Fr Cadogan's Diamond Jubilee Commemoration
From Oileán Chléire
The celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of the
Ordination of Father Dan Cadogan
Ordained at St Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny
on Pentecost Sunday, 9th June 1946
Thanksgiving Mass at St Mary’s, Euxton
on 16th June 2006
The inside story of Fr Dan’s journey from
Oileán Chléire (Cape Clear Island) to Euxton
The Cadogan family have a seafaring background, and a long historic connection with Cape Clear Island. History records that, following the destruction of the Timoleague Friary in 1642, the sole surviving escaping friar was rescued from the high seas by Cape Clear fishermen and nursed back to health in the Cadogan household. He carried with him a box that he charged the Cadogan family to keep unopened, awaiting his return. The box, its contents unknown, was kept safe in an alcove above the fireplace in the Cadogan household for over 200 years until it was opened in 1851 by the then Parish Priest – revealing vestments (which crumbled) and the Timoleague Chalice (in perfect condition). The Chalice was subsequently returned to the Timoleague parish and has stayed there since, excepting very rare occasions such as that of Fr Dan’s Golden Jubilee when he was granted permission to take the Timoleague treasure back to Cape Clear to celebrate an open-air Mass – an exceptional distinction being given to a member of the family known as “the Cadogan’s of the Chalice”.
Father Dan Cadogan hails from Cape Clear Island, Co Cork. He was born in Cork City on 10th July 1922, the son of Dan and Catherine Cadogan and was baptised at St Finbarr South, Cork on 12th July 1922 before returning to the family home on Cape Clear Island. Fr Dan’s mother was a teacher, his father was a master mariner and his grandfather (also named Dan) was an Ocean Pilot, who probably established the Cadogan connection with Liverpool in the 19th century by piloting the big transatlantic sailing ships from the open seas up to the Mersey and into port! Fr Dan is one of four children, his brother Patrick and his sisters Maura and Breeda have sadly passed away.
Fr Dan had a very happy early childhood on Cape Clear Island, and it can easily be imagined what freedom and excitement was experienced by a young boy in that environment – an island six miles off-shore in the Western Approaches, close to the Fastnet Rock. The Island had a primary school only and following his attendance there he spent five very happy and fruitful years as a boarder at St Colman’s College, Fermoy and six years preparing for the Priesthood at St Kieran’s Seminary, Kilkenny. At that time there were 6 seminaries in Ireland preparing Priests for the English-speaking world along with 2 for the African mission and 1 for China – producing in excess of 200 priests per year! It was against this background that Fr Dan prepared for the Priesthood. Fr Dan secured the adoption required of a candidate for Holy Orders at the end of his fourth year of preparation. His assignment in the Lord’s Vineyard was to be the Archdiocese of Liverpool and he was duly ordained “a priest forever” along with 16 other young men on Pentecost Sunday, June 9th 1946 in St Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny. As the hymn says:
“Thine was the task they took in hand
Thine their good news for every land
They went O Master far and wide”:
four to Australia, one to Mexico, one to the USA, one to South Africa and the remainder to Great Britain. At Pentecost 2006, eleven of them “have gone home bearing their sheaves”. Three of the seventeen came to Liverpool and along with two others ordained in Waterford, they joined the fourteen raised to priesthood on the home front.
In a situation which is a far cry from today’s experience, the Archdiocesan Directory for 1946 listed 513 diocesan clergy, 36 of whom were serving as Chaplains to H.M. Forces and were returning to Parish duty after demobilisation. Consequently there was “no room at the inn” for Fr Dan and the other four priests from Ireland and they were instructed to find a two-year temporary mission for themselves. This was a task that they had to undertake for themselves and it seems hard to credit today that Fr Dan spent the summer seeking a Diocesan placement, making enquiries to Cardiff, Edinburgh, Southwark, Clifton, Rochester and Argyll & the Isles (Fr Dan is a fluent Gaelic-speaker!). It was September and Fr Dan was at home at Cape Clear Island before he received the call to arms! Fr Dan and the other four Irish priests were captured in one fell swoop by Bishop William Lee of Clifton in the West Country who was in the midst of a major expansion programme involving the creation of 40 new Parishes.
So, Fr Dan’s priestly ministry commenced in September 1946 in the rolling Downs and Cotswolds, and has seen him minister to the faithful of nine Parishes over 52 years of “active service”:
Sacred Heart, Tisbury 1946 – 1948
Holy Rood, Swindon 1948 – 1949
St Sylvester’s, Scotland Road, Liverpool 1949 - 1954
St Thomas of Canterbury, Windleshaw, St Helens 1954 – 1958
St Francis de Sales, Walton 1958 – 1966
St Joseph’s / St Jude’s, Wigan 1966 – 1969
St Aidan’s, Winstanley 1969 – 1972
St Stephen’s, Orford, Warrington 1972 – 1977
St Mary’s, Euxton 1977 – 1997
Following his first three years in the green and pleasant land of Clifton Diocese, Fr Dan was recalled to Liverpool on Armistice Day 1949 and arrived at Lime Street station in a “pea-souper” fog and he couldn’t see a lot of his new Parish of St Sylvester’s – but he couldn’t miss the industrial smells, which in the cold light of the following day turned out to be Tate & Lyle’s refinery and an animal-skin curing plant - it must have been quite a change from Clifton! Fr Dan was one of three Curates at St Sylvester’s and his duties evoke memories of a different age, involving Outdoor Collections around homes on Friday evening and around the local pubs on Saturday evening – Fr Dan accompanied the Parish Priest (Mgr James Barrow) on the Saturday collections and his particular responsibility was to know all the details of the afternoon’s Liverpool and Everton matches to ensure that the locals received the appropriate sympathy or encouragement! This interest in soccer didn’t come easily to a young man whose sporting prowess was largely confined to Gaelic Football and Hurling, but he was a quick learner! He was also Chaplain to the parish’s Catholic Young Men’s Society and Youth Club. As Chaplain (and whatever else!) he had the great joy of seeing the Under-18 team compete in two cup finals on the same day in 1952, one at Goodison Park in the afternoon, which they won, and the second in the evening at Anfield Stadium which they drew. The latter final was for the prestigious L.B.A. Trophy. It was very gratifying for Fr Dan to return to the Parish recently to preside at a Requiem Mass, and despite the sadness of the occasion, to see so many of the young boys he used to work with – now grandfathers and still keeping the Faith 50 years on! Fr Dan worked tirelessly during his four years at St Sylvester’s and forged great bonds with the Parishioners, to the extent that they have “insisted” on Fr Dan celebrating his Diamond Jubilee with them over 50 years after he left the Parish!
Now to a bit more meandering on the ebb and flow of the Jubilarian’s life.
From St Sylvester’s Fr Dan moved on from the inner city to the slightly leafier lanes of Windleshaw at St Thomas of Canterbury. He kept in contact with the St Sylvester curates, particularly at their weekly round of golf (a game that Fr Dan picked up in Clifton Diocese), and they were most impressed with the apparent generosity of the Windleshaw parishioners when Fr Dan turned up for the game one week in a shiny Morris Oxford at a time when curates travelled everywhere on the bus – unfortunately the car belonged to the Parish Priest who had loaned it to Fr Dan, but they were impressed nonetheless that he had managed to borrow it!
Fr Dan took on the challenge of a green-field situation at St Aidan’s, Winstanley in setting-up a new Parish from scratch – it was late-1969 and Winstanley was a rapidly-growing area, but there was no church, no school and no social centre. Fr Dan met this enormous challenge head-on and set about the task, first carrying out a “census” to establish the size of the catholic community in the area. He concentrated at first on the primary school, there being no primary school of any sort in the area, holding a hectic series of home meetings with his prospective new parishioners (meeting 150 families in a 2-week period) to explain the plans for the new school – at one of these, where he was talking to a group of ladies, the meeting was interrupted by a non-Catholic lady who was surprised at the gathering and asked what was going on. Fr Dan informed her that he was conducting a séance, at which point she announced that she would like to make contact with the other side and joined the circle. It’s not known if she was converted, but the primary school, church and social centre were all built during Fr Dan’s time at the helm.
From St Aidan’s, Fr Dan was asked to go to St Stephen’s in Orford to continue the work of building a new parish started by another parish priest, and the road from Orford led to Euxton!
Fr Dan spent the longest stint of his active priesthood at St Mary’s, Euxton, and it would be impractical to recount his time here in any level of detail – suffice to say that, in his 20 years at St Mary’s, he provided tremendous spiritual leadership and inspiration; he worked tirelessly in the Pastoral life of the Parish; he planned and oversaw the first major re-ordering of the Church since its construction in 1865; and he conducted 470 Baptisms, 167 Marriages and 296 Burial services – playing a key role in the lives of a great many Euxton folk!
On his retirement from active Parish life, Fr Dan moved to live at St Joseph’s, Upholland and is now Chaplain to the Religious Community at Ince Blundell Hall and he has remained in active Priesthood throughout his “retirement”.
Throughout his life Fr Dan has kept Cape Clear and its people close to his heart and has returned there many times – to visit friends and relatives, to celebrate major milestones in his priestly life (such as his Golden Jubilee), to officiate at religious ceremonies, and to provide blessings and support for significant events on the Island. His strong feelings of love and affection for his homeland and its people have not been dimmed by the passage of time!
Fr Dan’s ministry has taken him to most corners of the Archdiocese, from inner-city Liverpool to the leafy lanes of Euxton; from long-established to newly-created Parishes (and the challenges of each!); and throughout he has ministered faithfully and modestly to his flock and has won friendship, respect and love from parishioners everywhere. At his Golden Jubilee Fr Dan stated that he done nothing very much to write home about, and that he had just been plodding away trying “to bring men to God and God to men” – many people will believe that he has done much more than that!
DOMHNALL Ó CÉADAGÁIN
Faoi shuaimhneas go maire tú agus tu ag siúl bealach Ciarán Naofa.
And, finally………. a message from Cape Clear Island
On behalf of Cape Clear Island Museum and Archive, Cape Clear, County Cork, I extend our heartfelt congratulations to Fr. Donal Cadogan on the occasion of his Diamond Jubilee. We are indebted to Fr. Donal and his beloved late sister Breeda for the enthusiastic encouragement and support they gave to our island museum from its beginnings nearly thirty years ago.
Fr. Cadogan is a great carrier of the Irish language, lore and traditions of the small island where he was born. Both he and Breeda shared their knowledge of the history and genealogy of their place with a new generation. They both, long ago, realized the importance of handing on what had been handed down to them. They did more in that they, in their time, enriched that that had been passed to them and the island community of today is all the richer for their having done so. They have touched the lives of many in so many different ways.
Fr. Donal Cadogan, the 'pilgrim islander' like fellow islander St. Ciarán born on Cape Clear in 352 AD ministered away from their native home out in the Atlantic. Like Ciarán, who left the island to minister throughout the south of Ireland before Patrick came to Ireland in 432 AD, Fr. Donal was to spend his life as a priest serving people in Britain. Ciarán had spread Christianity in Ireland, France and Cornwall where he is known to this day as St. Piran. The name of St Ciarán is honoured and respected in Cape Clear, as is that of Fr. Donal who has been a 'faithful servant' and Christian example in his ministry of sixty years. The Cape Clear island community and his legion of friends respect him and are proud of him.
We are delighted to be associated with Fr. Donal Cadogan and celebrate his Diamond Jubilee with him
God grant him many more years in his ministry.
I ndoirn Dé go raibh tú a Athair Dónal.
Dr. Éamon Lankford
Director Cape Clear Museum & Archive