Chaplain to the I.R.A.
Fr. Dominic O’Connor: A very interesting collection of five autographed signed letters to the I.R.A. Chief of Staff from Fr. Dominic O’Connor, Capuchin Friar and formerly an IRA Chaplain, including a note dated 14.11.7th (year of the Republic – ie. 1922) saying ‘I am being exiled for the Republic but remain unrepentant. You and the Army and all the citizens of the Republic will be ever in my prayers …. . I have obtained the Apostolic Blessing for you from the Pope and will have the Diploma in safe hands in Cork with mother. For the rest, God Bless and prosper you. Have no fear for the Republic. Strike hard, strike often and strike effectively.’ A later 4pp letter (undated) suggests a design for an Army Flag incorporating the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with a suggested Act of Consecration; another letter dated 15 March, 8th Year I.R. (ie 1923) is signed ‘Conor Deoragh / Staff Comdt. / on Foreign Service’; it mentions approaches to the Pope by ‘certain Irish Ecclesiastics of strong Free State sympathies … . These all informed the Pope that peace and order and settled government were being speedily established, and led the Holy Father to believe that the Irish People were enjoying Freedom and Liberty.’ On 16 March (same year) he refers to ‘the Sacred Fast of our Prisoners, ignorantly called “Hunger Strike”‘and gives details of a British approach to the Holy See during Terence Mac Swiney’s fast, through the agency of ‘Lady O’Connor, widow of a former British Ambassador to Constantinople,’ A final letter dated 11.7.23 is addressed to Prionnsias O’hAodhagain (Frank Aiken), C/S IRA, written from Oregon. I would like to know that my allegiance sworn to the Republic as an officer of the Cork (1st) Brigade in 1920 still holds good …. . My heart is sad and sore for the many friends I have lost, especially my dear friends C/S and Rory & Liam & Joe & Dick. But I thank God they died faithful to the Republic and their Oath. May I express through you my pride and admiration at the glorious fight the Army made against such overwhelming odds.” etc. etc. As a coll. of m/ss letters, w.a.f.
* An amazing collection of letters. Fr. Dominic, one of several Capuchin priests who supported the Republican movement during the War of Independence, was sent to the United States by his superiors in 1922 (probably at the request of the Free State Government), and was never allowed to return home. His remains were repatriated to Cork in the 1950’s.(1)