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How a Crucifix from the 1916 Rising came to Lucan!

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Patrick Canice Kenny was my father. He was the eldest of six children of Patrick Kenny and Mary Dunne, 62 Manor Street. They were Patrick, Thomas, Kevin, Philomena, May and Bernadette Kenny.

In the Capuchin Church St Mary of the Angels, Church Street he was an altar boy, chorister and from 1941 a member of the Third Order of St Francis, here he was known by his middle name Canice. This was probably to distinguish him from his father Patrick Kenny who was a regular Mass goer and a member of the Third Order.

My father attended Stanhope Street School from Infants to First Class. He then moved on to St Gabriel’s BNS, Cowper St. His reference, given when leaving St Gabriel’s at 14 years of age, by School Principal Patrick Byrne B.A. H.Dip., dated 21 July 1933 says “Patrick Kenny is an excellent boy in every way, in character, trust, worthiness, and truthfulness”.

He told many stories of his time as an altar boy and chorister in St Mary of the Angels, Church Street. I remember him telling that one of the first duties before serving First Mass was to help Bro Colmcille not only with the altar preparation but also with checking on the mortuary chapel. In 1932 at the Eucharist Congress he sang with the Palestrina Choir, the choir was supplemented by choristers from other Dublin parishes; my father was chosen to represent Church Street.

It was during his time as altar boy in Church Street that Fr Sebastian OFM Cap made him a gift of a crucifix. Fr Sebastian ministered with his Confrčres to the Leaders of the 1916 Rising in Kilmainham Jail. My father treasured this crucifix.

In the 1990’s he made a present of this Crucifix to my husband Fintan and I, his daughter Maria. My father gave us the Crucifix carefully wrapped in tissue inside an envelope with the details clearly hand written in his beautiful black script, as can be seen from the photo.

Frederick O’Brien was a Dublin man who was received into the Capuchin order in 1887 taking the name Sebastian, thus when he was ordained in 1894 he became Fr Sebastian OFM Cap.

In 1916 the Capuchin Friars who attended those executed in Kilmainham Gaol were instrumental in bringing the Irish Battalion O/Cs and the British together at the end of the rising.

Fr Columbus wrote in his witness statement regarding 3 May 1916. “At Kilmainham, an excited Governor told them that four men were to be shot at 3.25am. He asked that one priest go to each man. Fr Columbus knew Edward Daly, he went to his cell. Fr Albert attended to Michael O’Hanrahan, Fr Augustine to Willie Pearse and Fr Sebastian to Joseph Mary Plunkett.”

Fr Aloysius, Church Street wrote of 12 May 1916 in his witness statement “About 1am a car called and Fr Sebastian accompanied me to the Castle (Dublin). Heard Connolly’s confession and gave him Holy Communion. Waited in Castle Yard while he was being given a meal. He was brought down and laid on a stretcher in an ambulance. Fr Sebastian and myself drove with him to Kilmainham. (We)Stood behind the firing party during his execution”.

Fr Sebastian was the man who gave the crucifix to my father. We will always respect and cherish the crucifix just as my father did.

Maria Goretti Murphy, August 2015