Tuesday, 2 December 2014

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


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