The Parish Church of St. Mary, Oughterard

The Background to its Construction, with an account of the dispute concerning Title to it's site

THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST MARY, OUGHTERARD:

The Background To Its Construction, With An Account Of The Dispute Concerning Title To Its Site

JAMES MITCHELL

Joseph William Kirwan was born in the town of Galway, apparently in 1796; he matriculated in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, in 1817 and received ordination in 1822.1 He soon began to show remarkable ability as a public speaker. In reporting a recent ceremony, the Galway Weekly Advertiser of 1 February 1823 commented: ‘An excellent sermon was preached by the Rev. Joseph Kirwan, being one of his first public discourses, and there can be no question he is destined to rank high among the preachers of Galway’.

After that auspicious beginning, further invitations to speak were accepted by him, as reported in the local press. In what must have been a particular honour, on 5 November of that year he delivered the panegyric at the solemn high mass which marked the demise of Pope Pius VII. In its account of the occasion, the Connaught Journal observed of Kirwan that ‘his eloquent exertions since he came amongst us, bid flatteringly for his future fame’.

Almost a year later, on 20 September 1824, the Journal repeated its commendation. ‘We hear that the Rev. Mr. Kirwan intends commencing a series of Moral Lectures at the Parochial Chapel of St. Nicholas on Sunday next … The public have frequently heard the Rev. Mr. Kirwan, and with pleasure too, and we do not know of many whose mental resources could so well enable them to go through the arduous work of this young but very promising ecclesiastic.’ On 19 October, in a spirited challenge to a body whom they regarded as proselytisers, a number of clergy from Galway appropriated a meeting held at Loughrea by the London Hibernian Society for Establishing Schools and Circulating the Holy Scriptures in Ireland. Kirwan was one of those who spoke on the occasion; his speeches then and at a subsequent commemorative dinner were reported at length in the Journal on 23 October and 4 November.

On 26 February 1827 he was accorded a notable testimony of public esteem. Galway was at that time under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction not of a bishop but of a warden, assisted by a chapter of eight fellow-clerics known as vicars, who were elected for life by those members of the ‘tribal’ families admitted to the franchise. On that date an election was held to fill a vacancy in the chapter; it was in fact the last such meeting to be held as it was increasingly being felt that the practice was anomalous, and that the wardenship should be replaced by a diocese. At the meeting three candidates were proposed and seconded for the vacant office. Of the total of one hundred and fifty-seven votes cast, Kirwan received seventy-seven, while his two fellow-clerics secured

respectively forty-three and thirty-seven.’2 He thus became the junior member of the chapter and as such entitled (subject to seniority) to request appointment to any particular parish which should become available.

Following his election he chose the recently vacated parish of Kilcummin (Oughterard). It must have seemed an unexpected decision on his part. Although he had come to be recognised as a highly accomplished public speaker in his native town and its neighbourhood, he now chose to exchange those familiar surroundings for the responsibility of a parish (much more extensive then than r subsequently) which, though less than twenty miles distant, at that time probably appeared remote to many Galway residents. Even some fifteen years later, on 9 February 1842, the editor of the Galway Vindicator having expressed perplexity at Kirwan’s decision, was at pains to point out that it had been a purely personal one. Kirwan had, he noted, ‘exercised, subsequent to his return [i.e., election] by the lay patronage of his church, what canoeists denominate an optio or electio, and preferred the quiet of the village to the turmoil and bustle of the city. The ruling j Superior of the day had no discretion in this’.

The situation facing him in his chosen parish was, in fact, a challenging one —which was, presumably, the reason why he wished to minister there. His pastoral concerns were to involve him in such projects as the provision of public facilities for religious, educational and medical purposes.

The Freeman’s Journal was to recall that on taking up duty he ‘found this vast and impoverished district almost destitute of a place of worship; we need not have said almost, for the old chapel, the only one in the parish, was a dilapidated ruin, about a mile from Outerard, and not calculated to shelter from the weather even the small portion of the congregation which could be contained beneath its shattered roof’ 3 The structure referred to is, no doubt, that recorded in a Report issued in 1827 (the year of his arrival), which states that the ‘school-house’ at Kilcummin was located in the ‘R.C. chapel’ 4 Those two references bear out the tradition, which was to be published a century later, that there had been ‘nowhere in Kilcummin parish even one Catholic church, until a diminutive thatched shed was erected surreptitiously in Roisbhearla [Rushveala] townland (alias Old Chapel) — a double debt to pay: a church on Sundays and a school on weekdays’5

The Report in question shows graphically the standard of the ‘school-houses’ then available in the parish. In addition to that located in the decrepit chapel, eleven other such ‘pay’ schools are listed as then

existing in Kilcummin. These included one held in a thatched cabin, used as a cow-house in winter’, another in a barn, a third in a miserable hut’, while a fourth is described as ‘built of sods’ Kirwan has himself left an account (in an ‘Appeal’, published in 1838, which will be discussed below), of the situation which awaited him and of some of the difficulties which he had to contend in endeavouring to provide a parish church. He begins as follows. ‘In the year 1827 I was appointed to the Parish of Outerard, as a junior Vicar of the Wardenship of Galway. I found it a neglected and mountainous district with a large scattered population of 10,000 souls & literally destitute of a house of Worship. I had peculiar difficulties to encounter in erecting it Parochial Chapel, as there was no resident Catholic proprietor in the parish, and extreme poverty of the people precluded them from affording me any effective assistance.  I was nevertheless encouraged to commence the erection of a House of Worship by Thomas Martin, Esq., M.P., who bestowed for that purpose an acre of land in the Town of Oughterard, together with a subscription

of £50, which with £50 from his Father the late Colonel Martin, a similar sum from Mr. St. George of Tyrone [Kilcolgan], and other smaller sums not amounting in all to £50 was all the support and assistance I ever received from the Parish or from those connected with it.’6

As a result of his having thus obtained a site (the conveyance of which is not recorded in the registry of deeds), and of the donations received, Kirwan decided to make a start and accordingly had a notice inviting tenders published in the Connaught Journal on 24 January 1828. It bears the date ’28 January 1828′ and is (in enlarged format), as figure 1. William Brady, the architect named in the notice, also practised as a builder; his previous commissions had included the parish churches at Bushypark and Barna.7

An inscription, in Latin, incised on the base of the church tower, states ‘Construction Commenced AD 1829 March’ That work on the building had, in fact, begun a year previously is shown by a report carried in the Connaught Journal on 19 May 1828 concerning the ‘new chapel at Outerarde’ This contained both good and disappointing news: ‘The walls, which are 25 feet in height, are already covered with the eve stone ….. the funds, however, for completing the work are exhausted’.

Transcribed from Newspaper Notice:  NEW CHAPEL AT OUTERARD. Attachment 1

Proposals will be received for the MASONWORK of the above Building, on or before 10th of February next, by the Rev. Joseph L Kirwan, P. P. Oughterard. No preference will be given but to the moderate. Security will be required. – Plans and Specifications to be seen at the Office of Mr. Brady, Architect, Nun’s Island.

Connaught Journal, 24 January 1828.

As no further significant financial assistance could be expected locally, Kirwan decided to go to London to seek help from charitably disposed persons in order that the work could be resumed. His talent as an effective public speak immediately to be recognised when he addressed the congregation in a centrally located parish church there on 28 March 1829, as reported in the Connaught Journal ‘On Sunday last, Rev. Joseph Kirwan preached at Warwick St. Chapel, London for the Associated Catholic Charities of the Metropolis. There were £50 more collected on this than on any other occasion since the foundation of the charities. We trust that in making another appeal, which he intends doing in favor very laudable object of his mission to London, viz., the creation of a fund for the completion of his chapel at Oughterard, and a Parochial School, he will be equally successful’.

He achieved further prominence just a month later when the annual dinner in aid of the St Patrick’s Charity Schools was held in London on 22 April. The distinguished attendance included Daniel O’Connell, who was subsequently moved to the chair. Kirwan’s speech at the event was published in the Atlas, of London, and reprinted in the Connaught Journal. The Roman Catholic Relief Act the ‘Act of Catholic Emancipation’ – had become law on 13 April, and Kirwan drew the attention of his audience to the fact that the gathering constituted ‘the public occasion upon which so many of the friends of civil and religious liberty had met together since the accomplishment of that measure’. There is something truly sublime’, he continued, ‘in looking round this hall to see many of those whose virtuous patriotism and energetic perseverance have mainly contributed in this grand event.’ Kirwan must have been particularly gratified to be in a position to compliment O’Connell in person on the recent enactment. He had been an active supporter of his policies: within a few months of being appointed to the parish of Oughterard he had commenced the collection there of the so-called ‘Catholic Rent’ – the nominal one-penny-per-month towards O’Connell’s expense. The Connaught Journal, in making that announcement in its issue of 20 September 1827, had commented: ‘We hope that the other respected Pastors of our Wardinate [sic] and Archdiocese will act upon the example of Mr. Kirwan’

During the following year, 1830, the authorities at Rome were endeavouring to have the wardenship at Galway replaced by a diocese. All the interested local parties came to agree with this and on 9 October Kirwan signed a petition with the other vicars requesting that, in the circumstances, an extern cleric should be appointed as the first bishop.8

 He then resumed, locally, the work of seeking funds. The Connaught Journal of 23 November following announced that he was to deliver ‘a series of Moral and Religious Discourses on every evening during the approaching Advent (Saturdays excepted)’, the parish church of St. Nicholas in Galway being the venue for the three-week course. ‘The proceeds’ the Journal stated, would be ‘applied to the completion of the R.C. Chapel at Outerard, which, next to Tuam, is the largest in the County.’

As a result of his exertions he had the satisfaction (as he was to record in the ‘Appeal’ of 1838), of being in a position to open his church for worship – on a temporary basis – on Christmas Day of that year, 1830.

The economic plight of many of the parishioners of Oughterard came particularly to the public notice during the following year, 1831. At the spring assizes in Galway Kirwan was successful in requesting a grant from the grand jury towards providing a dispensary on part of the site given him by Martin9. To qualify for such financial aid, the act (45 Geo III, c. 111) required that a sum of money sought should first be collected locally and that the premises should be used ‘for furnishing medicine and giving medical aid and relief to the poor’.

Kirwan had also to continue seeking funds for completion of the parish church. The Connaught Journal of 3 March announced that he had undertaken to deliver a series of talks during Lent in the church of the Carmelite Order at Clarendon Street in Dublin ‘in aid of the building of his new church’. The same source recorded on 16 May that he had recently been engaged in preaching in Limerick and Galway. ‘We could almost be angry with our friends, the good people of Outerard’ the editor remarked, ‘for depriving his native town of so much ability.’

By that time shortage of foodstuffs in Connemara was giving rise to widespread public concern. A charitable body, the Cornhill Relief Committee, which had been formed in London, reported in June that it had deliberately not gathered details concerning ‘the famine’ in a number of areas, including Oughterard, ‘lest the multitudes now struggling to keep life in them by such shifts as would shock you to hear of, should, overpower us by their appeals for assistance’. 10 An insight into the situation then prevailing is contained in a letter written by Kirwan, in his capacity of ‘Treasurer of the local Committee of Relief for the Parish of Outerarde’ to the editor of the Connaught Journal, where it was published on 20 June. The letter was written to express thanks both for a donation received from the members of the local police force and for their efforts in procuring and distributing relief to ‘a famishing multitude of near two thousand souls’.

By the following year, 1832, Kirwan had come to consider the possibility of having schools established in his parish under the auspices of the recently-constituted commissioners of national education. Once again, lack of adequate finance proved an obstacle so he decided to commence seeking the necessary funds by returning to preach in Dublin. On 28 April the Freeman’s Journal reported – evidently he had by then become something of a public figure — that Kirwan was to preach in Claredon-street tomorrow evening on behalf of the poor children of his parish, Outerard. Their means do not permit the inhabitants of Outerard to necessary funds as would induce the Board of Education to grant a sum of money for the erection of schools in the parish. The board requires that one-third of the sum necessary for the building and outfit should be provided by the applicants before they assist in the erection of schools’. ‘We sincerely wish the appeal may prove successful and’ – the announcement concluded optimistically – ‘enable Dr. Kirwan to proceed without delay in his work of charity.’

It was also at this time that he decided to have a single-storey house built, as a parochial residence, on the same site as the church and to its rear. It was, no doubt, in recognition of the continued support accorded by the congregation of the church in Clarendon Street that he named the house ‘Clarendon Cottage’. A contemporary illustration (the provenance of which be detailed below), of that ‘curate’s neat lodge’ (as Thackeray described it) is reproduced as figure 2. 11

 

During the summer of that year public transport between Galway and Oughterard became more convenient. From 1 June the mail car made a daily  (instead of three times weekly) return journey, taking three hours in each direction and carrying four passengers.12

The improvement in communication with Galway, however, brought little prosperity for the majority of the parishioners of Oughterard. Henry Inglis, who visited there two years later, in 1834, noted that ‘The parish of Ouchterard is thirty three miles long, and nearly fourteen broad, and contains about 9,000 inhabitants, of whom from thirty to forty are Protestants’. The people in the immediate neighbourhood of Ouchterard are poorly circumstanced’ he continued, ‘many were so miserably off when I visited Ouchterard that the parish priest had been obliged to become security for the price of a little meal to prevent them from starving.’13 Despite the various calls on his energy and income, Kirwan was, nevertheless, able to continue with the work of completing the church: its tower bell bears both the date ‘1834’ and the name ‘James Stephens’, at whose foundry in Galway it was cast.

Two official reports published in 1835 contain further information on the conditions obtaining in the parish. That of the commissioners of public instruction records Kirwan, with his curates, as officiating on a regular basis not only in the church at Oughterard but also at Killeen [Carraroe], Kilbrickan [Rosmuc], Lettermore and Lettermullan. An accompanying observation reads: There is but one Chapel, in the village of Outerarde, in a district of about 25 miles long. Two others are indispensably requisite’. 14 The Report of the commissioners for inquiring into the state of the poorer classes contains an account of the dispensary, which by then had been functioning for four years. A committee was responsible for supervising the service; in practice, the doctor in residence was in charge. The lack of any ‘charity in the neighbourhood on which an order can be given for food, clothing or fuel’ was noted. In the course of his evidence, Kirwan (who was then acting as secretary to the committee), stated ‘I have more than once been obliged to place the bodies of those who died of cholera in the coffin with my own hands’.15

 The inscription on the base of the church tower continues as follows: ‘Completed AD 1836 Jan’. It was not, however, until the following year that Kirwan’s ambition in that regard came to be fully realised when, on 24 August 1837, the church, under the dedication of St Mary, was consecrated. The ceremony was performed by Dr. George Browne (formerly parish priest in Athlone), who had been ordained for the see of Galway as its first bishop in 1831. The sermon on the occasion was delivered by the archbishop of Tuam, Dr MacHale. According to the Galway Patriot of two days later, he noted that Kirwan ‘had converted a place which was once a rock or desert into a smiling scene, and had accomplished by his labours and his talents what some years ago was considered impossible to be performed’. A discordant note was struck by the Galway Weekly Advertiser which titled its account of the event ‘Popery at Oughterard’, referring to the church as ‘the new Mass-house of St. Mary’s’ and to the ceremony as ‘the day’s amusements’. A contemporary illustration of the church (the provenance of which will also be described below), is here reproduced as figure 3.

Just over a year later, the sense of achievement, which Kirwan must have felt following the consecration of his parish church, came under severe strain when he became prominently involved in a dispute between two of the principal local landlords. These were Thomas Barnewall Martin, who lived at Ballynahinch (twenty-five miles to the west), and Thomas Henry O’Flahertie, whose home was at Lemonfield (on the eastern outskirts of Oughterard). 16 The dispute concerned the ownership of an area comprising nine acres of land which Martin regarded as his property, one of which he had presented to Kirwan who had erected on it his church, presbytery and dispensary. In 1838, however, O’Flahertie formally laid claim to the area in question and commenced legal proceedings to establish title to it. In those circumstances it was inevitable that Kirwan should come to occupy a leading role in the ensuing controversy because, were O’Flahertie to succeed in his action, then not only the site, but also the buildings which Kirwan had constructed on it, would revert to him.

 

The first public reference to the matter is contained in a report, ‘Revival of Persecution’, published in the Galway Patriot of 24 October 1838. This stated that Oughterard was being ‘distributed and agitated by one of the most vindictive and reckless proceedings ever heard of in a Christian country’ According to the report, ‘some ignoramus had been dinning into the ears of Captain O’Flaherty of Lemonfield that he had a TITLE!!!!! to the land upon which the beautiful church of St. Mary’s is built, as well as the of picturesque retreat of its distinguished and celebrated founder’. ‘This insult to the feelings of the people’, the report concluded, ‘will be met, as it ought, with promptness and vigour.’

The calling into question of his rightful occupation of the site evoked a forceful response from Kirwan. This took the form of a circular, dated ‘Outerard, 24 October 1838’ and addressed ‘To the Roman Catholics and Liberal Protestants of Ireland’. It was republished in the Galway Patriot of a week later where it extended to one closely-printed column. The document is described in its introduction as an ‘Appeal for the support and protection of all who have a love for Justice and respect for Religion’. It them opens with an account – which has been quoted, above – of it’s author’s appointment to Oughterard and his erection of its parish church. “I built also’, he adds, ‘from my own funds a residence for myself adjoining the Chapel, and allocated another portion for the erection of a Parochial Dispensary, which was then much required by the poor inhabitants of this mountainous district.’ Kirwan then proceeds to describe – with an evident sense of incredulity – the circumstances of his predicament. ‘I have drawn upon myself the unmitigated hatred of a few obscure Tories of this neighbourhood, one of whom, a Mr. O’Flaherty … pretends now, for the first time, to have discovered some flaw in my title to the Land upon which he has witnessed the erection of these Buildings for the last ten years, and under the guidance of an Attorney of this neighbourhood, a reputed Roman Catholic, has commenced legal proceedings to eject me from my Chapel, & possess himself of it for the purpose of converting it to the Worship of another Religion, or, perhaps, of uprooting from the land a consecrated monument of private charity and Catholic piety.’ The document concludes as follows. ‘As it is contemplated to ruin me, no less by depriving me of my Chapel and Presbytery than by an expensive course of litigation which the party is aware I am unable to sustain, I am reluctantly obliged to appeal to all friends of justice and religion, and particularly to my Rev. Brethren throughout Ireland, who can best understand my position, to assist me by their contributing to resist one of the most shameless aggressions ever made upon justice and religion, even in Ireland, accustomed as she is of old to deeds of spoliation and oppression’.

A postscript adds that ‘the funds which may remain in hands after the legal expenses of the defence’ would be employed ‘for the education of the poor of this populous and neglected district, where (up to this hour) a single school does not exist, notwithstanding many fruitless applications made in the proper quarter.’ 17

 O’Flahertie wrote to the editor of the Galway Patriot on 29 October ‘to request you will give publicity to the real state of the case’ and enclosing for publication an exchange of letters with Bishop Browne on the subject. The entire correspondence was published (as was also Kirwan’s Appeal’) in the same issue of 31 October. O’Flahertie stated his position in his covering letter to the editor. ‘I am about to bring an ejectment for the recovery of several Acres of Land in Oughterard, on one of which the Chapel is situated, and in proceeding by ejectment, I presume it is a fact generally known, that a portion cannot be excluded when seeking to recover premises under a Lease in which the bounds are described. As to my intentions with regard to the Chapel, I beg leave to refer to the subjoined copies of letters which I have had the honor of addressing to the Right Rev. Dr. Browne, R.C. Bishop of Galway, on the subject, and which I hope will be deemed satisfactory to all honourable and well-thinking minds.

 His first letter to the bishop, dated 25 October, set forth his view of the situation in more detail. ‘I understand there has been a good deal of discussion in Galway on the subject of my bringing an ejectment to recover possession of the Chapel Outerard … The fact is, the Chapel is built on a small part of my property I am now seeking to recover from Mr. Thomas Martin, of Ballinahinch Castle, the lease having expired some short time since.  I purpose, on recovering position of the premises in question, to execute, immediately, a lease, for ever, at a peppercorn rent, to Messrs. Anthony O’Flaherty, P.M. Burke and James Kilkelly, in trust for the parishioners of Kilcummin. The three persons named were Catholics and live nearby: O’Flaherty at Knockbane, Burke at Danesfield and Kilkelly (O’Flahertie’s legal advisor) at Drimcong.

The bishop’s reply, of 27 October contains the following passage. ‘I would go any reasonable lengths to reconcile individuals and heal dissensions; but I confess that, in the present instance, I cannot see that any interference upon my part could produce any such desirable results – for, let the consequences be what they may, were it even the perpetual loss to myself, to the parish priest, and my beloved flock, of the chapel, and the other buildings erected in connection with it, I could never accede to any such compromise proposed by you without exposing myself to the merited opprobrium of many, if not all, of my clergy, and a vast proportion of the laity, of having been guilty of dereliction of duty, as Ordinary [scil., bishop] of this Diocese, in abandoning one of my most respected Priests or of having interfered with him unreasonably, and imprudently, in defending, by all legal means, what he conceives his just and inalienable rights.

O’Flahertie’s other letter to the bishop, in reply, is dated 29 October the same on which he wrote his covering letter to the editor. He was now writing to him a second time, he stated because ‘I had heard there were misrepresentations sent forth respecting my intentions’. In that regard he wished to express his belief that his Catholic neighbours ‘know me too well to imagine for a moment I would think of depriving them of their Chapel’.  O’Flahertie concluded by informing the bishop, who, he hoped, would ‘not deem it unreasonable’, that he had decided to ‘give publicity to the correspondence’ without seeking his prior agreement. Browne, apparently, did not feel called upon to respond.

The accompanying editorial to Patriot is headed ‘Oughterard’. We refer our readers’, it commenced, ‘to the correspondence between Captain O’Flahertie of Lemonfield, and the Right Rev. Dr. Browne, on the subject of the Captain’s attempt at dispossessing the Rev. Doctor Kirwan from the occupancy of the ground on which the beautiful Catholic Church of St. Mary’s and the Rev. Gentleman’s own private residence are erected. We know full well the reasons of the Captain for this entering into this correspondence.’ The editorial then made particular reference to the wording employed by O’Flahertie in concluding his letter to the bishop, ‘by assuring his Lordship of the happiness he will feel in having an opportunity of offering the Chapel to his Flock’. ‘Will the reader refer to Mr. O’Flahertie’s epistle’, continues the assessment, ‘and then perceive the adroitness and cavaliering by which he would fain throws dust in the eyes of the public. See how carefully he avoids any allusion to the private residence of Dr. Kirwan, which that revered and respected Divine erected by means of his talent, zeal and industry. Oh, there lies the sting! That is the point which Mr. O’Flahertie endeavors to gloss over by his extreme courtesy.’

The Galway Weekly Advertiser of 3 November carried a copy of O’Flahertie’s letter of 29 October, addressed in this instance to its editor, together with the correspondence between him and the bishop, as also Kirwan’s ‘Appeal’. The editor commenced his analysis of the situation by describing the ‘Appeal’ as ‘a genuine specimen of Jesuitry ….. An insidious attempt to gull the public by arousing their prejudices against a Gentleman of unblemished honor’. The cry of the chapel or church in danger’, continued the editor, ‘is, we presume, completely silenced by Captain O’Flahertie’s letter to Dr. Browne. The story never got credence in this town, but it is but reasonable to expose its fallacy, and thereby guard the unwary against an ingenious device to extort money from them at the expense of Captain O’Flahertie’s reputation.’

 In a letter, dated 6 November, to the editor of the Patriot, where it was published on the following day, Kirwan took issue with O’Flahertie’s version of ‘the real state of the case’. ‘Is there an individual in the Barony of Moycullen’ he wrote, ‘and not one so well as the Captain himself, but knows that “this is NOT the real state of the case”? As if indeed a gentleman with, probably, two or three hundred a year, could see in the hands of Mr. Martin and his family, for the greater part of a century, a property which his friends now declare will add some hundreds annually to his rental; and that, all this time, he never made, nor considered he had a right to make, any claim to it – until, forsooth, he discovered, some time since, an expired lease amongst his family papers!!! Alas! “for the real state of the case”. Does not – did not the Captain know well – does not every individual connected with the country know, that the barren piece of land upon which so much money was expended, in planting and improving, by the Martin Family, was conveyed to them by the Captain’s father, in exchange for land, at that time, ten times its value – which he holds this very day and from which he derives the best, if principal portion, of his income. Kirwan then went on to point out that there existed a further, earlier state of dissension between O’Flahertie and him. ‘It is now, as well as I can recollect, something more than five years since all friendly intercourse ceased between Capt. O’Flahertie and myself, and I now defy him, or any other man, to produce a single instance from that time to the present in which I had a quarrel or misunderstanding with him upon personal grounds.. When attempts were made to proselytise amongst my flock, and for a time successful by him and other members of his family, I inveighed as a Pastor loudly against the ravening Wolf in my fold — and when, as in the present instance, aggressions were made upon my rights and those of my successors in Outerard, I defended them honestly and openly to the best of my abilities.’ Kirwan concluded by enclosing for publication an exchange of letters with P.M. Burke, in which the latter repudiated his being named as a trustee by O’Flahertie: ‘When applied to that purpose I refused, in the most unqualified manner, to allow my name to be in any way mixed up with proceedings which I could not but condemn’.

 That correspondence, as published in the Patriot, was reprinted in Tuam Herald four days later, on 10 December. In the course of making what was his first comment on the dispute, its editor gave it as his opinion that ‘The gallant Captain, it appears, has fallen in love with the Priest’s Cottage, or more likely, had fallen in hate with his splendid Chapel’.

 Just over a week later Kirwan received invaluable legal support, when Daniel O’Connell visited Galway. On 18 November O’Connell attended a private dinner held in the residence of the bishop; on the following evening, he was guest of honour at a public dinner, on which occasion the bishop presided. Kirwan attended both; in the course of the latter event he responded to the toast of ‘Civil and Religious Liberty’. Not surprisingly, he took the opportunity of acquainting O’Connell with his problem concerning title — with greater success than he could anticipated. According to the Patriot of two days later, O’Connell not only gave him a favourable opinion and undertook to conduct his defence but also ‘voluntarily pledged himself, notwithstanding his numerous public and parliamentary avocations, to act as his SPECIAL CONSEL, whenever his pre-eminent services are required for that purpose.

On 25 November of the following year, 1839, the Freeman’s Journal carried a length editorial entitled ‘Case of Religious Persecution’, devoted in the main to an account of Kirwan’s successful efforts to provide a parish church. It went on to point out that ‘Dr. Kirwan did not confine his efforts to the erection of the chapel. He also built on the same acre of land a parochial dispensary, and a beautiful house for his own residence, and had earth carried from a distance to cover the surface of the rock, until he had formed a small garden filled with rare and interesting plants, and, in fact converted the once naked granite  [limestone] into a scene which, for beauty and magnificence, presents almost the appearance of enchantment’. ‘But it will be asked’, the writer continued, ‘where he procured money for all this? His poor parishioners were unable to afford him any assistance, nor did he get a single shilling from them; and the contributions of the resident gentlemen of the vicinity amounted, as we have said, to no more than 2001, neither did he go about seeking subscriptions to carry on the work.’ The answer to that rhetorical question was that ‘With the exception of what we have mentioned, the whole sum expended on the works, and which amounted to some thousands of pounds, was the fruit of his own professional labours, and of some acts of private charity’. ‘Many of our Dublin readers’, the editorial recalled, ‘are familiar with-the powerful and arduous efforts of Dr. Kirwan’s eloquence during four or five successive Lents amongst us, while he laboured to accumulate the sums which went to defray the expenses of his pious undertaking.’ The editor then went on to explain the reason for the startling heading to the article. ‘A neighbouring gentleman, whose name we shall not at present mention….. now comes forward and denies the validity of Dr Kirwan’s title to the land. as his own, and has commenced proceedings in a court of law to eject him from it!’ ‘This must not be’ the account concluded.

A second O’Connellite journal, the Pilot (of Dublin), under the heading ‘Tory Doings’, also commented in its issue of 25 November on Kirwan’s exertions in having, in particular, a parish church constructed. ‘While all this was going on, to the delight and advantage of the people and their indefatigable pastor, there stood looking on a being in human form, who permits the priest to lift the sacred pile to the honor and to the worship of the Living God, and lo! when it is completed — when the people are singing  hallelujahs of joy at seeing their goodly work completed and open for divine worship, they have the mortification to find an ejectment for alleged want of title served on their beloved pastor!  Was anything ever heard of in the world equal to this? Oh, yes! the same

set did before the same sort of thing – not indeed by the slow, wearing, and tiresome process of a suit of law – but the shorter process of the cannon and the sword.’ The account concluded by publishing a slightly abridged version of Kirwan’s Appeal’.

Four days later, on 29 November O’Flahertie sent a letter to the editors of a number of Dublin newspapers in particular Saunder’s News-letter and the Dublin Monitor. It was substantially identical with that which he had written on 29 October of the previous year, 1838, to the editor of the Galway Patriot, who had published and commented on it. ‘As to my intentions with respect to the chapel’ he now stated, ‘I beg leave to refer to the subjoining copy of a letter which I had the honour of addressing to the Right Rev. Dr. Browne, Roman Catholic Bishop of Galway, on the subject, so far back as the 25th of October, 1838.’ (He did not, on this occasion, include his second letter to the bishop.) The conclusion of his letter to the editors incorporated an addition concerning the trustees to whom the church should be leased in the event of his proving title to the site. Having named, as before, his three designated parties one of whom, Burke, had summarily refused — he now continued ‘(if they will accept the trust), who are the only Roman Catholic gentlemen resident in the neighbourhood, or to any other three individuals the parish may select’.

 O’Flahertie’s correspondence appeared, without comment, in Saunder’s on 3 December. It was reprinted, with acknowledgement, in the Tuam Herald of 4 days later accompanied by an editorial observation, part of which read as follows. ‘It would appear from the foregoing that Mr. O’Flahertie is an exceedingly generous gentleman, and one, moreover, of a very forgiving disposition; but neither his generosity nor Christian charity has carried him the length of offering to regrant the land to the gentlemen named as trustees.  Mr. O’Flahertie says he will feel happy in having an opportunity of offering the chapel to the parishioners; but, surely, if he be the generous and high-minded individual he presents himself, he would be equally happy in offering the presbytery to the priest and the dispensary to the public. But does Mr. O’Flahertie offer to do this? No such thing. He pledges himself to execute a lease of the chapel to certain gentlemen, but he reserves to himself the right of doing what he likes with the remainder of the property.’

O’Flahertie’s letter appeared, also on 3 December, in the Monitor, together with an editorial comment.18” This stated that the paper had not published Kirwan’s ‘Appeal’ in view of  ‘a well-grounded assurance that the fact could not be as stated’.  ‘It appears’, the editorial continued, ‘that in 1793, a lease of six acres – one of which is now in the possession of Dr. Kirwan — was granted by the father of T.H. O’Flahertie, Esq., to Mr. Martin, for a certain number of years; consequently, Mr. Martin had no right whatever to grant a lease renewable for ever, of the acre in question, to Dr. Kirwan. The term of years for which the lease was granted having expired in 1838, Mr. Martin refused to relinquish possession of the land, consequently, Mr. O’Flahertie was obliged to bring an action of ejectment to obtain possession.’

Kirwan (who was then in Dublin), wrote to the editor of the Monitor two days later, on 5 December. ‘As you have undertaken to enter into a detail of names, dates and other circumstances connected with the affair, it is evident you have derived your information from some individual interested in misleading both you and the public. I have no hesitation, therefore, in asserting that there is not a particle of truth, “nor the semblance of it” in the entire statement put forward in your paper.’

 

On the following he wrote to the editor of the Freeman’s Journal, enclosing copies of the correspondence which he had sent to the Galway Patriot just a year previously, on November 1838. His letter contains the following passage ‘As I perceive statements have been made in some of the public prints calculated to mislead the public, and impart false impressions of the nature of the proceedings adopted against me, may I request you will give insertion to the enclosed letters, which were published at the same time with Mr. O’Flahertie’s in Galway, where the facts of the case stated in my letter were known to thousands, and not a tittle of which has ever contradicted since the day of its publication to the present. Kirwan’s confidence in the validity of his title evidently continued to be based on the assertion (presumably originating with Martin) contained in his letter to the Patriot, that the site had formed part of an exchange of lands executed between members of the two families concerned.

On 7 December the editor of the Monitor confirmed Kirwan’s inference concerning the source of his specific information. ‘We did not publish Mr. O’Flahertie’s letters until we had an interview with a Catholic gentleman from Outerard, who vouched for the accuracy of their statements. With the Rev. Dr. Kirwan we subsequently had an interview, when he requested us to publish his letter, and to strike out of it any phrases that we thought exceptionable. He gave a different version of the affair from what Mr. O’Flahertie favored us with; but we published his letter without striking out a single word, although we might have done so, had we been very sensitive about phrases. ‘Since the above was in type’ the editorial continued, ‘we have received a letter from Dr. Kirwan, accompanied with some letters which he published a year ago, and he distinctly reiterates his assertions that the facts are exactly as he detailed them to us. We have also had another interview with the Catholic gentleman who first brought this matter under our notice, and he has as explicitly affirmed the veracity of his statements.’ In the circumstances, the editor concluded, he had decided ‘to refrain entirely from noticing the matter for the present’ in view of the fact that ‘in a short time the real state of the case will be made known by an investigation in a court of law’. Despite that decision, the editor published a further letter, on 10 December, from Kirwan. ‘In order to bring the question to an issue’ he wrote, ‘and the sincerity and truth of all the parties, if you will have the kindness to appoint for your private informant and myself an hour at which we may meet you in your office alone, or in the presence of witnesses, I engage to satisfy you, sceptical as you are, to the fact of the individual that the statements he has made you are false, and that he shall not be able to disprove an iota of the facts detailed by me.’ The editor, however, felt the he could not offer Kirwan an assurance concerning such an arrangement: ‘We cannot undertake that the gentleman who favored us with the information in question, will meet him’.  It seems that the proposed meeting did not take place; the informant in question would appear to have been Kilkelly, O’Flahertie’s solicitor.

An opportune support for Kirwan was provided by the archbishop of Tuam in a letter dated 20 December, together with a subscription towards ‘legally sustaining your claims’. In the course of the letter (which was published in the Freeman’s Journal of three days later), MacHale appraised Kirwan’s achievement. ‘The value of the little spot from which you are threatened to be ousted is entirely derived from your own industry and labour. I saw it a barren rock, only covered with a few brambles, where the most litigious would not dream of courting its possession; and I saw it again adorned with one of the handsomest churches in Ireland, and a cottage of corresponding beauty, showing what talents, cultivated by taste and consecrated to the service of religion, can accomplish.

The editor of the Catholic directory, in the issue for the following year, 1840, also lent his support in advocating financial assistance for the same cause. Having included an extract from Kirwan’s ‘Appeal’ he added: ‘We call upon every Catholic in Great Britain and Ireland to respond to this urgent call, and shall most gratefully receive any contribution for so meritorious a purpose’. The passage was complemented with a lithograph which, though captioned ‘R.C. Church c Mary, Outerard’ included the presbytery; the vignette as a whole being too large for inclusion, the two buildings depicted have been reproduced here individually (in reduced format), as fig 2 and 3. 19 The widespread interest in the pending case (heightened by the participation O’Connell) is shown by a report in the Connaught Journal of 27 February concerning a preaching engagement by Kirwan in Cork. The report included an account taken from the Southern Reporter which stated that a committee had been formed there to receive contributions to help defray his legal expenses. The account purported to outline the difference of opinion regarding title to the site. ‘He obtained from Thomas Martin Esq., M.P., a grant of an acre of land as a site for his Church. This ground had been for seventy years in the possession of the Martins. It originally belonged to another family, who made a transfer of it to them in exchange for other

Ground…… It appears that the present representative of the family by whom the ground was formerly transferred to the Martins, fancies he has discovered a flaw in the title. He alleges that there was no absolute assignment in perpetuity made; that the ground was held under a terminable lease from his family, which expired in 1834.’

One the day following that newspaper report, O’Connell, in the course of a letter concerning parliamentary business written from London to a friend in Dublin, remarked ‘I fear I must go to Galway for Kirwan’s trial, I mean the ejectment brought against Dean [sic] Kirwan’.”20

In fact, as recorded in the Freeman’s Journal of 7 March, Kirwan was no named as defendant in the case. The report reads in part as follows. ‘With respect to the statement in which it is alleged that the case against Dr. Kirwan has been abandoned, we may state that the substitution of Mr. Martin for Dr. Kirwan does not in the slightest degree alter the position of the reverend gentleman. Mr. Martin’s title is Dr. Kirwan’s title, and of course a verdict against on is, in point of fact and law, a verdict against both.’

That change did not alter O’Connell’s decision; the same issue of the Journal noted that ‘Letters have been received from Mr. O’Connell announcing positively his arrival in this city on Tuesday next [10 March] on his way to the assizes of Galway’.

          Subsequent to his arrival in Dublin, according to the Journal of the following Friday, ‘Mr. O’Connell left his mansion in Merrion-square in his travelling carriage for Galway accomplished by the Rev. Dr. Kirwan. He was to stop last night at Athlone and to arrive this day in Galway’.  On Saturday afternoon, O’Connell went to Oughterard where his youngest daughter resided with her husband, Nicholas J. French, who was stipendiary magistrate there. On his return to Galway on the following day he was entertained to dinner by the bishop and clergy. On Monday evening he was guest of honour at a public dinner; on the occasion, Martin, having replied to the toast ‘Our County Members’ proposed.  ‘The Health of the Archbishop of Tuam’, to which Kirwan responded.

The case was heard and decided on the following day, 17 March. There were at that time two newspapers published in Galway (the Patriot having by then ceased to exist). Of these, the Connaught Journal reported the trial and its result in the course of a short passage on 19 March. Such brevity – in an organ which had consistently supported Kirwan’s stance — must have left many readers puzzled and, in the circumstances have seemed to them to amount to something of an anti-climax. The account in question carried merely a standard heading, ‘Ejectment Case’ and comprised just two sentences. ‘The important Ejectment Case, which has excited so much public interest, and with the nature of which our readers are already so familiar, in which Thomas H. O’Flahertie, Esq., was Plaintiff, and Thomas B. Martin, Esq., M.P., Defendant, has been settled, the parties having entered into a compromise. By the arrangement agreed upon, the Church of Oughterard, and the beautiful Cottage of the respected Pastor of that Parish, are placed in the hands of Trustees, the Rev. Doctor Kirwan possessing the life interest in the Chapel & Cottage, both of which, on the demise of that talented and esteemed Clergyman, are to be handed over to his successor in the Parish.21

 In contrast, the other local, town newspaper, the Galway Weekly Advertiser, which had favoured the cause of O’Flahertie, carried a detailed account, on 4 April, of ‘the Outerard Case’. The opening paragraph of its report read as follows. ‘This much-noted case, for which Mr. O’Connell was brought specially from London, as counsel for the defendant, has at length terminated. To those who have read most of the various statements from time to time published upon the subject, the mode of its termination will bring some surprise. It has been settled, if not amicably, at least peaceably. For the convenience of all parties, this day was fixed for its trial, and Mr. Sergeant Greene took his seat on the bench at nine o’clock. The interest excited by the case, the station of the parties, and the presence of Mr. Connell, produced a very crowded attendance of the gentry of the county. The jury was a special one, composed of gentlemen of the highest respectability and consideration in the county.’                                                The pleadings were opened by counsel for the plaintiff. ‘It was an action of ejectment, brought by T.H. O’Flahertie, of Lemonfield, in the county of Galway, Esq., to recover the possession of nine acres of land, situate along the river of Outerard, at the town of Outerard. There were four demises, or conveyance involved, one being to Kirwan, but ‘the present record only concerned Mr. Martin, as the parties had not joined in defence’. The plaintiff’s title to the lands and premises in question, counsel continued, was rooted in a lease granted by his father to the grandfather of the defendant in 1769 of the land in question, at an annual rent of two pounds and ten shillings, for three lives. The lease had accordingly, terminated in 1834 on the death of the last surviving member of those three parties. It was not, however, until four years later, in 1838, that the plaintiff became aware of the nature of his title to the lands in question. In order to test the tenancy of the defendant it was decided to serve notice to quit, a procedure which necessary involved serving similar notice on all parties to have claiming to have any interest in those lands. Possession having been refused, the ejectment case was then brought. ‘Proving these facts, no man could resist his right, and prove them he clearly could beyond dispute.’

 Counsel then proceeded to refer to Martin’s ‘lease or grant of about an acre of these lands to the Rev. Dr. Kirwan, upon which a chapel and a dwelling-house and some offices had been built by that reverend gentleman’.  Immediately on the service of the notice to quit, which he already referred to’, counsel continued, ‘an outcry was raised by Dr. Kirwan of this ejectment being a religious persecution, instigated by a desire for his personal ruin, and unfounded in law justice. Letters and handbills were circulated, not merely throughout the county but the kingdom, containing unwarrantable assertions upon the character of Mr. O’Flahertie and imputations of his motives in the assertion of this, his legal and just right, which every man who heard him (scil., counsel), must have seen.

On O’Connell’s intervening to ask whether the documents in question were relevant in the context, the bench ruled that they ‘could not be used against Mr. Martin in the present case, and therefore should not be stated’.

Having accepted that ruling, counsel continued his address to the jury. ‘So far from Mr. O’Flahertie designing to disturb the uses for which the chapel and buildings he had described were properly intended, when he brought his ejectment he at the same time wrote to the bishop of the diocese of Galway stating his intention expressly to preserve them undisturbed’. O’Connell (who would have discussed the background to the case fully with Kirwan), did not challenge that fundamental assertion which was not in accordance with the facts as set forth by O’Flahertie in his letters of 25 and 29 October 1838 to the bishop. In those two communications O’Flahertie had confined himself to stating his intentions in regard exclusively to the church – a position which he restated in his covering letters of 28 October 1838 and 29 November 1839 to various newspapers, as noted by the editors of the Galway Patriot and Tuam Herald respectively.

‘From certain notices which had been served’ counsel proceeded, ‘he could surmise what was the nature of the defence to be set up.’ It would, he anticipated, be in the first place that at some date unknown but subsequent to the lease of 1769, the grandfather of the defendant had, in exchange for the nine acres now in question, transferred to the father of the plaintiff nine acres of land at Cregg, a townland lying to the south of Oughterard. (That claim, as noted, was the basis of Kirwan’s belief in the validity of his title.) However, ‘on the part of Mr. O’Flahertie, he could say that the most rigid search had been instituted among all the documents of his family to which he could have access, without his being able to discover any trace or notice of any such exchange of these or of any other lands. He had solemnly offered, if any reasonable proof of such an exchange as was pretended could be shown, to admit it and abandon his present proceedings; but it has not been, and could not be shown’. In fact, ‘it so happened that no portion of the lands of Cregg was in possession of the Martin family for the last century and upwards. It could not be shown that they were ever in possession. On the contrary, the O’Flahertie family were in possession of the entire lands … ever since the year 1718, which was more than fifty years previous to the alleged exchange’.

An anticipated alternative line of defence ‘would be founded on the statute of limitation, which would, in effect, concede that the plaintiff’s title was well founded, but that he was barred of his right by the lapse of time’. It was accepted by Plaintiff that no rent for the lands in question had been paid for more than twenty years by the defendant or his late father. ‘But although this might be a bar to the recovery of the rent beyond a certain period, it certainly was no bar to the right of the landlord to take possession of his lands when the tenant’s interest expired, which was not until 1834 in this case.’

In winding up, counsel again advanced the assertion he had earlier made in relation to the original intentions of O’Flahertie: ‘He always had been, and still was, at this moment, willing to vest the entire buildings in trustees for the benefit of the parish’. ‘He could answer for his client’ he stated in conclusion, ‘that, if they were asked of him tomorrow, he would make Mr. O’Connell himself, or the Roman Catholic bishop, or any Roman Catholic gentleman — instance, his respected friend who lived in the neighbourhood, Mr. O’Flahertie of Knockbane his trustee for the parish, and settle the property to Roman Catholic uses; but he thought himself bound first to assert his title, and this he was now prepared to do, and claim a verdict from the respected jury he had the honor to address.

 

O’Connell thereupon requested, and was granted, permission to retire briefly in order to confer with Martin and Kirwan. On resuming, he informed the court that ‘he was prepared, on the part of Dr. Kirwan, to accede to the terms; and giving Mr. O’Flahertie the fullest recognition of his right, to accept a grant from him of the chapel, the chapel house, and other buildings for the use of the parish and his successors in it. The intention of Mr. O’Flahertie was highly creditable to him – it was honorable and generous in every respect’. As for Mr. Martin, he had taken defence for two purposes – the first was to establish his right to the lands in question, or to show, at all events, he had a right to land given for it in another place. He had, he conceived, an estate in either the one place or the other, and the best proof that this was his sincere conviction was that he had made a lease of this chapel ground for ever, which he would never have done had he not been convinced it was clearly his estate.’

 ‘It was finally arranged’ the Advertiser recorded, ‘that both parties should abide their own costs, and the case terminated, evidently to the great satisfaction of the entire assemblage present.’

The same issue of the Advertiser carried an editorial under the heading ‘Clarendon Cottage – The Outerard Case’. it bears the implication that ownership of the presbytery had, for O’Flahertie, been a main concern in bringing his action. ‘Hurra! Hurra!’ it commenced, ‘The Cottage is preserved!’ Kirwan, it continued has triumphed, not through the instrumentality of the law, not through the advocacy of Mr. O’Connell, whom he brought special from London, but through the generosity of Captain O’Flahertie, and ill he deserved it at his hands — however, the Doctor has but a life-interest in the Cottage; he cannot settle it on any relative; he cannot sell it; it must be a sort of Presbytery for the use of the Parish Priest of Outerard for the time being, who must be the tenant of the Captain or his heirs’.

In accordance with the terms of the understanding agreed upon in court, O’Flahertie, with the approbation of Martin and Kirwan, gave a lease, dated 26 December of that year, 1840, of the one acre (Irish measure) in question to Browne, O’Connell and O’Flaherty as trustees, for nine hundred and ninety-nine years at an annual rent of one peppercorn. The original of the lease is missing and is not recorded in the registry of deeds; its contents are, however, recited in summary form in the memorials of a deed of assignment executed on 13 July 1854.22 

 

NOTES

  1. Further information relating to Kirwan, including his promotion of local university education, can be found in J. Mitchell, ‘the appointment of Revd. J.W. Kirwan as first president of Queen’s College, Galway’, this Journal, (1999), 1-23.
  2. Coen, The wardenship of Galway (Galway, 1984), pp 120-1.
  3. Freeman’s Journal, 25 November 1839.
  4. Second report of the commissioners of Irish education inquiry (1826-7), appendix 22, p. 1222.
  5. [Anon,], ‘Oughterard Parish Church’, Connacht Tribune, 11 August 1934. Rushveala is situated to the southeast of Oughterard; no trace of the structure referred to now survives: P. Gosling (comp.), Archaeological inventory of county Galway, i (Dublin, 1993), pp 109 (n. 612), 229 (map 22). Cf. H. Dutton, A statistical and agricultural survey of the county of Galway (Dublin, 1824), p. 516: ‘Some years since on my way to Cunnamara, I stopped at the inn at Oughterard, at the time that mas was performing in the parlour.’
  6. Thomas Barnewell Martin, Christopher St George and Thomas Henry O’Flahertie were the principal landlords in the parish. Their respective holdings – those of Martin having been having been subsequently acquired by the Life Assurance Co. – are listed in General valuation of rateable property in Ireland: union of Oughterard (Dublin, 1855), passim.
  7. J. Mitchell, ‘Queen’s College, Galway’ this Journal, 50 (1998), 67.
  8. Coen, op. cit., p. 167 (3).
  9. First report from the commissioners for inquiring into the state of the poorer classes in Ireland (1835), supplement to appendix (B), part 1, p. 8.
  10.  P. O’Neill, ‘Minor famines and relief in Galway, 1815-1925′, in G. Moran and R. Gillespie (eds), Galway: history & society (Dublin, 1996), p. 452.
  11.  Connaught Journal, 18 June 1832; W.M. Thackeray, The Irish sketch book, ii (London, 1843), p. 48. ‘Clarendon Cottage’ is so designated on sheet 54 of the 6-inch ordnance survey map of the area engraved in 1842. Clarendon Street is named after the second earl of Clarendon, who was appointed lord lieutenant in 1685: D. Bennett, Encyclopedia of Dublin (Dublin, 1991), p. 39.
  12.  Connaught Journal, 18 June 1832
  13.   D. Inglis, A Journey throughout Ireland, ii (London, 1835), pp 38, 39.
  14.  First report of the commissioners of public instruction, Ireland (1835), p. 49d; appendix, p. 65. Cf. Battersby’s Catholic directory (Dublin, 1840), p. 312: ‘Killeen and Rosmuck for a short time were in the care of the Archbishop of Tuam but have been restored to Outerard, from which they were originally separated’; [E.A.J D’Alton, History of the archdiocese of Tuam, ii (Dublin, 1928), pp 255-6.
  15.  First report from the commissioners for inquiring into the state of the poorer classes in Ireland (1835), p. 287, Connaught Journal, 14 January 1836.
  16.  B. Martin had represented County Galway since 1832: B.M. Walker (ed.), Parliamentary election results in Ireland, 1801-1922 (Dublin 1978), pp 52, 58, 64. T.H. O’Flahertie was commissioned captain in the (yeomanry) Lemonfield Infantry on 31 October 1796: A list of the several district corps of Ireland (Dublin, 1797) p. 44.
  17.  In the context, the statement, ‘ a single school does not exist’ means ‘a school under the auspices of the board of education’. The earliest available application submitted by Kirwan to the board appears to be that dated 22 December 1837; an official memo attached reads: ‘The correspondence previous to December 1837 seems to have been conducted by circulars (of which I have no copy)’. On the occasion, Kirwan undertook ‘to supply from his private resources one-third of the estimated expenses’, but the board found itself unable to comply with the terms of the application: National Schools Applications, 2C/67/15, National Archives of Ireland.
  18.  I am indebted to Dr. Patrick Melvin, of the Oireachtas Library, for having kindly directed my attention to the account in the Dublin Monitor. Â
  19.  Battersby’s Catholic directory, loc. cit., facing p. 312. The sub-caption to the lithograph erroneously states of the church: ‘commenced 1827’. The church was enlarged during the years 1932-34; the presbytery was subsequently demolished and replaced.
  20.  R. O’Connell (ed.), The correspondence of Daniel O’Connell, vi (Dublin, 1977), p. 314.
  21.  The Freeman’s Journal of 19 March, and the Pilot of the following day, also reported the conclusion of the case with a similar conciseness. The summary in O’Connell, cit., p. 315 (6), which cites those two newspapers, is inaccurate in some respects.
  22.  Information derived from documents consulted by kind permission of the archivist and the buildings advisor of the diocese of Galway
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