Tag Archives: St. Patrick

Best of the Blog, 2019

Welcome to my seventh annual Best of the Blog–BOB. As always, I want to thank regular readers and new visitors for their support, including social media shares. Special thanks to my wife, Angie Drobnic Holan: editor, webmaster … my dear companion.

Back to Ireland …  

Inisheer, August 2019.

This year I made my ninth and tenth trips to the island of Ireland, traveling both times to the Republic and Northern Ireland. I’m starting this year’s BOB with a sampling of highlights from these 10 trips in just under 20 years:

May 2000: Pilgrimage to the Lahardane (Ballybunion) and Killelton (Ballylongford) townlands, North Kerry, birthplaces of my maternal grandfather and grandmother, respectively; and walked the Cobh waterfront where they emigrated in the early 20th century.

September/October 2001: Climbed Croagh Patrick … Interviewed surviving family at the Bloody Sunday Trust/Museum and watched testimony in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry at the Guild Hall, Derry. (Journalism fellowship from the German Marshall Fund.)

August 2007: (With Angie) Enchanted by the monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise (Offaly) and Glendalough (Wicklow). … Attended first play at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin: The Big House, by Lennox Robinson.

February 2009: Researched historic newspapers and census records at the National Library of Ireland and The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin, before they were digitized and made available online.

May/June 2012: (With Angie) Attended the Listowel Writers’ Week and heard Paul Durcan recite his poem “On the First Day of June” … on June 1, 2012 … at the Listowel Arms Hotel, the River Feale framed by the window at his back. … Strolled the Kinsale to Charles Fort (Cork) coastal walk, stopping for a lovely outdoor lunch.

July 2016: Toured the Falls/Shankill neighborhoods of Belfast by Black Taxi … Visited Titanic Belfast EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum … and Glasnevin Cemetary (Part 1Part 2), the last two in Dublin.

February 2018: Researched at the Michael Davitt Museum and grave (Straide, County Mayo); and read Davitt’s papers at Trinity College Dublin. (Part 1 & Part 2).

November 2018: Walked a muddy, cow-crowded road to reach Killone Abbey (Clare), following the footsteps of American journalist William Henry Hurlbert, who wrote of visiting the site in 1888.

July/August 2019: (With Angie) Cycled the Great Western Greenway from Achill Island to Westport (Mayo). … Hiked the circumference of Inisheer (Aran Islands, Galway) on my 60th birthday, and viewed the Cliff of Moher, which I had visited on my 2000 trip, from the sea.

November 2019: Presented my research about American journalist Ruth Russell’s 1919 travels to Ireland at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queens University Belfast for the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland annual conference.

Here are 2019 photo essays from both sides of the border:

From an evening walk on Inisheer, August 2019.

A few more photo essays from Irish America:

Before morning Mass at Old St. Patrick’s Church, Chicago, March 2019.

1919, Revisited … 

This year I enjoyed exploring U.S. mainstream and Irish-American newspaper coverage of 1919 events in Irish history. Find all 32 stand-alone posts, plus the five-part monograph, Ruth Russell in Revolutionary Ireland, at my American Reporting of Irish Independence series.

Other history highlights … 

… and guest posts

I am always grateful to the contributions of guest bloggers. This year:

The Antrim coast, July 2019.

Other news of note:

RIP Lyra McKee, journalist killed in Derry on April 19. She was 29, the same age as Ruth Russell when the American reporter arrived in Ireland in 1919. … U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi–first, second, and third in succession of power in the American government–each visited Ireland in 2019. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. … Republic of Ireland golfer Shane Lowry won the British Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland, the first time since 1951 the Open has been held on the island of Ireland. … American businessman Edward F. Crawford became the new U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. …Abortion and same-sex marriage were decriminalized in Northern Ireland, in part due to the dormant Northern Ireland Assembly. … See more at my monthly roundups from 2019 and previous years of Best of the Blog.

Libraries and Archives

Special thanks for the in-person help I received at these institutions in 2019:

  • Catholic University of America, American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives, and Mullen Library, Washington, D.C.
  • Georgetown University, Lauinger Library, Washington, D.C.
  • Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
  • Arlington Public Library, Central Library, Arlington, Va., and the numerous libraries that made books available through the Interlibrary Loan program.
  • University of Pittsburgh Archives Service Center, Pittsburgh
  • Heinz History Center, Detre Library & Archives, Pittsburgh
  • The Archives of the Sister of Charity of Seton Hill, Greensburg, Pa.
  • The Newberry, Chicago
  • Chicago Public Library, Herald Washington Library Center, Chicago
  • Queens University Belfast, McClay Library Special Collections, Belfast

And digital assistance from these institutions:

  • University College Dublin, Papers of Éamon de Valera (1882–1975), (Thanks again John Dorney of The Irish Story.)
  • National Library of Ireland, Patrick McCartan Papers (1912-1938)
  • University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, (Newspaper Collection), Springfield, Ill.
  • Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main, Pennsylvania Dept. Collections
  • Villanova University, Falvey Memorial Library, Joseph McGarrity Collection, Philadelphia
  • University of Kentucky, Margaret King Library, Louisville
  • University of Louisville, Ekstrom Library
  • Louisville Free Public Library
  • The Filson Historical Society, Louisville
  • Library of Congress, Chronicling America
  • Newspapers.com
  • Irish Newspaper Archives

Thanks again to all the librarians, archivists, and readers. Keep visiting this “journalist’s blog dedicated to Irish and Irish-American history and contemporary issues.”

Visiting Ireland 2019: In the west

We left the Antrim coast and Northern Ireland and drove back into the Republic, with stops in Sligo, then Westport.

The poet’s grave at Drumcliffe, County Sligo.

Sligo town at dusk.

Low tide at Aughris Head, Co. Sligo,on the Wild Atlantic Way. The iconic Benbulben is the darker summit at right. 

A relief on the base of statue of St. Patrick in Westport. This image shows the saint banishing the snakes from Ireland and using the shamrock to teach the Holy Trinity.

Between Achill Island and Westport on the Great Western Greenway hike and bike trail.

Visiting Ireland 2019: Days 1 & 2 photos

Along the River Boyne, County Meath. The “Battle of the Boyne” between Protestant and Catholic forces was fought here in 1690. 

Stone bridge over an abandoned canal along the Boyne. The canal project began in the mid-1700s.

Entrance to Newgrange Stone Age passage tomb, Meath. It is more than 5,000 years old.

St. Patrick’s grave, Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland.  Saints Brigid and Columcille also are said to be buried here. 

Statue of Queen Victoria outside Belfast City Hall, County Antrim.

Hotel Europa in Belfast. During the Troubles it became know as the most bombed hotel in the world.”  U.S. President Bill Clinton stayed here in 1995, three years before the Good Friday Agreement.

Visiting Ireland in photos, part 3

The final set of photos in this series from my just completed seventh visit to Ireland has a religious theme. I’ll be returning to my Ireland Under Coercion, Revisited series, and other history and contemporary issues shortly. As always, thanks for spending some time on my blog. MH

I returned to Knock, County Mayo, for the first time since 2001. The Basilica in 2016 added a giant mosaic of the 1879 apparition. The original church is being restored in anticipation of a potential visit by Pope Francis this August. Here’s my June 2017 piece on Knock’s vision visitors.

A giant mosaic unveiled in 2016 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Knock (Mayo) depicts the 1879 apparition.

After visiting the National Museum of Country Life near Castlebar, Mayo, I made the short drive to the Turlough Round Tower. It was built in the 9th century, with the church graveyard added to the grounds in the 18th century church.

This crucifixion plaque dates to 1625 (The numbers are barely visible below the figures).

I stopped at historic Saint Muredach’s Catholic Cathedral,facing the River Moy in Ballina, Mayo. I found two of Ireland’s patron saints in stained glass.

St. Patrick and St. Briget.

Halfway to holiday, visiting St. Patrick’s in Harrisburg

I’m writing this post 17 September, which many pubs and other marketers with even the most tenuous connections to Ireland now promote as “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day.” By coincidence, I was in Harrisburg, Pa., for some Irish research at the Pennsylvania State Archives (though not their Molly Maguires collection) and visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral on State Street, two blocks from the hilltop capitol.

The parish and earlier iterations of the church date to the early 19th century, when the construction of a vast system of canals, railroads, and turnpikes along the Susquehanna River brought many Irish immigrants to the area, according to the cathedral’s official history. Construction of the present building began in 1904 and was completed three years later.

St. Patrick. (Note the gloves.)

The church was officially dedicated 14 May 1907, though liturgies began earlier in the year. The Ancient Orders of Hibernians, Division 5 in Harrisburg, gathered at the new cathedral for a 7 a.m. St. Patrick’s Day Mass, a Sunday that year, either inspiring or requiring extra piety.

The fraternal group paid the $1,800 for the transept window of St. Patrick, holding a shamrock to explain the Trinity to the royal court at Tara. The men surely admired the beautiful stained glass from Munich, Germany.

“The Apostle of Ireland is a splendid figure … arrayed in full pontificals, even to the gloves,” is how the Harrisburg Telegraph described the window in a story detailing the church’s architecture and amenities.

But even the grand new worship space had to compete with the holiday’s contemporary commercialism.

“It is doubtful if St. Patrick ever in his life saw such a profusion of tributes to himself as are now displayed,” The (Harrisburg) Courier reported. “[H]is memory has not only been kept green, but his fame has increased. It may be whispered that there are certain tokens which he might not appreciate.”

The paper detailed an array of tchotchkes such as high hats and pipes, “green pigs of every variety,” “clovers growing in pots” and boxes decorated with harps and green flags. The items sold for a few pennies to 20 cents.

About 100 clerics attended the official dedication in May, including Archbishop P.J. Ryan of Philadelphia. He donated the exterior statue of St. Patrick that is mounted over the entrance of the church.

Two days after the dedication, Irish nationalists in Dublin denounced the limited self-government for Ireland bill offered by Irish Chief Secretary Augustine Birrell. The Sinn Fein Society called the measure “an insult to Ireland” and urged nationalists in the London parliament to “devise measures for the material betterment of Ireland and securing international recognition and support of Ireland’s political rights.”

Timothy Healy and William O’Brien were at the forefront of this latest split with Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond. The Catholic Church hierarchy also rejected Birrell’s bill. Read more about this period of Irish history.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Harrisburg is the 20th St. Patrick’s church that I’ve visited in four countries. See the list.

Adding to my list of St. Patrick’s churches

I visited two St. Patrick’s churches during an a recent research trip; one in Maryland for the first time, the other my longtime favorite back home in Pittsburgh. See my list of 18 St. Patrick’s churches.

In Cumberland, Maryland, the late 18th century St. Mary’s was rededicated as St. Patrick’s in 1851 due to the town’s growing Irish population. The church was closed when I passed through late in the evening, but Catholic Sanctuaries has more than 50 images posted on Flickr.

Architect John Tehan lived from 1796 to 1868. It appears he may have been an Irish American from nearby Frederick, Maryland, where he is buried, rather than an Irish native. Tehan is not in the Dictionary of Irish Architects, 1720-1940.

The sanctuary of Old St. Patrick’s Church in Pittsburgh. A woven crown of thorns on a purple cushion is at left side of the tabernacle in this image during Lent 2017.

Troubles at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth

St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, with chapel to the right.

St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, with chapel to the right.

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has decided to remove three seminarians from his dioceses at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, due to “an atmosphere of strange goings-on” at the national seminary. Martin is transferring the trainee priests to the Irish Pontifical College in Rome, according to The Irish Times.

In May, The Irish Catholic reported on “allegations of a gay culture in the seminary were made in an anonymous letter to the Irish bishops.” Martin would not comment for the 1 August Times‘ story on whether those allegations weighed on his decision.

In this June analysis, former Irish Catholic editor David Quinn said the seminary is in need of significant reform:

“…[I]f Maynooth was a place of dynamic orthodoxy (absolutely not to be confused with rigidity and fundamentalism), it would be attracting considerably more vocations. If the seminary sounded a certain trumpet, not an uncertain one, it would be attracting more vocations, and if these constant worrying stories about Maynooth dried up, not because they were suppressed, but because the seeming problems were dealt with, then it would attract more vocations.

I spent some time walking around the County Kildare campus during my recent visit to Ireland. Students were gone for the summer, and most of the buildings were locked, including the beautiful late 19th century chapel that I had intended to visit.

Bust of St. Patrick inside one of the college's academic buildings.

Bust of St. Patrick inside one of the college’s academic buildings.

The 2016 class of seminarians.

The 2016 class of seminarians (and this blogger reflected in the image.)

 

A simpler St. Patrick’s Day wish, 1953

I want to get away from all the noise and nonsense that’s come to surround St. Patrick’s Day, the once reverent, if myth-filled, holy day turned raucous global celebration.

So here’s a reminder of a simpler St. Patrick’s Day, a 1953 letter from a sister in Kerry, Ireland to her brother in Pittsburgh, USA. It’s from a collection of letters I inherited from my aunt a few years ago. A few other letters from the 1950s also included sprigs of shamrock from the north Kerry countryside.

letter

Keep in mind that 1953 was seven years before the election of John F. Kennedy as president (a decade before his return to Ireland and assassination later the same year), and nine years before Chicago began to dye its river green. While the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin dates to 1931, it was nothing like today’s massive multi-day festivals.

Diverted to Charlotte, a visit to Cathedral of St. Patrick

My wife and I were diverted to Charlotte, North Carolina on our flight from Tampa, Florida to Washington, D.C., where snow and ice closed the airport. As we settled into a hotel room near the Charlotte airport Saturday night, I began looking for a place to attend Mass on the First Sunday of Lent. The Cathedral of St. Patrick, mother church of the dioceses of Charlotte, was less than five miles away.

Construction of the church began on St. Patrick’s Day, 1938, according to the church’s website, and it was consecrated in September 1939. Charlotte native John Henry Phelan, who made his fortune as a grocery wholesaler and oil producer in Beaumont, Texas, donated money to build the church in memory of his parents, Patrick and Margaret Adele Phelan. I didn’t find any family connections to Ireland in any of the online biographies, or why the church was named for Ireland’s patron saint.

Below are a few images from the church, including the stained glass image of St. Patrick behind the altar. It was a lovely High Mass, succor for not getting home as planned. In a few weeks the city will host its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Charlotte Goes Green Festival.

Finally, here are previous post about St. Patrick’s churches in Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

Now blogging from metro Washington, D.C.

Mark Holan’s Irish-American Blog has relocated to metro Washington, D.C.

I am living about five miles west of the Irish Embassy in the Virginia Square section of Arlington, Va. St. Patrick Catholic Church is less than seven miles to the east. Both places are within easy walking distance of the Orange line Metro stops. (More of a hike from Green line stations.)

My condo is about halfway between Ireland’s Four Courts and Ireland’s Four Provinces. Both pubs are sponsoring fundraising events to support Washington, D.C.’s 43rd Annual St. Patrick’s Parade on March 16.

I have joined Irish Network DC and look forward to making new friends in the Irish-American community here while exploring the many contributions that Ireland’s sons and daughters have made to America.