This Month in the Archives

This month in the Archives – August 2023

Anniversary: This month sees the anniversary of Dominic Conway, D.D., Bishop of Elphin 1970 to 1994, who died on 22 August 1996, R.I.P.

Bishop Conway was a native of Longford, where he was educated at Cloonfree primary school and the De La Salle School before attending Summerhill College, Sligo. He later went to the Irish College in Rome where he was ordained in 1941.

From 1943 to 1948 he spent 5 years with the Kiltegan fathers in the Diocese of Calabar, Nigeria. He taught in All Hallows College, Dublin and at Summerhill College in Sligo, before returning to Rome as Spiritual Director and then Rector of the Irish College. In 1968 he was appointed as Secretary General of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith and then in 1970 he was appointed and ordained as coadjutor Bishop of Elphin.

In December 1975 Bishop Conway presided over the celebration of the centenary of the Cathedral, including the consecration of the new altar at Mass on Sunday 7th December. Pictured is the cover of the commemorative centenary magazine.

After he retired in 1994, Bishop Conway acted as chaplain to St Joseph’s Hospital, Garden Hill, where he died in 1996. He was buried in the grounds of the Cathedral.









This month in the Archives – July 2023

Anniversary: This month sees the anniversary of Bernard Coyne, D.D., Bishop of Elphin 1913 to 1926, who died on 17 July 1926, R.I.P.

The pictures are of correspondence between Bishop Coyne and Mrs. Mary F. McWhorter, President of the Celtic Cross Association, Chicago, regarding donations from the Association for the relief of distress among non-combatant women and children in Ireland in 1921.

This month in the Archives – June 2023

Two related letters came to light in the archive this month. The first is a letter from John McCormack, the famous Irish tenor, to Bishop John Clancy. It was written from Hampstead, London and says that he is sending Bishop Clancy a chalice, made by an Irishman in Dublin, as “a little token of my deepest gratitude for the help you gave me at the most critical period of my life.”  

The second letter is dated 21 October 1910 and is from J. J. Kelly, Manufacturing Jeweller and Diamond Setter, Dublin, to Bishop Clancy. It begins “Being the manufacturer of the chalice and paten recently presented to your Lordship by Mr John McCormack, I take the liberty of herewith giving you some particulars of its manufacture and of the material used, as it may be of interest to you.”


This month in the Archives – May 2023

Anniversary:  Christopher Jones, D.D., Bishop of Elphin from 1994 to 2014, died five years ago, on the 18th of May 2018, R.I.P.


Found in the archives this month:

For the month of May, this find seems appropriate, a design for a stained-glass window showing Our Lady, Star of the Sea. Unfortunately, there is no date or information on whether the window was ever installed, or where.

This month in the Archives – April 2023

Anniversary:  Edward Doorly, D.D., Bishop of Elphin, died on the 5th of April 1950.

Edward Doorly (1868 to 1950) was a native of Clooneenbane, Oran, Co. Roscommon. He was educated in the Francsican College, Farragher, at Summerhill College, Sligo and at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He was ordained in 1895 and served in Scramogue, Lisacul, Oran, Ahamlish and Strokestown parishes as well as in the Cathedral parish. He was appointed as coadjutor bishop in 1923 and succeeded as bishop of Elphin on the death of Bishop Bernard Coyne in 1926. He died in April 1950 and is buried in Sligo cemetery.

He was well loved in the diocese and is commemorated by Doorly Park, a popular recreation area and wildlife habitat on the banks of Lough Gill, renamed in his honour.

The archive item photographed is the cover of a decorative presentation letter to Bishop Doorly from the priests and people of Drumcliff on the occasion of his visit to the parish for a celebration following the renovation of the church.


This month in the Archives – March 2023

Found in the archive this month: a bound volume of the Stations of the Cross.

According to the introductory text, it was created 90 years ago, in 1933, to commemorate the Holy Year. It reproduces the stations of the cross from the church of Mount St. Alphonsus, Limerick.

Displayed here are the cover, the first page of the text and the picture of the tenth station, the crucifixion.










This month in the Archives – February 2023

While boxing items in the archive this month, I came across these Religious Knowledge exam papers for junior cycle students in 1957. Could you answer these questions? I found them very challenging. In a sign of the times, the question on altar servers was for boys only! 


This month in the Archives – January 2023

Anniversary:  Laurence Gillooly, D.D., Bishop of Elphin, died on the 15th of January 1895.

Laurence Gillooly was a native of Gallowstown, Roscommon. He joined the Vincentian Fathers in Paris in 1844 and was ordained in 1847. He was appointed coadjutor to Bishop George Browne in 1856 and became Bishop of Elphin on the death of Bishop Browne in 1858. He was reported to be reluctant to take the position. On 8 June 1856, Cardinal Paul Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin, writing to Dr. Gillooly about his appointment (see letter below), said “I know pretty well by experience that a mitre cannot be considered to be a crown of roses, but someone must bear the burden and when God calls, it is our duty to obey.”

Bishop Gillooly was responsible for transferring the diocesan college (College of the Immaculate Conception, Summerhill) from Athlone to Sligo and for building the current cathedral. He also moved the residence of the Bishop from Roscommon to Sligo, where it still is today. He attended the First Vatican Council 1869-70 where he was a spokesperson for the Irish Bishops.

Bishop Gillooly died on the 15th of January 1895, having served as Bishop of Elphin for over 38 years. He is buried in the crypt of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo.