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Flynn, Killian, 1905-1972, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/140
  • Pessoa singular
  • 27 May 1905-3 December 1972

Vincent Flynn, the son of William Flynn and Mary Anne Flynn (née Collins), was born in County Donegal on 27 May 1905. He joined the Capuchin Order in October 1922 and took Killian as his religious name. He was ordained a priest in June 1930 and travelled as a missionary friar to Northern Rhodesia (later Zambia) in September 1931. He held the position of superior of the Irish Capuchin mission in Northern Rhodesia throughout most of the 1930s. He was appointed the first Prefect Apostolic of Victoria Falls (Livingstone) in 1936, a position he would hold for fifteen years. He became General Secretary for Education in Northern Rhodesia and established the Catholic Secretariat for the Bishops in 1951. He was awarded an MBE by the British monarchy for his services to native African education in 1958. In 1961 bishops from Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia appointed Flynn the first Secretary General of the newly established Association of Members of the Episcopal Conference of Eastern Africa (AMECEA) in Nairobi, Kenya, a post he would hold until his death. He was the principal organizer for the historic visit of Pope Paul VI to Uganda in 1969 for which he received the ‘Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice’ award. Later, he acted as the principal contact for the AMECEA bishops at the Second Vatican Council (1962-5). Following a short illness, he died in Dublin on 3 December 1972. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Baptismal name: Vincent Flynn
Religious name: Killian
Date of birth: 27 May 1905
Place of birth: Killybegs, County Donegal (Diocese of Raphoe)
Name of father: William Flynn
Name of mother: Mary Anne Flynn (née Collins)
Date of reception into the Capuchin Order: 15 Oct. 1922
Date of first profession: 19 Oct. 1923
Date of final profession: 19 Oct. 1926
Date of ordination (as priest): 29 June 1930
Educational attainments: BA (NUI), 1926
Missionary activity/leadership positions: Travelled to South Africa and later Northern Rhodesia in Sept. 1931; Appointed Prefect Apostolic of Victoria Falls in 1936; Superior of Capuchin Foreign Missions, Africa, 21 June 1935 and reappointed on 14 Oct. 1938 and from 1942-46; General Secretary for Education of the Hierarchy of Northern Rhodesia (later Zambia) in 1951; appointed General Secretary to the Hierarchy with the title of ‘Very Reverend’ with privilege of former Provincial Minister as understood in Mission Statue No. 134 granted by the Capuchin General Definitory on 20 July 1963.
Date of death: 3 Dec. 1972
Place of death: Bon Secours Hospital, Dublin
Place of burial: Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

Mulligan, Sylvester, 1875-1950, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/22
  • Pessoa singular
  • 12 March 1875-23 October 1950

Patrick Mulligan, the son of John Mulligan and Brigid Mulligan (née Brennan) was born in County Monaghan on 12 March 1875. His family had a long association with the Capuchin Franciscan Order as five of his maternal uncles were among the first to join the Capuchins after the return of the friars to England in 1850. Following the completion of his preliminary studies at the Seraphic College in Rochestown, County Cork, Patrick Mulligan was received into the Capuchin Order on 30 March 1892. Upon joining the Order, he took Sylvester as his religious name. He was ordained a priest in Dublin on 21 September 1901. He was one of the first friars of the Irish Capuchin Province to pursue a course a higher course in theology in a continental university. Soon after his ordination, he enrolled in the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium where he was awarded a degree of Doctor of Divinity (‘Doctor Divinitatis’). On his return to Ireland, he was appointed a lector in sacred theology in Rochestown. In 1913 he was appointed director of the Total Abstinence sodality on Church Street in Dublin and President of Father Mathew Hall. He also assumed the editorship of ‘The Father Mathew Record’ periodical. In 1919 he resumed his role as professor of theology in Rochestown. Fr. Sylvester held several senior administrative positions in the Irish Capuchin Province. He was first elected Definitor at the chapter held in 1907 and was re-elected to this position at subsequent chapters. In 1925 he was elected Provincial Minister. The following year he attended the General Chapter of the Capuchin Order in Rome and was elected Definitor General, the first member of the Irish Province to hold such office. He was re-elected at the next General Chapter held in 1932. On 13 April 1937 he was appointed Archbishop of Delhi and Simla in India, receiving his episcopal consecration (23 May 1937) from Cardinal Pietro Fumasoni Biondi, assisted by Patriarch Luca Ermenegildo Pasetto OFM Cap., and Bishop Giovanni Giuseppe Santini OFM Cap. At the time, there was only one Catholic priest in Delhi and the newly appointed Archbishop was forced to reside in a house attached to a school located on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Joseph. Despite the disruption caused by the Second World War, Archbishop Mulligan worked assiduously in a challenging missionary environment. After being taken seriously ill during a Holy Year pilgrimage to Rome in June 1950, he returned to Ireland and underwent an operation in Dublin. Continuing ill-health forced his resignation as Archbishop on 12 August 1950. He died in Dublin on 23 October 1950. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Baptismal name: Patrick Mulligan
Religious name: Fr. Sylvester Mulligan OFM Cap.
Date of birth: 12 Mar. 1875
Place of birth: Tasson, Clontibret, County Monaghan (Diocese of Clogher)
Name of father: John Mulligan
Name of mother: Brigid Mulligan (née Brennan)
Date of reception into the Capuchin Order: 30 Mar. 1892
Date of first profession: 2 Apr. 1893
Date of final profession: 25 Dec. 1897
Date of ordination (as priest): 21 Sept. 1901
Educational attainments: Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL), Louvain; Doctor of Divinity (DD), Louvain
Missionary activities/Leadership positions: Provincial Definitor: 1907-10, 1916-9, 1922-5; Provincial Minister, 1925; Definitor General, 1926-9, 1932-7; Consecrated Archbishop of Delhi and Simla (India) on 23 May 1937. Resigned on 12 Aug. 1950.
Date of death: 23 Oct. 1950
Place of death: Dublin
Place of burial: Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

O'Connor, Dominic, 1883-1935, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/47
  • Pessoa singular
  • 13 February 1883-17 October 1935

John Francis O’Connor was born on 13 Feb. 1883 in County Cork. He was born into a devoutly Catholic family. His father, John O’Connor, a teacher, and his mother, Mary Ann Sheehan, were both tertiaries of the Third Order of St. Francis attached to Holy Trinity Capuchin Church, Cork. A brother of Many Ann Sheehan had already joined the Capuchin Franciscan Order. Fr. Luke Sheehan OFM Cap. was one of the first Catholic missionaries to minister in the American state of Oregon. A good number of John’s siblings also entered religious life. John entered Rochestown College, Cork, in the Autumn of 1897. Having successfully completed his secondary education, he entered the Capuchin novitiate on 1 Oct. 1899 and received the religious name of Dominic. A year later he took his simple vows and in the Autumn of the same year began studying for a philosophy degree in the Royal University, Cork. He was ordained a priest on 17 Mar. 1906 in the Capuchin Friary in Kilkenny. He later enrolled in the Catholic University in Louvain where he obtained a Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus (Bachelor of Sacred Theology). In response to a call from Cardinal Michael Logue, Archbishop of Armagh, Fr. Dominic volunteered for chaplaincy work with the British armed forces during the First World War. After spending two months with a Scottish brigade in England, he transferred to a hospital unit bound for Salonika, Greece. After approximately two years of service, Fr. Dominic resigned his post in 1917, returned to Ireland and was appointed to the Capuchin community in Holy Trinity Friary, Cork. Fr. Dominic soon attained notoriety in nationalist circles and was appointed chaplain to the Cork Brigade of IRA Volunteers by Tomas MacCurtain. As chaplain, Fr. Dominic was the first to appear at the MacCurtain home in Blackpool, Cork, on the morning the Sinn Féin Lord Mayor was killed by British forces (20 Mar. 1920). He also served as chaplain to MacCurtain’s successor as Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, who was arrested on 12 Aug. 1920. Fr. Dominic ministered to MacSwiney throughout his hunger strike in Brixton Prison and was present for his death on 25 Oct. 1920. Soon after his return to Ireland, Fr. Dominic was arrested at the Capuchin Friary on Church Street, Dublin. He was taken to Dublin Castle and in January 1921 was court martialled and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. During his confinement, he became acquainted with two notable republican detainees, Ernie O’Malley and Pádraig Ó Caoimh. Fr. Dominic served about a year of his imprisonment in Parkhurst Prison. Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921, there was a general amnesty for prisoners and Fr. Dominic was released in January 1922. On 25 February 1922, he was granted the freedom of Cork ‘as a mark of respect for his valuable services rendered to the first two Republican Lord Mayors of Cork’. With the onset of the Civil War the Capuchins in Church Street were once more involved in ministering to besieged republicans. In June 1922 the Four Courts, located only a couple of hundred meters from the Church Street Friary, was attacked by Free State forces. Fr. Dominic (assisted by Fr. Albert Bibby OFM Cap.) provided spiritual comfort, assisted in the evacuation of the wounded, and later facilitated the surrender of the defeated garrison. Soon afterwards, Fr. Dominic returned to Holy Trinity Friary, Cork. On 26 Nov. 1922 a decision was made by the Provincial Definitory of the Irish Capuchins to have Fr. Dominic transferred to the Province’s Mission in Bend, Oregon, United States. This was the location of Fr. Luke Sheehan’s (Fr. Dominic’s uncle) pioneering missionary work some years before. For the remainder of his life Fr. Dominic performed routine duties associated with the missionary apostolate of a Capuchin friar. He was appointed temporary rector of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral and published the first of a two-volume history of the Diocese of Baker in 1930. In August 1935 he sustained serious injuries in a car accident from which he never fully recovered. He died on 17 Oct. 1935 and was buried in Bend, Oregon. His remains (along with those of Fr. Albert Bibby OFM Cap.) were later repatriated to Ireland and he was buried in the cemetery of Rochestown Capuchin Friary, Cork, on 14 June 1958

Kavanagh, Stanislaus, 1876-1965, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/24
  • Pessoa singular
  • 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

Butler, John, 1873-1950, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/17
  • Pessoa singular
  • 6 February 1873-3 October 1950

Patrick Butler was born in Sheastown, County Kilkenny, on 6 February 1873. He joined the Capuchins in 1890 (taking John as his religious name) and was ordained a priest in January 1899. For the following three years he worked as a science teacher in the Capuchin College in Rochestown, County Cork. He subsequently joined the missionary staff and was involved in giving missions and retreats throughout Ireland. In 1914, he travelled to Harrisburg in Pennsylvania. He spent nearly two years in the United States assisting Irish Capuchin missionaries in preaching activities. Following the outbreak of the First World War, he returned to Ireland, and in April 1916 was appointed a chaplain in the British Army with the rank of Captain. He served for a short time with the home garrisons in Canterbury and in Blackpool. He was later sent to the Middle East and Palestine as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF), an Allied military formation which fought the Ottoman Turks for control of this strategically important region. He was present at the Battle of Gaza (March 1917), and at the capture of Jerusalem (December 1917), and later acted as chaplain in a casualty clearing station in Damascus. Fr. John returned to Ireland in 1919 and spent the following eleven years in the Capuchin Friary on Church Street in Dublin. In 1930 he moved to Cork and was attached to the community at Holy Trinity Friary. He remained in Cork until his death on 3 October 1950.

Baptismal name: John Butler
Religious name: Fr. John Butler OFM Cap.
Date of birth: 6 February 1873
Place of birth: Sheastown, County Kilkenny (Diocese of Ossory)
Name of father: Tobias Butler
Name of mother: Catherine Butler (née Murphy)
Date of reception into the Capuchin Order: 23 June 1890
Date of first profession: 15 Aug. 1891
Date of final profession: 11 Oct. 1896
Date of ordination (as priest): 8 Jan. 1899
Missionary activity: Travelled to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States on 18 May 1914; Returned to Ireland on 25 Mar. 1916.
Educational attainments: BA (RUI)
Date of death: 3 Oct. 1950
Place of death: Cork
Place of burial: Cemetery, Rochestown Capuchin Friary, Cork
Note: Fr. Casimir Butler OFM Cap. (1876-1958) was a younger brother of Fr. John Butler OFM Cap.

Dowling, Laurence, 1872-1939, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/10
  • Pessoa singular
  • 12 September 1872-1 June 1939

John Edward Dowling, the son of Michael Dowling and Catherine Dowling (née Byrne), was born in Kilkenny on 12 September 1872. He was educated in the Christian Brothers’ Schools and regularly attended the Capuchin Friary Church in Kilkenny as an altar server. He subsequently enrolled in the Capuchin Seraphic School in Rochestown, County Cork. On completing his preliminary studies, he was received into the Capuchin Order in February 1888 taking Laurence as his religious name. He took his final vows and was solemnly professed as a Capuchin friar in September 1889. Having completed a course in philosophy and theology he was ordained a priest on 7 July 1895. Following his ordination, he ministered in Dublin, Cork, and Rochestown, and was appointed guardian (local superior) of these communities. He was also Master of Novices for several years, and President of Father Mathew Temperance Hall on Church Street in Dublin. He was also an active member of the committee of the Catholic Truth Society, for which he wrote several pamphlets primarily on social issues. Dowling was a well-known preacher of retreats and missions and was engaged in this ministry for many years. When his health began to fail in 1931, he travelled to Los Angeles in California, hoping that the better climate would improve his condition. His younger brother, Fr. Thomas Dowling OFM Cap. (1874-1951), was a missionary friar working in California and undoubtedly the presence of his sibling in the United States influenced his decision to leave Ireland. Fr. Laurence served at St. Lawrence of Brindisi Catholic Church in South Los Angeles until his death on 1 June 1939. He was sixty-six years old. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Baptismal name: John Edward Dowling
Religious name: Fr. Laurence Dowling OFM Cap.
Date of birth: 12 Sept. 1872
Place of birth: Kilkenny (Diocese of Ossory)
Name of father: Michael Dowling
Name of mother: Catherine Dowling (née Byrne)
Date of reception into the Capuchin Order: 5 Feb. 1888
Date of first profession: 3 Mar. 1889
Date of final profession: 8 Sept. 1889
Date of ordination (as priest): 7 July 1895
Missionary activity: Travelled to California, United States, in 1931
Date of death: 1 June 1939
Place of death: Los Angeles, California, United States
Place of burial: Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, United States
Note: Fr. Thomas Dowling OFM Cap. (1874-1951) was a younger brother of Fr. Laurence Dowling OFM Cap.

Brophy, Charles, 1895-1976, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/113
  • Pessoa singular
  • 13 October 1895-13 May 1976

Nicholas Brophy was born in Sandymount in Dublin on 13 October 1895. He entered the Capuchin novitiate in Kilkenny in 1917 and took Charles as his religious name. He later attended the Capuchin College in Rochestown in County Cork and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from University College Cork in 1921. He was ordained to the priesthood in June 1925. The entirety of his priestly ministry was spent in Dublin. He was President of Father Mathew Temperance Hall in the capital from 1928 to 1934 and was guardian (local superior) of the Church Street Capuchin community from 1934 to 1940 and from 1946 to 1949. He also served as Provincial Definitor from 1937-40 and from 1946-9. He founded the Retreat House in Raheny in Dublin and became its first director in 1957. He was well-known for his enclosed retreats in Raheny and for his missionary and preaching work particularly in his native Dublin which continued until his health deteriorated in his later years. He died in Jervis Street Hospital on 13 May 1976 and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

Baptismal name: Nicholas Brophy
Religious name: Fr. Charles Brophy OFM Cap.
Date of birth: 13 Oct. 1895
Place of birth: Sandymount, Dublin
Name of father: Peter Brophy
Name of mother: Catherine Byrne (née Byrne)
Date of parents’ marriage: 15 Nov. 1894
Date of reception into the Capuchin Order: 17 Sept. 1917
Date of first profession: 29 Sept. 1918
Date of final profession: 29 Sept. 1921
Date of ordination (as priest): 29 June 1925
Educational attainments: BA, 1921
Leadership positions: Provincial Definitor (Councillor), 1937-40, 1946-9; Custos General, 1940-3, 1943-6
Date of death: 13 May 1976
Place of death: Jervis Street Hospital, Dublin
Place of burial: Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

Roche, Fintan, 1898-1953, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/96
  • Pessoa singular
  • 30 July 1898-9 May 1953

Daniel Roche was born in Newcastle West in County Limerick on 30 July 1898. He was educated in the local primary school in Newcastle West and later at the Capuchin College in Rochestown, County Cork. He entered the Capuchin Order in August 1914 and took Fintan as his religious name. He made his solemn profession as a friar in 1920. He graduated with a philosophy degree from University College Cork and studied theology at Rochestown. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Daniel Cohalan in Holy Trinity Church, Cork, on 29 June 1923. Shortly after his ordination, in October 1923, he travelled to the United States as a missionary friar. Ten years later, he became one of the pioneering missionaries in the newly established Capuchin mission territory in Barotseland in Northern Rhodesia. While in Africa, he contributed regularly to ‘The Father Mathew Record’, a popular monthly publication of the Irish Capuchins which promoted the Order’s overseas’ missions (particularly in Africa). He returned to Ireland in 1940 to engage in fundraising activities to support the Order’s missionary endeavours. A decision was made to send Fr. Fintan back to the United States in January 1944. However, he suffered a serious accident during his transatlantic passage when the ship he was travelling on encountered a severe storm. He continued to suffer from ill-health in the years following his return to America. He spent some years as Pastor in McKenzie Bridge, a picturesque if isolated region located about halfway between Roseburg and Bend in Oregon on the American Pacific coast. In 1950, he described his life in McKenzie Bridge as ‘nothing strange, weeding and Mass every day and peace’. However, his health continued to decline and following several heart attacks he left his remote rural abode in Oregon to reside in California. He died in the Capuchin Friary in Flintridge, north of Los Angeles in California on 9 May 1953.

Baptismal name: Daniel Roche
Religious name: Fr. Fintan Roche OFM Cap.
Date of birth: 30 July 1898
Place of birth: Newcastle West, County Limerick
Name of father: James Roche (Shopkeeper)
Name of mother: Anne Roche (née Downey)
Date of reception into the Capuchin Order: 27 Aug. 1914
Date of first profession: 8 Sept. 1915
Date of final profession: 21 Mar. 1920
Date of ordination: 29 June 1923
Educational attainments: BA, 1919
Missionary activities: Travelled to the United States on 14 Oct. 1923; Travelled to Africa in 1933; Returned to Ireland in 1940; Travelled to the United States in January 1944
Date of death: 9 May 1953
Place of death: Flintridge, California

Hayes, Francis, 1866-1946, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/4
  • Pessoa singular
  • 12 April 1866-19 November 1946

Thomas Hayes was born in Cork on 24 April 1866. He was the son of Patrick Hayes and Anna Hayes (née Treacy) of Chapel Street in the city. He was received into the Capuchin Order on 30 July 1882. He took Francis as his religious name upon joining the Capuchins. He was ordained a priest in Holy Trinity Church, Cork, on 30 July 1882. Soon after his ordination, he was called upon to assist in the administration of the Irish Capuchin Province. He was appointed guardian (local superior) of the Capuchin Friary on Church Street in Dublin and was twice elected Provincial Definitor (1893-6, 1904-7). He was appointed Provincial Archivist on 20 August 1907. He later became Rector of Rochestown Capuchin College, and for many years taught both philosophy and theology to novice-students of the Province. In 1919 he was chosen as a witness in the cause of the beatification of two seventeenth-century Irish Capuchin martyrs, Fr. Fiacre Tobin OSFC (d. 1856) and Fr. John Baptist Dowdall OSFC (d. 1710). Throughout his life he retained an interest in uncovering and transcribing documentary records relating to the history of the early Irish Capuchin. He died in Rochestown Friary, County Cork, on 19 November 1946 and was buried in the adjoining cemetery.

Baptismal name: Thomas Hayes
Religious name: Fr. Francis Hayes OFM Cap.
Date of birth: 24 Apr. 1866
Place of birth: 22 Chapel Street, Cork
Name of father: Patrick Hayes
Name of mother: Anna Hayes (née Treacy)
Date of reception into the Capuchin Order: 30 July 1882
Date of first profession: 5 Aug. 1883
Date of final profession: 4 Oct. 1887
Date of ordination (as priest): 1 May 1889
Leadership positions: Provincial Definitor: 1893-6, 1904-7
Date of death: 19 Nov. 1946
Place of death: Capuchin Friary, Rochestown, County Cork
Place of burial: Cemetery, Capuchin Friary, Rochestown, County Cork

Maher, Columbus, 1835-1894, Capuchin priest

  • IE CA DB/CM
  • Pessoa singular
  • 9 June 1835-10 September 1894

Patrick J. Maher was born on North Brunswick Street, opposite, what was then, the Richmond Hospital in Dublin on 9 June 1835. His family’s property extended to North King Street and possibly included the site (No. 49) on which a former Capuchin House stood. He was baptized and made his first communion (8 September 1848) in the old Church Street chapel where he served Mass for Fr. Theobald Mathew OSFC from whom he took the total abstinence pledge. In 1851 he entered the Capuchin novitiate, taking the name Columbus, at Frascati near Rome, and made his solemn profession the following year. He then studied philosophy at Florence and theology at Sienna after which he was granted patents for preaching in 1855. The following year he received subdiaconate in Rome. Too young to be ordained, he spent some months with the Capuchin community in Pantasaph, Wales, until he returned briefly to Ireland to receive diaconate from Cardinal Paul Cullen at Maynooth on 5 June 1857. The following year, at the age of twenty-three, he was ordained a priest in Liverpool with a dispensation of thirteen months from the Holy See. At the time it was noted that he was the first Capuchin priest to be ordained in England since the Reformation. At the Provincial Chapter in 1859 he was appointed guardian in Kilkenny where he served two terms and was in demand as a confessor and preacher until he was sent to Rome as a novice master. While there he was asked to go to Ancona to minister to about 800 men of the Irish Brigade who were on their way to defend Pius IX.

Having returned to Ireland, he spent some time in Cork and again in Kilkenny until he moved to Dublin. Here, in 1880, he identified himself with the Temperance League and from then on, his whole life and energy were devoted to a crusade against the abuses of intoxicating drink. He became Vice-President of the Father Mathew Total Abstinence Society of the Sacred Thirst founded by his fellow Capuchin Fr. Albert Mitchell OSFC (1831-1893). When Fr. Albert left for missionary work in Australia in 1883, Fr. Columbus became President and undertook the herculean task of resuscitating the total abstinence movement, which had been declining ever since Fr. Mathew’s death. Gradually, as a result of his untiring efforts, Fr. Columbus made total abstinence popular, honoured and respected in Dublin. He succeeded in constantly enlisting individuals rather than enrolling large numbers at a time. Eventually, the old Temperance Hall at 3 Halston Street proved inadequate to meet the demands upon its space. With the centenary of the birth of Fr. Mathew approaching (1890), Fr. Columbus decided to perpetuate his hero’s memory by building a Memorial Hall on Church Street and by erecting a statue in Dublin. All classes and creeds contributed to collections made throughout the city, the country, and abroad. A committee presided over by the Lord Mayor met regularly in the Oak Room of the Mansion House, Fr. Columbus being one of its most attentive members. A competition for a suitable design for a statue was won by Mary Redmond (1863-1930). It would be eight feet tall, sculptured in light grey Sicilian marble and standing on a pedestal of limestone fourteen feet high.

On 30 October 1890, a procession of 50,000 made its way from Stephens Green to O’Connell Street for the laying of the top stone of the pedestal. All the city trades turned out with bands and banners; and the various temperance societies and sodalities, the League of the Cross and other bodies were fully represented. On the platform there was a representative group of clergy, merchants, and other citizens of all denominations. Among them were sixty-five total abstainers who had taken the pledge from Fr. Mathew himself in 1840. It was a proud moment for Fr. Columbus when he was given the silver trowel, now preserved in the Irish Capuchin Archives, used by the Lord Mayor to lay the top stone of the pedestal. Three years later the statue itself was put in place.

Although the Memorial Hall’s foundation stone was blessed and laid in the centenary year, it took twelve months to build. Then on 25 January 1891 it was opened by Archbishop William Walsh who had been a supporter of Fr. Columbus from the outset. Before extensions were added (1904) the main auditorium was 73 feet in length and 39 feet wide and there was a gallery on three sides. Altogether there was accommodation for between 800 and 900 people. In addition to the main hall there was a coffee bar, a billiard room and reading rooms. Among the large representative group attending the opening were the Lord Mayor, the Sheriff, William Conyngham Plunket, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, and the Irish nationalist politician John Redmond who regretted that Dublin was the worst city for drunkenness that he had ever visited. The Temperance League now moved from Halston Street to their new Memorial Hall on Church Street. A monthly meeting was also held in the nearby Church of St. Mary of the Angels, but after only two years it was necessary to hold two meetings – one for men and another for women. Indefatigably, Fr. Columbus presided over the thousands striving for sobriety.

Fr. Columbus Maher OSFC died suddenly of a suspected heart attack on the morning of 10 September 1894 in the Capuchin Friary on Church Street, Dublin. He was 59 years old. At his funeral Mass Fr. Matthew O’Connor OSFC, Provincial Minister, stated that the Capuchin community had been deprived of an exemplary member, Church Street of a devoted confessor and preacher, the Temperance League of its protector and the City of Dublin of a public benefactor. The universal esteem in which he had been held was clear from the long file of mourning carriages and the estimated 6,000 people who attended his funeral in Glasnevin Cemetery.

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