Fláithrí Ó Maol Chonaire - The College of Louvain

The College of Louvain

In 1616 Archbishop Ó Maolconaire founded, at Louvain for Irish Franciscan youth, the College of St. Anthony of Padua, principally with means furnished by Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain, wife of Archduke Albert, and the daughter of Philip II of Spain (cf. V. DeBuck, "L'archeologie, irlandaise, au couvent de Saint-Antoine de Padoue a Louvain", Paris, 1869), where the first and most active Irish printing press on the Continent was long in operation.

As Archbishop of Tuam, Ó Maolconaire never took possession of his see, owing to the royal proclamations of 1606, 1614, 1623, commanding all bishops and priests, under the gravest penalties, to quit the kingdom. But he governed Tuam through vicars-general and continued to live principally at St. Anthony's in Louvain, not improbably on the bounty of the King of Spain, as was the case of many Irish ecclesiastics of the time. His influence in Irish matters at the royal court was always considerable; thus, as late as 1618 we find him presenting to the Council of Spain Philip O'Sullivan Beare's "Relation of Ireland and the number of Irish therein", and in the following year his own "Statement of the Severities Practised by England against the Irish Catholics". Like his fellow-Franciscan, Luke Wadding, and Peter Lombard, Archbishop of Armagh, he was ever at the disposition of his exiled countrymen. He communicated in 1610 to the Council of Spain, a translation of the original (Irish) statement of one Francis Maguire concerning his observations in the "State of Virginia", between 1608 and 1610, a curious and unique document of the earliest English settlements in the New World and the life and habits of the Indian tribes (Alexander Brown, The Genesis of the United States, Boston, 1890, I, 392-99).

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