Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Descendants of Edward Flanagan

A probate record for Edward Joseph Flanagan, a timber merchant of Moate, dated 4th January 1919. Administrator of his will was Patrick Flanagan.
Image from family archive of Stephen Harte
In October 2014 I received an email from Stephen Harte who is descended from Edward Flanagan, who was the brother of Patrick and Lawrence Flanagan.

Stephen wrote:

"Lawrence Flanagan was my grandmother’s uncle. She was Colette Tuohy (nee. Kennedy). Her mother was Mary Elizabeth Kennedy (nee Flanagan), the daughter of Edward Joseph Flanagan (Patricks Brother).

I met Fr. Flanagan one Christmas in my grandmother’s house in Inchicore I think it was around 1963, I would have been about seven years old. He was a very tall white haired man—you couldn’t but remember him once you met him.

I have tried to find Edward Flanagan (who was married to Annie Cody) in the 1901 and 1911 census but there don’t seem to be any records available. I know Edward Flanagan died on the 4th of January 1919, so he has to be on record somewhere. His children were Mary Elizabeth (my great grand mother), Patrick, Michael, Nellie (who married a man named Keane), Annie and Bertha (who married a Patrick Brown and moved to Alberta, Canada where she had a son Bernard who became a Carmelite brother in Los Angeles). "

Reverend Edward Stone—a Carmelite priest in New York

Lawrence Flanagan may not have been the only member of the family who became a Carmelite priest. In the next few pages we will examine evidence that a Reverend Patrick Flanagan was connected with Tubber church on the Clara Road not far from Moate. I have yet to prove that he was a direct relative, though he was clearly a different individual to the two men named Patrick Flanagan who were Lawrence’s father and brother, as both were married with children.

My mother-in-law, Catherine Dwyer, nee. Stone (aka Kitty) told me that one of her ancestors named Edward Stone was also a Carmelite priest and was also based in New York. I speculate that this could have been a brother of Kitty’s grandfather Daniel Stone (Edward born at Lurgan in 1857 to Timothy Stone and Elizabeth Cahill).

I have found this obituary from a New York paper of 1903 which reports the death of a priest named Edward Stone.

There is a note in Alfred Isacsson’s history The Carmelites, The Province of St Elias which refers to Rev. Edward Stone's funeral in March 1903:

‘ In March, 1903, Romaeus Edward Stone died of pneumonia. His service at the parish and Bellevue Hospital were known and admired. Archbishop Farley presided at the funeral Mass. Thirty-five priests were present as well as a large number of laity. Over one hundred carriages were required for the procession to Calvary Cemetery. ‘

Another record in The Carmelite Review of January 1894 provides the obituary of a priest named Thomas Feehan from Kilkenny who served at the Church of Our Lady of the Scapular of Mount Carmel in New York. The solemn Mass of requiem celebrated by Edward R Stone.

The American naturalization record of Edward Stone, clergyman, dated 2 August 1900, shows he first entered the USA on 10 September 1891.

Stained glass windows at Tubber church near Moate


Beautiful stained glass windows at Tubber church in Offaly donated to the church, it would seem, by two different men named Patrick Flanagan.
The windows shown here were donated by a Rev Patrick Flanagan. Unfortunately the bottom right section of the window is missing so we can't see the full dedication. But it was made by the studio of Mayer and company of Munich in 1904. It is called St Patrick and the King at Tara.

The windows on the next blog post were all donated by Patrick Flanagan, either the brother or father of Rev Lawrence Flanagan. At the base of both pairs of lancets it reads "Erected by Patrick Flanagan, Moate. In  memory of his deceased wife and children. Pray for them RIP".


Stained glass windows donated to Tubber Church by Patrick Flanagan of Moate


The pair of windows below (and detail above) are called St Columba and his monks sail for Iona and were made by the studio of Mayer and Company in Munich.


The lancets below are called St Kieran and I believe the images at the foot of the lancets depict images from local history and legend such as the tall tower and ancient Celtic cross of Clonmacnoise and also the magic cow of St Manchan.

Going to New York

Just a year after his ordination as a Carmelite priest in 1907, Father Lawrence Flanagan went to New York.

On an application for a lost passport that he made in 1923, Father Lawrence stated that he sailed to New York from Southampton in September 1908 and had resided there continuously for 14 years, becoming a naturalized American citizen in 1917.

On his 1923 passport application he said that he was intending to visit his father in Ireland for 6 months.

The Carmelite history refers to Father Flanagan’s work as a priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown:

Lawrence D. Flanagan was stationed at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown and its mission parishes until he came to the Manhattan parish in 1924. He was a tall man of serious mien whose role among the Irish was that of a trusted advisor. Besides his birth in Westmeath, Ireland, his connection to the Irish Freedom movement was rooted in his long and close friendship with Eamon De Valera, his fellow student at Dublin’s Blackrock College.     

The work of Reverend Lawrence Flanagan in New York

The online history paper The Carmelites The Province of St Elias By: Alfred Isacsson, O.Carm. provides a very detailed narrative about the character of Lawrence Flanagan and his work and influence in the Carmelite community in New York:   

Lawrence Dionysius Flanagan, Commissary General for 1926-31 and then provincial for the period 1931-43, was a large influence among the New York Carmelites. He was ordained in 1907 and came to New York the following year to Our Lady of the Scapular. Up to 1926, he had been stationed in each house of the New York Carmelites.

His height gave him an imposing presence and his strict religious observance placed fear in some hearts. He included many religious sisters among his friends. He corresponded with them, was present at important ceremonies of their lives and counselled them in times of trial. Especially is this true of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm though he was very reticent and humble about his assistance to them.

Charles Francis Ronayne, Doctor of Theology, who was a consultor to a Roman congregation and former assistant general, came to the United States from Rome in 1927. Magennis had invited Flanagan to accompany him to the 1928 Eucharistic Congress in Australia and he agreed. Flanagan appointed Ronayne his vicar while he was away. The ship had hardly left the harbour when Ronayne assumed complete control.

There was a rumour that was substantiated in time that Magennis took Flanagan with him to leave him in Australia as the superior and then have Ronayne in charge in New York. Word of this got to Flanagan in Australia and it was said he took the first ship home. Lawrence  Flanagan returned to find himself accused of mismanagement of funds but he was saved by an alert housekeeper at Saint Simon Stock who preserved material Ronayne told her to destroy. He also found a surprise in Manhattan. A new priory with an elevator had been built at Our Lady of the Scapular.

Flanagan cleared himself and Ronayne left the order and priesthood. He later returned and was at Saint Albert’s until his death in 1950.


The relationship between Flanagan and de Valera

Eamon de Valera in Indian head dress in America, October 1919
The following short excerpts both written by Carmelite priests, provide a summary of the key points about the lifelong relationship between de Valera and the Carmelite order, but in particular between de Valera and Lawrence Flanagan and the Carmelites of New York:

Dionysius Flanagan or Father Larry, after his baptismal name, was perhaps the closest of all the Carmelites to the Irish cause and its leaders. In regard to chronicled events, there is very little that can be mentioned under his name. O'Farrell and O'Connor died young and Magennis was not often in the United States after 1919 and so Flanagan remained the only one of that group left in this country. From 1922-24, he was in Middletown but returned to 28th Street in 1924 when O'Connor died and then became involved in the cause. He was in a position of authority much of his life and so was the one welcoming visitors and speaking on important occasions. Dionysius Flanagan was not a leader in the Irish movement. He was a wise, trusted and important advisor. He was a confidant of Eamon De Valera, his school companion at Blackrock, and their affection endured until Flanagan's death in 1966.

Carmel in New York, The Province of St. Elias, 1906 – 1926 / Alfred Isacsson, O.Carm.

The second excerpt is from an article by Father Fr. Kevin O’Neill Shanley in the Irish American News:

According to Fr. Joseph (Linus) Ryan of the Irish Carmelite Province, De Valera’s friendship with the Carmelite Order came about as a result of a schoolboy friendship at Blackrock College in Dublin with Fr. Lawrence (Dionysius) Flanagan, O.Carm.

After de Valera had escaped from Lincoln Jail in England in 1919, he made his way to Our Lady of the Scapular Priory on E. 28th Street in New York City. Here Fr. Flanagan, who was ordained a Carmelite and had become part of the New York Irish Province, and the other Carmelites hid De Valera in the priory while an international police force searched for him in vain.

De Valera, a daily communicant, never forgot the kindness of the Carmelites to him. And when Fr. Flanagan returned to Ireland for a vacation after a long period in the U.S. De Valera placed a government car and driver at his disposal.

On the Carmelite side, according to Fr. Ryan, it was the most Rev. Kilian Lynch, O.Carm., then prior general of the Order (l947-59) who admitted de Valera to full membership in the Carmelites on the occasion of a visit of de Valera to Rome. “I can personally testify that he wrote to me during my time as provincial and asked that after his death he would be laid out and buried in the Habit of the Carmelite Order (Calced),” wrote Fr. Ryan.

“In that letter he mentioned that he had already made Fr. Donald Maria O’Callaghan (former provincial of the St. Elias Province, New York) aware of this request.”

At the death of President Eamon de Valera in May of l975, his request was fully carried out and he was laid out and buried in the full Carmelite habit and white cloak. According to Fr. Ryan, there are photographs in the Archives of the Irish Province showing President de Valera lying in state at Dublin Castle in his Carmelite habit.

In the summer of 1972, my mother (Mary O’Neill Shanley) and this writer had an audience at the Presidential House in Phoenix Park (Arus an Uachtarain) in Dublin. He was delighted to know that one of his old comrades, my father (Michael J. Shanley) had a son who was a Carmelite priest. His devotion to the Carmelites, especially through the Scapular and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, was still very much in evidence.

Tinker’s Dam by Fr. Kevin O’Neill Shanley / Irish American News / May 2006 edition


Book presented to Lawrence Flanagan in 1894

A book presented to Lawrence Flanagan as a prize for his studies in  Latin in the midsummer examinations at Blackrock College in 1898.
Addison’s Essays from The Spectator, 1894