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Archbishop McQuaid
The Irish Times - Friday, January 21, 2000

Sir, - I think it is very ironic that the title of John Cooney's book is John Charles McQuaid - Ruler of Catholic Ireland. In my estimation, John Charles was doing the work of "ruling", not always in the over-dramatised and exaggerated instances described in Mr Cooney's book, but in a different scenario. Dr McQuaid was doing the "ruling" that should have been carried out by different governments during his time as archbishop.

I see "ruling" in the sense of providing for the essential needs of the people entrusted to your care - whether you are speaking about a government "ruling" a country or a bishop "ruling" a diocese.

May I list some of the great works of Archbishop McQuaid in his service of the people of Dublin?

1. He provided social welfare for the poor of Dublin during the 1940s and 1950s when there was terrible and widespread poverty in the city. He founded the Catholic Social Service Conference. The principal work of this organisation was setting up food centres in all the deprived areas of the city. Thousands of needy families were provided with a nourishing dinner every day. Expectant and nursing mothers were cared for in a special way.

2. During the same period, when there was mass emigration from Ireland to Britain, it was again John Charles who came to the fore (when others did not care or even want to know). The archbishop founded the Catholic Social Welfare Bureau. This established welfare centres in London and in other major British cities, helping our emigrants to come to grips with the loneliness of emigration. Priest chaplains were provided for these centres and for specialised areas where Irish emigrants worked.

3. Archbishop McQuaid initiated the building of excellent primary and secondary schools in the new suburban estates in Dublin. He was particularly concerned that good secondary schools be provided in workingclass parishes such as Ballyfermot, Finglas, Cabra West and Crumlin - providing virtually free secondary education. Many, many people who now benefit from the Celtic Tiger economy have John Charles to thank for setting them on the road to their good positions of employment, through the far-sighted educational policy he fostered and sponsored in these years.

4. The archbishop also stimulated the establishment and development of care centres and schools for young people with special needs in the areas of health and education. He ensured that the Dublin hospitals in the care of religious orders had the highest standards of medical expertise.

I myself had personal experience of the concern of Archbishop McQuaid for those in need. When I was curate in East Wall parish during the 1960s, there was a prolonged unofficial strike in a factory in the area. There was no strike pay for the workers and many families were in dire need. I contacted the archbishop and he immediately authorised payment of £5 a week (the equivalent of £50 in today's currency) as long as the strike lasted. These payments came from the Catholic Social Service Conference.

John Charles McQuaid had his faults and failings; so have all of us. Because of his high profile as Archbishop of Dublin, his faults and failings are more evident. Whatever they may have been, they were more than outweighed by his virtues - and his dedicated life as a great archbishop who served his God and his people to the best of his ability -

Yours, etc.,
Con McGillicuddy, CC,
Dollymount Grove,
Dublin 3.

Archbishop McQuaid
The Irish Times - Friday, November 19, 1999

Sir, - At a time when the character of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid in being thrown to the wolves, may I record some personal reminiscences of the man which show a very different side to his character?

His good friend was my cousin the artist Evie Hone, whose work he particularly admired. Because of this, as a young girl I met him perhaps half-a-dozen times in Drumcondra and in Killiney. Because of his relationship with Evie, he showed a great interest in my education and a great generosity to my family.

My memory of him was of a gentle, if somewhat awesome presence, kind and considerate. That he should now be categorised as a paedophile on the basis of unattributed second-hand or third-hand allegations, is a travesty and an insult to a man who, whatever his attitudes at that time, was in my experience a kind, considerate and decent human being. –

Yours, etc.,

Geraldine Hone,
Bath Avenue Gardens,
Dublin 4.

Archbishop McQuaid
The Irish Times - Saturday, November 13, 1999

Sir, - I was brought up by my uncle, Mr Charles Boland, FRCSI. He was a close friend and medical adviser to John Charles McQuaid. As a child growing up, and as a young adult attending Clonliffe College, I visited Dr McQuaid's home in Killiney many times. They were happy visits. He was a warm and generous man and his behaviour was never inappropriate.

He was an isolated man and at times probably considered himself to be misjudged. The support of close friends was very important to him. It was the backdrop which sustained him in his public persona.

He was a formidable churchman of his era and personally was a very decent man. –

Yours, etc.,

David O'Kelly, MB,
Newtown Park Avenue,
Blackrock, Co Dublin.


Archbishop McQuaid
The Irish Times - Saturday, November 13, 1999

Sir, - In the face of "renewal", many wish to defend the good name of the late Archbishop John Charles McQuaid.

I was an immature student in Blackrock College while the accused was President. He was highly respected for his moral leadership.

What is my testimony worth? It is the warrant of personal witness, which I deem to be - with the passing years - superior to the inexact science of psychiatry. Furthermore, I owe it to my mother's memory to attest, here and now, to the all-embracing, immense, and instant charity of the gentle clean-hearted Holy Ghost Father.

Much later, as Archbishop of Dublin, Dr McQuaid was primarily responsible for clearing the reputations of four innocent prisoners executed during our tragic Civil War. This was Christian charity exemplified, and a healing process.

From the dawn of civilisation it has been the norm that a condemned man should have his accusers present. Today's "enlightenment" however, and defamation at a distance merely darken our vision; and slavery is ushered in.

The poet has written:

"Still through chaos,
Works on the ancient plan;
And two things have altered not,
Since first the world began;
The beauty of the wild green earth,
And the bravery of man."

Bravery and gentle charity are synonymous. They cannot, in the one person, be coeval with the abominable crime of child-molesting. –

Yours, etc.,

Eoin O Maille,
Fitzwilliam Place,
Dublin 2.