Distant Memories of Bishop Galvin

Written by Fr.Seán Coyle.

There are very few, if any, Columban priests still living who knew our co-founder Bishop Edward Galvin well. One of the last to work with him in China was Fr Daniel Fitzgerald who died in 2016 aged 100 and who loved to speak about him. But there are some who remember when he visited our seminaries in Ireland and in the USA after he was expelled from China in 1953.

One who remembered his visit to St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Ireland, in May 1953 was Fr Patrick O’Herlihy who died on 13 November 2018 and who was in his first year in the seminary then. He later worked for many years in the Philippines in parishes in Zambales, in Tondo, Manila, and in Morong, Rizal. He recalled Bishop Galvin walking arm-in-arm with Fr John Blowick, our other co-founder from Dowdstown House, the then headquarters of the Columbans, up to the college, about 400 metres away. Father Pat described the bishop as looking very tired and unwell. He had leukaemia from which he died in 1956. He recalls that the co-founder didn’t address the students, apart from greetings, but asked the Rector to give them two free days. The young Pat O’Herlihy was in utter awe in the presence of the first Bishop of Hanyang, China.

Another Columban now retired in Ireland, Fr Brendan Murray, sang for Bishop Galvin in the then newly-opened Columban seminary in Milton, Massachusetts, USA, near Boston. He had been sent with two classmates to study theology there for three years while three Americans went to Ireland. After ordination Father Brendan went to Korea. He later worked in Australia and in Britain. The students and staff put on a welcoming program for our great co-founder who had also established the Society in the USA. Bishop Galvin asked the young Brendan specifically to sing The Spinning Wheel, an old Irish folk song.

Distant but treasured memories!


Fr. Sean Coyle  is from  Dublin, Ireland, and was assigned to the Philippines in 1971. He was transferred back to Ireland in June 2017 and lives in Dalgan Park.



With thanks to our colleagues in Australia for the use of this picture of Fr. Galvin.