Dominican Order 800 Years in Ireland – Celebrations Sunday 11 Feb

From the Dominican Media Desk

Father Gerard Francisco Timoner, O.P., eighty-seventh successor to St Dominic as Master of the Order of Preachers, will celebrate and will preach at Mass in St Saviour’s Church, Dominic Street, Dublin, on Sunday, 11 February, at 11.00 a.m., to start the celebrations of the eighth centenary of the arrival of the Dominican Order in Ireland.

In 1224, three years after the death of Dominic, and not quite eight years after the foundation of the Order (December 1216), twelve members travelled from Oxford to Dublin, setting up a priory on the north bank of the Liffey, where the Four Courts now stand. Other friars followed, and such was the energy of the newly founded Order that it expanded rapidly once it had come to Ireland, with a foundation in Drogheda that same year, and in Kilkenny in 1225 – the Order is still present on the same site at the Black Abbey. A foundation in Waterford followed in 1226, and in Cork in 1229, and onward to most of the cities and large towns of Ireland.

Fr Timoner, aged 56, and from the Philippines, was elected for a nine-year term as Master in July 2019 – the first non-European to hold the office. He has been in Ireland for some days meeting the 21 Dominican students in formation in Dublin (17 for the Irish province, and four for other provinces), the Dominican nuns at Siena monastery, Drogheda, and the communities at St Mary’s, Tallaght, and St Saviour’s, Dublin.

The congregation at the Mass will include groups from among people who attend the 10 Dominican priory churches around Ireland as well as Dominican nuns, Dominican sisters and Dominican laity. Archbishop Dermot Farrell, of Dublin, and papal nuncio Archbishop Luis Mariano Montemayor will take part.

At the end of the Mass, the Master of the Order will unveil a specially commissioned painting of The Arrival of the Dominicans in Dublin, by the artist William A. Nathans.

(The photographer for the event is John McElroy, from whom media may obtain pictures – John McElroy tel 087 241 6985


The Irish Dominicans now number 175 members, spread over 10 priories in Ireland, two in Trinidad and Tobago, and in San Clemente in Rome. They founded the Order in Australia in the nineteenth century. Their acceptance in 1959 of a request to staff a seminary in Nagpur in India, led to gradual acceptance of Indian vocations and to the establishment, in August 1997, of an independent Dominican province in India.

Besides their commitment to preaching in their churches, Dominicans in Ireland are involved in preaching retreats and missions, in education (Newbridge College, and primary schools in Dundalk and in parishes where the Order works). The St Martin Apostolate, home of The Moving Crib, is a Dominican undertaking as is Knockadoon Camp in County Cork which has for decades fulfilled its mission of bringing young people to Christ in a vibrant way. Dominican Publications, publishers of magazines and books since 1897, is contributing to the centenary celebrations by launching a new bi-monthly magazine, Conversations.


Two Irish Dominicans have served as Master of the Order: Fr Michael Browne, from 1955 until he had to step aside on being made cardinal in 1962; and Fr Damian Byrne (1983-1992).

In recent years, as much as in the past, Irish Dominicans have made notable contributions to Church and society. Some examples include: Henry Gaffney (novelist and playwright); Henry Flanagan (sculptor); Fergal O’Connor and Paul Bowe, in UCD; Conleth Kearns, Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, and Wilfrid Harrington in Scripture studies; Austin Flannery, in publishing (especially as editor of Vatican Council II: Constitutions, Decrees, Declarations) and in advocacy for justice; Leonard Boyle, late prefect of the Vatican Library; Liam Walsh in theology, and as a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.

The next event celebrating the centenary is a performance of Handel’s Messiah in The Helix, on 14 April, with soloists Claudia Boyle, Sharon Carty, Andrew Gavin, John Molloy, and the Tallaght Choral Society.


Bernard Treacy | 087 947 0563 |

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