Thomas William Croke [Archbishop]

Life
1824-1902; b. Ballyclough, co Cork; ed. Charleville, Paris and Rome; ord. 1846; fought at barricades in Paris 1848, acc. his friend William O’Brien; President St Colman’s College, Fermoy, 1858; P.P. Doneraile, 1865; Theologian to bishop of Cloyne at 1st Vatican Council, 1870; friend of Cardinal manning; Bishop of Auckland, 1870; Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, 1875; supported Land League, 1879; accept nomination as official patron of the GAA (hence Croke Park); strong supporter of temperance, and Gaelic League; backed Land League and Parnell, devising formula to permit continuation of Plan of Campaign after its condemnation by the Vatican; condemned No Rent Manifesto (18 Oct. 1881) as incitement to agrarian violence, but supported alternative No Tax Manifesto that followed from his letter of 17 Feb. 1887 in Freeman’s Journal [see infra]; prosecuted for incitement on the head of it; the charges dropped on advice of Cardinal Manning; chastised by Vatican at instance of British Government; letter of exculpation in Freeman’s Journal [also infra]; became a major critic of Parnell’s leadership after the divorce case, he withdrew from politics afterwards; denounced as ‘aggressive busybody’ Arthur Hugh Smith-Barry, landlord and agent for landlord syndicate during Plan of Campaign, 1889; close association with Sir Charles Gavan Duffy; first patron of GAA; d. Cashell, 22 July; Dr. O’Harte in William O’Brien’s When we Were Boys (1890) is alleged to be a portrait. DIB DIH

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Quotations
(GAA acceptance speech): ‘We have got such foreign and fantastic field sports as lawn tennis, polo, croquet, cricket and the liek, very excellent, I believe, and healthgiving in their way, still not racy of the soil but rather alien to the country to it, as indeed, are for the most part, the men and women who firest imparted and still continue to patronise them’ (Quoted in David Green, ‘Michael Cusack’, in C. C. O’Brien, ed., The Making of Modern Ireland, 1960, pp.79-80.)

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Criticism
Tim Carey, Croke Park: A History (Cork: Collins Press 2004). See also Cairns & Richards, Writing Ireland, 1986], quoting Archbishop Croke [letter to]The Nation (27 Dec 1884).

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References
D. J. Doherty & J. E. Hickey, A Chronology of Irish History Since 1500 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1989), quote a letter to Freeman’s Journal (17 Feb. 1887): ‘We pay taxes to a government that uses them not for the public good and in accordance with the declared wishes of the tax-payers, but in direct and deliberate opposition to them ... Our money goes to the purchase of bludgeons for police to be used in smashing the skulls of our people. The policeman is pampered and paid; the patriot is persecuted. Our enforced taxes go to sustain the one - we must further freely tax ourselves to defend the other. How long, I ask, is this to be tolerated?’ In a letter of exculpation following Vatican censure, he wrote, ‘It never entered my head to recommend a general uprising against the payment of taxes ... I trust to constitutional agitation alone for the restoration of our national rights.’ Further quotes (under Tenant League), Croke’s ‘tenant-right pledge’, printed in a letter in The Nation (25 May 1850), ‘We promise God, our country and each other, never to bid for any farm of land from which any industrious farmer in this district has been ejected.’

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Notes
Boycott!: Archbishop Croke was a supporter of the boycott system while Edward Thomas O’Dwyer of Limerick was labelled a ‘Castle bishop’; O’Dwyer published throughout his parish a papal letter condemning the Plan of Campaign and refused to sign a letter from the hierarchy explaining to the Vatican the complexity of the matter (‘See what the little cur had done’ - Croke to Walsh.)

Sr Joseph Croke, A sister of the future archbishop of Cashel, was one of 15 nuns from Ireland and Britain who volunteered to nurse the sick and wounded in the Crimea; along with three other Irish Sisters of Mercy, her diaries have been edited by Maria Luddy as The Crimean Diaries of Sisters of Mercy, 1854-56 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2004). The leader of the Irish contingent, Francis Bridgeman [Frances; or Sr. Francis?], was unprepared to accept the authority of Florence Nightingale. (See review, The Irish Times, 26 Feb. 2005.)

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