HUBERT MURPHY – 13 NOVEMBER 2013
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.