Holy Cross, Tralee – THE CHURCH

Holy Cross, Tralee – THE CHURCH
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FOUNDED in 1243, by Lord John Fitz-Thomas, under the title of the Holy Cross.

1261. The founder with his son, Maurice, was slain this year by MacCarthy More, at Callin, in the principality of Desmond ; they were both interred in the north part of this friary.

The old Limerick MS. referred to already, in our account of that abbey, says that all the Fitzgeralds of Desmond, who died in those parts, were buried in this convent and adds that, in the ancient calendar, it is said of Lord James Fitzmaurice that he died in 1529 and was buried in the sepulchre of his fathers, at Tralee. It also states that the Knight of Kerry and his family had their place of sepulture there with some other branches of the Geraldines, who possessed a splendid tomb in the Lady chapel, surmounted by beautiful paintings on the wall. John, tenth Earl of Desmond de jure, died a Dominican friar in this abbey, a short time before the Christmas of 1536, and was buried here.

The records of this abbey are very scant. As there is no mention of it in -the State Papers at the time of the suppression of the monasteries, we are left greatly in doubt how long the friars were able to remain in possession. In 1580, during the Desmond war, the abbey was garrisoned by the English :

1580, March 29. "Pelham to Lords and Council in England.
“All the country between the earl’s house and Tralee was burnt by the rebels, and all the houses in Tralee burnt and the castles razed, saving the abbey. Finding the abbey a very convenient place for a garrison … I determined to leave there one band of horsemen and 300 foot under Sir William Stanlie."

Neither is there any mention of a community in Tralee in the Provincial’s accounts of 1622 and 1629, though in the former account, he speaks of a statue of the B. Virgin belonging to the abbey, which was held at that time in great veneration by the people. A paper, written to Propaganda in 1633, states that there were twelve Dominican fathers in the united dioceses of Arfert and Aghadoe at the time, and one Dominican priory.

An old chalice used at present in the Dominican church of Tralee, presented by Dr. Moriarty, bishop of Kerry, who had found it accidentally, to the Dominican fathers when they returned to Tralee in 1861, bears the following inscription : Orate pro Carolo Sughrue qui me fieri fecit pro Conventu Traliensi Priore Thadeo O ‘Moriarty, 1651 . This was the father who was hanged for professing the faith, in Killarney, two years afterwards.

It appears from the Lords’ Committee Returns in 1731, which the Tralee community had settled down in Killarney, or perhaps the friars spoken of as coming from the convent of Killarney may possibly be Franciscans. They are described as doing " much mischief " in the diocese of Cloyne : " For these Friars creep into the houses of the weak and ignorant People ; they confirm the Papists in their superstition and errors, they marry Protestants to Papists contrary to law, they haunt the sick beds even of the Protestants, they endeavour to pervert them from our holy Religion, and, by daily devouring the substance of the poorer sort of Papists, are become greatly obnoxious even to the Papists themselves, who complain of the irregularities of these Friars, and do at least pretend to wish they were removed." There were only two fathers here in 1756, Father Edmund Stack and Father William Connolly. The former was one of the last representatives of the old community, and tradition still lingers around his name in some of the wilder parts of the county Kerry. According to Dr. Troy’s report, in 1800, there were two fathers at that date acting as curates in the diocese of Kerry.

The Order was restored in Tralee by Dr. Moriarty, bishop of Kerry, in 1861. On April 5th of that year, the fathers came to Tralee and took possession of a house in Day Place, converting one of the rooms into a chapel On November 2nd of the same year, the bishop blessed a large structure, which was used as a temporary chapel for ten years The present church was opened for divine service on September 14, 1871.

HE belonged to the family of the Moriartys of Castle Drum, near Dingle. He is named in the Provincial’s account, in 1629, as a cleric studying in Spain. He was prior of Tralee convent in 1651, according to the inscription on the chalice described in the last note.

We subjoin a translation of Father Daniel O’Daly’s account of. him, published in 1655, only two years after his death. Father O’Daly knew him well and it is probable that it was under his inspiration during the few years that Father O’Daly spent in missionary work in Ireland before 1624, that our martyr left his native land to join the Dominican Order :
‘ The Very Rev. Thady Moriarty, an alumnus of the same college at Lisbon, master of sacred theology and the last prior of the convent of Tralee, in Munster, was a man distinguished for his knowledge both of dogmatic and of moral theology, and also for his virtues and noble character. Captured by the heretics (who for a long time previous had known him by reputation), never did a bride go more joyfully to her nuptials than he went to prison, nor was a hungry man more anxious for a banquet than he was for the gibbet. On hearing that he was sentenced to die, he pressed and kissed the hands of the messenger who brought the news and distributed money among his jailors and the soldiers who were to lead him to the gallows. Before being hanged, he lifted the minds of the Catholics who were standing ardund, with a beautiful discourse on the excellence of the Roman Catholic religion, the inconstancy of human life, the uncertainty of the hour of death, and of martyrdom as the most secure road to Heaven. What filled the minds of the onlookers with wonder and admiration was his countenance after life was extinct. Though wan and emaciated in appearance, owing to his long detention in prison, it seemed to be transfigured after death and even to emit rays of light, so that the very executioners confessed that it was like the face of an angel.

" He indeed gave a singular example of humility and patience during his whole life and was never known to be angry. He showed such patience during his sufferings in prison, that the heretics said he was a fool, for he despised life so much, that when he was stripped and flogged he patiently bore it all and did not even give the slightest sign that he felt pain at all, being led just like a lamb to the slaughter. He answered all the questions put to him by the judge, with so much freedom and candour, that even his enemies confessed that he knew not how to tell a lie. When the judge asked him why he did not obey the edict of the government, he answered that he was bound rather to obey God, and those who held God’s place in his regard, who had commanded him to exercise his priestly functions. The judge was warned by his wife to have nothing to do with the blood of this innocent man, but his answer was that he was compelled to shed it, as otherwise he would expose himself to danger.

" Indeed in every way, the holy man showed himself an apostle and a true disciple of Christ, following in his footsteps, with all the marks of the true minister elegantly described by St. Augustine (vol. 10, Sermon 39, To the Brethren in the Desert). He was put to death on October 15, 1653, and even till now his body is guarded by the Protestant soldiers lest it should be removed from the tomb: which error is worse than the first."


FATHER Daniel O’Daly, known generally in the Order as Father Dominic of the Rosary, was born in the county Kerry about 1595. At an early age he went abroad to join the Dominican Order, and made his profession at Lugo in Spain, going through his studies afterwards at Burgos. After his ordination, he taught a course of philosophy and theology at Bordeaux. He then returned to his native land, where he did missionary work with great zeal for a few years. A letter of commendation from Maurice O’Hurley, bishop of Emly, dated 1624, testifying to his missionary zeal, is given in the Spicilegium Ossoriense (vol. i, p. 132). He was then, at the early age of twenty-nine, placed over the newly founded College of Holy Cross, Louvain. He did not remain here long, however, for having occasion to go to Madrid on important business connected with the college, he received such gracious marks of favour from Philip IV., king of Spain, that he resolved to complete the foundation of our college in Lisbon. Portugal and Belgium, at this time, it must be borne in mind, were both subject to Spain, and help was expected by our fathers at the time from the Spanish monarch, for the colleges which they had founded in both countries : an expectation which was fully justified by results in after years.

Father O’Daly, on going to Lisbon, found only two of our fathers living there together, although a brief of foundation had been obtained from Pope Paul V., as far back as 1615. In a short time, however, with the help of the archbishop of Lisbon and the Portuguese Dominican provincial, he got possession of a small house, and as several students were sent to him from Ireland, the General of the Order made it a college in 1634, giving Father O’Daly the position of rector.

A few years later, he influenced a rich Portuguese lady, Donna Irene de Brito, countess de Atalaya, to found a convent for forty Irish Dominican nuns. She established this convent at Belem, near Lisbon, in 1639, an d richly endowed it. The following year, Portugal threw off the yoke of Spain, and Father O’Daly, whose entire hopes were now centred in Lisbon, threw in his lot with the new monarchy. Having been confessor for some years to Lucia, at this time queen of Portugal, and standing very high in the esteem of both king and queen, he was sent as ambassador to Louis XIV. of France, in 1655, and remained in Paris for more than a year. Long before this, he had been employed on affairs of state, during the secret negotiations between Charles I. of England, and Philip IV. of Spain, and also in 1650, between Charles II. of England, then in exile, and Pope Innocent X. The following extract from the Clarendon Papers (vol. II., p. 66) refers to the latter negotiations : "1650. June 24, Rome.

" Robert Meynell to Cottington and Hyde. Had the King gone to Ireland, no doubt the Pope would have .contrived some way for his assistance, but upon his treating with the Scots, the Pope presently made a stand. Daniel O’Dally, an Irish Dominican, has come to Rome with a commission from the Queen [of England] to treat with the Pope ; he was formerly at Rome, where he did many good offices for the late King [Charles I.] ; was with the present King at Jersey and came from him extremely satisfied," etc.

Just before Father O’Daly went to Paris on the embassy, he published his History of the Geraldines and an Account of the Persecution in Ireland. The book was written in Latin and published in Lisbon in 1655. What renders the latter portion of the book very valuable is that there is a record in it of nineteen martyrs of the Dominican Order, who had suffered death for the faith only a few years before. The account of their sufferings thus rests on contemporary evidence.

The crowning of all his labours was the founding of the college of Corpo Santo, in Lisbon, in 1659. The Cromwellian persecution having driven most of the Irish Dominicans to the Continent, the small college in Lisbon was unable to accommodate all who flocked to it, so, relying on the sympathy of the Catholic people of Lisbon and the royal family, Father O’Daly petitioned the queen (then queen-regent) successfully to found a new college on a much larger scale. The foundation stone was laid on May 4, 1659, and the building was completed in a short time. However, he soon had a difficulty to contend with in providing for the wants of the large community in the new college of Corpo Santo, and the still larger community of nuns in the convent of Belem. He applied to the queen again, but, as the royal treasury had been depleted by the war with Spain, he was persuaded, as an alternative, to accept the rich bishopric of Coimbra, that he might be able to apply the revenues of the see to the support of his brethren and the nuns. Though from motives of humility he had in previous years refused both this see, as also the see of Braga and the archiepiscopal see of Goa, he consented to accept Coimbra for the purpose of helping his brethren. However, he died before the time appointed for his consecration, on June 30, 1662, in the sixty-seventh year of his age, and was buried in the cloister of the college.

A marble slab over his last resting place bears the following inscription; Hie jacet Venerabilis Pater Magister Prater Dominicus de Rosario, Hibernus et Conventus Monialium Boni Successes Fundator.

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