Many Jesuit Provinces had missions in China before 1926 when the Vicar Apostolic of Hong Kong, Fr. Henry Valtorta (1883-1953), invited the Irish Jesuits to his vicariate. In October 1926, Frs. George Byrne (1879-1962) and John Neary (1889-1983) left Dublin for Hong Kong, which became a Mission for the Irish Province. They were joined, in early 1927, by Fr. Daniel Finn (1886-1936) from Australia and later by Frs. Richard Gallagher (1887-1960), Patrick Joy (1892-1970) and Daniel MacDonald (1891-1957).
The initial work of the mission concentrated in Hong Kong, with some teaching in Canton and Macao. Their works involved: reviving the Catholic journal, ‘The Rock’; the opening of a hostel (Ricci Hall) for Chinese Catholic students at the University of Hong Kong (1929-); their involvement in the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, Hong Kong (1931-1964), Wah Yan College, Hong Kong (1932-) and Wah Yan College, Kowloon (1952-). Some lecturing occurred in the university, in areas such as archaeology, education, engineering, and geography. In Canton, Frs. Michael Saul (1884-1932) and Joseph McCullough (1892-1932) died from cholera. Hong Kong was under Japanese occupation 1941 - 1945. The Irish Jesuits organised a school for refugees from Hong Kong in Macao and the Regional Seminary was also moved to Macao. Wah Yan College was closed in 1941 and reopened in 1945. Fr. Thomas Ryan’s account “Jesuits under Fire in the siege of Hong Kong 1941” deals fully with this time.
After World War Two, the Irish Jesuits established a language school, student centre and parish in Canton. They were expelled by the Communists in . Wah Yan College grew and developed and further works included the foundation of a university hostel at Kingsmead Hall, Singapore and at Xavier Hall, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. Other works of note that Irish Jesuits had a hand in establishing and running in Hong Kong include: the Hong Kong Housing Society (1938); Wah Yan Relief Association (1938); Shoeshine Boys Club (1952-1962); the Credit Union Movement (1962); Rehabilitation Centre for the Handicapped (1962); Catholic Marriage Advisory Council (1963); Road Safety Association for Schools (1964); Industrial Relations Institute (1968); Chinese Opera in English (1960s); Fisherman’s Children School (1960s) and Welfare for Police in the Training School. In 1966, Hong Kong became a Jesuit Vice-Province and in 1985, the Province of Macau-Hong Kong was established. Today, Hong Kong is a unit within the Chinese Jesuit Province.
Over a hundred Irish Jesuits have served in Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Singapore - 30 of whom are buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Hong Kong and two in mainland China.
Archival History ↴
Material sent back by Irish Jesuits in Hong Kong to the Irish Province.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Irish Jesuits ↴
The papers of the Hong Kong Mission describe the establishment of the Mission and detail the Irish Jesuits work in communities and apostolates such as: Ricci Hall (1927-1961); Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, Hong Kong (1927-1961); Wah Yan College (1932-1961); language Schools (1937-1961); church of St. Francis Xavier, Malaya (1957-1961); social and educational work in Hong Kong (1935 – 1959) and Macao (-1946). The administration of the Mission is illustrated by correspondence between the Irish Province and Irish Jesuits in Hong Kong (1929-1961); Mission Consults sent from Hong Kong to Ireland (1931-1961); finances (1932-1949) and the Ricci Mission Unit (1934-1961). There are some maps and photographs within the papers.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
All items retained permanently
Material was catalogued in 2001, 2004 and 2008.
A. Early Years (1919-1959)
B. Communities & Apostolates (1927-1961; 1981) C. Administration of the Mission (1923-1961)
D. Personnel (1932-1965; 1990)
E. Hong Kong & World War II (1940-1947)
F. Irish Jesuits and Communism (1947-1953)
G. Publicity Material (1932-1946)
H. Other (1935-1955)
Conditions of Access & Use
The Irish Jesuit Archives are open only to bona fide researchers. Access by advance appointment. Further details: www.jesuitarchives.ie
Conditions Governing Reproduction
No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the Archivist. Copyright restrictions apply. Photocopying is not available. Digital photography is at the discretion of the Archivist.
Morrissey, Fr. Thomas J. “Jesuits in Hong Kong, South China and Beyond. Irish Jesuit Mission-its development 1926-2006”. Hong Kong: Xavier Publishing, 2008.
Morrissey, Fr. Thomas J. “Thomas F. Ryan SJ: From Cork to China and Windsor Castle”. Dublin: Columba Press, 2010.
Ryan, Fr. Thomas SJ “Jesuits under Fire in the siege of Hong Kong 1941”. London, Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1944.
McRedmond, Louis. “To the Greater Glory: A history of the Irish Jesuits”. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1991.
Descriptive Control Area
Damien Burke, April 2012
IGAD: Irish Guidelines for Archival Description, Dublin Society of Archivists, Ireland, 2009
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival
Description, 2nd edition Ottowa, International Council on Archives, 2000
National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, Chippenham, National Council on Archives, 1997