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Anglin, Henry, 1910-1977, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/170
  • Person
  • 29 April 1910-30 May 1977

Joseph Anglin, the son of John and Julia Anglin, was born in Aherla, County Cork, on 29 April 1910. Andrew Anglin (b. 11 Feb. 1900), an elder brother of Joseph, joined the Capuchin Franciscans in 1918 and took the religious name of Terence. He later became a missionary friar, first in the United States (from 1929) and later in Africa (from 1943). He died on 12 September 1947 in Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia (later Zambia) where the Irish Capuchins had established a missionary custody. The Anglin family were devoutly Catholic, and Joseph followed in his older brother’s footsteps by joining the Capuchins in Cork in October 1927, taking the religious name of Henry upon his reception into the Order. He took his final vows and was solemnly professed as a friar in October 1931. By this time, he had obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from University College Cork. Following four additional years of clerical studies, he was ordained a priest in St. Eunan’s Cathedral in Letterkenny, County Donegal, on 23 June 1935. In the years following his ordination, Fr. Henry served as an assistant to Fr. Senan Moynihan OFM Cap., the founding-editor of ‘The Capuchin Annual’ periodical. Following the Capuchin Provincial Chapter of 1955, Fr. Henry was appointed editor of the ‘Annual’ with Fr. Felix Guihen OFM Cap. (1898-1981) taking on the role as manager of the Publications Office. The appointment of Fr. Henry as editor of the ‘Annual’ elicited no real change in the ethos of the publication which continued to include an eclectic mix of articles on a wide range of topical, political, historical, artistic, literary, and spiritual subjects. Although the work of collating and editing articles for the yearly publication was strenuous and occasioned frequent bouts of stress-related ill-health, Fr. Henry succeeded in maintaining the scholarly content of the publication. Crippling financial losses brought about the demise of ‘The Capuchin Annual’ in 1977. Fr. Henry died on 30 May 1977 just a few months after completing his work on the final edition of the ‘Annual’. He was buried in the Capuchin plot in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

Bibby, Albert, 1877-1925, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/28
  • Person
  • 24 October 1877-14 February 1925

Thomas Bibby was born on 24 Oct. 1877 in Bagenalstown, County Carlow. He was baptised on 28 Oct. 1877. His family were proprietors of a woollen mill at Greensbridge and operated two drapery establishments in Kilkenny City, one in Parliament Street and another on High Street. He entered the Capuchin novitiate at Rochestown on 7 July 1894 and took the religious name of Albert. He was solemnly professed on 8 May 1900 and was ordained a priest at St. Mary of the Angels, Church Street, Dublin, on 23 Feb. 1902. A gifted scholar, Fr. Albert was among the first batch of Capuchin students to receive a BA degree from the Royal University. He later became a professor of philosophy and theology and taught these subjects to Capuchin students for some years after his ordination. One of his first students was Fr. Dominic O’Connor OFM Cap. Fr. Albert was active in the Gaelic revival movement and became a fluent speaker of Irish. He was also engaged in temperance advocacy and gave missions sometimes solely in Irish in Gaeltacht areas. He was also involved in the Columcille branch of Conradh na Gaelige in its early years. Briefly a part of the community of friars in Kilkenny, he moved to Church Street, Dublin, in the early 1900s. In the aftermath of the Easter Rising, Fr. Albert ministered to a number of rebel prisoners in Kilmainham Jail and in other locations. He was present at the execution of Seán Heuston on 8 May 1916 and wrote an account of his final hours. He was later a regular correspondent with prominent republicans and their relations. On 16 Dec. 1920 both Fr. Albert and Fr. Dominic O’Connor OFM Cap. were arrested by British forces during a raid on the friary on Church Street. Fr. Albert was detained for some hours in Dublin Castle but was afterwards released whilst Fr. Dominic was sentence to five years’ penal servitude. When the Four Courts was attacked on 27 June 1922 in the opening engagement of the Civil War, Fr. Albert was present in the building alongside Fr. Dominic. Both priests remained with the Anti-Treaty irregulars until the Four Courts was evacuated. They then proceeded to administer to Cathal Brugha and other IRA men occupying the Hamman Hotel on O’Connell Street. In June 1924, Fr. Albert was sent to the United States and was eventually appointed Pastor of the Capuchin Mission at Santa Inez in California. He immediately set about restoring both the parish and the structures of the old Franciscan Mission. Modern plumbing and electricity systems were installed at Santa Inez and Fr. Albert was joined by Friars Reginald O’Hanlon and Colmcille Cregan. However, Albert’s health deteriorated and he was soon admitted to St. Francis Hospital in Santa Barbara. He died on 14 Feb. 1925, a mere three months after his arrival in Santa Inez. He was buried just outside the mission’s chapel. His remains (along with those of his former pupil Fr. Dominic O’Connor OFM Cap.) were later repatriated to Ireland and he was buried in the cemetery of Rochestown Capuchin Friary, Cork, on 14 June 1958.

Collins, Ignatius, 1881-1961, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/52
  • Person
  • 10 August 1885-21 October 1961

Patrick Joseph Collins was born on Cotter Street in Cork on 10 August 1885. He was the son of Captain Jeremiah Collins, an employee of the Cork Harbour Board, and his wife Honora Collins. He was educated at the Capuchin College in Rochestown, County Cork and he joined the Capuchin Order in 1902, taking Ignatius as his religious name. He graduated with a BA in Philosophy at the Royal University in Cork in 1908. He was ordained a priest in Kilkenny on 29 May 1910. By all accounts he was an outstanding scholar, and he was awarded a Doctorate in Theology and Philosophy from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1914. In May 1915, he responded to the call of Cardinal Francis Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster, seeking Catholic priests to act as chaplains in the British armed forces. He was sent to France in August 1915 and acted as a chaplain with the 69th Field Ambulance Corps. During the First World War his division served on the Western Front participating in many major offensives including the Battles of the Somme and Messines. In October 1917, the division was transferred to the Italian Front. In January 1918 Fr. Ignatius was awarded the Military Cross and was promoted to the rank of Major. Following the cessation of hostilities, he was demobilised (in 1919) and he initially returned to Rochestown Friary in Cork. In 1922 he was elected guardian (local superior) of the Capuchin Friary in Kilkenny. He ministered in Kilkenny for the next twenty-one years. In 1943 he was transferred to the Church Street Friary in Dublin and was appointed Vicar of the community. He remained a member of the Dublin fraternity until his death on 21 October 1961.

Baptismal name: Patrick Joseph Collins
Religious name: Fr. Ignatius Collins OFM Cap.
Date of birth: 10 Aug. 1885
Place of birth: Cork
Name of father: Jeremiah Collins
Name of mother: Honora Collins (née Cowhig)
Date of reception into the Capuchin Order: 24 Aug. 1902
Date of first profession: 17 Sept. 1903
Date of final profession: 31 July 1908
Date of ordination (as priest): 29 May 1910
Educational attainments: BA (RUI) 1909; PhD (Louvain), 1914; MA (RUI) 1915
Date of death: 21 Oct. 1961
Place of death: St. John of God’s Hospital, Stillorgan, Dublin
Place of burial: Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

Dowling, Thomas, 1874-1951, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/14
  • Person
  • 13 March 1874-7 January 1951

Michael Joseph Dowling, the son of Michael and Catherine Dowling (née Byrne), was born in Kilkenny on 13 March 1874. A younger brother, John, joined the Capuchins in 1888 and took the religious name of Laurence. Michael followed in his brother’s footsteps and joined the Order in Kilkenny a year later in September 1889. He took Thomas as his religious name and he was solemnly professed as a friar in October 1894. He was ordained a priest in Kilkenny on 21 December 1896. Fr. Thomas was a professor at Rochestown Capuchin College in Cork, and later served as guardian (local superior) of the Capuchin Friary in Dublin. Fr. Thomas visited Oregon in the United States in 1910 to select a suitable mission parish for the Irish Capuchins in Baker City. In this period, he held several senior administrative positions in the Order and served as definitor (councillor) from 1907-10 and was Provincial Minister of the Irish Capuchins from 1910-3. He was also guardian of Holy Trinity Friary in Cork in 1920. He emerged as a prominent public figure in Cork because of his high-profile campaigning on social and political issues. He was active in the Anti-Conscription campaign in the city in 1918 and was elected Honorary President of the Cork and District Trades and Labour Council. During the First World War, there was widespread economic distress in Cork as wages failed to keep pace with rising prices. The result was numerous strikes and general worker unrest. Fr. Thomas had studied social reform and he threw himself wholeheartedly into the task of industrial dispute mediation. His interventions were accepted by employers and trades unions alike. He presided over negotiations between tramway workers and their employers in a crucial wage dispute and was instrumental in securing a settlement between the two sides in 1919. He was awarded the freedom of Cork in 1920 in recognition of his invaluable services in preserving the peace of the city and for his role in successfully resolving industrial disputes. He also received an honorary degree (an LL.D. or a Doctor of Laws) from Professor P.J. Merriman (1877-1943), President of University College Cork. The award was given on account of his ‘invaluable services’ in ensuring peaceful and harmonious social relations in the city. The Cork Trades’ Council later donated a stained-glass window to Holy Trinity Church to mark his contribution in securing workers’ rights. His ministries as a Capuchin friar centred on preaching missions and retreats and he was also an enthusiastic promoter of the temperance cause (he was instrumental in organising the Father Theobald Mathew Pavilion at the Cork International Exhibition in 1902). In 1926 Fr. Thomas offered to travel to the United States to work as a missionary friar. The Irish Capuchins had established a mission custody on the American Pacific Coast in 1910. His first appointment was in Our Lady of the Angels Church and Capuchin Friary in Burlingame near San Francisco. He was appointed Pastor of St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church situated in Watts in South Los Angeles in 1937. In the following years he succeeded in paying off the considerable debt on both the church and the adjoining school. He severed as Custos (Superior) of the Western American Capuchin Mission from 1940-6. He died on 7 January 1951 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Fitzgibbon, Edwin, 1874-1938, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/25
  • Person
  • 26 January 1874-24 June 1938

Thomas Fitzgibbon was born in 1874 to a large Irish-speaking family in Ballynona near Castlemartyr in County Cork. He was educated at the Capuchin College in Rochestown, County Cork, and joined the Order in March 1893 taking Edwin as his religious name. He was solemnly professed as a Capuchin friar in December 1897 and continued his studies in the University of Louvain where he obtained a PhD. He was ordained in St. Mary of the Angels, Church Street, Dublin, by Archbishop William Walsh in February 1902. In 1906 Fr. Edwin was appointed Rector of the Capuchin College in Rochestown and he became an enthusiastic supporter of the school’s Gaelic sports’ teams. In December 1908, Queen’s College, Cork, became one of the constituent colleges of the new National University of Ireland (NUI). Fitzgibbon was one of the first appointees to the new college becoming Professor of Philosophy in 1909. In 1912 he was elected president of the university’s hurling club. Almost immediately, he donated his annual salary (reckoned to be about £80) for the purchase of a trophy to be contested by the hurling teams of various colleges within the NUI. The Fitzgibbon Cup was the last national Gaelic trophy to be named after a living person, and the donor remained a regular fixture at the presentation ceremonies for the next twenty-five years. Fr. Edwin was elected Provincial Minister of the Irish Capuchins on four occasions, holding this office from 1919-22, 1926-9, 1931-4 and 1934-7. He undertook several visitations to the newly established Irish Capuchin mission custody in the Western United States while Provincial Minister. Ill-health forced his resignation from the Chair of Philosophy in UCC in 1937. He died at the Bon Secours Home in Cork on 24 June 1938 and was buried in the cemetery adjoining the Capuchin Friary in Rochestown, County Cork.

Baptismal name: Thomas Fitzgibbon
Religious name: Fr. Edwin Fitzgibbon OFM Cap.
Date of birth: 26 Jan. 1874
Place of birth: Castlemartyr, County Cork (Diocese of Cloyne)
Name of father: John Fitzgibbon
Name of mother: Elizabeth Fitzgibbon (née Desmond)
Date of reception into the Capuchin Order: 23 Mar. 1893
Date of first profession: 24 April 1894
Date of final profession: 25 Dec. 1897
Date of ordination (as priest): 23 Feb. 1902
Leadership positions: Provincial Minister: 1919-22; 1926-9; 1931-4; 1934-7; Provincial Definitor: 1907-10; 1910-3; 1916-9.
Date of death: 24 June 1938
Place of death: Bon Secours Home, Cork
Place of burial, Cemetery, Capuchin Friary, Rochestown, County Cork

Hayden, Augustine, 1870-1954, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/6
  • Person
  • November 1870-7 February 1954

John Hayden was born in November 1870. He was baptised in Gowran, County Kilkenny on 7 Nov. 1870. His parents were William and Mary Hayden (née Morrissey). On 8 Dec. 1884, he was among the first five pupils to be admitted to the recently opened Capuchin Seraphic School at Rochestown, County Cork. He took the religious name of Augustine upon entering the Capuchin Order in November 1885. Towards the end of his clerical studies his health deteriorated and he was forced to spend two years in Switzerland. He was ordained a priest in the Augustinian Church, Thomas Street, Dublin, in November 1893. On 3 August 1896, Fr. Augustine was appointed rector of Rochestown College, replacing Fr. Francis Hayes OFM Cap. He held this position from 1896 to 1907. He later returned to Dublin and was Guardian of the Church Street Friary from 1913-6. He cultivated a strong interest in the Gaelic Revival and in particular preserving the Irish language. He was associated with Shán Ó Cuív (1875-1940) in establishing the Irish Language College at Ballingeary, County Cork in 1904, the first college of its kind. He was also a regular correspondent with Fr. Peadar Ua Laoghaire (1839-1920), a noted figure in Conradh na Gaelige, and for many years conducted missions in Gaeltacht areas of Counties Kerry and Donegal. In the immediate aftermath of the 1916 Rising, Fr. Augustine accompanied Fr. Aloysius Travers OFM Cap. in visiting Patrick Pearse and James Connolly. He was instrumental in securing the surrender of Thomas MacDonagh at the Jacob’s Factory and was present at Ėamonn Ceannt’s surrender at the South Dublin Union. He also ministered to Ceannt in the hours before his execution. Like the other Capuchin friars of the Dublin community, Fr. Augustine later committed his memories of Easter Week to writing (CA IR-1-4-1). In 1917, he was the celebrant at the wedding of Terence MacSwiney to Muriel Murphy and he was also the celebrant at the marriage of McSwiney’s daughter in Cork in 1940. He also authored a number of devotional texts including 'Ireland’s Loyalty to the Mass' (1933) and 'Ireland’s Loyalty to Mary' (1952). Fr. Augustine died on 7 February 1954 at the Bon Secours Home, Cork, and was laid to rest in the cemetery of the Capuchin Friary, Rochestown in County Cork.

Healy, Angelus, 1875-1953, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/23
  • Person
  • 26 February 1875-20 August 1853

Patrick Healy was born on 26 February 1875 in Graiguenamanagh, a small town on the border between Counties Carlow and Kilkenny. He entered the Capuchin novitiate at Rochestown in County Cork on 7 July 1894 and took the religious name of Angelus. He took his solemn vows in December 1897 and was ordained a priest in February 1902. Fr. Angelus cultivated a life-long interest in the history of the Irish Capuchins. In 1904, he worked alongside Fr. Stanislaus Kavanagh OFM Cap. (1876-1965) in transcribing autograph copies of two seventeenth century histories of the Irish friars by Nicholas Archbold ‘The historie of the Irish Capucins’ (1643) and Robert O’Connell ‘Historia Missionis Hiberniae Fratrum Minorum Capucinorum’ (c.1654). The original texts had been brought from France to the National Library of Ireland in Dublin for copying. Fr. Angelus was considered an authority on the history of the Irish Capuchin Province, and in 1919 he was chosen as a witness in the beatification cause of two seventeenth-century Capuchin martyrs, Fr. Fiacre Tobin OSFC (c.1620-1656) and Fr. John Baptist Dowdall OSFC (c.1626-1710). He also held several important administrative positions in the Irish Province. Three times he was elected as definitor (or counsellor), from 1910-3 and from 1922-5. He also held the position of Vicar-Provincial and was elected Custos General in 1913 which enabled him to attend the General Chapter of the Order in Rome. He was appointed Guardian of the Church Street Friary and was, at various times, Master of Novices, editor of ‘The Father Mathew Record’ periodical, and director-general of the Total Abstinence Association. Fr. Angelus never considered himself an academic historian but throughout his life he worked assiduously to assemble a vast corpus of documentary records on the history of the friars in Ireland. His ‘Pages from the Story of the Irish Capuchins’, published in 1915 to mark the tercentenary of the arrival of the first friar in Ireland, offered a concise introduction to the subject. ‘The execution of a more scholarly work’, he claimed, demanded ‘more patient research than he could ever command’. Known as an able missionary and preacher, he was also acclaimed as the ‘Guardian of the Reek’ in honour of his long association with the annual Croagh Patrick pilgrimage in County Mayo. His association with Croagh Patrick (also called ‘St. Patrick’s Reek’) lasted from 1906 to 1949, during which he climbed the mountain forty-two times missing only two years, in 1919 due to a railway strike, and in 1922 due to the Civil War. He died at the Presbytery in Westport Parish at the foot of Croagh Patrick on 20 August 1953. He was buried in the Capuchin plot in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

Kavanagh, Stanislaus, 1876-1965, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/24
  • Person
  • 12 June 1876-16 May 1965

John Kavanagh was born in Mountmellick in Queen’s County (later County Laois) on 12 June 1876. Having spent some years in the Capuchin College in Rochestown, County Cork, he was received into the Capuchin Order in March 1893. He was ordained a priest in Dublin on 23 February 1902. Soon after his ordination he was stationed in Kilkenny as a Professor of Philosophy, but most of his life as a priest was spent in Dublin and in Cork. An accomplished scholar, Kavanagh spent many years in libraries and archives in England, France, Italy, Spain and Belgium, transcribing thousands of documents in a very clear hand, recording everything relating to the Irish Capuchins which could be discovered overseas. His work in transcribing the seventeenth-century Latin text, the ‘Commentarius Rinuccinianus’, published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission in six volumes between 1932 and 1949, is well known. His extremely important corpus of manuscripts, surrogate copies and transcribed materials for early Capuchin history are now extant in the Irish Capuchin Archives. He served as Provincial Archivist for the Capuchin Order in Ireland from 1919 to 1958. In 1918 he was appointed to investigate the cause of two seventeenth century Irish Capuchin martyrs, Fr. Fiacre Tobin OSFC (d. 1856) and Fr. John Baptist Dowdall OSFC (d. 1710). Kavanagh also had a life-long interest in Fr. Theobald Mathew OSFC (1790-1856) and amassed a huge quantity of research and documentary material relating to his life and nineteenth-century temperance campaign. In recognition of his contribution to Irish historical scholarship, the National University of Ireland awarded him an honorary Doctor of Literature (D. Litt.) in 1947. Outside of academia, Kavanagh was a well-known preacher, missionary, and retreat-giver. In 1924 he was asked to travel to the United States where he spent several months assisting Irish Capuchin friars in missionary and preaching work. He was also a long-time incumbent of the position of Secretary of the Irish Capuchin Province (1922-31; 1937-55) and was elected Provincial Deifintor (Councillor) in 1931. His later years were blighted by dementia and he died on 16 May 1965 in the Bon Secours Hospital in Dublin. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Baptismal name: John Kavanagh
Religious name: Fr. Stanislaus Kavanagh OFM Cap.
Date of birth: 12 June 1876
Place of birth: Mountmellick, Queen’s County (County Laois), Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin
Name of father: Edward Kavanagh
Name of mother: Joanna Kavanagh (née Costello)
Date of reception into the Capuchin Order: 20 Mar. 1893
Date of first profession: 2 July 1894
Date of final profession: 25 Dec. 1897
Date of ordination (as priest): 23 Feb. 1902
Educational attainments: Doctor of Literature (D. Litt.), 1947
Leadership positions: Provincial Definitor, 1931-4; Provincial Secretary, 1922-31, 1937-55; Provincial Archivist, 1919-1958
Date of death: 16 May 1965
Place of death: Bon Secours Hospital, Glasnevin, Dublin
Place of burial: Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

Mathew, Theobald, 1790-1856, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/TM
  • Person
  • 10 October 1790-8 December 1856

Theobald Mathew was born at Thomastown Castle near the village of Golden in County Tipperary on 10 October 1790. The Mathews were an old, landed family with both Catholic and Protestant branches. Francis Mathew (1738-1806) was the owner of Thomastown Castle. He was created Viscount Landaff in 1793, and then Earl Landaff in 1797 (the title derived from the place in Wales from which the family had come to Ireland in the seventeenth century). The title was sometimes referred to as the Earldom of Llandaff since that is the more common Welsh spelling, but it is Earl Landaff in the Peerage of Ireland. The Mathews of Thomastown held this title from 1797 to 1833. In the 1760s, Francis Mathew had adopted his orphaned cousin, James Mathew, Theobald’s father. On reaching adulthood, James was appointed the agent for the Mathew estate. Unlike many of the Mathews, James remained a Catholic throughout his life. His wife, Anne Whyte, was also a Catholic. They had twelve children, the fourth of whom was Theobald. The young Theobald Mathew had a privileged childhood, enjoying favoured treatment from his Protestant relation, Lady Elizabeth Mathew, the daughter of Francis Mathew. Lady Elizabeth knew and approved of Theobald’s priestly ambitions, and in 1800 she provided the money to pay for his education at St. Canice’s, a Catholic boarding school in Kilkenny. In September 1807, Theobald enrolled at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, for seminary training. However, his plans were upset when in his first year he was forced to leave Maynooth to avoid being expelled for holding what appears to have been a drunken party for his fellow students. He was subsequently accepted by the Capuchin Franciscan Order as a novice and he made his way to Church Street in Dublin to be trained. The Capuchins, in common with many of the religious orders in Ireland, were weak at this time and were thus extremely anxious for new recruits.

On 3 April 1813 Mathew was ordained a deacon. A year later he was ordained a priest by the Most Rev. Daniel Murray (1768-1852), later Archbishop of Dublin. After a brief sojourn in Kilkenny, Fr. Mathew moved back to Cork where he came under the influence of Fr. Daniel Donovan OSFC (d. 14 Jan. 1821) who was elected Provincial Minister of the Irish Capuchins in 1816. Fr. Mathew devoted a good deal of his time to practical charitable enterprises, establishing schools for poor and orphaned children. In these schools the children were taught household skills in addition to elementary subjects. In 1821, Fr. Donovan died, and Fr. Mathew was elected his successor as Provincial Minister. He would continue to hold this position until 1851. In 1832, he broke ground for an elaborate, Gothic-style Capuchin church in Cork (subsequently called The Church of the Most Holy Trinity), on Charlotte Quay (later renamed Father Mathew Quay). Due to a lack of funds the church would remain unfinished in Fr. Mathew’s lifetime. It was not until 1890 that the spire and façade were added. Nevertheless, Fr. Mathew gained an excellent reputation in the local community for his tireless endeavours in support of the poor of Cork. He was also noted for his exceptional spirit of ecumenism. He was on friendly terms with several leading Protestants and Quakers in the city. Fr. Mathew joined the total abstinence movement in Cork in April 1838. The Cork Total Abstinence Society was established with the avowed aim of encouraging people to make one enduring act of which would keep them sober for life. This act of will was enshrined in the pledge to abstain from the taking of intoxicating liquor.

From the very beginning Fr. Mathew’s endeavours in the cause of temperance gained striking success. Under his leadership, teetotalism drew many adherents in Cork and spread throughout Munster and eventually throughout Ireland. The Society’s ranks quickly grew, and within three months, Fr. Mathew had enrolled 25,000 new members in Cork alone. In five months, the number had increased to 130,000. He travelled across Ireland, convincing thousands more to pledge teetotalism. In August 1842, he began traveling internationally, first to Scotland, then England. At its height, just before the outbreak of the famine in 1845, Fr. Mathew’s temperance movement had enrolled three million people, or more than half of the adult population of Ireland. By the mid-1840s he was frequently travelling to Britain with equally dramatic results. The leading nationalist politician, Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847), described the temperance movement as Fr. Mathew’s ‘mighty moral crusade’. In 1847, the priests of the diocese of Cork selected him to be their bishop. However, there was strong opposition from members of the hierarchy. It was held against him that he had accepted a pension from the Government. One long-standing critic among the bishops described him as ‘the hired tool of a heretical government’. This reflected the long-standing determination of the Catholic Church in Ireland not to accept state funding and the interference that would come in its train. Fr. Mathew’s financial mismanagement (he was known to be bountiful and generous to the point of extravagance), liberal Catholicism and Protestant associations also told against him. The Pope acceded to the almost unanimous advice of the Irish hierarchy that Fr. Mathew should not be appointed to the bishopric. Nevertheless, his standing as a popular figure remained undiminished. In July 1849, he visited the United States where he was greeted with enthusiastic acclaim. In Washington, the Congress unanimously admitted to him to a seat on the floor of the House; he was the first non-American after the Marquis de Lafayette to be so honoured. Rallies and demonstrations were held across the country to honour Ireland’s renowned ‘Apostle of Temperance’.

Despite this personal adulation, it was clear that Fr. Mathew’s movement had reached its zenith. From the late 1840s the movement began to decline almost dramatically as it had risen. His health started to fail (he had suffered a stroke in 1848) and crippling debts began to accumulate, making it increasingly difficult to continue the temperance crusade. The onset of the famine, brought about by the failure of the potato crop in 1845, dealt a grievous blow to the movement; thousands of Fr. Mathew’s followers died or emigrated in those years. Many of those who remained in Ireland had to contend with more pressing concerns than the maintenance of their pledge to abstain from alcohol. In late 1853, despite declining health, Fr. Mathew ventured to Limerick where he administered the pledge in what was his last appearance at a public meeting. In October 1854, on medical advice, he travelled to Madeira, but his health continued to deteriorate. In the absence of its charismatic leader the temperance movement continued to weaken. He suffered a severe stroke in late 1856 and died in Queenstown, County Cork, on 8 December 1856. He was 66 years old. He was buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Cork, which he had established twenty-six years earlier.

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