Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 60

heels--the coat tails are sufficient--and as for the eloquence… Well, no one ever accused me of it so we will let it go at that.

          With Father Browne I spent a season this year at the seaside, and together we had the privilege of seeing some of the celebrities of the time. Irish celebrities were generally politicians then. We got invitations of a famous Home Rule banquet by Wexford when Home Rule was beginning to take form as a burning political question in Ireland. There we met Isaac Butt, the father of the movement, the “Wexford Quadrilateral” the first County delegation in Parliament that stood four-square for home rule, namely: Wm Redmond, Sr, Chevalier O’Clery, Sir George Bowyer and Geo Dunbar; also the two Sullivans, A M and T D, and a member in his first term, not eloquent but earnest, not prominent but rising, who was introduced as Charles Stewart Parnell. The elder Redmond was the father of two sons who became famous afterwards in the cause of Home Rule. O’Clery had been a soldier in the Papal army and got his title from Rome, the two Sullivans were literary men and poets, Sir George was an Englishman and not a Catholic at that time; neither was Isaac Butt although he was a regular visitor to the Catholic Church in London said his beads and always had masses said when he had an important measure in Parliament. I am not sure if he died an open member of the Church. The speaking was varied-- all good, but to my mind the best speech was delivered by Father Martin Dunne, a curate from the parish Culart in the Diocese of Ferns.

          Another event we attended was the celebration of the Centenary of the birth of Daniel O’Connell in Dublin, August 6, 1875. We were rusticating at the seabeach of Ballyconiger, and drove to Corey on the previous day to get the train to Dublin. The religious celebration was on the 5th and the civic on the 6th, which fell on a Friday. A dispensation from the abstinence within the city had been granted for the day, for it was thought impossible to provide other food for the million people who were there. I remember how the housekeeper of the house where we lodged objected preparing a meat breakfast for us. She had plenty of eggs and refused to prepare the beef steak until our host assured her that the Pope permitted it and the priests must do as the Pope said. We got it and plenty of eggs, too.

          The civic celebration was grand; the officials rode in state carriages and the clergy was prominent. Cardinal Cullen of Dublin and Archbishop McHale of Tuam rode in the same carriage although it was well known they did not agree altogether in political matters. Only one flaw was noticed in the procession by some, and that was a float decorated with chains and dedicated [to] the “physical force men” prominent among whom was John O’Conner-Power, whose acquaintance I had made a year previously at Maryborough where he made a very telling but moderate speech. It was said that soon after this display he quite Ireland and Irish politics through the influence of English gold. Michael Davitt was connected with it also. I had not made the acquaintance of Davitt at that time, but met him later, and at his request I presided over a meeting of Irish Patriots at which he and I were the only speakers, and he

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