29 November, 2011

From 'The New Zealand Tablet'

From Intercontinental of 'The New Zealand Tablet' of 6 August, 1906, (link here):

"The high honor of the freedom of the City of Kilkenny, conferred on Mr. Thomas Loughlin, of Ballarat - (nephew of the late Martin Loughlin), "who carried out the wishes of his uncle* and built a splendid church in that city, "has given very general satisfaction here" (writes the Melbourne correspondent of the 'Freeman's Journal'). With a lavish hand, Mr. Thomas Loughlin has disbursed "the means at his disposal during the past six or seven years of his residence, in Victoria. The Very Rev. Dean Phelan, V.G., received a cable from his Grace Archbishop Carr last week, that he and Bishop Higgins, of Ballarat, arrived in London on June 19, and on June 3 both prelates assisted, at the consecration of the new parish church, Kilkenny, Mr. Loughlin being also amongst the visitors. The church, which is allowed to be one of the most perfect examples of Gothic; architecture in Ireland, cost £30,000."

30 October, 2011

The Marriage of Martin Gleeson, witnessed by Martin O'Loughlin

Original text found here:

Martin Gleeson's tombstone carries the words "A native of Gowran Kilkenny". He was baptised there at the Roman Catholic Church on 28th September 1825, with Thos. Butler and Judy Dunphy as sponsors. This was around the time of the Tithes War which started in County Kilkenny, and added to the political tension as Catholic farmers were objecting to paying tithes to the Established Church of Ireland. It coincided with a period of recession when both the price of corn and livestock slumped simultaneously. The mid 1840s then saw the Irish Potato famine which caused the death of a million people in Ireland and the emigration of another one and a half million. It appears that the Gleeson family made the decision to joined the emigrants and over a few years Martin and seven brothers and their parents all arrived in Australia. The names of his brothers were John, Patrick, Edward, Michael who were older than Martin, and Joseph, Thomas and James who were younger.

Martin travelled to Australia via the ship "Constance", from Plymouth, England, and disembarked at Melbourne on 28th November 1850. He was an assisted immigrant recorded as an intermediate passenger, with his occupation shown as Labourer; religion as RC; year of birth as c1825 and place as Kilkenny, Ireland.

The "Constance" was a barque of 578 tons, measuring 120.5' x 26.8' x 19.8', built at Ayre's Quay, Co. Durham in 1848 by William Henry Parson. It sailed under the command of Capt. John Bulwer Godfrey.

On 15 February 1855, at St Mary's Catholic Church, Geelong, Martin, then aged 30, married Margaret Butler, originally from Coan, Kilkenny, but then of "The Springs","(now known as Waubra) Victoria, although the marriage certificate show "The Heads". Martin's occupation is shown as "Shopkeeper". The celebrant was Fr John A Parker and witnesses were Martin Loughlin and Bridget McNally.

This Martin Loughlin was also a native of Kilkenny and was destined to become one of the richest men in the colony of Victoria through his membership of a small syndicate whose "Band of Hope" mine yielded a world famous treasure of millions of pounds worth of gold. There is no evidence that Martin Gleeson was a member of the syndicate, although there is a story that he once handed Martin Loughlin 2 handsfull of sovereigns to overcome a cash shortage to complete a project, so perhaps he was repaid generously. Martin Loughlin died unmarried. He gave generously to charities. One of his legacies was for the erection of a church in Kilkenny city, large enough to hold 1,000 people. It is named St John the Evangelist" and cost 40, 000 pounds to erect late in the 19th century.

The parents of the bride and groom were respectively shown as Maurice Butler, farmer, and Anne O'Brien, and Edward Gleeson, shopkeeper, and Mary Lyons.

The bride's father was a descendant of the Butlers who originated from the appointment by King Henry 11 of England of Theobald de Valognes, a Norman Knight, as his chief Butler for Ireland in 1185. The office became the surname in the same manner as did that of Steward, Marshall or Chamberlain. Their original seat or home was at Gowran, Kilkenny, but early in the 13th century they purchased Kilkenny Castle from the descendants of the Norman Knight, Strongbow, and moved into Kilkenny city where it is located.

19 September, 2011

The Mercy Convent, Ballarat

On January 10, 1881, five Sisters of Mercy came to Ballarat East. Until then they had been members of the community at Warrnambool, having been there since their arrival from Ireland in May 1872. The Sisters of this community were Mother M. Agnes Graham, her sister Sister M. Philomene Graham, Sister M. Joseph Howard, Sister M. Xavier Flood and Sister M. Brigid Cousins.

They took up residence in a cottage on the corner of King and Victoria Streets. Thus was the beginning of what would become Sacred Heart Convent of Mercy and the birth of the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy Ballarat East.

Who was Mother M. Agnes Graham? We have few details of this lady. Born in 1839 in Belfast, County Antrim, Charlotte was the daughter of Hugh Graham and Charlotte Selina Savage. The date of her birth is not known, but she was baptised in Belfast on April 29, 1839.

Charlotte’s parents were wealthy and sent their daughter to the Sacre Coeur Convent in London. According to her younger sister, Josephine (Sister M. Philomene), their father, very proud of his beautiful and accomplished daughter, planned a marriage of elevated social standing for Charlotte. Charlotte, however, had other plans and after the celebrations for her twenty-first birthday were over, she quietly left for Baggot Street, leaving a letter for her parents. Her father vowed never to see her again, but her mother visited her whenever it was permissible. Fortunately her father eventually relented and in 1868 both parents consented to Josephine’s also becoming a Sister of Mercy.

Australia Calling
Charlotte had entered at Baggot Street in 1860, and in 1862 was a member of the foundation community, led by Mother M. Philomene Maguire, which went to Worcester, England. While in Worcester, Sister M. Agnes travelled to Liverpool to gain her teaching qualifications. Although the Worcester foundation was not a success, the Sisters struggled there for ten years before returning to Ireland and Ballyjamesduff. This foundation also did not prosper. As a result, when Bishop James Alipius Goold came to Baggot Street seeking Sisters of Mercy for the Western District in Victoria, Australia, there were Sisters ready to offer their services. The fact that Mother M. Philomene Maguire’s sister, Mother M. Xavier was superior of the community founded in Geelong, Victoria, may have been an added incentive.

Arrival In Australia
On February 7, 1872 Mother M. Philomene Maguire, her assistant Sister M. Agnes Graham, and six companions left London on the ‘Windsor Castle’ for Melbourne. Three months later, on May 6, the ‘Windsor Castle’ arrived in Melbourne. The Argus, A Melbourne daily newspaper, carried the following announcement:

WINDSOR CASTLE, ship (Messrs Green’s Blackwall line) 1,074 tons, Chas. Dinsdale, from London February 7. Start Point February 11. Passengers – cabin: Misses Graham, J. Graham, O’Mara, Wingfield, Howard, Flood, and Cousins (Sisters of Mercy), Mrs. Elizabeth Stodart, Mrs. Louisa Stodart, Mrs. Maguire, Mr. And Mrs. Pritchard and family (8), Miss Stodart, Miss Reidy, Miss Steggles, Dr. Thomas Somerville, Messrs Robt Stodart, Burton; and 27 in the second and third cabins. J. H. White and Co., agents.

A further announcement in The Argus the same day, and repeated in The Geelong Advertiser the following day, advised that:

“the seven Sisters of Mercy, who arrived on Monday in the Blackwall liner Windsor Castle, from London, were landed at Queenscliffe, and then proceeded overland to Geelong to the Convent there”.

The Advocate, a Melbourne Catholic weekly newspaper, also let its readers know that seven Sisters of Mercy had arrived from Ireland:

Seven Sisters of Mercy – Mesdames Graham, J. Graham, O’Meara, Wingfield, Howard, Flood and Cousins – arrived at Queenscliffe, from Ireland by the ship Windsor Castle on Monday last. The Windsor Castle left London on the 7th of February, and on the whole made a pleasant passage. The Sisters proceeded overland from Queenscliffe to the Convent of the Order at Geelong. Their lot will ultimately be cast in a distant mission of the colony. May 11, 1872.

The announcements were not quite correct, however, as there were actually eight, not seven, Sisters of Mercy. The reporters probably would have been forgiven for the error as Mother M. Philomene Maguire was entered on the Cabin Passengers list as ‘Ann Maguire, married, 45 years of age’.

According to the shipping report in The Argus, the ‘Windsor Castle’ was a ‘comfortable passenger ship’ and the ‘accommodation for passengers for all classes is ample, the ‘tween decks especially being very roomy and well ventilated, and the saloon is after the same style as the other well-known ships of her fleet’. For most of the voyage, they experienced pleasant weather. This voyage was the first this ship had made to Melbourne.

The ‘Windsor Castle’ carried a varied cargo: malt, hops, beer, liquors, oils, paints, drugs, chemicals, perfumery and fancy goods, stationery, pickles, kippered herrings, grindstones, linoleum, Bradford’s patent Vowel washing, wringing and mangling machines, macaroni, vermicelli, kerosene globes to mention just a few, all very welcome in the colony.

A New Foundation
“the rev. mother and one of the nuns left for Warrnambool and Belfast, with the object of ascertaining which will be the most eligible place for the establishment of a new convent, nine sisters being expected out from the parent house in Dublin.”After some time in Geelong, Mother M. Philomene and her community left for Warrnambool in the Western District, the place chosen for the new foundation. It would appear that the Sisters of Mercy, Geelong may have had the deciding vote for the establishment of this new foundation as it is reported in The Advocate, April 6, 1872 that the day after a Profession Ceremony at the convent, “the rev. mother and one of the nuns left for Warrnambool and Belfast, with the object of ascertaining which will be the most eligible place for the establishment of a new convent, nine sisters being expected out from the parent house in Dublin.”

In Warrnambool the Sisters worked hard, conducting both a day school and boarding school. Those who had left Ireland as novices made their Profession, Sister Brigid Cousins on May 11, 1872 and Srs. M. Xavier and Joseph on February 8, 1874, the ceremonies being held in St. Joseph’s Church. Other young women joined the community and were received into the Order. The Advocate of April 5, 1879, reported the reception of Mary Lambert of Goulburn, New South Wales; and on August 6, 1881 the reception of Katherine Campbell of Emerald Hill (Melbourne), Sarah Campbell of Colac, and Eugenie de Pazanan of Marseilles, but later, Ballarat. (With the exception of Sarah Campbell, the other three would eventually become members of the Ballarat East community.)

The Ballarat Foundation
It was then decided that it was time to make a foundation in Ballarat. Mother M. Agnes Graham was chosen as Superior of the community, her companions being her sister, Sister M Philomene Graham, Sister M. Joseph, Sister M. Xavier Flood and Sister Brigid Cousins, a lay Sister, all having come together to Australia on the ‘Windsor Castle.’

It appears that expectation for Sisters of Mercy to come to Ballarat had arisen some years previously. On February 10, 1872, The Advocate contained the following announcement:

Convent Of Mercy At Ballarat
We understand that the Very Rev. Dean Moore, with the approval of His Lordship the Bishop, proposes to invite the establishment of a branch of the Order of Mercy at Ballarat. But as plans for carrying out the design are not yet matured, we shall defer further notice of the subject till some future date. On questions of so much interest we are unwilling at all times to make premature announcements, or to indulge in hazardous conjecture. In our case there is no reason or necessity for doing so.

There seems to have been no further news of the Sisters of Mercy until December 4 1880, when The Advocate reported that Very Rev. Dr. Moore announced their expected arrival within the next few weeks. Then a few weeks later another announcement:

Diocese Of Ballarat
The Community of Sisters of Mercy referred to by me some time ago as coming to Ballarat will, I hear, arrive very shortly. The place selected for their residence is, it seems, in the Melbourne road. The locality is a very beautiful one, and, doubtless the Catholics of Ballarat East will be glad to have the good Sisters located among them. The refining influences of such exemplary and highly cultivated ladies cannot fail to have a most beneficial effect on society at large throughout the whole community. The Advocate January 8, 1881. They arrived on Monday, January 10, 1881.

Agnes Graham’s Ballarat
In her book They Came Uninvited - A Short History of Sacred Heart College, Ballarat East 1881-1994, Sister Anne Forbes RSM (Ballarat East) describes Ballarat as it was when the Sisters of Mercy arrived there.

Unlike many other gold towns which had known temporary prosperity at the time of the gold rushes, Ballarat was not to become a ghost town. Quite the contrary. Mechanical industries were forging ahead; pastoral interests were never more satisfactory; hopeful expectations prevailed amongst agriculturists; and Ballarat was to the forefront in the expansion of mining, which was promising excellent results. The Ballarat Courier newspaper painted a rosy picture of Victoria in its leading article on New Year’s Day.

“We have not even so much as the measles epidemic to upset the equanimity to our minds and worry our bodies, for that epidemic is rapidly disappearing. We are, in short, at peace with everybody, and at peace with ourselves – sound in body, sound in social circumstances, sound in all material advantages – so that everything with us when entering upon the new year, is clothed in the brightest of colours and aspects.”

The commercial life of the town was booming. Judging by the advertisements in the daily newspapers, the provision of fashionable clothing was very profitable. Recycling was quite an acceptable practice. Straw hats were cleaned, dyed and altered to all the newest styles and trimmed fashionably. Feathers, too, were offered for sale after being cleaned and dyed new colours. Even in the 1880s, baldness was a problem and a chemist and druggist in Bridge Street offered a hair restorer for 3/6 with the promise that it “promotes new growth, and a single bottle will positively restore hair to its natural colour in a few days.” Some goods were quite expensive. Artificial teeth, for example, cost five guineas a set. Cash was readily available because moneylenders were plentiful. Solicitors, tobacconists, and gold brokers were amongst those who were happy to add money lending to the services they offered to the public. All in all, Ballarat was a bustling hive of activity, where businessmen and mine managers dreamt dreams of continuing affluence.

Not all shared in the prosperity, however. Beggars, thieves, and drunkards kept the Justices of the Peace busy in the City Police Court. Women were frequently the offenders in these cases, and it often appears that there was a connection between mental illness and petty crime.

Children were going to feature prominently in the Sisters’ apostolic endeavours, and it is interesting to read the sort of misdemeanours they commonly committed:

“…breaking windows, stoning cats, stealing apples, letting off fireworks in the streets, cutting their names on doors, breaking shrubs and plants, and otherwise rendering themselves generally obnoxious.” Ballarat Courier, January 3 1881.

The punishment for such “crimes” in the recent past had been to send children to prison for a limited period or give them a good sound flogging so as to inflict the maximum of physical pain but cause no permanent injury.

At first sight, it would seem that in Ballarat, the prevailing mood was also quite religious, for the Courier reminded its readers:

“We should also not fail to bear in mind that to a benign Providence we are indebted for all the advantages we enjoy …..The curse of atheism, or any other “ism” of an equally baneful kind, has happily not found a home here.”

A closer scrutiny of the newspapers of the day shows, however, that the sectarianism that characterised the 1870’s after the passing of the Education Act in 1872 was still very much alive. A long article was published on the expulsion of priests (notably Jesuits) from France and the first reason given for the action of the French Government was that the Jesuits had protested against public schools. The editor of the Ballarat Courier concludes his leader by applauding the French Republic which “has thus purged itself of what was proving itself a great pest; and the lesson thus conveyed to other races is both interesting and instructive.”

The Church here in Ballarat had critics from within its own ranks too. A letter to the Courier on February 14, 1881, signed “A Catholic” complained of the Irish priests: “If all the Catholic priests now being imported for foreign missions are of the same class as we get in this country, it is not to be wondered at if the old faith is fast crumbling to dust. The large number of rough youngsters we get out annually from All Hallows College turn their attention to politics and money-making.”

“As we have no quarrel with the fair sex of any denomination we take the earliest opportunity to assure these ladies that our leader of yesterday did not in any way refer to them.”In the light of these prevailing attitudes, it is not surprising that when the Sisters of Mercy finally arrived in Ballarat, one of the first things they had to contend with was a leading article in the Courier of January 14 pointing out the welcome which was extended to newcomers in Victoria as long as they did not join “with their refractory brethren here of the Church of Rome, to agitate or intrigue against our Education Act, or do anything that would cause the least annoyance to France.” As this article specifically mentioned the Sisters of Mercy, the newly arrived community or someone championing their cause must have protested immediately because the following day, the Courier was quick to try to set the record straight. To reassure their readers that the newcomers were not French refugees, they reported (inaccurately) that “English, Scotch, and Irish Sisters of Mercy had lately arrived in Ballarat” and they added – “As we have no quarrel with the fair sex of any denomination we take the earliest opportunity to assure these ladies that our leader of yesterday did not in any way refer to them.”

On a more mundane level, the nuns would have had to cope with another unpleasant factor – the Ballarat weather. The summer of 1881 was a particularly hot one, and the temperature registered 102 degrees in the shade on several days in January. Lorries carrying large blocks of ice, each weighing 250 pounds, were a familiar sight as they travelled up Lydiard Street to the Ballarat Ice Company, ensuring local residents a constant supply during the summer months. Many cases of sunstroke were reported in the district resulting in all kinds of aberrant behaviour. In one bizarre incident, the victim of sunstroke had to be restrained after he had climbed up the pole of a dovecote and strangled several pigeons! Without the luxury of air conditioning, the Irish Sisters in their heavy black habits must have found the heat very oppressive.

Arrival in Ballarat
For the first year, the community rented a small place in Victoria Street, but before the end of the year, they acquired the home of a Mr. Thomas Wood for 800 pounds. This cottage, which stood on the corner of King and Victoria Streets, was the very picture of Victorian respectability. It looked little different from others along the street, with its small old-world garden, fish pond, and monkey-puzzle tree.”

The Advocate continued to supply its readers with information about the new Mercy community in Ballarat. On January 22, 1881 they reported:

The five members of the community of the Sisters of Mercy have arrived in Ballarat East, and taken up their residence there. Some of them have already commenced to superintend the tuition of the female classes in the local Catholic schools. This ought to give a still higher tone to morality amongst our peoples.

And on March 26:

On Monday afternoon I paid a visit to the residence of the Sisters of Mercy, in Melbourne-road, being desirous of knowing how these good nuns like to be located amongst us in Ballarat. I need scarcely say that I was received in a most polite and friendly manner, and I was very much pleased to hear that the community like Ballarat very well. As previously mentioned in the Advocate, there are five of the sisterhood here – the Mother Superior, Sister Mary Philomene, Sister Mary Joseph, Sister Mary Xavier, and Sister Mary Brigid. The good Sisters have had their hands full of work since they came, and, doubtless, an addition to the community would lighten their labours. Three of the Sisters have care of the female children in St. Alipius’ School – about three hundred – and the other two remain at home and teach a ladies’ school, giving instruction in music to pupils from other schools. The good Sisters engage in the visitation of the sick on Saturdays and Sundays, and as soon as arrangements are made they will also visit the sick in the hospital. I hope to have some pleasing notices of their labours to chronicle by-an’-by.

During the next few years, Mother M. Agnes and her community remained closely associated with Mother M. Philomene Maguire and the Warrnambool community. The Ballarat East community grew as novices and/or newly professed Sisters transferred from Warrnambool. As well, they acquired more property, for both the community and the secondary school commenced almost immediately after the Sisters’ arrival. Money was raised mostly as the result of the Sisters’ hard work, although there were some gifts: five hundred pounds left to them by Bishop O’Connor in April 1883, “for the establishment of a convent for the Sisters of Mercy”; occasional gifts of 50 or 100 pounds from a generous benefactor, Martin Loughlin, J.P.; and annually on Good Friday, an appeal was made at the Cathedral for the Sisters’ work for the poor.

During 1881, Sister Brigid Cousins (lay Sister) returned to Warrnambool, Sr Catherine Carroll replacing her. The following year Srs. M. Austin (Bridget Howley) and Sister M. Ignatius (Mary Lambert) joined the community. In 1883 Srs. M. Evangelist (Katherine Campbell) and M. de Sales (Eugenie de Pazanan) came to Ballarat East.

Sisters of Mercy, Ballarat East
In 1884 some changes occurred. First, the communities of Warrnambool and Ballarat East became independent of each other, the Ballarat East Chapter Acts recording that “Sister Mary Agnes Graham was appointed first Superioress, July 5, 1884.” Next, young women who had entered at Ballarat East were received into the Order and made Profession of Vows there.

The first two postulants to enter at Ballarat East were Honora Furey, from Warrenheip, a few miles east from Ballarat, and Winifred Drennan, from Crossley in Western Victoria. They were received on July 11, 1885, The Advocate of July 18 recording the event:

Recently two young ladies had the very great happiness of receiving the white veil. Their names were Miss Fury (in religion Sister Mary Baptist) and Miss Drennan (Margaret Mary), the latter was lay Sister. The interesting ceremony, which took place at the Convent of Mercy, Ballarat East was performed by the Bishop, who also celebrated Mass and officiated at the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The Rev. Professor Delany, of All Hallows’ College, preached a most instructive sermon on the Religious life. The ceremony was quite private.

Thus Mother M. Agnes’s community grew, and, no doubt, their work also. They were now responsible for two schools, St. Alipius’, the local primary school and a secondary school, eventually to become known as Sacred Heart College, Ballarat East.

Another Foundation
By 1887, when the Ballarat East community numbered sixteen, it was considered possible to respond to Father Michael Nelan’s request for a Mercy foundation at Colac, Victoria. The Sisters chosen for this community were Mother M. Agnes Graham; Sisters M. Ignatius Lambert and M. Austin, both having entered at Warrnambool and coming to Ballarat East a few years later; Sister M. Magdalen Ryan, a novice; and Bedelia Moloney, a postulant who had entered on January 6, only a few days before the departure for Colac.

The story is told that the night before the Sisters left for Colac, Mother M. Agnes decreed that there was to be no noise or leave-taking before Mass the following morning. So farewells were said before the Sisters retired, those remaining in Ballarat having been told to have a “long” sleep. The travellers left at 6 a.m. and as their train left from the Ballarat East station and they went to the windows to take a last glimpse of the convent, they saw from each upper storey window of the convent a hand waving a flag. As decreed, no silence had been broken, there was no noisy farewell. It was January 10 1888.

In Colac, as in Warrnambool and Ballarat East, the Sisters were immediately involved in the primary and secondary schools, as well as giving religious instruction in neighbouring country districts.

As with Warrnambool and Ballarat East, close contact between the Ballarat East and Colac communities was maintained for some time. Decisions for reception and profession were made and recorded in the Ballarat East Chapter Acts.

Within two years of its foundation, Colac had become self-supporting and another decision faced Mother M. Agnes. She was given the choice of returning to Ballarat, where her sister, Sister M. Philomene was acting Superior, or remaining in Colac. She chose the latter. This must have been a very difficult decision for her as some of those in the Ballarat East community, including her sister, had been her companions since leaving Ireland in 1872.

End of the Beginning
It was now time for the Ballarat East community to elect a new Superior. On June 20, 1890 Sister M. Xavier Flood was appointed Superioress of Ballarat East. Mother M. Agnes continued to work and to train the postulants and novices in Colac until she became seriously ill in 1894. Then, at her request, the Bishop relieved her of the office of Superior, her place being taken by Sister M. Magdalen Ryan who had come to Colac with her.

Mother M. Agnes had a great devotion to Our Lady, especially to her in her Immaculate Conception. She died on December 7 1894, on the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her obituary, printed in The Advocate on December 15, told, among other things, of her humility, gentleness, patience, and of the lasting impression she made on her pupils with her practical instructions and encouragement. The Catholics of Ballarat East, no less than those in Colac, were grieved at the news of her death.

Diocese of Ballarat
The Advocate, December 15, 1894
From our own Correspondent

I regret to have to announce the death of Mother Agnes, Superioress of the Convent of Mercy, Colac, on the 7th inst. Mother Agnes’s death is deeply regretted by the Catholics of Ballarat East, and especially by her former pupils, as she endeared herself to them while she had charge of the convent there. The deceased lady was a native of Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland, her father being Hugh Graham, Esq., of Mountview, and her mother Charlotte, daughter of Colonel Francis William Savage, of Glastry, County Down, Ireland. Her highly cultured mind was proof of the care bestowed on her education, both in her own home and at the convent of the Sacred Heart, Roehampton, London, where she was distinguished among her companions for her strict observance of rules, her solid piety, and, above all, for her tender devotion to the Mother of God. It may be mentioned here that, as a religious, when instructing her pupils, she loved to expatiate on the privileges bestowed by God on the Queen of Heaven, and tried especially to inspire them with devotion to Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, on which feast she was, while with the nuns of the Sacred Heart, consecrated to Our Lady in the Sodality of the Children of Mary. Singular that it was on the eve of this feast she calmly expired. Having completed her education, she returned to her native city, and for two years seemed in doubt as to whether God called her to become a religious in the Order of the Sacred Heart or in the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy. She sought light in prayer, and found it; she decided to join the Order of Mercy, her choice being determined by her tender love for the poor, among whom she, as a Sister of Mercy, expected to spend her life. Accordingly, in June 1862, she entered the motherhouse of the Order, Baggot-street, Dublin among the candidates for the English mission. On the arrival in Worcester of the little community of which she was a member, it was found that schools conducted by uncertificated teachers were not entitled to the Government grant. Determined to commence work on the best possible footing, she was one of those chosen by the superior to go up to Liverpool, where she passed a highly creditable Government examination, and returning to Worcester with her certificate gave every possible satisfaction to the inspectors, by whom she was much esteemed. In 1872 she arrived in Victoria, where, with her community, she opened a house of the Order of Mercy in Warrnambool, and, after labouring for ten years there, was sent as superior to establish another house in Ballarat East. The Bishop of Ballarat wishing to have a community of nuns in Colac, accompanied by four of her sisters, she arrived there in January, 1888 where, until incapacitated by sickness, she laboured in the beautiful little convent erected for the community through the exertions of Fr. Nelan. Many of the pupils of the deceased, who are now themselves nuns, attest to the lasting impression made on them by her solid, practical instructions. The most uninteresting subjects were entered into with eagerness by the pupils when explained by the painstaking, patient, and gentle religious. The poor whom she visited are not likely to forget the kind smile and encouraging words that have so often during the past consoled them. But it was not in the school-room nor in the homes of the poor that this admirable religious was so worthy of our admiration. To understand the sterling virtues of the deceased it is necessary to follow her through the daily duties of religious life. What has been remarked of some saintly Jesuit might also have been said of her – that if the rule of the Order were lost we should find it reproduced in her. During her whole religious life she was remarkable for her fidelity in little things, her humble submission to superiors, seeing God alone in them, and her heroic charity. But it is not surprising that she practised these virtues in such an eminent degree, when we consider her deep humility, esteeming herself the least of all her religious sisters, and treating them with the utmost deference and respect. Last May, when she found that her illness had assumed a serious aspect, and that she was no longer able to fulfil her duties as superior, she applied to the Bishop for leave to resign her office. His Lordship, with his usual discrimination, saw the wisdom of her request, and kindly complied with it. When relieved from the office of superior she devoted herself with the utmost resignation, cheerfulness, and confidence in God to prepare for her passage to eternity, her only regret being the inconvenience she feared her illness might cause to her sisters. It was, perhaps, during her long and painful sickness that her virtues shone most brilliantly. When the end drew near she spoke of death so calmly that it was evident she was wholly detached from this world and self, and that all her hopes were centred in the promise made by our Lord to those who forsake all to follow Him by the practice of the evangelical counsels. She was fully conscious when the hours of death came, her last act being to make the sign of the Cross, and then, surrounded by her sorrowing sisters, she calmly expired at a quarter to twelve on the night of the 7th inst. Her revered remains were placed in the little chapel of the convent, where crowds came to take a last look at the placid face of the religious whom they had loved in this life. On Sunday evening the coffin was borne by the members of the Young Men’s Society, accompanied by the Bishop, Fr. Nelan, and the sisters, to St. Mary’s Church, where it remained until Monday morning. Requiem Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Fr. McBride, assisted by Frs. Moriarty and Shine, His Lordship, with Frs. Nelan and Herbert, also being present. About a quarter past 12 the funeral procession formed, the Hibernian Society, the Children of Mary, and school children preceding the hearse, after which came a long cortege of vehicles. The Bishop officiated at the grave, where now lie the mortal remains of one who generously sacrificed friends, country, and self to follow the Divine call, and whose admirable spirit and holy works will, we trust, live after her.


20 August, 2011

Tom Corrigan (1851-1894), Martin Loughlin's jockey

From the Australian Dictionary of National Biography's entry on Tom Corrigan by John Ritchie:

"Tom (Tommy) Corrigan (1851-1894), jockey and trainer, was born in County Meath, Ireland, son of Thomas Corrigan and his wife Bridget, née Carney. In 1864 the family migrated to Victoria where he worked for his father on a dairy farm near Woodford. At 14 Tom rode his own mare, Juliet, to victory in the hack steeplechase at the Woodford publicans' picnic race meeting, won a saddle, and persuaded his father to allow him to leave home and join the stable of Tozer & Moran at Warrnambool. He served his apprenticeship in the bush circuit of the Western District, had his first mount at Flemington in 1867 and rode in the Melbourne Cup in 1872. By 1877 he was settled in Ballarat where he found a patron, Martin Loughlin. For over a decade the combination of Loughlin owner, Wilson trainer and Corrigan jockey dominated the Melbourne and Victorian country race-courses. Corrigan also rode at city and country tracks in New South Wales and Tasmania; on Loughlin's retirement he set himself up at Caulfield. In 1866-94 Corrigan had 238 wins, 135 seconds and 95 thirds from 788 starts. He won seven Grand Nationals: the Victoria Racing Club's Grand National Hurdle on Sir Peter and Grand National Steeplechase on Great Western, Wymlet and Game; and the Victoria Amateur Turf Club's Grand National Steeplechase on Left Bower, Game and Sir Wilfred.

Corrigan was small even by jockeys' standards and proudly sported a huge moustache. Contemporaries saw him as 'a merry hearted little Irishman', courteous, devoted to his Church and family, generous, unfailing in good temper, and superstitious though pretending not to be; even Henry Lawson in his agonizings warmed to Corrigan's bright smile. He was not an artistic horseman but was strong and game, with a fine sense of pace which enabled him to handle the most fractious mount. To the Age, which usually found racing 'morally dubious', he was a model of fair dealing and unquestionable integrity. He always rode to win. This combination of temper, capability and 'straightness' ensured his fame. The Argus acclaimed him the most popular and best cross-country rider in Australia and doubted whether England could boast a superior, Banjo Paterson wrote a poem about him, and Thomas Haydon saw him as an institution: 'The first inquiry backers made on reaching a race-course would be “What's Corrigan riding?”'

On 11 August 1894 his mount, Waiter, fell in the Caulfield Grand National Steeplechase and Corrigan suffered laceration of the brain. Next day crowds waited outside his home and prayers were offered at St Francis's Church. He died early on the 13th without regaining consciousness. Though once worth £15,000, Corrigan died poor. A fund was opened for his young widow Robena, née Jamieson, and two children. His funeral was reputed the largest Melbourne had known. Before the cortège left his home, the route from Caulfield to the Melbourne general cemetery was lined with thousands and by 2 p.m. Swanston Street was 'one mass of humanity'. Road traffic was suspended for two hours, flags flew at half-mast and shops closed. A hundred jockeys and trainers preceded the hearse, Corrigan's boots and green and white jacket rested on his coffin, and the procession was two miles (3.2 km) long; carriages, horsemen and pedestrians, from chairmen of committees to mere stable lads. Among the cartloads of wreaths one was from Governor and Lady Hopetoun, another shaped as a horseshoe from some urchin newsboys. 'A stranger would have imagined that the remains of some great warrior or statesman were being conveyed to the grave'.

In the depressed 1890s hungry-eyed men at race-courses seeking money, escape and perhaps a new identity saw Corrigan as a man they could trust, a cross-class phenomenon who brought colour into the darkness and misery of many lives."

16 June, 2011

The Count and Father Hackett, S.J.

Archbishop Daniel Mannix of Melbourne

From: The riddle of Father Hackett: a priest in politics in Ireland and Australia, by Brenda Niall.

p. 153 ff."...William Hackett was given his parallel mission: to found a library that would help to educate Melbourne Catholics to know their faith and to take their place in the world... One of the first and most important patrons of the Library was a Kilkenny man, Count Thomas O'Loughlin. Hackett met the Count in 1923, when he and Murphy, then both at Xavier, were invited to O'Loughlin's home, Tara Hall, in Studley Park Road near Raheen. In this neo-Elizabethan mansion, complete with turrets and gargoyles, spacious reception rooms and a splendid staircase, O'Loughlin lived in state, with a manservant and a cook, several maids, and a governess for his daughters. All this came from a legacy. The archetypical of the rich uncle who struck lucky at the goldfields was the literal truth for the O'Loughlins. Martin Loughlin (1833-1894), born into a farming family in Kilkenny, made such a large fortune on the Victorian goldfields and in subsequent speculations in land, hotels and racehorses, that even the 1890s depression left him relatively untroubled. He died leaving an estate of £250,000.

His nephew Thomas, the ultimate beneficiary, came to Australia, where he passed on large portions of his wealth to the Catholic Church. One spectacular gift was the Church of St. John the Evangelist, which he endowed in his native Kilkenny in 1908. On his wedding day in 1911, Thomas was given the papal title in recognition of his benefactions. The farmer's son became Count O'Loughlin and his bride was addressed as Countess. Like everyone else in Kilkenny, Hackett and Murphy grew with the stories of Martin Loughlin's luck and the nephew's inheritance; they knew the Church that was built on Australian gold.

In the first five years of the Central Catholic Library, O'Loughlin was its main patron. Hackett became a family friend and visitor to Tara Hall, which was so close to Raheen that he could call on the Count before seeing the Archbishop. For O'Loughliin, as for few others, Mannix made a small adjustment to his policy of never accepting private hospitality. Except on a condolence visit in 1925, when the Countess died, he would not enter the front door of Tara, but at least once he crossed Studley Park Road and stood for a talk in his neighbour's garden. He brought the Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr. Duhig, and Cardinal Cerretti, the Apostolic Delegate of the time, his guests at Raheen. Two purple birettas and one scarlet cap made a brilliant spectacle for the little O'Loughlin girls. 'Look, look! Three popes in the garden!' one of them called to her governess.

When his wife died, Thomas O'Loughlin gave up Tara for a smaller house in Hawthorne. His own death in 1929 left five daughters to the care of an aunt from Ireland. Hackett did not forget the friendship, though five girls, the eldest only 17, strained his social resources. Card games were the best he could do: bridge or solo. He did not care for cards, nor did the O'Loughlin girls, but politeness on both sides kept them at the table..."

p 172 "Most important, in the early years of the library, was that other Kilkenny man, Count O'Loughlin, who wrote in 1927 that he would have great pleasure in paying the next year's rent of the Collins Street building. 'I shall also put my hand to raising the £10,000 you hope to reach within the next twelve months,' O'Loughlin added. His death in 1929, just as the Depression hit hard, was a serious setback."

21 April, 2011

Old St. John's

Exterior and interior images of the old St. John's Church in Kilkenny that was to be replaced by the O'Loughlin Memorial Church dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. The images are from the National Library of Ireland's online collection.

03 March, 2011

Old Images of the O'Loughlin Memorial Church

Archive images of the O'Loughlin Memorial Church from the National Library of Ireland online catalogue.

02 February, 2011

The Australian Connection

Interior of old St. Michael's Church, Athy

The Australian Connection

From the weekly column of Frank Taaffe

‘THIS altar rail was erected and the sanctuary adorned by Count Thomas J O’Loughlin, Melbourne to the memory of his beloved wife Kathleen’. So read the opening lines of the inscription on the plaque which graced the sanctuary of St Michael’s Church which was demolished following the last mass celebrated there on 24 September 1960. Who was Thomas O’Loughlin and what connection, if any, did he or his wife Kathleen have with Athy?

Thomas O’Loughlin was born Thomas Laughlin in Castlewarren a few miles on the Carlow side of Kilkenny city in 1869. His uncle Martin, who emigrated to Australia following the Great Famine and made his fortune in the goal mines of Ballarat, died in 1894. His nephews Thomas and Martin Laughlin were appointed executors of his will and both went ‘down under’ four years later to administer their uncle’s vast estate. Under the terms of the will funds were to be made available to build a church in memory of the O’Loughlin family in either Australia or Ireland.

The parish priest of the rural parish of Castlewarren did not accept the offer of a new church and eventually fortune favoured the Kilkenny city parish of St Johns where the O’Loughlin family had acquired a substantial property. The O’Loughlin Memorial Church of St John the Evangelist, built in the Gothic style, was completed in 1908 after nine years work at a cost of approximately £40,000.00. The church was consecrated on 28 June 1908 and in the following month word came from Rome that Pope Pius X had conferred the title of Knight of St Gregory the Great on Thomas O’Loughlin.

On returning to Australia Thomas Laughlin, now known as O’Loughlin, made the acquaintance of a Kilkenny born nun in a Melbourne convent. On a subsequent visit to Ireland he visited the family of Nicholas Murphy of Ballybur, brother of that nun and met Murphy’s daughter Kathleen whom he was to marry in 1911. The wedding ceremony took place on 27 September 1911, presided over by Bishop Brownrigg of Kilkenny, assisted by a number of clerics including Canon Mackey PP who was described as ‘an uncle of the bride’.

This then was the Athy connection with Count Thomas O’Loughlin as Canon Mackey had been appointed parish priest of Athy just two years previously.

Five daughters were born to Thomas O’Loughlin and his wife Kathleen who had returned to live in the vast O’Loughlin estate in Australia. Tragically on 1 August 1925 following the birth of their first son Kathleen O’Loughlin died, as did the baby boy. She was just 44 years of age. Count O’Loughlin died four years later, aged 63.

Subsequent court proceedings delayed administration of Count O’Loughlin’s will. It was not until 1936 that a Melbourne court ruled on the disputed will and a subsequent appeal to the Australian High Court found in favour of the count’s last will and testament.

I have not seen the count’s will but clearly he had decided to donate funds to his late wife’s uncle, Canon Mackey, ‘to erect altar rails and decorate the sanctuary of St Michael’s Athy.’ What form the sanctuary decorations took I cannot say. Canon Mackey had in the meantime died on 31 March 1928 but the installation of the altar rails went ahead in 1937.

The photograph shows the installation of the altar rails. They complemented the marble pulpit which had been presented in 1904 by the local people of Athy to mark the jubilee of the ordination of their then parish priest Canon Germaine. The pulpit still adorns our present parish church and a somewhat truncated version of the original marble railings are to be found beside the side altars. I don’t know where the rest of the railings can be found.

In recent weeks both Tom Byrne of St Joseph’s Terrace and Esther Owens of The Bleach passed away. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tom in the company of his friend Paddy Walsh several years ago but unfortunately I have temporarily mislaid my notes of that interview. Tom had a long and interesting life and his passing and that of Esther removes yet another valuable source of interesting knowledge and rich experience with which I always associate the older generation amongst our local community.