Capuchin Papers relating to the Irish Revolution

Repository: Capuchin Provincial Archives

Identity Statement

TitleCapuchin Papers relating to the Irish Revolution
Archive ReferenceIE CA/IR/1
Web Link to this Entryhttps://iar.ie/archive/capuchin-papers-relating-to-the-irish-revolution
Creation Dates1898-1966
Level of DescriptionFonds
Extent Medium10 boxes

Context

Creator(s): Irish Capuchins

  • Administrative History ↴

    From the re-establishment of Irish Province of the Capuchin Order in 1885 there had been strong links between its members and the emerging national movement. It was clear that the cultural resurgence associated with the Irish Ireland movement deeply influenced the men who were drawn to Capuchin religious life. Even before the Province was re-constituted Fr. Albert Mitchel, an ardent nationalist, made a particular point of always wearing Irish made garments and vigorously championed home-made products. Later, Fr. Aloysius Travers preached a ‘buy Irish Campaign’. Fr. Edwin Fitzgibbon played a leading role in promoting Gaelic games. Many of the friars were fluent Irish speakers and Fr. Augustine Hayden and Fr. Albert Bibby were to the forefront in fostering interest in the native language through Conradh na Gaelige. Most of the Irish Capuchins were educated in the novitiate in Rochestown, County Cork where the collegial atmosphere was conducive not only to a religious education but also to a flourishing interest in cultural nationalism. Following the Insurrection of 1916 the Capuchins of St. Mary of the Angels, Church Street, Dublin, became very prominently associated in the public mind with the Independence movement. Some of the events of this period are recorded in the 1942 and 1966 editions of 'The Capuchin Annual'. Besides the well-known Capuchins like Albert Bibby, Dominic O’Connor (stationed in Holy Trinity, Cork), Augustine Hayden and Aloysius Travers, who rendered spiritual and humanitarian service to nationalist participants in the struggle, there were other less well-known men like Columbus Murphy, Sebastian O’Brien and Brendan Green who played some role. Although the interaction of these priests with Republicans has attracted most attention, it should be noted that other traditions found some expression in Capuchin ministries. The aforementioned Dominic O’Connor, John Butler and Ignatius Collins served as chaplains in the First World War. Mark McDonnell and Angelus Healy were other Church Street friars who were, according to some accounts, somewhat removed from republican sympathies. Biographical Notes Fr. Albert Bibby OFM Cap. Thomas Bibby was born on 24 Oct. 1877 in Bagnalstown, County Carlow. He was baptised on 28 Oct. 1877. His family were proprietors of a woollen mill at Greensbridge and operated two drapery establishments in Kilkenny City, one in Parliament Street and another on High Street. He entered the Capuchin Novitiate at Rochestown on 7 July 1894 and took the religious name of Albert. He was solemnly professed on 8 May 1900 and was ordained a priest at Church Street on 23 Feb. 1902. A gifted scholar, Fr. Albert was among the first batch of Capuchin students to receive a BA degree from the Royal University. He later became a professor of philosophy and theology and taught these subjects to Capuchin students for some years after his ordination. One of his first students was Fr. Dominic O’Connor. Fr. Albert was active in the Gaelic revival movement and was a fluent speaker of Irish. He was engaged in temperance advocacy and gave missions sometimes solely in Irish in Gaeltacht areas. He was also involved in the Columcille branch of Conradh na Gaelige in its early years. Briefly a part of the community of friars in Kilkenny, he moved to the Capuchin community on Church Street in the early 1900s. In the aftermath of the Easter Rising Fr. Albert ministered to a number of rebel prisoners in Kilmainham Jail and in other locations. He was present for the execution of Seán Heuston on 8 May 1916 and wrote an account of his final hours. He was later a regular correspondent with prominent republicans and their relations. On 16 Dec. 1920 both Fr. Albert and Fr. Dominic O’Connor were arrested by British forces during a raid on the Friary in Church Street. Fr. Albert was detained for some hours in Dublin Castle but was afterwards released whilst Fr. Dominic was sentence to five years’ penal servitude. When the Four Courts was attacked on 27 June 1922, Fr. Albert was present in the building alongside Fr. Dominic. Both priests remained with the Anti-Treaty Irregulars until the Four Courts was evacuated. They then proceeded to administer to Cathal Brugha and other IRA men occupying Hamman Hotel on O’Connell Street. In June 1924 Fr. Albert was sent to the United States and was eventually appointed Pastor of the Capuchin Mission at Santa Inez in California. He immediately set out restoring both the parish and the structures of the old Capuchin Mission. Modern plumbing and electricity systems were installed at Santa Inez and Fr. Albert was joined by Friars Reginald O’Hanlon and Colmcille Cregan. At this point, however, Fr. Albert’s health deteriorated and he was soon admitted to St. Francis Hospital in Santa Barbara. He died on 14 Feb. 1925, a mere three months after his arrival in Santa Inez. He was buried just outside the mission’s chapel. His remains (along with those of his former pupil Fr. Dominic O’Connor) were later repatriated to Ireland and he was buried in Rochestown Cemetery on 14 June 1958. Fr. Columbus Murphy OFM Cap. Daniel V. Murphy was born on 17 June 1881 in Cork. He was baptised in St. Finbarr’s Church on 19 June 1881. His parents were James and Sarah Murphy (née Flynn) of Ethelville, Western Road, Cork. A student of the Capuchin College, Rochestown, he applied for entrance to the Capuchin Novitiate in Aug. 1898. During the 1916 Rising Fr. Columbus played an important role in bringing about a cessation of hostilities. The day after the surrender of the Four Courts garrison on 29 April there was still confusion in North King Street and in other locations as to whether this was a truce or a complete surrender. To clarify, Fr. Columbus went to the Four Courts in an effort to retrieve Padraig Pearse’s note which had led to the surrender of Commandant Ned Daly. He later negotiated with the British military to arrange a personal meeting with Pearse in Arbour Hill and brought a copy of the surrender order to Commandant Holohan at North Brunswick Street. Between 30 Apr. and 4 May Fr. Columbus was called on to minister to the prisoners in Kilmainham Jail prior to their executions. He later compiled a diary recording his experiences of tending to rebel leaders awaiting their court martials and sentencing (CA/IR/1/2/6). Fr. Columbus later acted as President of Father Mathew Hall, Church Street, from 1925-28. He died on 20 Feb. 1952. Fr. Aloysius Travers OFM Cap. William Patrick Travers was born into a prominent Cork family on 20 Mar. 1870. The family were devoutly Catholic. His elder brother, John, was also a Capuchin and took the religious name of Anthony; another brother became an Augustinian whilst a sister became an Ursuline Nun. William entered the Capuchin Order in 1887, took the religious name of Aloysius and was ordained a priest in 1894. From his earliest years, Fr. Aloysius took a keen interest in promoting the work of the temperance movement. He was appointed President of the Father Mathew Hall in Dublin and held this position from 1904-1913. During his years as President, he used the Hall for the promotion of temperance and as a recreational venue for the members of the Sacred Heart Sodality. To further support the ideals of temperance and to revitalise interest in Irish culture, he founded The Father Mathew Record which began publication in January 1908. The year before, he had inaugurated the Féis Maithiu which promoted Gaelic cultural revivalist activities such as storytelling and festivals of native song and dance. Fr. Aloysius also used the pages of the Record to strongly promote a ‘Buy Irish Campaign’. About this time, he also established the League of Young Irish Crusaders. Like many of the Capuchin friars of Church Street, Fr. Aloysius was involved in ministering to the Rising leaders during their imprisonment and was present at the execution of James Connolly in Kilmainham Jail on 12 May 1916. He later championed the cause of various labour leaders in Dublin. It has also been speculated that Fr. Aloysius undertook a secret mission to Pope Benedict XV in connection with the Irish struggle. He was elected seven times to the office of definitor and was Provincial Minister of the Irish Capuchins from 1913-1916. In his later years, he became an enthusiastic member of the Legion of Mary and published numerous devotional tracts including a popular prayer book, 'The Voice of the Church', 'The Seraphic Standard' (a Tertiary Handbook) and 'ĺosa Mo Mhian'. He died on 2 May 1957 at the Capuchin Friary of St. Mary of the Angels, Church Street, Dublin. He was 89 years old and was a Capuchin for almost 69 of these years. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. Fr. Augustine Hayden OFM Cap. John Hayden was born in November 1870. He was baptised in Gowran, County Kilkenny on 7 Nov. 1870. His parents were William and Mary Hayden (née Morrisey). On 8 Dec. 1884, he was amongst the first five pupils to be admitted to the recently opened Seraphic School at Rochestown, County Cork. He took the religious name of Augustine on entering the Capuchin Order in November 1885. Towards the end of his clerical studies his health deteriorated and he was forced to spend two years in Switzerland. He was ordained a priest in the Augustinian Church, Thomas Street, Dublin, in November 1893. On 3 August 1896, Fr. Augustine was appointed rector of Rochestown College, replacing Fr. Francis Hayes. He held this position from 1896-1907. He later returned to Dublin and was Guardian of the Church Street Capuchin community from 1913-1916. He cultivated a strong interest in the Gaelic Revival and in particular preserving the Irish language. He was associated with Shán Ó Cuív in establishing the Irish Language College at Ballingeary, County Cork in 1904, the first college of its kind. He was also a regular correspondent with Fr. Peadar Ua Laoghaire, a noted figure in Conradh na Gaelige, and for many years conducted missions in Gaeltacht areas of Counties Kerry and Donegal. In the immediate aftermath of the 1916 Rising, Fr. Augustine accompanied Fr. Aloysius Travers in his visit to Padraig Pearse and James Connolly. He was instrumental in securing the surrender of Thomas MacDonagh at the Jacob’s Biscuit Factory and was present at Ėamonn Ceannt’s surrender at the South Dublin Union. He also ministered to Ceannt in the hours before his execution. Like the other Capuchin friars of the Church Street Community, Fr. Augustine later committed his memories of Easter Week to writing (CA/IR/1/4/1). In 1917 he officiated at the wedding of Terence MacSwiney to Muriel Murphy and was also the celebrant at the marriage of McSwiney’s daughter in Cork in 1940. He also authored a number of devotional texts including 'Ireland’s Loyalty to the Mass' (1933) and 'Ireland’s Loyalty to Mary' (1952). Fr. Augustine died on 7 Feb. 1954 at the Bon Secours Home, Cork, and was laid to rest in Rochestown Cemetery. Fr. Dominic O’Connor OFM Cap. John Francis O’Connor was born on 13 Feb. 1883 in County Cork. He was born into a devoutly Catholic family. His father, John O’Connor, a teacher, and his mother Mary Ann Sheehan were both Tertiaries of the Third Order of St. Francis attached to the Capuchin Church of the Holy Trinity, Cork. A brother of Many Ann Sheehan had already joined the Capuchin Order and as Fr. Luke Sheehan was one of the first Irish missionaries to minister in the American state of Oregon. A good number of John’s siblings also entered into religious life. John entered the Seraphic School at Rochestown in the Autumn of 1897. Having successfully completed his secondary education, he entered the Capuchin novitiate on 1 Oct. 1899 and received the religious name of Dominic. A year later he took his simple vows and in the Autumn of the same year entered the Royal University, Cork, to study for a degree in philosophy. He was ordained a priest on 17 Mar. 1906 in the Capuchin Friary in Kilkenny. He later enrolled in the Catholic University in Louvain where he obtained a Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus (Bachelor of Sacred Theology). In response to a call from Cardinal Michael Logue, Archbishop of Armagh, Fr. Dominic volunteered for chaplaincy work with British forces during the First World War. After spending two months with a Scottish brigade in England, he transferred to a hospital unit bound for Salonika, Greece. After approximately two years of service, Fr. Dominic resigned his post in 1917, returned to Ireland and was appointed to the Capuchin community at Holy Trinity, Cork. Fr. Dominic soon attained notoriety in nationalist circles and was appointed chaplain to the Cork Brigade of IRA Volunteers by Tomas MacCurtain. As chaplain, Fr. Dominic was the first to appear at the MacCurtain home in Blackpool, Cork, on the morning the Sinn Féin Lord Mayor was killed by British forces (20 Mar. 1920). He also served as chaplain to MacCurtain’s successor as Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, who was arrested on 12 Aug. 1920. Fr. Dominic ministered to MacSwiney throughout his hunger strike in Brixton Prison and was present at his death on 25 Oct. 1920. Soon after his return to Ireland, Fr. Dominic was arrested at the Friary in Church Street, Dublin. He was taken to Dublin Castle and in January 1921 was court martialled and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. During his confinement, he became acquainted with two notable republican detainees, Ernie O’Malley and Padraig O’Caoimh. Fr. Dominic served about a year of his imprisonment in Parkhurst Prison. Following the signing of the Treaty in December 1921, there was a general amnesty and he was released in January 1922. On 25 February 1922, he was granted the freedom of Cork ‘as a mark of respect for his valuable services rendered to the first two Republican Lord Mayors of Cork’. With the onset of the Civil War the Capuchins in Church Street were once more involved in ministering to besieged Republicans. In June 1922 the Four Courts, located only a couple of hundred meters from the Friary, was attacked by Free State forces, and Fr. Dominic (assisted by Fr. Albert Bibby) provided spiritual comfort, assisted in the evacuation of the wounded, and later facilitated the surrender of the defeated garrison. Soon afterwards, Fr. Dominic returned to Holy Trinity, Cork. On 26 November 1922 the decision was made by the Provincial Definitory of the Capuchin Order to have Fr. Dominic transferred to the Province’s Mission in Bend, Oregon. This was the location of Fr. Luke Sheehan’s (Fr. Dominic’s uncle) pioneering missionary work some years before. For the remainder of his life Fr. Dominic performed the routine duties associated with the missionary apostolate of the Capuchin friar. He was appointed temporary rector of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral and published the first of a two-volume history of the Diocese of Baker in 1930. In August 1935 he sustained serious injuries in a car accident from which he never fully recovered. He died on 17 Oct. 1935 and was buried in Bend, Oregon. His remains (along with those of Fr. Albert Bibby) were later repatriated to Ireland and he was buried in Rochestown Cemetery on 14 June 1958.
  • Archival History ↴

    The fonds form part of the archival collection of the Irish Province of the Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin. The collection is held at the Provincial Archives, Capuchin Friary of St. Mary of the Angels, Church Street, Dublin 7. Deposited at the Capuchin Provincial Archives.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Irish Capuchins ↴

    The fonds consists of the correspondence and papers of Capuchin priests detailing their involvement with participants in the national struggle. The majority of the material dates from 1916-1925 and includes many records highlighting the role played by Irish Capuchins in ministering to Republican leaders and their relations. Of particular interest is a large collection of ‘prison letters’ including the correspondence of some of the leading figures of the Irish Revolution. The fonds also contains a large collection of Republican publicity material, newspapers and miscellaneous items of ephemera and artefacts mostly relating to the military and political campaign organised by nationalists for Irish independence. A smaller collection relating to the repatriation of the bodies of Fr. Albert Bibby and Fr. Dominic O’Connor from the United States to Ireland in 1958 is also extant.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    The material has been catalogued (2011) and has been divided into nine sections.The first five series represent the papers of the Capuchin priests most closely connected with the Republican movement (see Administrative and Biographical History). The papers in each of the remaining series represent either a particular area of activity, a subject or a specific document or record type and have been arranged accordingly. Within the various divisions all papers have been arranged chronologically.

    1. The Papers of Fr. Albert Bibby OFM Cap.
    1.1. 1916 Rising
    1.2. Correspondence
    1.2.1. Correspondence with Republican Prisoners
    1.2.2. Correspondence with Wives and Relations of Republican Prisoners
    1.2.3. Correspondence with other Capuchins
    1.2.4. Other Correspondence
    1.3. Photographs and Prints
    1.4. Newspaper clippings and other papers
    1.5. Memorial Cards
    1.5.1. 1916 Leaders
    1.5.2. War of Independence
    1.5.3. Civil War
    1.6. Commemorative and Souvenir Publications

    2. The Papers of Fr. Columbus Murphy OFM Cap.

    3. The Papers of Fr. Aloysius Travers OFM Cap.
    3.1. 1916 Rising
    3.2. Correspondence with Republican Prisoners
    3.3. Correspondence with Lillie Connolly and Muriel MacDonagh
    3.4. Other papers

    4. The Papers of Fr. Augustine Hayden OFM Cap.

    5. The Papers of Fr. Dominic O’Connor OFM Cap.
    5.1. British Army Chaplain
    5.2. Papers relating to Terence MacSwiney
    5.3. Papers relating to the Imprisonment of Fr. Dominic O’Connor
    5.4. Release, Exile and Commemoration
    5.5. Photographs, Prints and Sketches
    5.6. Other Papers

    6. Pictorial Albums, Ephemera and Artefacts of the 1916 Rising

    7. Pamphlets, Cartoons and Publicity Material
    7.1. 1916 Rising and War of Independence
    7.2. Elections
    7.3. Anti-Treaty Publicity Material

    8. Newspapers and Bulletins
    8.1. Nationalist
    8.2. Irish Bulletin
    8.3. Republican and Anti-Treaty Publications
    8.4. Foreign Newspapers

    9. Repatriation of the bodies of Fr. Albert Bibby and Fr. Dominic O’Connor

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions The Capuchin Provincial Archives is open only to bona fide researchers. Access by advance appointment.
Conditions Governing ReproductionNo material may be reproduced without the written permission of the Provincial Archivist. Copyright restrictions apply. Digital photography is at the discretion of the Provincial Archivist.
Creation Dates1898-1966
Level of DescriptionFonds
Extent Medium10 boxes
Material Language ScriptThe majority of the material within this collection is written in English. Some specified material is written in Irish.
Finding Aids Descriptive list Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteBrian Kirby
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000. IGAD: Irish Guidelines for Archival Description. Dublin: Society of Archivists, Ireland, 2009.
Date of DescriptionsDec-11