Saturday, 8 August 2009

Making the News

The Pathé newsreels, short movies shown before the main feature in cinemas, are an excellent source of social history. Three Bishops of Kildare and Leighlin from the early twentieth century made the news.

The first is Bishop Patrick Foley. A native of the Diocese, he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin (and titular Bishop of Amyclae) at the relatively young age of 38 in 1895. He became Ordinary only a year later on the death of Bishop Lynch. Bishop Foley was to occupy the See of Kildare and Leighlin for thirty years, through the struggle for Home Rule, the First World War, the War of Independence and the Civil War. The image above, a still from the newsreel report of the sod-turning ceremony of the Carlow Sugar Factory in 1926.

The second is Bishop Matthew Cullen, also a native of the Diocese. He became bishop in 1927, following the untimely death of Bishop Foley a year earlier. Although his episcopate was relatively short, not quite nine years in fact, he made an outstanding contribution to the Country through his support for Gaelic athletics and language, and also to the Church through his support for the newly founded Saint Patrick's Missionary Society with its headquarters in his own native Parish at Kiltegan. The still above is taken from the newsreel report of the blessing the foundation of the new buildings at Clongowes Wood College in 1929.

The third is Bishop Thomas Keogh, another native of the Diocese, who became Bishop in 1936 in succession to Bishop Cullen. He remained as Bishop until 1967, when he became the first Irish Bishop to resign in accordance with the novel rules that had been established by Pope Paul VI's Motu Proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae in August, 1966. (Please note: sometimes Motu Proprios are taken seriously!)

Bishop Keogh can be seen in the newsreel report of the opening of the Portarlington Power Station in 1950. The newsreel report from which the stills image above is taken is a report of the centenary celebrations of the Dominican College, Newbridge, in 1952. Bishop Keogh is seen standing to the camera's right of Archbishop O'Hara who was then Papal Nuncio to Ireland. After his retirement Bishop Keogh was created titular Bishop of Turris Tamalleni and lived a further two years. The fortieth anniversary of his death (and the centenary of his ordination) were marked by St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association with a Requiem Mass in his native Parish.