This evening was held the first liturgical event of the third Liturgical Conference organised by St. Colman's Society for Catholic Liturgy in the Church of Ss. Peter and Paul, Cork.
First Vespers of the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost was celebrated by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.
[Feel free to use these images but please credit this blog and give proper reference to the location and occasion - Convenor]
I have previously described this Church but I would like to make one further observation, which is that it is a Church of 'Juniors.'
By that I mean that it was the product of the work of two men, Archdeacon John Murphy and Edward Welby Pugin, who followed in the footsteps of elder relations, an uncle, Bishop John Murphy of Cork and Ross, in the former case, and a father, the great Augustus Welby Pugin, in the latter. I may say also that Archdeacon Murphy's brother, Francis Murphy, S.L., M.P., was a figure of no small interest himself.
However, the figure that interests me today is Bishop John Murphy (1772-1847)(r. 1815-1847). He was a member of the great brewing family of Cork City. Dean Murphy(!) in his life of Bishop Murphy declares: "while yet in his tender years displayed that pious disposition which, combined with attachment to study, determined his attachment to the clerical state." Dean Murphy himself, who was secretary to the Synod of Thurles in 1850, Vicar General of Cork from 1853 and first Dean of the reconstituted Chapter of Cork in 1858, served as Curate in Ss. Peter and Paul's from 1838-'42.
Bishop Murphy's Priestly studies began, by the arrangement of Bishop Moylan of Cork, at the Irish College in Paris in 1787 but rebellion in France forced him to remove from France. His studies were completed at the Irish College in Lisbon, where he was ordained Priest in 1796, with a dispensation on account of his youth.
He served in the Parish of Ss. Peter and Paul as Curate and then, like his nephew after him, as Parish Priest. Bishop Murphy was coadjutor to Dr. Moylan (who was instrumental in the foundation of the Presentation Sisters) but only for less than a month between January and February, 1815, when he succeeded to the See of Cork upon his predecessor's death. He was to consecrate both Bishop Daniel Murphy of Hobart, uncle of 'the Murphy-O'Connors' (as Vicar Apostolic of Hyderabad) and Bishop John England of Charleston.
Unlike his precedessor, Dr. Moylan, Bishop Murphy was vehemently against the proposed veto offered to the British Government in Ireland over the appointment of Irish Bishops in exchange for concessions on the Penal Laws still in force. However, we have it on the authority of no less than Prof. Timothy Corcoran, S.J., that even Bishop Murphy found the vehemence of Father and later Bishop England excessive!
The question of the survival of the Irish Language in Cork is of direct relevance. Bishop Florence McCarthy had been appointed coadjutor to Dr. Moylan in 1803 but died in 1810 without succeeding to the See. It was said at his appointment that Dr. McCarthy did not know Irish but that: "...Irish is not so necessary in Cork and its district." However, when Dr. Murphy was appointed in 1815, he found it necessary to learn Irish: "...without which he could not communicate with his people."
Bishop Murphy is indirectly responsible for the foundation of the Presentation Brothers in his refusal to permit the houses in his Diocese to join the congregation of the Christian Brothers. Although the Cork houses joined the congregation later, the seed of a second sprout was sown by Dr. Murphy's independent line.
Dr. Murphy was responsible for the main fabric of the present North Chapel, the Cathedral of Cork, which was refurbished following a fire in 1820. He was also the first patron of John Hogan, who completed the magnificent apse, which was a veritable riot of statuary. In 1822, Dr. Murphy commissioned 27 statues of Saints and a representation of the Last Supper for the Sanctuary based upon drawings contained in the Bishop's library. They were to be removed, ironically enough, with the body of Dr. Murphy himself, during 'reordering' in 1965. Bishop Murphy's monument, also by Hogan (1853) suffered the same fate - and the oblivion of the rest of the statuary. I should say, however, that the body of Dr. Murphy suffered a kinder fate and was honourably re-interred in St. Finbar's Cemetery!
Bishop Murphy wrote to Hogan: "My dear John, I send you the letter of general recommendation which I promised ... I sincerely wish you good health, a safe journey to Rome and a happy return to your native country ..." In the accompanying letter in Latin, the Bishop wrote: "We think we should commend and do with these presents commended you in the Lord, to all Most Illustrious and most Reverend Lords, Archbishops, Bishops and Clergy and Faithful, who enjoy communion with the Holy See, as one fully known to us, endowed with excellent morals and expecially pious to God, Holy Mother the Church and his parents ..."
What has always interested me most about Dr. Murphy is not his surname, nor that he represents an age when the Murphys ruled the World (or at least large parts of the Church!) - Bishop Timothy Murphy was Bishop of Cloyne and Ross from 1849 (and then just Cloyne from 1850). What interests me is his bibliomania, which was legendary.
An account of one of his many trips to Dublin bookshops relates that he visited the shop of Patrick Kennedy in Anglesey Street: "At last the anxious guardian of past literature is gladdened by the apparition o the gold-headed cane, the silk stockings fitting in the buckled shoes, the waistcoat not innocent of snuff, the loose coat, the broad-brimmed hat, and the kind good natured face under it... If a price was asked which he affected to think was too high, he would stop short, gaze ludiocro-sternly over his spectacles at the culprit and cry out 'Ah? You think to impose on the poor Connaughtman.' He made up the bill as he went along and when he left the shop he left behind him cheerful words and something to meet the rent or the auctioneers bill."
The diaries of Montalembert and Kohl contain descriptions of the Bishop of Cork. Kohl describes his library thus: "The Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork has one of the must interesting collections of books I have ever seen. This learned and industrious man has turned his whole house into a library; not only has he converted his sitting-rooms and dining-room into book-rooms but even in his bedrooms, every available space is filled with books. His attendants, even his maidservants, sleep in little libraries; the staircases are lined with books along the walls and the corridors, which lead from room to room, have full bookcases at their sides; everywhere books are literally piled up, even to the garrets."
As well as books, the Bishop commissioned Gaelic scholars to produce manuscripts for his collection, 120 volumes of which are held in the Russell Library, St. Patrick's College, Maynooth.
The Manuscripts are of particular interest. They include romances, religious and secular poetry, sermons, translations of devotional works, lives of the saints and genealogies. Bishop Murphy was of the generation of the great Eugene O'Curry and had a notable part in the preservation of much Gaelic Irish culture.
Bishop Murphy commissioned numbers of Gaelic scholars to transcribe and copy Irish Manuscripts. Two were Michael Óg O'Longan and his son. Michael Óg came of a great line of Irish scribes. His father Michael had been scribe in residence to the Knight of Glin, but indignantly left that gentleman's service when the Knight conformed to the Protestant religion under the pressure of the Penal Laws and settled at Teampull-geal-na-mona movill, now known as Whitechurch, Co. Cork. In 1836, in his 71st year, Michael Óg composed three quatrains in Bishop Murphy's honour. One of his other poems was the source of 'The Boys of Wexford.'
In the Journal of the Royal Historical anid Archeological Society of Ireland for July, 1882, there appears a translation made by Michael Óg for the amusement of Justin McCarthy of Carrignavar, of Dermot McCarthy's Irish 'Elegy on Lord Mountcashel,' written about 1724 and another translation of his, MacBruodin's Genealogical Poem composed for the O'Keefes, is printed in Cronnelly's Clan Roghan. He also translated the Annals of Innisfallen into English about the year 1831. Joseph, Michael Óg's son, became scribe in residence of the Royal Irish Academy on the death of O'Curry.
One word of interest to those who assert that "alien" Roman devotions imported by Cardinal Cullen drove out Irish spiritual traditions is to be found in the Relatio of Bishop Murphy for 1845 where he finds: "Cork Catholics in general numerous and well-devoted to their religion, " and attributes the peacefulness of the city to the regular attendance of the citizens at just such so-called 'Roman' devotions.
It was Bishop Murphy's dying wish that his library might be preserved and housed in Cork but the 70,000 volumes (save the manuscript collection that found its way to Maynooth) were dispersed to the four winds. It took a full year to complete the auction, many of the books being sold by weight.
'Murphy the younger,' the Archdeacon, after a youthful career of great distinction that would baffle the novelist or film director, was ordained at the age of 48 by his uncle, Bishop Murphy. However, he did not serve in Cork until after the death of his uncle. He was a staunch and zealous pastor in the Irish slums of Liverpool at Copperas Hill, until his was recalled to Cork by Bishop Murphy's successor, Bishop Delaney, as his secretary. He served as Chaplain to the Poor Law Union and the Presentation Convent in Bandon and as Curate at Schull before his appointment to Ss. Peter and Paul's in 1848, where he remained until 1874.
While in that post he was responsible not only for the fine Church of Ss. Peter and Paul but also for the founding of the Mercy Hospital in the former Mansion House, where it is still housed. He became Archdeacon of Cork in 1874 and died at Sunday's Well in 1883. His Requiem Mass was celebrated by Bishop Delaney with the three curates of Ss. Peter and Paul's as deacon, subdeacon and MC - sad to say, not one of them a Murphy!
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