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Thursday 14 December 2017

Bing's letter to McQuaid among cultural exhibits

Dublin diocesan archivist Noelle Dowling at Holy Cross College with one of the letters from Bing Crosby to Archbishop McQuaid
Dublin diocesan archivist Noelle Dowling at Holy Cross College with one of the letters from Bing Crosby to Archbishop McQuaid
A letter from then Archbishop of Dublin Hugh Curwen about Henry VIII and his marriage in 1533 to Anne Boleyn

Sarah MacDonald

BING Crosby wrote to Archbishop John Charles McQuaid in October 1961 seeking his help in finding Irish staff for a hospital he was setting up in California.

Some of the Dublin archdiocese's rarest and quirkiest documents are to be dusted off and publicly displayed for the first time as part of an exhibition of archival material to tie in with Friday's Culture Night.

The exhibition will also show correspondence concerning the visit of Princess Grace of Monaco to Crumlin Hospital in June 1961.

Dublin diocesan archivist Noelle Dowling said a comment written by Archbishop McQuaid on one document is an example of his sarcastic sense of humour.

In response to questions over the protocols for the former Grace Kelly's arrival at the hospital, and who was going to attend, the Archbishop scrawled: "Just let me in."

Ms Dowling said: "We fall around the place laughing at what he says to people or about people.

"He was pernickety about spellings or being misquoted or the correct form of address."

The oldest document in the exhibition, at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, between 6pm and 9.30pm on Friday, is a parchment dating from 1558.


It was issued by Hugh Curwen, an English cleric who was then Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and who had earlier expressed his approval of the marriage of Henry VIII to his second wife, Ann Boleyn, in 1533.

It relates to his grant of land around Dunlavin to William Sarsfield, a local to that area or a favourite of Curwen's at the time of the plantation.

To mark the centenary of the 1913 Lockout, a large part of the exhibition includes documents chronicling the role of the Catholic Church in the dispute.

"In the letters we selected we have tried to give a feel of the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the church's involvement," said Ms Dowling.

"Some of the priests were very anti-Larkin.

"Archbishop William Walsh's secretary, Mgr Michael Curran, provides very descriptive material regarding the events of the day. In one letter, he describes the women and girls around Brunswick Street who clashed with police as 'barbarian maniacs'."

It is hoped the exhibition will become an annual event.

Ms Dowling said there was plenty more material in the archives, including a papal bull dating from 1555 granting the see of Dublin to Archbishop Hugh Curwen and a charter for the Guild of Sythe dating from the early 1500s.

Irish Independent

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