Saturday, 29 August 2009

Making the News (Part 2)

Having looked at the Pathé newsreels for the Bishops of Kildare and Leighlin, I can't leave the subject without drawing your attention to one of their contemporaries, a lesser-known Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Edward J. Byrne, who also features frequently in the collection.

One of Archbishop Byrne's most notable distinctions was that he rose from being a Curate to being Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland in slightly over a year. He had been Vice President of the Irish College, Rome, from 1901 to 1904, when he returned to Ireland to become the Curate of the Pro-Cathedral Parish in Dublin. He remained there until 1920, when he was created Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin (and titular of Pegae, although the Archdiocesan website says Spigaz) and in the following August he succeeded Archbishop William J. Walsh as Archbishop.

Archbishop Byrne was ruled the Diocese of Dublin just as it became the Capital of the new State. The pastoral opportunities were now the greater. Archbishop Byrne was instrumental in efforts to end and to mitigate the disastrous Civil War. He is shown at the Catholic Truth Society conference in 1926.

He witnessed the expansion of the City of Dublin. The newsreels show him blessing five new Churches: the Church of St. MacCullin in Lusk in 1922 (other film here); the Church of St. Brigid in Killester in 1925 (other film here); the Church of St. Vincent de Paul in Marino in 1926 (other film here), by which time his left had has begun to tremble visibly*; the Garrison Church in Arbor Hill in 1927; and at Crooksling Sanitorium (now St. Brigid's Hospital) in 1928.

Also in 1928, he is shown meeting pioneering pilots. The pilots in question, Captain James Fitzmaurice, Captain Hermann Köhl and Baron Ehrenfried von Hünefeld, had just made the first transatlantic aircraft flight from East to West.

In 1929, Archbishop Byrne hosted the celebrations for the centenary of Catholic Emancipation. In 1932, he was responsible for the preparations for the Eucharistic Congress.

His later years were marked by illness - Parkinson's Disease* - and withdrawal from most public appearances. One exception was the Requiem Mass for Pope Pius XI in 1939. As is only fitting, his funeral in 1940 is also covered in the newsreels.