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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Fr. John Dempsey. 1904-1940

Tullow, Co. Carlow

Born 9 April 1904 in Ballygalduff, Tobinstown, Tullow, Co. Carlow, Jack was educated by the Christian Brothers and at Blackrock College where he came in 1921 for his final year. He went to the Novitiate in Kimmage, 1922, and after his profession he prefected for three years at Blackrock, 1923-26.

What was written about him during those years can be applied to the rest of his life: "Straightforward, thoroughly decent and disinterested with his confreres and with the boys, he was level-headed, efficient and very popular - always reliable and ever ready to give his time and labour". He proved a very useful member of the Blackrock Club XV. He went on to do his philosophy at the Castle, sitting in class with some who had been his students. After a year's theology in the Castle he was sent to Rome. For most of his time he was the only Irish representative at the French Seminary where he was dubbed by his French companions 'Le Boxer' because of his name-sake of world boxing fame.

He was asked to do his thesis for the doctorate on Pelagius' commentary on St Paul' - a work but recently discovered. On completing his studies at the Gregorian University in 1934 Fr Jack was appointed Director of Philosophers in the Castle, a post he retained when the senior scholastics all moved to Kimmage in 1938. He was also entrusted with the duties of bursar for the Senior Scholasticate in 1938 thereby joining that galaxy of doctors of theology who were called on in the Congregation to turn their talents to more earthy matters. In 1939 Fr Jack was relieved of his duties as director of philosophers and was appointed a member of the Provincial Council. Came Christmas 1939 he deputized for another confrère to give the end of year retreat to the St Louis Sisters in Bundoran.

He stayed on an extra day at the request of the local branch of the Legion of Mary and preached a one day retreat to its members 1st January. It was with great shock all round that it was learned that he died in his sleep in the early hours of 2 January 1940. Fr Jack was aged 34. It was recalled that he had preached a very striking conference to the Sisters on death, referring to the incidence of sudden deaths in the recent months. The only sign of illness was that he had remarked that he felt uncommonly cold that day. He was buried in Dean’s Grange. BCA 1942, 54; IPNl Vol. II., No.2., April 1940.


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