Saturday, 17th August 2019

Collegium Hibernorum De Urbe

Another major contribution to the study of the Irish on the continent is The Irish College, Rome, 1628-1678, an edition of a manuscript history of the college written in 1678 by James Reilly SJ to mark its fiftieth anniversary.  Printed in Rome by the Pontifical Irish College, this sumptuously produced volume features colour photographs of the architecture and art of the early years of the college, an informative historical overview of seventeenth-century Irish ecclesiastics in Rome by Thomas O’Connor as well as a very detailed introduction to the text itself by John J. Hanly.  Among the alumni of the college whom O’Connor describes were the saintly scholar Oliver Plunkett and the combative rogue Terence O’Kelly, who complained a great deal during his student days and later, as vicar apostolic of Derry, ‘took to himself a mistress and lived publicly with their children’.

The history itself recounts such topics as the endowment of the college by Cardinal Ludovisi, the Jesuit take-over of the college administration, financial difficulties, and how various rectors dealt with them.  This volume suggests the riches in European archives yet to be mined for future histories.