Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

J.K.L at Old Derrig House.
Co. Laois
Source: P.MacSuibhne book 'The Parish of KILLESHIN,
Graiguecullen'. 1972.

J. K. L. at Old Derrig

Main gate and OSi map of Old Derrig

Father Maher always cherished a warm and reverent affection for the memory of Dr. Doyle of whom he always spoke with enthusiasm. Dr. Doyle's great achievement and all his efforts were on behalf of the poor; to save them as far as possible from the sufferings and evils that oppressed them, constant famine, fever in every form, tithe exactions and open organised proselytism.

In his own life Dr. Doyle gave an example of heroic charity. In November 1823 he was too poor to buy a good horse and had to be content with a stumbling mare. During the famine of 1824 two thousand people were fed every day at the college, at the convent and at the public soup kitchen. In dispensing his widespread charity the bishop had involved himself unexpectedly. "I have been dreadfully embarrassed this last fortnight," he wrote, "and am thinking of giving up Old Derrig and going into lodgings." His clothes at this period were painfully shabby. One wet cold day, as he looked down at his badly shod feet, he said to Father Maher: "

I have been trying to make up the price of a new pair of shoes." During this time his brother Father Peter came from Wexford to visit him and observing the bishop's general appearance begged him to accept 25 to buy a new outfit. When his brother was gone he laughingly said: "Poor Peter is ashamed of me and has given me 25 as he said, to keep the life in me. But I will spend it this day on my poor and keep the life in hundreds of them for years to come." To relieve the poor he sold or at least arranged to sell his household silver, his gold watch and he startled Dr. Fitzgerald, president of the College, by announcing that he had arranged to sell to a brother bishop some chalices that were not required. On one occasion he gave away his soutane and a warm cloak which his doctor had ordered him to wear.

Coyne the publisher who had urgent business with J.K.L. came by night coach to Carlow and arrived at Old Derrig at five o'clock on a piercing cold morning. He found Dr. Doyle not only up and dressed but surrounded by at least a dozen poor people, his eyes filled with tears listening to their tales of woe, offering money help to some, expressing sympathy with those he was unable to help and consoling all.

In March 1825 Dr. Doyle was summoned with other bishops and lay leaders including O'Connell to give evidence before the Lords and Commons in committee on the state of Ireland. On that occasion Dr. Doyle "so far surpassed O'Connell as O'Connell surpassed other men." On his return in May 1825 the clergy of the diocese presented him with Braganza House as a residence for himself and his successors.

Not till Michaelmas of the following year however did he go live there. He could with difficulty tear himself away from those to whom he had been a father and a friend. When he left Old Derrig the sobs of the poor were piteous. Father Maher and the other curates went with him.

[ Samuel Galbraith ] [ Old Derrig House ]

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