21 January, 2010

The fascinating patchwork that makes up local history

The fascinating patchwork that makes up local history

From the weekly column of Frank Taaffe

...Do you remember the marble altar rail in St. Michael’s Church [Athy, Co. Kildare] which was removed in 1960 when the old parish church was being demolished?

The railing, or at least some of it, now forms part of the fabric of the existing St. Michael’s Parish Church. The original altar rail was erected and the church sanctuary adorned by Count Thomas J. O’Loughlin of Melbourne in honour of his wife Kathleen who died in 1925.

O’Loughlin was from Castlewarren, Co Kilkenny and after leaving St. Kieran’s College he emigrated to Australia where some members of his family already lived.

In 1911, he married Kathleen Murphy of Ballybur, Co Kilkenny and they had five daughters, all of whom were born in Australia. O’Loughlin, together with Michael and Martin O’Loughlin, were generous benefactors of the Catholic church and the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Kilkenny city was built following a bequest of £50,000 provided in the will of Martin O’Loughlin.

I don’t know whether Martin was father or brother of Thomas O’Loughlin but when the church was opened in 1908 the O’Loughlin family was represented by Thomas O’Loughlin who was conferred with the freedom of Kilkenny city and with papal honours including the title of Count of the Holy Roman Emperor.
Count Thomas O’Loughlin died in 1929 and as far as I can recall the altar rails of St. Michael’s Church were erected sometime in the mid 1930s.

This might suggest that O’Loughlin left a bequest in his will to fund the provision of altar rails in the Athy church. What, I wonder, was his connection with Athy or perhaps what link did his wife, the former Kathleen Murphy, have with the town? Again, I would like to hear from anyone who can help me with this query...

The Kildare Nationalist, Thursday, November 17, 2005

11 January, 2010

Images of the O'Loughlin Memorial Church

Thomas James O'Loughlin (c1866-1929) Businessman & Catholic Benefactor

For someone who was created a Privy Chamberlain by the Roman Catholic Church, it is surprising little information is available on Thomas James O’Loughlin. The Argus obituary reveals some details. It notes that he “took a leading part in the reception of Cardinal Cerretti who visited Australia as Papal Legate to the Eucharistic Congress in Sydney. In recognition of this role and his generous benefactions to the Roman Catholic Church, he was created a domestic Privy Chamberlain to Pope Pius XI”. On his wedding day in 1911 in Kilkenny, Ireland, he was created a Count of Rome by Pope Pius X; his benefactions to Catholic undertakings and charities was said to have succeeded £100,000. It is believed O’Loughlin donated a considerable amount towards the purchase of the Kew mansion Raheen in September 1917 along with other noted Catholic benefactors such as John Wren (Boroondara Cemetery). On his death on 21 June 1929, Monsignor Lonergan said “there was scarcely a Catholic Institution in Australia that was not in some way or other indebted to him”. O’Loughlin resided at Tara Hall - 38 Hawthorn Grove, Hawthorn; his funeral service was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The Age 24 & 26 June 1929.
The Argus 24 & 26 June 1929.
Griffin, J., “John Wren. A life reconsidered” (2004).