Tuesday 25 July 2017

Bing Crosby appealed for Dublin nurses for his US hospital

Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

A letter from Bing Crosby to Archbishop John Charles McQuaid appealing for nurses for his new US hospital is just one of the fascinating artefacts that will be on exhibition at the Archdiocese of Dublin as part of this year’s Culture Night

The American singer and actor won an Oscar for his performance as Father Chuck O’Malley in 1944 but he was also a practising Catholic and active care-giver in real life.

One of his projects involved the building of a hospital in Sacremento, California but his “efforts to find someone to staff the hospital have been futile”, he wrote. 

In the letter sent in 1961, he asked the Archbishop about the “possibility of getting some Sisters from Ireland to come and operate the hospital.”

The document will be on display along with many other historical items as part of the annual Culture Night, Dublin Diocesan Archivist Noelle Dowling told Independent.ie.

It is the first time that the Clonliffe-based seminary is participating in Culture Night celebrations, with rooms at the Holy Cross College hosting a presentation of 20th Century religious art and related manuscripts.

One of the letters of correspondence from Bing Crosby. Photo: Steve Humphreys
One of the letters of correspondence from Bing Crosby. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Another manuscript on display at the Dublin Diocese – which is one of the largest archives in the country - is a parchment issued by the then Archbishop of Dublin, Hugh Curwen, in 1558.

“Archbishop Curwen had expressed his approval of the marriage of Henry VIII to Ann Boleyn and then later declared himself a Protestant,” said Ms Dowling.

Ms Dowling, who has been working with the Dublin diocesan archive for over eight years, has also done significant work in uncovering a large amount of documents chronicling the role of the Catholic Church in the 1913 Lockout dispute.

“Some of the work that was being carried out quietly to help those families and children in need at the time may not already be known,” she said, adding she hoped this exhibition will give the public a more balanced perspective.

One such document highlights the efforts of women during the strikes, their images likened to “pictures from the French Revolution”.  And while the Church’s part in the dock strike has always been somewhat controversial, a letter from Archbishop Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin at the time, indicates his intention to stop a Dublin woman from raising money to deport children of poor Dublin families to the UK.

Now in its eighth year, Culture Night aims to offer “a myriad of cultural possibilities” as more than 190 organisations across 34 towns and cities in Ireland take part to bring their hidden ‘treasures’ to the public.

Most participating venues taking part will be open 5pm-11pm and all events as part of Culture Night are free of charge.

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