy O'Brien and Paddy Walsh were the first two Irish Jesuits to answer. There are about seventy three languages and dialects in that country, so they had to learn the one used by the Tonga people who inhabit the southerly region in which Canisius College, Chikuni, is situated. It was, however, after his transfer to the capital, Lusaka, that the main work of his life began. It entailed learning another language, Nyanja, and plunged him into pastoral work. As Parish Priest of Regiment Church, so called because it lay near a military barracks, and Chaplain to the hospital, he laboured untiringly for the spiritual and temporal well-being of his flock, with whom he identified himself. They were poor, sick and sometimes leprous. Father Paddy’s letters to the Press, exposing their misery and calling for action, made him unpopular with some of the Colonial administrators, but enthroned him in the hearts of his African people.
Their aspiration to political freedom found a ready sympathiser in one whose boyhood home in Rosmuc had frequently received Padraic Pearse as a welcome visitor: Leaders of the Nationalist movement, Harry Nkumbula, Simon Kapapwe and Kenneth Kaunda, were emerging: They trusted Paddy and he stood by them in face of opposition from Colonials. When they were imprisoned, Paddy administered the fund - largely subscribed by the British Labour Party - for the support of their wives and children. It was Paddy who drove Kenneth Kaunda’s wife and family the three hundred miles to visit him in Salisbury gaol.
When independence was won in 1964, Paddy took citizenship in the new Republic of Zambia (named after the Zambezi River) and its first President Kenneth Kaunda conferred the highest civil honour upon him, Commander of the Order of Companions of Freedom. With the destiny of their country in their own hands now, the new rulers of Zambia faced the enormous problems of mass illiteracy, malnutrition and poverty. Using their wealth of copper to enlist aid from abroad and finance huge development plans, they have made gigantic progress.
Paddy continued his priestly work in Lusaka until a heart attack struck him down in 1969. Though the air-journey would be risky, it was necessary to send him home for surgery. President Kaunda and Cabinet Ministers carried the stretcher that bore him to the aeroplane. BOAC had heart specialists ready at Heathrow Airport, who authorised the last stage of the journey to Dublin, Paddy FitzGerald inserted a plastic valve in the heart, with such success that Father Paddy's recovery seemed almost miraculous.
He returned to Zambia, but felt that more could be done for his beloved poor. He was very disappointed, too, by the passing of a law permitting abortion. Maybe, he had a dream of a Zambian utopia, and could not bear to think that it had not been realised. He returned to Ireland; worked for a very short time in Gibraltar, and, finally, went to Pretoria as Secretary to the Papal Nuncio in 1973. There he died suddenly on the 2nd of May, 1975.
It was as impossible for Paddy to dissemble or compromise as it was to spare himself in the pursuit of his ideal. The driving force of his life and of his work for Zambia was his love of Christ. In the retreat that Fr John Sullivan gave us before our first vows in Emo, he said: “Any friend of the poor is a friend of Christ. It is the nature of the case”. Paddy both learned and lived that lesson. An dheis Dé go raibh a anam

Irish Province News 51st Year No 3 1976

Obituary :

Fr Patrick Walsh (1928-1975)

“Fr Paddy Walsh was amazingly and touchingly honoured by the nation when President Kaunda preached a eulogy of him at a funeral Mass on 13th May 1975. The huge Christian love that ‘KK’ displayed in his talk was wonderful to hear. There were few dry eyes in the Church”. (So runs a letter from Fr Lou Haven, S.J., Zambia.)
A Zambian newspaper article (by Times reporter') featuring the event says:
President Kaunda has vowed that he would fight tooth and nail to ensure that the rich did not grow richer and the strong stronger in Zambia. Dr Kaunda broke down and wept when he made the pledge before more than 400 people who packed Lusaka’s Roma cathedral to pay their last respects to missionary Fr Patrick Walsh who died in South Africa. He revealed that Fr Walsh, an old friend of his, had decided to leave Zambia because “we had failed in our efforts to build a classless society”. In an emotion-charged voice, Dr Kaunda told the hushed congregation: “Fr Walsh revealed to me in a long letter that he was disappointed with me, the Party, Government and people of Zambia. He had gone in protest because we were allowing classes to spring up in our society”.
The President, who several times lapsed into long silences, said: “Please, Fr Walsh, trust me as you know me. I will not allow the rich to grow richer and the strong to grow stronger”.
To the Kaundas, Fr Walsh meant “something”. He came to help when the President was in trouble because of his political beliefs. “Fr Walsh looked after my family when I was away from home for long periods due to the nature of my work ... What can I say about such a man? He drove Mrs Kaunda to Salisbury to see mę while I was in prison ... What can I say about such a man?” ... he asked, In 1966, Dr Kaunda decorated him with the rank of Officer of the Companion Order of Freedom. He was a Zambian citizen.
Fr Lou Haven adds: “Paddy had been the support of the President's family when many of his friends deserted him during the struggle for independence. Dr Kaunda often had to be away from his family for long stretches during that time, rousing the people hundreds of miles away to a desire for independence, and sitting in jail, Fr Walsh was father to his whole family for years.'

Fr Walsh arrived in Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia) in 1946, as one of the first two Irish Jesuits sent out here, the second being Fr PJT O'Brien.
An ardent Irishman, deeply steeped in Irish history and culture, he nevertheless wholeheartedly answered the Lord's call to leave his beloved Ireland and to go to the ends of the earth’ to serve his less fortunate brethren. First, as a scholastic, he was sent to China, but because of his poor health there seemed to be little hope of him every becoming a missionary. He was sent to Australia to recuperate his health, then back to Ireland. There he heard the appeal for help in Zambia, where the mission confided to the Polish Jesuits was in great difficulties as a result of the war and then of the post-war situation in Poland. He offered himself immediately, and was accepted. Arriving here in February, 1946, he gave his all to his newly-found mission, firstly in what was the apostolic prefecture, then the vicariate, and finally the archdiocese of Lusaka. He was appointed superior, first in Kabwe (then Broken Hill), then, after four years, in Chikuni. Finally, he was transferred to Lusaka as parish priest in St Francis Xavier's (“Regiment”, today St Charles Lwanga) church, where he re-roofed the old church and built the first parish-house. In 1958 he became my secretary, acting at the same time as chaplain to what was then called the African hospital, and as parish priest in Kabwata, where he built the first church.
It was not very easy to know and to understand Fr Walsh well. Only gradually I think that I succeeded sometimes in quite a painful way. But the more I knew him, the greater was my affection for him, and the respect for his character and qualities. Apart from his total dedication and the efficiency with which he applied himself to whatever duties were imposed on him, I admired his total disregard for himself. This became so evident to me when I had to supply for him in the hospital during his absence. Only when trying to do what he was doing day after day, week after week, did I realise what a hard task he took on himself as a “part time” occupation. For years he used to get up shortly after 4 a.m. to bring our Lord to the sick and to comfort the suffering. Every evening, once again he used to go to the hospital, to find out new cases and to hear confessions. He took particular care in baptising every child in danger of death.
The second quality which I admired so much in him was his feeling for the underprivileged. On seeing one who was poor or downtrodden, he automatically stood by him, and would not only show his sympathy openly, but would do everything in his power to assist him. It was not just sentiment that made him take such a stand, but a deep feeling for justice, on which he was absolutely uncompromising. I know of one case when, in spite of his sympathy towards the “liberation movements”, he completely broke off relations with one of them: he was convinced that they had committed an act of grave injustice against those whom they were fighting
I think that St Ignatius, who had such a great sense of loyalty, found a worthy son in Fr Walsh. Once he had given his loyalty to people or to a cause, he remained 100 per cent loyal. He gave his loyalty to Zambia and her people: he was absolutely, 100 per cent, loyal to them: some might have reason to say 105 per cent. I think this was typically Irish, in the best sense of the word. He gave his loyalty to the Lusaka mission - he remained absolutely loyal to it. On a more personal level, he gave his loyalty to me as his archbishop, and he was 100 per cent loyal - probably 105 per cent. I must mention yet another of his loyalties: he came here to help the Polish Jesuits in their need, and he was and remained absolutely loyal to them. Being a Polish Jesuit, I can never forget this.
I came to bid farewell to him before his departure from Zambia in 1973. I could not stay until his actual departure from the airport, because it was a Saturday, and I had to be back to say Mass in Mumbwa. He accompanied me to my car, then suddenly took me by the hand. All he could say was a whisper: “Pray for me"...and he nearly ran back to his room.
God called him since to Himself, I lost a loyal friend, and Zambia lost a very loyal son,

  • Adam Kozlowiecki, SJ, Chingombe, written on the first anniversary of Paddy's death


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Related entity

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

Identifier of related entity


Category of relationship


Type of relationship

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


Walsh, Patrick J, 1911-1975, Jesuit priest and missioner

Dates of relationship

Description of relationship

Entered Province.

Related entity

Irish Jesuit Mission to Zambia, 1946-1969 (1946-1969)

Identifier of related entity


Category of relationship


Type of relationship

Irish Jesuit Mission to Zambia, 1946-1969


Walsh, Patrick J, 1911-1975, Jesuit priest and missioner

Dates of relationship

Description of relationship

Worked in.

Related entity

Zambian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1969- (1969-)

Identifier of related entity

Category of relationship


Type of relationship

Zambian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1969-


Walsh, Patrick J, 1911-1975, Jesuit priest and missioner

Dates of relationship

Description of relationship


Access points area

Subject access points


Control area

Authority record identifier

IE IJA J/436

Maintained by

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes