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Dalgan Park :: Columban Missions

Dalgan Park , Columban College

Dalgan Park 1940s

How the Columban Mission began .

At 3 0′ clock a knock came at Fr Blowick’s door. The Bishops wanted to see him. The three priests looked at each other and wondered was this the end.Nervously Fr Blowick followed the messenger across the square and into the board room. At the head of the table sat Cardinal Logue. On his right was the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Walsh, but between the two stood a vacant chair. There Fr Blowick was invited to sit down. The Cardinal questioned him about the project. Then he was asked to leave.

Fr Galvin and Fr.BlowickHalf-an-hour later they sent for him again only this time the Bishops gave permission for a collection for funds and for a mission college. “It is a consoling thing;” the Cardinal said, “for men whose work is almost done, to see young priests go forward willingly in such a grand work, and without having the Bishops after them with the pitchforks. I thank God that the missionary spirit is still alive.”

The two founders were almost beside themselves with excitement. That same week they produced a mission pamphlet and had 35,000 printed. “It was ready by Friday night and my head was ready for the surgeon,” said Fr Blowick. He set up an office in Dublin to deal with correspondence. At weekends he joined the others making appeals.

They were a little band of five and could not possibly reach every parish in the country. Professors at Maynooth and All Hallows College, Redemptorists, Passionists, and ‘, Dominicans – all joined in the work. Many priests appealed in their own parishes. The whole nation seemed I to throw itself behind the enterprise.

College , Dalgan 1918

Columban Mission 1918.
Photo Name Originally from
1 Rev. Michael McHugh

1876 – 1959

Co Donegal Worked in Scotland before joining in 1918.He returned from
China in 1924 to be Spiritual Director and chaplain.
2 Rev. Edward Galvin

1882 – 1956

Co.Cork He went to China in 1912.In 1916 , with John Blowick he established
the Columbans.He was made a bishop in 1927 . Expelled from China in 1952.
3 Rev. John Blowick

1888 – 1972

Co Mayo Made professor of Dogma at Maynooth in 1914.He founded the
Columbans with Edward Galvin in 1916. Founded the Columban Sisters in 1922.
4 Rev. John Dawson

1895 – 1964

Waterford Ordained in Dalgan in 1919. He did promotional work in Manchester
before departing for China in 1920.Left China in 1926 due to ill health
and was incardinated in Liverpool Archdiocese.
5 Rev. Thomas Quinlan

1896 – 1970

Co.Tipperary Worked in China until 1933.He went to Korea in 1934. A prisoner
in WW2 and the Korean war he survived an infamous march.In 1955 he was ordained
Bishop of Chunchon,Korea.
6 Rev. Owen McPolin

1889 – 1963

Co.Down Joined in 1919 and worked for 6 years in China before leading
the first group of Columbans to the new mission in Korea.He was placed under
house arrest by the Japanese during WW2.
7 Rev. Richard Ranaghan

1889 – 1937

Co. Down Joined in 1917 , returned from china in 1924. He made the
first Columban film “The Cross and the Dragon”.
8 Rev. Edward O’Doherty

1897 – 1967

Co.Donegal Joined in 1919 . In 1924 elected to the Superior General’s
Council.He went to St.Columbans , Nebraska to teach in 1931.
9 Rev. John P. O’Brien

1894 – 1968

Cork city Joined in 1919 and returned from China in 1924.He went to
the U.S. and was rector of the Seminary from 1940 to 1947.
10 Rev. Cornelius Tierney

1872 – 1931

Co.Monaghan Died from the hardship of captivity while a prisoner of Communist
bandits in China , on 28 February 1931. He was 58 years old.
11 Rev. Timothy Leonard

1893 – 1929

Co.Limerick He went to China in 1920 where he was taken prisoner by Chinese
bandits and killed.He is buried in China.
12 Rev. Matthew Dolan

1888 – 1957

Cavan ? Joined in 1917 from the staff of St.Patrick’s College , Cavan
and went to China in 1920 but returned to Kilmore diocese in 1923.
13 Rev. Joseph Crossan

1891 – 1974

Co Donegal Joined in 1919 and served in China for 27 years.He was the
last surviving member of the first team to go to China.
14 Rev. Alphonsus Ferguson

1894 – 1973

Derry city Joined in 1918 and served in China for 8 years. Returned to
Ireland in 1930.
15 Rev. Arthur McGuiness

1893 – 1943

Co Cork Joined in 1918 . Within a year in China he suffered from malaria
and had to leave in 1922.
16 Rev. William O’Flynn

1893 – 1929

Co Cork A gifted linguist , he joined in 1918. One of the pioneers
of the Kiangsi mission.
17 Rev. Michael Mee

1886 – 1957

Co.Monaghan Joined in 1918 and worked in the US before going to China
in 1920.He returned to the US in 1922 due to ill health.

Dalgan ParkOn January 29th, 1918, 19 young students gathered for their first night in the drawing room of an old Georgian building in a remote spot on the borders of Galway and Mayo called Dalgan Park. There, in the flickering light of a few candles, Fr John Heneghan read an extract from Christ’s prayer for his apostles.

Nissen huts , Dalgan Park , 1940sOn June 29th, 1918, the Maynooth Mission under the title Society of St Columban was officially erected by the Bishop of Galway as a society of secular priests.Eventually, on March 19th 1920, the first band of twenty Columbans left Dalgan for China headed by Frs Galvin and Blowick.

Original article from “The Far East” magazine (date unknown)

Old Dalgan Revisited.

Invited by the Shrule ParishCommunity, eleven Columbans returned to the site of the Old Dalgan for what turned out to be an historic and memorable occasion on Sunday September 15. 2002. Nothing remains of the main building, but the memory and spirit of the local people was as obviously genuinely true as it was tangible.

Dalgan locals and visitorsThe eleven Columbans were warmly welcomed back to where we had started in 1918 and departed in 1941. After a light lunch we were brought to the site of the Old Dalgan, where a temporary notice board contained maps and photographs of the Old Dalgan, and a printed list of all the Columbans who were ordained there. Thoughfully three golf buggies were an hand to transport those who needed a lift to the still surviving ball alleys, the old tomb and on down to the Black river.

The Davins and Sheridan families who occupy the well kept two surviving buildings, in the area known as Bobbio where formerly the ordained 4th divines lived extended an obviously heartfelt welcome, interspersed with tears, emotions sandwiches tea, and brandy. to the visiting Columbans , in particular to the four of our group who had studied in the Old Dalgan: Tommy Comerford, Michael Donoghue, Oliver Whyte and Paddy Connelly.

Paddy Sheridan had built a beautiful grotto of Our Lady which the Columbans were requested to bless.We invited the Sheridan clan to join us in blessing the grotto with holy water.

Dalgan 2002Back under the famous ‘Monkey tree’, directly behind the now non-existent main Old Dalgan Building, we celebrated Mass with a crowd of a few hundred people, who had gathered for, what was clearly for them, an emotional and historic occasion.Some of the participants were people who had worked in the Old Dalgan . I met three people who, in 1941,had moved up to work in the new Dalgan in Meath for a few years to help in the transition. Many of the participants were the children or relatives of those who worked in the Old Dalgan, and who were proud to be associated with their ancestors involvement in the Columbian project.

Some had returned from England for the event. There was a particuarly poignant moment when it was observed that Mrs, Teresa Blowick a sister-in-law of John Blowick was present, sitting quietly in the congregation in the middle of an open and normally deserted field , invited by the local parish priest, Fr: Michael Crosby. His brother Ned Crosby, worked as an associate priest with us in Peru.All were invited back for an evening meal in the parish hall.

Many of us Columbans felt overcome and embarrassed at the amazing welcome extended to us by this local community who had never forgotten us but who may have been forgotten by us Columbans in the new Dalgan.

Article by Fr. Tom Murphy.  2002


Old Dalgan revisited.


Back row Fr.Eddie McColgan , Fr.P.Connelly , Fr. G.Coneely ,
Fr.Martin Murphy , Fr. Donal Bennett , Fr. Tom Murphy.
Front row Fr.Tom King , Fr.Mick Donoghue , Fr.Tommy Comerford
, Fr. Oliver White .
Invited by the Shrule Parish Community, eleven Columbans returned to the site of the Old Dalgan for what turned out to be an historic and memorable occasion on Sunday September 15. 2002 in particular to the four of the group who had studied in the Old Dalgan: Tommy Comerford, Michael Donoghue, Oliver Whyte and Paddy Connelly. Nothing remains of the main building, but the memory and spirit of the local people was as obviously genuinely  true as it was tangible.



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Comment Feed

5 Responses

  1. Eamon J MartinJuly 19, 2019 @ 12:08 pmReply

    They could have left the front of the building standing in the interest of history.

  2. Patricia McCarthySeptember 17, 2018 @ 11:52 amReply

    Denis if a grand nephew of Fr william O Flynn of Ringabella, there are various family members who may have material relating to him. I am not related to him but have his memorial card as my grandmother and grand aunts knew him well.

  3. Denis O ConnorAugust 13, 2017 @ 9:31 pmReply

    I’m the grand nephew of William O’flynn of Cork one of the original Chinese missionaries. My brother Brian met a Mr Leonard related to Fr Leonard. My mother had photos of Fr Willie as she knew him. Perhaps you may have some information on where he’s buried in China or any more information. Regards Denis O Connor

  4. Norah KalkmanApril 24, 2015 @ 2:59 amReply

    Read all & enjoyed photos, brought back memories
    Of Corheen, mother,her sisters the Caulfields worked in the college. Aunt Kathleen Smyth moved
    to Meath to continue her job. Hubby& I toured
    the beautiful building with Auntie & Uncle Paddy
    Smyth. Tour guide Fr Smyth?? 1994. I remember the day the Dalgan Park building was destroyed, dear mother cried.
    Norah Carthy Kalkman

  5. Eugene RyanSeptember 11, 2013 @ 2:34 pmReply

    I am trying to find information about Archbishop Patrick Cronin.
    He was born in 1913 and ordained priest in December 1937. I believe he attended Dalgan Park. In 1938 he went to the Philippines and worked on the missions for many years. He died in 1991.

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