Irish Canadian Famine Research

Irish Canadian Famine Research

Month: November, 2013

Gathering for Father Patrick Dowd’s Bicentenary

Gathering for Father Patrick Dowd’s Bicentenary


ONE of Dunleer’s greatest sons is to be honoured with a special day in his memory on November 24 – the 200th anniversary of his baptism in the then rural hamlet.

Fr Patrick Dowd would go on to save the lives of thousands of Irish emigrants in Montreal during the Famine migration of 1847-1848.

The bicentenary of his birth will be celebrated as part of The Gathering in Dunleer on November 24.

Not only did he saved so many lives, but he helped provide new homes for Irish orphans and widows left destitute in the city’s fever sheds.

Fr Dowd and the Grey Nuns founded the Montreal St. Patrick’s Orphanage in 1851. Efforts were made to elevate him to Bishop but he refused them all and went on to establish the Montreal St. Bridget’s Refuge for the destitute in 1865 and three years later opened a school for girls. For the rest of his life he cared for the poor and died in December 1891.

In 2012, Jimmy Deenihan, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltachtpaid tribute to Fr Dowd during the National Famine Commemoration in Drogheda.

Mr Deenihan called upon the nation to “remember Fr. Patrick Dowd who was born in 1813 and curate of Drogheda … during the height of the famine. He moved to Montreal in 1848 to work with the Grey Nuns looking after the Irish famine victims”.

The event in Dunleer will feature a commemorative Mass, historical exhibition, free lectures about Father Dowd’s local connections and family history in Dunleer, his heroic work, his close friendship with Thomas D’Arcy McGee, and the Canadian Irish heritage of County Louth.

Guest speakers include Dr. Jason King, a native of Montreal who established a digital Famine Archive about Fr Dowd and the Grey Nuns at the University of Limerick, and Gabriel Mathews who is a direct descendant of the Dowd family.

Mass is at 11:30am in St Brigid’s Church, Dunleer, with historical talks from 2pm in St Brigid’s Hall, Dunleer.

The Gathering to Celebrate Fr Patrick Dowd’s Bi Centenary


Father Dowd Stain glass window

Gathering log


The Gathering to Celebrate Fr Patrick Dowd’s Bi Centenary

Programme  for  Sunday  24th  November  2013

11:30am                               Mass of Celebration for Fr Dowd’s Bi Centenary in St Brigid’s Church, Dunleer

12:30 to 14:00                    Time available for Lunch and / or visit to Dowd Family Grave at Mosstown

12:30  to 18:00                   Dunleer Historical Society Exhibition in St Brigid’s Hall

14:00 to 14:10                    Dunleer Historical Society’s Introduction to Lectures on Fr Patrick Dowd

                                                                (Free and open to all the public )

14:10 to 14:40                    Fr Dowd: Famine Hero in Montreal, by Dr Jason King (a native of Montreal)

14:40 to 14:50                    Fr Dowd and Thomas D’Arcy McGee, by Anthony Russell (Anglia Ruskin University)

14:50 to 15:00                    Break for Light Refreshments


15:00 to 15:30                Fr Dowd’s Life in Ireland and Family, by Gabriel Mathews

(Fr Dowd’s Great Grand Nephew)

15:30 to 15:45                    Followed by Questions and Discussion

15:45 to 18:00                    Refreshments and ‘The Gathering ‘  socialising.

Further information on website for 24th November 2013.


11:00am                               Mass of Celebration for Fr Dowd’s Bi Centenary in St Patrick’s Basilica, Montreal

“To mark the anniversary Msgr. Francis Coyle Pastor of St Patrick’s Basilica, Montreal will celebrate the 11 a.m. Mass on Nov 24th  in honour of Fr Patrick Dowd. The same day a Mass will also be celebrated in his memory at St. Brigid’s in Dunleer, Ireland, in the church in which Father Dowd was baptized 200 years ago.”

For further information on the Bi Centenary in Montreal see