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Irish Colleges, on the Continent

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The religious persecution under Elizabeth and James I lead to the suppression of the monastic schools in Ireland in which the clergy for the most part received their education. It became necessary, therefore, to seek education abroad, and many colleges for the training of the secular clergy were founded on the Continent, at Rome, in Spain and Portugal, in Belgium, and in France. The history of the Irish college and of the other Irish establishments in Rome is dealt with in special articles (see THE IRISH COLLEGE IN ROME, etc.). That of the other Irish colleges on the continent may, for the sake of order. be given in separate sections, according to the countries in which they existed.

In Spain and Portugal


The most famous of the Irish colleges in Spain was that of Salamanca, founded, at the petition of Father Thomas White, S.J., by a decree of Philip III, dated 1592, and opened in 1593 with the title: El Real Colegio de Nobles Irlandeses. The support of the students was provided for by a royal endowment. The discipline and management of the college was entrusted to the Jesuit fathers at Salamanca, an Irish father holding the office of vice-rector. The Jesuits continued to govern the college until the order was expelled from Spain in 1767. Since that date the rectors of the college have been selected from amongst the Irish secular clergy, presented by the bishops of Ireland and confirmed by the King of Spain. Dr. Birmingham was the first rector after the departure of the Jesuits. Dr. Curtis, subsequently Bishop of Armagh, held office from 1781 to 1812, and rendered valuable service to the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War. In more recent years, Dr. William McDonald, of the Diocese of Armagh, Father Cowan, of Dromore, Father Bernard Maguire, of Cloghger have been rectors. That office is presently held by the Very Rev. Michael O'Doherty, D. D., a priest from the Diocese of Achonry. The Irish college at Salamanca was open to students from all the provinces of Ireland, but in the seventeenth century, the majority of them came from the southern and eastern provinces. It was made cause of complaint that Father White, S.J., was unwilling to receive students from Ulster and Connaught, and the exiled Irish chiefs, O'Neill and O'Donnell, presented a remonstrance on the subject to the King of Spain. The students attended lectures in the famous University of Salamanca, and the college was the nursing mother of many eminent Irish ecclesiastics. Dr. Curtis of Armagh, Dr. Murray of Dublin, Dr. Kelley of Tuam, Dr. Laffan, and Dr. Everard of Cashel were all alumni of Salamanca, the last four being fellow-students. At present the Irish students at Salamanca number about thirty, and attend lectures at the diocesan seminary which has taken the place of the theology faculty of the ancient university. The college is supported chiefly by ancient endowments, which are subject to the control of the Spanish Government.


About 1612 a college for Irish students was established at Seville, and managed by secular priests, one of whom was Theobald Stapleton, who afterwards died a martyr in Ireland, being stabbed while administering Holy Communion. In 1619, Father Richard Conway, S.J., was appointed rector. When he entered upon office, the personnel of the college — superiors, students, and servants — numbered eighteen. They suffered much from poverty. Their condition moved many to compassion. The fishermen at Seville obtained an indult from Pope Paul V, permitting them to fish on six Sundays and holidays each year in order that they might gave the profits of their labour for the support of the Irish students. For the same purpose Irish merchants at Seville granted to the college a percentage on every cask of wine they sold. Soldiers in the Irish Brigade of the Spanish service gave a portion of their pay. With such aid the college continued to exist and was able to send every year two priests to the Irish mission. One of the students of the college, Dominic Lynch, became president in the University of Seville. In 1769, the Irish college at Seville, with all its goods, rents, and rights, was, by royal authority, amalgamated with that of Salamanca.


In 1629 a college for Irishmen was founded by Father Theobald Stapleton, who has already been mentioned in connection with the college at Seville. The number of students varied from ten to twenty, supported by the charity of benefactors. The college served as a hospice for those Irish ecclesiastics who, having completed their studies, came to the capital to claim the bounty of £10 which the King of Spain had granted to Irish students in the peninsula, to enable them to return to Ireland. In 1677, Dr. James Lynch, Archbishop of Tuam, resided for some time at Madrid and succeeded in restoring the college to greater prosperity. but eventually it was closed, and its property lost to the Church in Ireland.


In Alcalá, anciently Complutum, famous for its university, and for its polyglot edition of the Bible, an Irish college was founded in 1590, by a Portuguese nobleman named George Sylveira, a descendant, though his mother, of the Macdonnells of Ulster. He bestowed on the college an endowment of the value of £2000, and, at a cost of £1000, built a chapel to his patron, St. George. At Alcalá there were four masters, twenty students, and eight students. The ancient college has long since ceased to exist.

Santiago de Compostela

In 1605 a college for Irish ecclesiastics was founded at Compostela. Philip III bestowed upon it an endowment of £100 a year. It was under the direction of the Jesuits. In 1671 there were six students. At the conclusion of the philosophy course all went to Salamanca for their theological studies. In 1769 the property of the college at Santiago de Compostela was amalgamated with that of the college at Salamanca.


Besides the college in Spain there existed also an Irish establishment in Portugal. The college was founded by Royal Charter in 1593, under the title: Collegio de Estudiantes Irlandeses sub invocaçaon de San Patricio en Lisboa. Like the other Irish colleges in the peninsula it was placed under the management of the Jesuits. The celebrated Stephan White, S. J., was one of its earliest pupils. During the great earthquake which almost destroyed the city of Lisbon in 1755, the Irish college and its inmates suffered no injury. Not long after it suffered from the malice of men. In 1769 it was closed and confiscated by Pombal, under the pretext that it was a Jesuit establishment. But in 1782, an Irish secular priest, Dr. Michael Brady, succeeded in having the college restored to the Irish. Dr. Brady was succeeded in the office of rector by Dr. Bartholomew Crotty, subsequently president of Maynooth, and Bishop of Cloyne. Dr. Crotty held the office of rector from 1801 to 1811. During his tenure of office, an invitation was addressed by Dr. John Baptist Walsh, rector of the Irish college to Paris, to the students in Lisbon, to come to his college at Paris, an invitation of which the bishops of Ireland expressed their disapproval. The number of students in the Irish college as Lisbon during the eighteenth century was from twelve to fourteen. During the French Revolution it increased to thirty or forty, to fall again to fourteen after 1815. Dr. Burke, Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. Talbot, Dr. Russell, and Dr. Carpenter, Archbishop of Dublin; Dr. Verdun, Bishop of Ferns, and Dr. Kelly, Bishop of Waterford, were Lisbon students. During the civil wars in Lisbon, during the nineteenth century, the college was closed, and has not since been reopened.

Besides the colleges for education of secular clergy at Lisbon there was also a convent of Irish Dominican Fathers, and a convent of Irish Dominican nuns, both of which exist at the present day, the former at Corpo Santo, Lisbon, and the latter at Belem in the vicinity.

In Belgium


While the colleges in the Peninsula were doing good services for the preservation of the Faith in Ireland, other colleges for the same purpose were established in Flanders. In 1624, a college for the education of priests, with the title "Collegium Pastorale", was founded at Louvain, in virtue of a charter granted by the Holy See, at the instance of the Most Rev. Eugene Macmahon, Archbishop of Dublin. Urban VIII gave a donation for the support of the college, and the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda bestowed on it an allowance of 240 scudi. Burses were also founded by various benefactors, the aggregate value of which amounted to 73, 217 flourins. The first rector of the college was Nicholas Aylmer. The students at the first commencement were six in number. In 1643 there were four priests, and six students in philosophy. At the close of the eighteenth century the number had increased to forty. Many distinguished Irish ecclesiastics were students of the pastoral college at Louvain. One of its rectors, Thomas Stapleton, held also the office of rector of the university for seven terms.

Besides the secular colleges, convents for the Irish regular clergy were established at Louvain. Of these the most ancient and the most celebrated was the Franciscan College of St. Anthony of Padua, founded in 1606 at the request of Florence Conry, Archbishop of Tuam. The number of Irish friars at St. Anthony's in the seventeenth century was about forty. In this convent lived John Cogan, the celebrated Irish hagiologist, author of the "Trias Thaumaturga" and of "Lives of the Irish Saints." Here, too, lived Hugh Ward, Father Mooney, Brendan O'Connor, and Bonaventure O'Doherty, who so ably assisted Michael O'Cleary in collecting materials for the great work known as the "Annals of the Four Masters". The Franciscans of St. Anthony's did great work to the cause of religion by printing books of instruction in the Irish tongue. At Louvain were printed the Irish catechism of Bonaventure O'Hussey (1608), "The Mirror of Penance" by Hugh MacCaughwell (1618), "The Mirror of Religion" by Florence Conry (1626), O'Cleary's vocabulary (1643), "The Paradise of the Soul" by Anthony Gernon (1645), and a moral treatise in English and Irish by Richard MacGiollacuddy (Arsdekin) (1667). It has been truly said of the convent of St. Anthony of Padua at Louvain, "No Franciscan college has maintained with more zeal than this, the character of the order as expressed in their motto, Doctrina et Scientia." At the close of the eighteenth century, the number of friars at St. Anthony's was seventeen. In 1796 the convent was closed to the Irish, and sold. There existed also at Louvain a convent of Irish Dominicans, founded in 1608, known as the convent of the Holy Cross. A letter of the nuncio at Brussels, in 1675, gave the names of thirty-three Dominicans, who had gone from Holy Cross to labour in the mission in Ireland. The Irish Dominican convent in Louvain was closed in 1797. A convent of Irish Benedictine nuns was established at Ypres in 1682, where for more than two centuries Irish women aspiring to religious perfection found a home. This convent has survived to the present day (1910). The colleges, secular and regular, at Louvain during two centuries of their existence gave to the Church in Ireland 32 bishops and about 300 priests, at least 200 of which were graduates in arts at the University of Louvain.


In 1629 a pastoral college was founded at Antwerp by the Rev. Laurence Selgrave, a Leinster priest, who, together with his nephew, the Rev. James Talbot, expended 13,220 flourins on the establishment of a college and became its first rector, as his nephew became its second. After their time the college suffered much from poverty and was on the point of being closed and sold to meet the claims of creditors. But during the rectorate of John Egan, prothonotary Apostolic, it received a fresh impulse. Donations were received, and creditors satisfied. Through the pro-nuncio at Brussels, the Holy See sent subventions from time to time. The number of students, usually about twelve, increased eventually to thirty. They attended lectures at the Jesuit college at Antwerp, where their distinguished countryman, Fr. Richard Archdeacon (Arsdekin), S.J., died in 1690. The pastoral colleges at Louvain and at Antwerp continued to flourish until 1795, when they were closed due to the occupation of Belgium by the French. At various times the bishops of Ireland made representations to the Belgian Government with a view to obtain the transfer of the burses to Ireland, and they have been so far successful that at the present time the annual revenue of the burses is paid through the medium of the British Foreign Office for the education of students at Maynooth College.


An Irish college was founded at Tournai by Christopher Cusack. In 1689 there were eight ecclesiastics at Tournai, with an income of 200 scudi. Choiseul, Bishop of Tournai, in a letter to Innocent X, speaks thus of the Irish college: "We have here a College or Seminary of Irish youth where some poor students are supported, receive a Christian education, and are taught the Humanities. They attend the classes at the Jesuits, and are generally the first in merit." The Tournai college, like those at Louvain and Antwerp, was closed in 1795. In 1833, at the insistence of the Most Rev. Dr. O'Higgins, Bishop of Ardagh, the Belgian Government consented to transfer to the Irish college in Rome the sum of 4000 francs from the funds of the old Irish college at Tournai,

In France

The colleges in the Peninsula and in Flanders rendered greats service to the Church in Ireland. but the most important of all the Irish colleges on the continent were those established in France.


The most ancient among these was the college at Douai, founded about 1577 by Reverend Ralph Cusack. Douai was then included in the Flemish territory subject to Spain, and in about 1604 Philip III conferred on the Irish college in that town an endowment of 5000 flourins. In 1667 Douai was taken by Louis XIV, and the Irish college there became subject to French authority. For some years the means of subsistence were scanty and precarious, but in 1750 the college recovered its prosperity. It was subject to a board of provisors who nominated the rector from a list of three candidates provided by the superiors of the Irish college in Paris. The students, about thirty in number, attended lectures at the University of Douai. In 1793 the college was closed, and in 1795 the buildings, valued at 60,000 francs, were alienated by the French Government.


An Irish college was founded at Lille by Ralph Cusack in virtue of letters patents granted in 1610 by Archduke Albert, and Isabella, Infanta of Spain, the Governors of the Netherlands. Foundations were made for the education of students from the Province of Leinster, more particularly for those from Meath. The right of nominating the rector was vested in the superior of the Irish Capuchins at Bar-su-Aube. The college suffered much from poverty. Its means of support were derived partly from collections made at church doors, and partly from fees received for the services the students rendered by carrying the dead at funerals. The study and use of the Irish language was encouraged, and no one unacquainted to that tongue was eligible to the office of rector. The students numbered from eight to ten, exclusively from Leinster. The college, which was valued at 20,000 francs, was confiscated and sold in 1793.


In 1603 the Rev. Dermit MacCarthy, a priest of the Diocese of Cork, made his way to Bordeaux with about forty companions. These Irish exiles were hospitably received by Cardinal de Surdis, Archbishop of Bordeaux, who gave them a house and place them in charge of the church of St. Eutropius. The rules of the Irish community were approved by the Archbishop in 1603, and again in 1609, and were finally ratified by Paul V, in the Bull "In supremo apostolicæ dignitatus", 26 April, 1618. The Irish students at Bordeaux, like those from Lille, derived their support from alms collected at the doors of churches in the city, and from fees received from their services at funerals. In 1653, at the conclusion of the War of the Fronde, about 5000 Irish troops, previously in the service of Spain, at the suggestion of Father Cornelius O'Scanlan, rector of the college at Bordeaux, elected to take service under the flag of France. In acknowledgement of the zeal of Father O'Scanlan for the interests of France, the queen regent, Anne of Austria, bestowed on the college an endowment of 1200 livres in support of twelve priests and ten clerics, and conferred on the students the right of naturalization to enable them to receive gifts and possess benefices in the kingdom. On the same occasion the title of "Sainte-Anne-la-Royale" was given to the college. Besides the endowment of Anne of Austria, various bequests were made by benefactors; yet in 1766 the total annual revenue of the college amounted to only 2531 francs. From twenty in the seventeenth century the number of students increased, in the eighteenth, to thirty, and eventually to forty. They attended classes at the Jesuit college in the city. There were also little colonies of Irish students at Toulouse, Auch, Agen, Cahors, Condom, and Périguaux, all subject to the authority of the rector of the Irish college at Bordeaux. The rector of the college was chosen by the votes of the students, and confirmed by the archbishop for a period of three years. The system of appointment by election led to frequent disputes and was eventually abolished. Dr. Robert Barry, Bishop of Cloyne, Dr. Patrick Comerford, Bishop of Waterford, Dr. Cornelius O'Keefe and Dr. Robert Lacy, Bishops of Limerick, Dr. Dominic Bellew, Bishop of Killala, and Dr. Boetius Egan, Bishop of Tuam, were some time students at Bordeaux. Here, too, Geoffrey Keating is said to have been a student. The Abbé Edgeworth and Dr. Richard O'Reilly, subsequently Archbishop of Armagh, studied for a short time at Bordeaux, whence the former proceeded to Paris, and the latter to Rome. The last superior of the college was the Rev. Martin Glynn, D. D., a native of the diocese of Tuam, who suffered death by sentence of the Revolutionary tribunal, at Bordeaux, 19 July, 1794. The vice-rector of the college, Dr. Everard, escaped. The students were thrown into prison, but were eventually liberated and put on board a vessel bound for Ireland. The college church, valued at 21,000 francs, was confiscated in 1793. The college was also seized but was saved from confiscation by the vigilance of an Irish priest named James Burke. After the revolution, all that remained of the property of the college at Bordeaux was placed by decree of the first consul under the control of the board of administrators of the Irish college in Paris. In 1885 the property at Bordeaux was sold for 285,635 francs and the price invested in French securities in the name of the "Foundation Catholiques Irlandaises en France".


From the commencement of the seventeenth century, there existed at Toulouse a little colony of Irish ecclesiastical students. The Irish college in that town owes its origin to Anne of Austria, who bestowed upon it, at the same time as upon the college at Bordeaux, the title of "Sainte-Anne-la-Royale", with an endowment of 1200 livres a year for the support of twelve priests. The endowment was confirmed by Louis XIV in 1659. At Toulouse the number of students never exceeded ten or twelve, chiefly natives of the province of Munster. Small though the number was, the system of appointing the rector by the votes of the students led to division, and it was judged expedient to submit the rules of discipline to Benedict XIV, who approved them by a letter addressed to the Archbishop of Toulouse on 31 August, 1753. The course of studies extended over a period of eight years, after which the students returned to the mission in Ireland. When the French Revolution broke out, the college possessed an annual revenue of 10,000 francs. In 1793, the college building and furniture, valued at 36,700 francs, were confiscated, and sold by the French Government.


Nantes, on the coast of Brittany, was also the seat of an Irish college founded about 1680. In 1728 a new and more commodious college was constructed, and in 1765, by royal letters patent, the priory of St-Crispin was united with it. The number of students, at first about thirty-six, increased to sixty in 1765, and by 1792 it had reached eighty. The college was subject to the University of Nantes, but it had its own professors — two for philosophy and two for theology — who were obliged each term to report to the university the name of their students and the treatises they were to explain. The last rector of the college was Dr. Patrick Byrne, subsequently president of Maynooth College. In 1793 the students of the college were cast into prison and then put on board a vessel which brought them in safety to Cork. The college was not reopened in the nineteenth century. The buildings which escaped alienation were placed under the control of the administration of the Irish college in Paris. They were sold, with the sanction of the Minister of Public Instruction, in 1857, and the proceeds of the sale (100,000 francs) invested in the name of the "Foundation Catholiques Irlandaises"


A college of the Irish Jesuits was founded at Poitiers, in virtue of letters patent granted by Louis XIV, in April, 1674. Five burses for the education of students for the secular priesthood were founded here, two in 1738 by Mrs. John Maher, an Irish lady resident at Barcelona, and three by Jeremy Crowley, at Cork, in 1735. On the suppression of the Jesuits in France, the five burses were transferred to Paris. The college buildings, valued at about 10,500 francs, were alienated by the French Government. The Abbé Thomas Gould was a student at this college; known as the missionary of Poitou he preached with great success in French, and published several works in that language.

The Irish Franciscans had convents in provincial France, at Bar-su-Aube, at Sedan, and at Charleville, and for some years a convent at Paris.


The most important of all the Irish establishments in France, and on the Continent, was the Irish college in Paris. That venerable institution, which has preserved its existence to the present day, owe its origin the Reverend John Lee, an Irish priest who came to Paris, in 1578, with six companions, and entered the Collège Montaigu. Having completed his studies he became attached to the Church of St. Severin, and made the acquaintance of a French nobleman, John de l'Escalopier, President of the Parliament of Paris. That charitable man placed at the disposal of the Irish students in Paris a house, which served them as a college, of which Father Lee became the first rector about 1605. By letters patent dated 1623, Louis XIII conferred upon the Irish priests and scholars in Paris the right to receive and possess property. The Irish college was recognized as a seminary by the University of Paris in 1624, and at that time it had already sent a large number of priests to the mission in Ireland. But the college founded by Father Lee was not spacious enough to receive the numerous Irish students who came to Paris. Some of them continued to find a home in the Collège Montaigu, others in the Collège de Boncour, while some, who were in affluent circumstances, resided in the Collège de Navarre. This state of things attracted the attention of St. Vincent de Paul and others, who sought to provide them with a more commodious residence. Later still, in 1672, it engaged the attention of the bishops of Ireland, who deputed Dr. John O'Mollony, Bishop of Killaloe, to treat with Colbert as to the establishment of a new college. What the bishops desired was eventually obtained, through the influence of two Irish priests resident in Paris: Dr. Patrick Maginn, formerly first chaplain to Queen Catherine, wife of Charles II of England, and Dr. Malachy Kelly, one of the chaplains of Louis XIV. These two ecclesiastics obtained from Louis XIV authorization to enter on possession of the Collège des Lombards, a college of the University of Paris founded for Italian students in 1333. They rebuilt the college, then in ruins, at their own expense, and became its first superiors. The acquisition of the college was confirmed by letters patent dated 1677 and 1681. Some years later the buildings were extended by Dr. John Farely, and all the Irish ecclesiastical students in Paris found a home in the Collège des Lombards. The number of students went on increasing until, in 1764, it reached one hundred and sixty. It was therefore found necessary to build a second college. The building was commenced in 1769 in rue du Cheval Vert, now rue du Irlandais, and the junior section of the students was transferred to the new college in 1776.

The Irish college in Paris was open to all the counties and provinces in Ireland. The students were divided into two categories, one, the more numerous, consisting of priests already ordained in Ireland, the other of juniors aspiring to orders. Both sections attended the university classes, either at the Collège de Plessis, or at that of Navarre, or at the Sorbonne. The course of study extended over six years, of which two were given to philosophy, three to theology, and one to special preparation for pastoral work. The more talented students remained two years longer to qualify for degrees in theology, or in canon law. In virtue of the Bull of Urban VIII, "Piis Christi fidelium", dated 10 July, 1626, and granted in favour of all Irish colleges already established or to be established in France, Spain, Flanders, or elsewhere, the junior students were promoted to orders ad titulum missionis in Hiberniâ, even extra tempora, and without dimissorial letters, on the representation of the rector of the college — a privilege withdrawn, as regards dimissorial letters, by Gregory XVI in 1835, and now entirely abrogated by transfer of Ireland to the jurisdiction of the Consistorial Congregation in 1908. The students in priestly orders were able to support themselves to a large extent by their Mass stipends. Many burses, too, were founded for the education of students at the Lombard college. Among the founders were nine Irish bishops, thirty-two Irish priests, four medical doctors, some laymen engaged in civil or military pursuits, and a few pious ladies. The college was governed in the eighteenth century by four Irish priests called provisors, one from each province of Ireland. They were elected by the votes of the students, and confirmed by the Archbishop of Paris, who, as superior major, nominated one of them to the office of principal. In 1788, the system of government by provisors was abolished, and one rector appointed.

In 1792 the two Irish colleges in Paris, namely the Collège des Lombards, and the junior college, rue du Cheval Vert, were closed, as were all the other Irish college in France. The closing of the colleges on the Continent deprived the bishops of Ireland of the means of educating their clergy. They therefore petitioned the British Government for authorization to establish an ecclesiastical college at home. The petition was granted, and Maynooth College was founded in 1795. In support of their petition the bishops submitted a statement of the number of Irish ecclesiastics receiving education on the Continent when the French revolution began.

From this statement is appears that out of a total of 478 Irish ecclesiastics receiving education on the Continent, 348 were resident in France, and of these, 180 were students in the Irish colleges in Paris. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, forty students of the Irish college in Paris were raised to the episcopal bench. At the same period Irishmen held an honourable place at the University of Paris. Between 1660 and 1730 more than sixty Irishmen held the office of procurator of the German nation — one of the four sections of the faculty of arts in the ancient university. Dr. Michael Moore, an Irish priest, long held the office of principal of the Collège de Navarre, and was twice elected rector of the university. Many Irishmen held chairs in the university. Dr. Sleyne was professor at the Sorbonne. Dr. Power was professor of the college at Lisieux; Dr. O'Lonergan at the college of Reims. Dr. John Plunkett, Dr. Patrick J. Plunkett, and Dr. Flood, superiors or provisors of the Irish college, were in succession royal professors of theology at the Collège de Navarre. The students of the Irish college in Paris were pronounced opponents of Jansenism. When they returned to their native land, they, like the students of Rome, Salamanca, and Louvain, brought with them "the manners and feelings of cultivated gentlemen and a high sense of clerical decorum".

After the French revolution, the Irish college in Paris was re-established by a decree of the first consul, and placed under the control of a board appointed by the French Government. To it were united the remnants of the property of the other Irish colleges in France which had escaped destruction. The college in Paris lost two-thirds of its endowments owing to the depreciation of French state funds, which had been reduced to one-third consolidated. The total loss sustained by all the Irish foundations in France amounted to 2,416,410 francs, or about $438,000. After the Restoration, the French Government placed at the disposal of the British government three million and a half sterling, to indemnify British subjects in France for the losses they had sustained in the Revolution. In 1816 a claim for indemnity was presented on behalf of the Irish college. That claim was rejected by the privy council in 1825 on the grounds that the college was a French establishment. In 1832 the claim was renewed by Dr. M'Sweeny, director of the college, with the same result. Another attempt to obtain compensation was made by the Rev. Thomas McNamara in 1870. On 9 May in that year a motion was made in the House of Lords for copies of the awards in the case of the Irish college in 1825 and 1832. This step was followed up by a motion in the House of Commons for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the claims of the college to compensation for losses sustained during the French Revolution. The motion was introduced on 30 April, 1875, by Isaac Butt, M. P. for Limerick, and, after a prolonged discussion, it was negatived by 116 to 54 votes.

After 1805 the administration of the college was subject to a "Bureau de Surveillance" which gave much trouble until it was dissolved by Charles X, in 1824. After that date, the superior, appointed on presentation of the four archbishops of Ireland, became official administrator of the foundations, subject to the minister of the interior, and at a later period to the minister of public instruction. The students no longer frequented the university. The professors were Irish priests appointed by the French Government on the presentation of the Irish episcopate. In 1858, with the sanction of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda, and with the consent of the French Government, the bishops of Ireland placed the management of college in the hands of the Irish Vincentian Fathers. In recent years the number of students has been between sixty and seventy. They are admitted on nomination of the bishops, and, after a course of two years in philosophy and four years in theology, they are ordained and returned to Ireland. In the nineteenth century the college gave to the Church a long array of good priests and bishops, including Dr. Fitz Patrick, Abbott of Melleray; Dr. Maginn, Coadjutor Bishop of Derry; Dr. Keane, of Cloyne; Dr. O'Hea and Dr. Fitz Gerald of Ross; Dr. Gillooly of Elphin, and Dr. Croke of Cashel. Dr. Kelly, the present Bishop of Ross, and Dr. McSherry, vicar Apostolic at Port Elizabeth, South Africa, are also alumni of the college. The present occupant of the see of St. Patrick, H. E. Cardinal Logue, held the chair of dogmatic theology from 1866 to 1874.

In the three hundred years of its existence, the college has not been without a share in the ecclesiastical literature of Ireland. Among the rectors of the college have been Thomas Messingham, prothonotary Apostolic, author of the "Florilegium Insulæ Sanctorum" (Paris, 1624); Dr. Andrew Donlevy, author of an "Anglo-Irish Catechism" (Paris, 1742); Dr. Miley, author of "A History of the Papal States" (Dublin, 1852); Dr. Thomas McNamara, author of "Programmes of Sermons" (Dublin, 1880), "Encheiridion Clericorum" (1882), and several other similar works. Abbé Mageoghegan, Sylvester O'Hallaran, Martin Haverty, and probably Geoffrey Keating, all eminent Irish historians, were students of the college. Dean Kinane, a student and then a professor in the college, is widely known for his "Dove of the Tabernacle" and numerous other devotional works. More recently, the Rev. John MacGuinness, C. M., vice-rector, has published a full course of dogmatic theology. Amongst the rectors of the college, Dr. John Farley and Dr. John Baptist Walsh, in the eighteenth century, and Dr. MacSweeney and the Rev. Thomas MacNamara, in the nineteenth, have been administrators of marked ability. Since 1873 the administration of the property of the college has been invested in a board created by a decree of the Conseil d'Etat. On that board the Archbishop of Paris was represented by a delegate, and he was also the official medium of communication between the Irish episcopate and the French Government. In December, 1906, the law of separation of Church and State in France came into operation. In the January following, the French government notified the British Government of its intention to reorganize the Irish Catholic foundations in France so as to bring them into harmony with the recent legislation regarding the Church. It was further stated that the purpose of the Government was to close the Irish college, to sell its immovable property, and to invest the proceeds of the sale, to be applied together with the existing burses for the benefit of Irish students who shall be admitted, on the presentation to the British Ambassador to France, either to the state schools or to the schools of theology which have taken the place of the diocesan seminaries. A plea for the preservation of the college has been presented on behalf of the bishops of Ireland, through the British Foreign office. The question is still undecided.

The history of the Irish colleges on the Continent is a manifest proof of the tenacity with which Ireland has clung to the Catholic faith. Without the succession of priests prepared in these colleges, the preservation of the faith in Ireland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries would have been impossible. At the present day the colleges in Ireland are sufficient to supply the needs of the Church in Ireland, but the colleges on the Continent are still useful as a witness of the past, and they serve to bring a large section of the clergy of Ireland into contact with the life and thought and work of the Church in the ancient Catholic nations on the Continent.


For the Peninsula, Irish Colleges since the Reformation in Eccl. Hist., VIII, 307, 465; Healy, Maynooth College centenary History (Dublin, 1895). — For Belgium, Spellam, Ir. Eccl. Rec., 3rd ser., VIII, 350, 437, 641; Meehan, The Rise and Fall of the Franciscan Monasteries (Dublin, 1877); de Berck, L'Archéologie Irlandaise au couvent de Sainte-Antoine du Padoue à Louvain (Paris, 1869); Tourneur, Esquisee d'une histoire des études celtiques (Liège, 1905). — For France, Boyle, The Irish College in Paris (1578-1905) with a brief sketch of the other Irish colleges in France (London and Dublin, 1905); Idem. in Ir. Eccl. Rec., 4th ser., X, 385; XI, 193, 432; XII, 233; XIV, 24, 289; XV, 48; XVIII, 431; XXI, 285; XXII, 127; XXII, 454; Hurley in Dublin Rev., CX, 45, 353; Bellescheim, Geschichte der katholische Kirche in Irland, II, III (Mainz, 1890-91); Bertrand, Histoire des séminaires de Bordeaux et de Bazas (Bordeaux, 1894); Dançoise, Histoire des établissements religieux fondés à Douai avant a Révolution Française (Douai, 1880); Jourdain, Histoire de l'Université de Paris (Paris, 1888); Pagny, Mémoires historiques et chronologiques sur les séminaires établis dans la ville de Toulouse (Toulouse, 1852).

About this page

APA citation. Boyle, P. (1910). Irish Colleges, on the Continent. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Boyle, Patrick. "Irish Colleges, on the Continent." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by M. Donahue.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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