following day, Sunday 6 January 1935, the bishop issued his pastoral. A
large force of Gárdaí was present inside the Cathedral, and outside,
while the bishop was speaking. Numbers of Gárdaí also attended at the
other city churches where the pastoral statement was also read. These
precautions were indicative of the highly charged atmosphere in the city
concerning the case. The Cathedral was crowded when the bishop rose to
dearly beloved—The event which is the occasion of my
addressing you today, is the termination of a teacher's
appointment in the Christian Brothers' School, Mount Sion. I
understand that there is a certain amount of sympathy for this
teacher in the city, that resolutions in his favour have been
passed by certain bodies, and that there is an agitation on foot
to secure his continuance in his position. These facts have
brought home to me the necessity for an authoritative statement
from me on this matter, and for authoritative teaching on
certain other matters connected with it ... Bishops are the
successors of the Apostles and, as such, are divinely
constituted authoritative teachers in faith and morals ... From
the fact that a Bishop is the authoritative teacher of faith and
morals in his diocese, it follows that his teaching is binding,
and that his subjects must obey it, even under pain of mortal
sin, whenever the matter involved is notable ... Any failure in
obedience in grave matter is a mortal sin ... I may now proceed
to the main purpose of my discourse ... I am speaking to you
mainly as your divinely constituted leader in faith and morals,
and I intend whatever teaching my address contains to have all
the authority and binding force which can be derived from the
sacred office which I hold …
It was at this point in the
address that disturbances began in various parts of the Cathedral. Women,
men and some children were seen to rise from their seats and it was
thought that some violent demonstration was planned. The demonstration,
however, was peaceful and took the form of a walkout. The demonstrators
arrived at the aisles, genuflected to the Blessed Sacrament, turned their
backs on the bishop and marched out of the Cathedral. The bishop
I have given the matter careful study and much thought ... The
Superior of the Christian Brothers' School, Mount Sion, consulted
me before issuing the notice terminating the services of the
teacher in question. He informed me that this teacher, despite the
public warning—twice issued—of his parish priest and
co-manager of his school, attended the Republican Congress and
took an active part in its discussions—this fact was published
in the press and is admitted by the teacher himself. Now, the
principles and aims of the Republican Congress movement are
opposed to the teaching of the Church; its principles are
Socialist and Communistic: it aims at setting up a socialist
Republic, evidently on the Russian model ... and one of its
weapons for achieving this is class hatred and class warfare.
Evidently, one who belongs to a movement of this kind is unfit to
be a teacher of Catholic children. The most appropriate course in
the circumstances would have been instant dismissal. The spirit of
leniency and the desire to recall the teacher from the error of
his ways, however, prevailed ... During the past week having
invited the teacher to come before me ... I explained to him the
opposition between the principles of Republican Congress movement
and the teaching of the Church, and I told him of his own grave
obligations in the matter. I then asked him to sign an
undertaking, which would be made public, to dissociate himself
from this movement and not join any similar movement in the
future. Whilst I urged him to sign the undertaking principally
because of his duty as a Catholic and for the welfare of his
immortal soul, I at the same time promised that, if he did sign
it, I should recommend him for employment to the Christian
Brothers and I gave him an assurance that my recommendation would
be accepted. He refused to sign the undertaking.
It is hardly necessary for me to state that it would be sinful to
try to prevent the action of the manager of the Christian
Brothers' School, Mount Sion, from becoming effective, or to cause
him or anybody else inconvenience on account of it ... Now, when
the good Catholics of this city are aware of the vital religious
issues at stake, I am confident that whatever little agitation has
been afoot will immediately cease.
OF THE PASTORAL
It was clear that the Pastoral had only inflamed an already tense
situation. The notice of dismissal was due to expire in nine days. A
meeting of support to demand the withdrawal of the notice of dismissal had
been called for the following Saturday 12 January 1935. This meeting had
the support of the local INTO branch, two cumainn of Fianna Fail (P.H.
Pearse and Gracedieu), the IRA, the Republican Congress Branch, the Gaelic
League, Gasra an Fháinne, Waterford Worker's Council, the Irish Citizen's
Army and various trades union branches. On 11 January 1935, Mgr Byrne
wrote a letter to the press cautioning people to stay away from the
meeting 'which is to be held in flagrant opposition to the authoritative
teaching and ruling of the Bishop of the Diocese ... The Bishop has
spoken; the Church had spoken; and the opposition to the Church is
opposition to Jesus Christ.’
Despite the Monsignor's warning and driving rain, which fell continuously
for the two hour duration of the meeting, a large crowd numbering several
hundreds turned out in Broad Street to hear the speakers, Peadar
O'Donnell, Frank Ryan and Seamus Malone, secretary of the Edwards Defence
Committee, under the chairmanship of Jimmy O'Connor, Poleberry. A motion
from Malone was passed calling for a strike of pupils on the following
The support for Edwards appeared to be very strong, and widespread.
The mayor had assured Frank Ryan that ninety per cent of the people were
behind Edwards but, in truth, the city was deeply divided.
On Saturday 12 January 1935, (the day of the Broad Street meeting) the
Waterford Pig Buyers' Association passed unanimously a resolution 'That we
... pledge ourselves as faithful Catholics to give our unqualified support
in every way possible to our beloved Bishop, Most Rev. Dr Kinane and his
clergy; and we further desire to express our wholehearted approval of his
Pastoral read in all the city churches on Sunday, the 6th inst.'
On the following day, both Dr Kinane and Monsignor Byrne were given a
tremendous reception when they attended the annual tea party at St.
Joseph's Boys Club. When they entered the Club, the assembled boys cheered
for several minutes and then sang the hymn, Faith of our Fathers.
Messages of unqualified support for the bishop poured in to the newspapers
from many sources including the Legion of Mary, the Mount Sion Sodality,
the United Ireland Party (John Redmond Branch), the Sodality of Mary, the
Aquinas Study Circle and Fine Gael, Waterford Central Branch.
Dockers' Society of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union
(ATGWU) held a special meeting on 14 January 1935 at the union rooms,
O'Connell street. The meeting passed, unanimously, an extraordinary
expression of loyalty and support. I quote it in full
the members of the Dockers' Society assure our beloved and revered
Bishop, Most Rev. Dr Kinane that, conscious of our duty as
Catholics, we accept and will loyally obey his authoritative
teaching given us in the Cathedral on the 6th inst. Mindful of the
warning conveyed in that solemn pronouncement, we can assure him
that we shall do all in our power to keep our Union free from the
virus of Communism and Socialism. We will endeavour to see that
our Union shall be guided by the principles laid down by Pope Leo
XIII and the present Holy Father rather than by the anti-Christian
maxims of Communist and Socialist agitators. We wish this
expression of our Loyalty and obedience to be some reparation to
his Lordship for the unfilial attitude of an insignificant section
of his flock in the city.
Matthew McCloskey, Chairman.
the following week, many more groups filed similar expressions of loyalty.
On Monday morning, however, about half-a-dozen boys carrying banners
with inscriptions such as WE WANT OUR TEACHER BACK/WE ARE ON STRIKE/WE
STAND FOR JUSTICE/STRIKE ON HERE appeared outside Mount Sion. They paraded
in front of the schools and urged other pupils to join them. About ten
pupils responded and the demonstrators then marched through the principal
streets of the city cheering loudly for Edwards. They halted for a meeting
on Ballybricken and two of the strikers declared that they were not going
back to school until the teacher was reinstated and victimisation was
stopped. A few Civic Guards remained on duty outside the schools until
after the luncheon interval, by which time the demonstration had
withdrawn, several of the boys returning to their homes. The Irish Times
reported 'speculation is rife as to the number of boys, if any, who will
take part in tomorrow's one-day strike.'
events of Tuesday, the day Edwards' dismissal notice expired, were
distilled neatly in the Waterford News headlines describing the day's
AS USUAL/EXCITING INCIDENT/CLASH IN BARRACK STREET/MEN TAKEN INTO
CUSTODY/STRIKE PICKET SCUFFLE/ STATEMENT BY MOUNT SION SUPERIOR
Some dozen boys, aged from eleven to fourteen, who left
school on Monday, again made appearance on the streets on Tuesday
morning, and remained for some time outside the gates as the
scholars were entering classes and endeavoured to persuade them to
join them. The scholars, many of whom were brought to the school
gates by parents or relatives, remained loyal to the teachers, and
entered on their daily tasks with indifference to either pleas or
threats. One youngster amongst the strikers tied the school gates
with a short length of rope, which was, however, quickly burst
asunder by another boy going into school. A woman who called
non-striking boys 'cowards' was booed and hissed by the crowd who
had assembled to watch events.
As the day advanced, matters took a more serious turn. About
midday a number of boy strikers formed a picket in front of the
school buildings, carrying banners and shouting: 'We are on
strike.' By this time some hundreds of adults, including many
women, had assembled on the sidewalks and roadway in Barrack
Street. Shouts were raised of 'Up the Pope' and 'Up the
Catholics.' Following this there was an unexpected stir amongst
the crowd, and a menacing situation developed which, eventually
necessitated the drawing of batons and a charge was made by the Gárdaí.
In a subsequent melee more than one youngster was seen to fall and
one member of the youthful picket alleged that he had received a
blow of a baton ... the crowd quickly dispersed, but before they
had done so Gárdaí took into custody three young men and one boy
whom they removed to barracks nearby. Shortly afterwards Mr.
Seamus Malone, Secretary of Frank Edwards' Defence Committee, was
seen to enter the Barracks, following which the boy was released
by the Gárdaí.
Irish Times reported
Flannery issued a statement stressing the normality of the
schools' day and referred to pupil attendance as being excellent.
He said that Mr. Edwards was in attendance all day and that the
three months notice expired that afternoon. As the closing hour
arrived, people began assembling again at the school gates. 'A
double cordon of Guards ... was drawn up and through this avenue
of police the pupils left the schools for their homes. As Mr.
Frank Edwards appeared there were cheers and counter-cheers and
from the neighbourhood of the schools the crowd moved down Barrack
Street and congregated in front of his home [no. 143] before they
again dispersed quietly. Brief addresses were delivered by Mr.
Frank Edwards and his mother.'
was after these statements that an event happened that is regarded as a
shocking act of vindictiveness by the bishop. Peter O'Connor referred to
it in his book.
mother did not escape persecution either. Bobby [Aileen] Edwards,
Frank's wife, in an interview with Rosemary Cullen, shortly before
her death in 1989, records the following: Mrs Edwards [Frank's
mother] made a statement to the effect that 'in spite of the
injustice done, the Edwards' will remain good Catholics.' A priest
was sent to her by the Bishop ... to say that unless she publicly
withdrew that statement she would be passed [refused Holy
Communion] at the altar rails. To a woman like Mrs Edwards who was
a devout Catholic this was a most hurtful and cruel thing to say.
The injustice of [it] ... is beyond comprehension.
One of my interviewees corroborated the above story and told me that it
affected Mrs Edwards deeply.
Some weeks later, three men appeared in court on a charge related to the
pickets. These were, Patrick Walsh, John Lucas and John Hunt [This is the
Jackie Hunt, later to become one of the ten Waterford men, including
Edwards, who went to Spain to fight against the fascists]. The State
Solicitor told the three defendants that if they would give an undertaking
to keep the peace he would not ask for any bonds or bails and he would
withdraw the charges. All but Hunt agreed and he was put back for trial.
At the Hunt trial, some six weeks later, Inspector Tobin elaborated on the
reported incidents that happened outside the school. He said that some
boys paraded outside Mount Sion School with placards. At that time there
were about three hundred people assembled in the street. A number of men
carrying placards, led by Hunt, appeared and proceeded to picket the
school. A Gárda approached Hunt and warned him that the actions of the
picketers might lead to a breach of the peace but Hunt paid no attention
to him. There was some rival shouting and the Gárdaí threw a cordon
across the street. A section of the crowd rushed towards the pickets and
the Gárdaí charged with batons drawn. Lucas dashed towards the pickets
flashing a short stick and he came to grips with Sergeant Duignan. It was
then that the Gárdaí arrested the three men. The Justice dismissed the
case for lack of evidence.