Emily, Bridie and Fr. Manus Sweeney

Bridie Mulloy may well have attended the unveiling of the monument dedicated the Fr. Manus Sweeney in 1944, as she was living on Achill at the time. The Patriot Priest featured quite a bit in her folklore collection. The most concise account of his life and death was dictated to her by Pat Mulloy (perhaps her father in law), from Keel. The entire piece and indeed all her folklore collection was written by hand, unfaltering and without mistake.


“Fr Manus Sweeney was born, according to tradition in the village of Dookinella, Achill. I heard this from my father who heard it from his father before him so I know it wall to be true. In those days 1763 or 1764, for that was about the year her was born there were poor scholars going about. They used to roam from village to village and remain in some house during the night. On the night of Fr. Manus birth one of these poor scholars happened to be in his father’s house.

the father’s name was Denis Sweeney and the mother Alice Mulloy before she married- When Mrs Sweeney took ill, when she was in labour, the poor scholar walked outside, it was a beautiful moonlight night and he remained outside for a bout ten minutes. When he returned to the house he spoke to the nurse, and asked her if it would be possible to keep the birth back a couple of hours. The nurse said it would be impossible. He walked out a second time and on his return the child was born. Said he to the nurse “I’m sorry that child is born to be hanged”. A terrible prediction wasn’t it?

The nurse didn’t inform the family as to what the scholar had said until the child was a week old, and when she did they were surprised and troubled. They were considering for themselves what to do what the boy while he was growing up, and when he came to a certain age they came to the conclusion that they would send him to college. the family had nice means, and of course they were gathering up what money they could to pay for his education in the end they decided to make a priest of him as they felt sure that, as a priest, he could commit no crime to be hanged. He had a distinguished career in college and was ordained in France, I believe it was around the age of twenty five or twenty six. His first mission was as curate in Newport, and he remained there for nine of ten years.”

Pat Molloy, Keel, Achill;  NFC 1015: 54-9
Mayo News 1893-2004*, 26.08.1944, page 3
Special Thanks
Dr. Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh, Interim Director National Folklore Collection / Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann University College Dublin / An Coláiste Ollscoile, Baile Átha Cliath