Monday 26 January 2015

Hero priest 'helped save over 6,500 lives in WW II'

Published 13/08/2014 | 02:30

The Hon. Hugh O'Flaherty, former judge at the Supreme Court and Eithne Hand, former RTE broadcaster, at the Parnell Summer School 2014 in Co. Wicklow. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 12/8/2014
Former Supreme Court judge Hugh O'Flaherty and Eithne Hand, former RTE broadcaster, at the Parnell Summer School 2014 in Co Wicklow. Photo: Damien Eagers
John Bruton at Parnell Summer School

A RETIRED Supreme Court Judge has told in gripping detail how his heroic uncle helped save thousands of lives during World War II.

The story of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, who grew up in Co Kerry, was recounted yesterday by his nephew and namesake at the Parnell Summer School in Avondale, Co Wicklow.

Mr Justice Hugh O'Flaherty spoke poignantly about how his relative helped organise an underground escape route in Rome which helped saves the lives of over 6,500people, who belonged to 25 different nationalities.

According to the retired judge, his uncle's success stemmed from his courage and wit. "He had more compassion than anyone I've ever known," he said.

Mr Justice O'Flaherty was speaking during a lecture at the annual Parnell Summer School in Avondale, Co Wicklow, entitled: 'Personalities In War'.

Over 100 participants heard how Msgr O'Flaherty organised a major operation which helped thousands of Prisoners of War (POW) escape from Nazi-occupied Rome. "At one time, he helped escape prisoners disguised as nuns and monks, bus drivers and garbage collectors hiding in some 60 apartments all over Rome," Mr O'Flaherty said.

Msgr O'Flaherty's home town of Killarney honoured him last year on the 50th anniversary of his death.

The seminar was chaired by former RTE broadcaster Eithne Hand.

Irish Independent

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