Canon Francis Gleeson May 1884 - June 1959

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, May 9, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Chaplain to the 2nd battalion Munster Fusiliers.

    Francis Gleeson was born on 28th May, 1884, in Templemore, Co. Tipperary. He was one of thirteen children. He was educated for the priesthood at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, Dublin, and St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, where he was ordained in 1910.

    Father Gleeson was appointed Chaplain to St. Mary’s Home for the Blind on 27th March 1912. On, or shortly after, the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, he volunteered to serve as a military chaplain. In November of that year, Gleeson was appointed by the War Office to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, then already in action in France. His contract with the War Office was for one year and when it expired in November 1915 he returned to Ireland.

    After a period of convalescence, he served, from 16th December 1915, as a curate in the newly opened Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Gloucester Street, Dublin. He re-joined the 2nd Munsters in France in May 1917 but was posted away from the ‘Dirty Shirts’ in February 1918. He completed his second two-year stint as a military chaplain with the British Army in May 1919.

    He returned to Dublin serving for a year in Gloucester Street before being appointed as a Curate in St. Michael’s Parish, Dun Laoghaire on 13th July, 1920. On account of his previous experience in the First World War, Father Gleeson was appointed as a Command Chaplain with the Dublin Army Command of the National Army of the Irish Free State on 12th February, 1923. He was appointed as a Curate in Bray Parish on 18th May, 1924, Parish Priest of Aughrim Parish on 20th January, 1941. Finally, he was appointed Parish Priest of St. Catherine’s, Meath Street, Dublin, on 30th August, 1944. He was elected to be a member of the Metropolitan Chapter with the title of Canon on 7th May, 1956 and he died on the 26th June, 1959.

    Information source - RC Diocese Dublin.

    This is a very sterile biography of our dear Father Gleeson from Castlelough in County Tipperary (at least that is where he is buried) this is about 2 miles across Lough Derg on the river Shannon - Father Gleesons story is a sad one. He was much loved by the men of the Munsters for his bravery in administering the sacrements to fallen on the field. Upon his return to Ireland after the war the Bishop of Cork treated him very harshly for his association with the British army and would send him to the most difficult parishes in Cork and Kerry. It is well known in Ireland that the bishop blackened his name - not only with his superiors but also with his congregations.

    Here was a chaplain who served long with a predominantly Catholic infantry battalion - who became emotionally involved with its welfare. When that battalion sustained repeated heavy casualties, the mental anguish of this chaplain was very great. He was, after all, closer to the dying and the dead than any other person in the unit, the medical officer being spared the burial. After the battle of Loos, where the 2nd Munsters were again annihilated, Fr. Gleeson wrote to the senior chaplain (RC) asking to be relieved -

    Mgr. Keatinge relieved Father Gleeson with another chaplain, Fr. O' Flynn, until Fr. Gleeson overcame his grief and was able to 'soldier on' with the battalion, as he did until 1918."

    Father Gleeson kept a diary ... which goes on exhibition every now and again ...


    Attached Files:

  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Heres a snippet ........

    Before he wrote I, Claudius, Robert Graves (1895-1985) served on the Western Front during World War I. His 1929 autbiography Goodbye to All That (1929) is still considered one of the best war memoirs ever written. In the book Graves describes himself as an Anglican raised with “a horror of Roman Catholicism,” but he had some good things to say about the Catholic priests he met during the war .....

  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    What Mother wouldn't treasure a letter like this ?? .......

    In Memory of
    Private C BARRY
    D C M
    10142, 2nd Bn., Royal Munster Fusiliers
    who died
    on 09 May 1915
    Son of Mrs. Mary Barry, of 7, Railway Place, Cork.

    Remembered with honour

    Cork Examiner 9/6/1915


    Rev. Father Francis A. Gleeson, chaplain to the Munsters at the front, writes as follows to Mrs. Barry, 89 Douglas Street, Cork, mother of Private Christy Barry, 2nd Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers, who was killed in action on May 9th ......

    ‘2nd June, 1915 – Dear Mrs. Barry - By this time you will have heard of the death of your heroic boy in the attack of Sunday, 9th May, 1915. The greatest consolation I can offer you is to tell you that your son was well prepared for death, as the battalion received Holy Communion the Sunday before the battle and were given absolution a few hours before the terrible ordeal. You need have no worry regarding your son’s soul, for he was careful and zealous about it, and was one of the best boys in the battalion. I knew him quite well, and to know him was to love him, for he was one of the most cheerful and good-natured young fellows I have met. I buried his body in a little cemetery beside the trenches, and several comrades lie beside him. A little cross marks his grave. He has made an immortal name for the gallantry and unselfishness with which he rescued the body of Captain Hawkes. He had not the faintest idea of what fear was. There could not be greater heroism displayed than that shown by your son.
    You may well feel proud of being the mother of such a son. He has, by his thrilling acts of bravery, imprinted his name on all our hearts, and no honour, no matter how high, could be at all adequate to mark the greatness of his action. Out of a battalion of cheerful and daring heroes, Barry stands out supreme and admired of all, and his glorious death has inspired it. He was shot three times during his rescue of Captain Hawkes - still, in spite of loss of blood and a tornado of bullets and shells, he held on to his task till he got the captain in safety over the parapets. Having done this, he fell down exhausted and mortally wounded, into the British lines, where he died a saintly and easy death a few hours afterwards.
    You will not grudge the good God such a good boy, and will be compensated for his death by the greatness and glory which marked it. On his pure and saintly soul may Jesus have mercy.
    Yours sincerely, Francis A. Gleeson, Chaplain, Munsters

Share This Page