Patrick McSwiney, Pres. Irish College, Paris

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Patrick McSwiney, Pres. Irish College, Paris

Birthplace: Cork, Cork, County Cork, Ireland
Death: Died in Cork, Cork, Ireland
Place of Burial: Whitechurch, Cork, Whitechurch Cemetery, Ireland
Immediate Family:

Son of Patrick McSwiney and Ellen McSwiney
Brother of Daniel McSwiney, R.C. Priest, Scholar; Roger McSwiney; John McSwiney; O'Callaghan J. McSweeny; Denis Lane McSwiney and 2 others

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About Patrick McSwiney, Pres. Irish College, Paris

April 4 1791 Patrick McSwiney - son of Patrick and Ellen McSwiney - birth registry St. Marys and St Annes RC - North Parish Registry [ (Register 9, page 102, entry 4] - was born at the McSwiney family home at Ballyvolane House, north-east Cork.

(Ballyvolane House was also called "The College" as it was the building that Dr. Moylan had selected as his original seminary for Cork).

An ancient Ostman family, the Coppingers, owned Ballyvolane and leased it to the McSwineys, who owned nearby grain mills.

Patrick studied at the new Catholic seminary of Maynooth

[In the 1790s it was clearly a problem to find teaching and administrative staff in a country when there had never been a seminary. Fortunately there was a solution in the many émigré priests who had fled the French Revolution. Some were French, some Irish, the latter being strongly French in culture. In consequence, the College had a strong 'French' flavour at the beginning. - Source 'Maynooth' website]

Among Patrick's contemporaries were future dignatories of the Irish church - writers, scholars and controversialists - (Archbishop of Tasmania) Murphy, (Bishop) Denvir, MacHale, O'Keeffe, Michael Fitzgerald, Coll, Brennan. [Source: "The Late Archbishop Murphy", p. 645]

Through the friendship of the McSwineys with the Coppingers, it was arranged that the Bishop of Cloyne, Dr. William Coppinger, should ordain Patrick in 1813 after he had completed his seminarial studies.

1813 Ordination

Patrick became Professor at St. Mary's College, Maynooth.

After the closure of St. Mary's College at Maynooth Patrick moved to Carlow College.

1819 - 1824 Professor of Moral Theology, Carlow College (notable for educating many Catholic priests)

  • 1819, October - Dr. McSweeny was appointed Professor of Theology in succession to Dr. Doyle (upon the latter's advancement to the See of Kildare and Laighlin).
  • 1827 - took a prominent part in the memorable Biblical Discussion at Carlow College.
  • [In the year following the Evangelical missionaries wishing to renew the controversy of supporting the Biblical doctrines, Dr. Doyle had prohibited his priests from accepting their challenge. Dr. McSweeney actually resigned his position as Professor in order to be free to enter the lists, which he professed his readiness to do, single-handed, against the six (Protestants) who sent the challenge, or as many others as they might wish to add. He called them "non-commissioned apostles." The debate was chaired by Daniel O'Connell. Patrick's letter is contained with the "Collections relating to the dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin".] The six-day disputation led directly to his Paris promotion in 1928.

1828 Rector (President) of the Irish College, Paris, France for twenty-two years. [Source: Henchion, Richard. Biography of "Dr Patrick McSwiney : President of the Irish College, Paris" - Old Blarney, 4 (1999), 55-61. Person as subject: McSwiney, Patrick, 1790-1865]

McSweeney was a champion of the Church Belligerant, believing he had to forge priests tough and sharp, like himself, for the wider hostile world ahead of them.

To put his term of office into context (source: Wikipedia "Irish College in Paris"):

"After the French revolution, the Irish college in Paris was re-established by a decree of the first consul, and placed under the control of a board appointed by the French Government. To it were united the remnants of the property of the other Irish colleges in France which had escaped destruction. The college in Paris lost two-thirds of its endowments owing to the depreciation of French state funds, which had been reduced to one-third consolidated.

After the Bourbon Restoration, the French Government placed at the disposal of the British government three million and a half sterling, to indemnify British subjects in France for the losses they had sustained in the Revolution. In 1816 a claim for indemnity was presented on behalf of the Irish college. That claim was rejected by the privy council in 1825 on the grounds that the college was a French establishment.

In 1832 the claim was renewed by Dr. M'Sweeny, director of the college, with the same result."

References to Patricke in Paris are at: "Macnamara's Irish Colony and the United States Taking of California in 1846", page 36, by John Fox

The current-day Centre Culturel Irlandais (Irish College) in Paris has three major collections:

  • the Médiathèque, a resource centre on contemporary Ireland;
  • The Old Library of the Irish College, which contains more than 8000 books written or published between the 15th and 19th centuries; and
  • The Irish College Archives which features some 19,000 records of the College during its time as a seminary.

Extract from the book "Father Tom" by Peter McLoughlin: "Walked with Cousin Dan by the old McSweeny mansion* where Dr. Patrick McSweeny of Paris fame was born, and then away out on a country road where we could see the family graveyard (Whitechurch Cemetery) in the distance." (*The mansion was 'Ballyvolane'.)

Suffered from rheumatism and gout until he went to Vichy, France (Source: his nephew, Dean Denis McSwiney)

After his retirement as Rector of the Irish College in Paris (c. 1850 because of declining health, acc to Denis McSwiney, Dean of Cork), Patrick spent most of his time in Paris with occasional visits home. On one of those visits in 1865 he took ill and died.

1865 Death at McSwiney family home - Ballyvolane House, Cork.

The old R.C. Whitestone Cemetery McSwiney obelisk shows the date 14 August 1865.

In his will he bequeathed 2000 British Pounds to the Orphans in Cork, and 1000 British Pounds each to the North and South Presentation Convents and Presentation Convent in Bandon, for the charities under their care. [Source 'Bandon Parish Church ...old diary'....courtesy of Fr. Denis O'Leary, Parish Priest, Bandon in 2010]

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Patrick McSwiney, Pres. Irish College, Paris's Timeline

April 8, 1791
Cork, Cork, County Cork, Ireland
August 14, 1865
Age 74
Cork, Cork, Ireland
Whitechurch, Cork, Whitechurch Cemetery, Ireland