Fr Gabriel Harty, O.P.

Fr Gabriel Harty, O.P.
The Rosary Priest of Ireland
1921 – 2019

Fr Gabriel Harty, a friar of the Order of Preachers, was born in Dublin on 31 July 1921, the second of three children born to John Joseph Harty and Margaret Gleeson. He was baptised in St Andrew’s Church, Westland Row, Dublin, on 4 August, the feast day of St Dominic, and named Thomas. His father, a clerk in the Munster and Leinster Bank, and later a furniture salesman for Pim Brothers & Co., South Great George’s Street, Dublin, acquired a furniture shop at 8 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin, after a win in the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake. His mother died from tuberculosis when Fr Gabriel was two years of age and his father subsequently married Delia Kissane, a primary school teacher and an Irish language enthusiast.

As a child, Fr Gabriel attended the national schools at Straffan and Leixlip of which his stepmother was principal before continuing his primary education at Scoil Colmcille, Marlborough Street, Dublin, where all the teachers were Gaelgóirí and all instruction was through the medium of Irish. As to his secondary education, after a single day at O’Connell’s CBS, North Richmond Street, Dublin, where he struggled with subjects taught as Béarla, he transferred to Coláiste Mhuire, Parnell Square, Dublin.

The bells of the ‘Angelus’

The influence of his confessor, Fr Pius Cleary, O.P., Prior, St Saviour’s Priory, Dublin, and ‘the silent splendour’ of Br Pius McArdle, O.P., prompted a visit to St Mary’s Priory, Tallaght, in 1938, a visit that came to an unfortunate end when Fr Gabriel proved unable to recite the Angelus, in English, with Fr Dominic ‘Matt’ Fahy, O.P., the Master of Students.

A priest in the Archdiocese of Dublin

That same year, Fr Gabriel entered Holy Cross College, the seminary for the Archdiocese of Dublin, where a series of bursaries eased the financial burden education for the priesthood placed on his family. For three years, he attended University College Dublin in Earlsfort Terrace for a degree in philosophy. He then studied theology in the seminary for four years, admitting some years later that he found ‘the way theology was done … exceedingly dull.’ On the other hand, his years in the seminary afforded him a first contact with the Servant of God Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary. On 26 May 1945, Fr Gabriel was ordained to the priesthood in the seminary chapel by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, C.S.Sp.In the months immediately after his ordination to the priesthood, Fr Gabriel assisted as a chaplain to Mountjoy Prison. His first official assignment was as chaplain to the Dominican Convent, Eccles Street, Dublin, a role he managed to combine with the duties of spiritual director of the presidium of the Legion of Mary at the Morning Star Hostel. After a year, he was appointed chaplain to St Gerard’s Boys’ School, Bray, regarded as one of the plums of the diocese. In these first years of priesthood, his perusal of The Inner Life of the Very Reverend Père Lacordaire, O.P. by Fr Bernard Chocarne, O.P., made a profound impression on Fr Gabriel, revived his interest in the Dominican Order, and prompted him to approach the archbishop regarding a vocation to religious life. In response, the archbishop appointed him to the Parish of the Most Precious Blood, Cabra, in 1948 to gain a deeper experience of parochial ministry, advising, ‘My son, make not haste in a time of cloud.’

A lapsed secular

A year later, Fr Gabriel, ‘a lapsed secular,’ received the habit at St Mary’s Priory, Cork, on 14 September 1949. As a priest, he was allowed to choose his own name in religion and he chose the name Gabriel. After his first profession on 15 September 1950, he was assigned to St Mary’s Priory, Tallaght, where he studied philosophy for one year and theology for another. In the course of a canonical visitation conducted by Fr Emmanuel Suarez, O.P., the Master General, Fr Gabriel disclosed a great interest in our Lady and the Rosary. So, to prepare him for the work of promoting the Rosary he was assigned to Collegio San Clemente, Rome, in 1952 in order to attend the Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical International Athenæum of the Dominican Order, the Angelicum, where he obtained a diploma to which he never again referred! In addition to his lectures at the Institute of Spirituality, Fr Gabriel diligently sought out theological treatises on the Rosary and its representation in art until his year in Rome came to an end with an instruction from the Master General to go to Lourdes to prepare for the work of preaching the Rosary. After his arrival in Lourdes, a railway strike paralysed the whole transport system in France and so Fr Gabriel spent six weeks in Lourdes, arriving back in Tallaght just in time to pronounce his solemn profession on 15 September 1953.

Industrial Rosary Crusade

Almost immediately Fr Gabriel was appointed assistant to Fr Gabriel Keenan, O.P., Director of the Rosary Crusade. Diverse in temperament, it soon became apparent that they operated after the manner of two goats, pulling in opposite directions. Fr Gabriel, the elder, considered the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary the basis for the apostolate of the Rosary. Fr Gabriel, the younger, found its literature uninspiring and uninviting. Again, Fr Gabriel, the elder, found it difficult to engage with the idea of a newsletter. Fr Gabriel, the younger, embraced the idea with enthusiasm and the first issue of The Rosary Letter appeared on 25 March 1954. At its height, The Rosary Letter enjoyed a circulation of 100,000 and was despatched on a vast international basis. It was also Fr Gabriel, the younger, who adopted the golden rose as the emblem of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary, inspired by the statue of Our Lady of Knock. The gift of a Bedford van in 1954 prompted him to learn to drive … in a single afternoon … and enabled him to immerse himself in the emerging Industrial Rosary Crusade, a movement that fostered the daily recitation of the Rosary in hundreds of industrial and commercial centres such as the Guinness Brewery, Dublin, Jacob’s Biscuits, Dundalk, and Shannon Airport. With the Legion of Mary as his greatest ally, his imagination, commitment, and sense of adventure caused the Industrial Rosary Crusade to flourish. Indeed, it flourished to such a degree that in 1958 an office was established at 48 Parnell Square for its effective organisation and Fr Gabriel was assigned to St Saviour’s Priory, Dublin.

A difficult storm to weather

In 1966, Fr Gabriel was appointed superior of St Saviour’s Priory, Waterford. A year and a half later, he was elected prior of St Mary’s Priory, Cork, an office to which he felt utterly unsuited and from which he resigned in 1969, upon the advice of the Servant of God Frank Duff and the Most Rev. Finbar Ryan, O.P., Archbishop Emeritus of Port of Spain, Trinidad. Later that same year, the brethren at the provincial chapter entrusted to him once again the Apostolate of the Rosary and an office was established at St Mary’s Priory, Tallaght. The following year, the archbishops and bishops of Ireland appointed him the National Spiritual Director of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima. However, in the wake of Vatican Council II the Apostolate of the Rosary had a difficult storm to weather and in 1976 a disheartened Fr Gabriel repaired to Rome where years earlier he had discovered the riches of the Rosary. After a year at Collegio San Clemente, he was assigned to Corpo Santo, Lisbon, and then to the Black Abbey, Kilkenny, where he remained until assigned to Sligo in 1983. During his time at the Black Abbey, contact with the mystical writings of a member of the Dominican Laity animated Fr Gabriel with a new enthusiasm, leading to the publication of 100,000 copies of The Healing Light of the Rosary and a flourishing healing ministry associated with the Rosary.

The Rosary in hearts, hands, and homes

Unsurprisingly, Fr Gabriel was again appointed Promoter of the Apostolate of the Rosary in 1984 and assigned to St Mary’s Priory, Tallaght, an assignation he retained for the next ten years except for one year in St Magdalen’s Priory, Drogheda. By the end of 1994, ill health had obliged him to request assistance in the management of the apostolate. Assigned to St Catherine’s Priory, Newry, earlier that same year, his interest in the promotion of the Rosary remained undiminished and in 1996, having celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood the previous year, he was once again appointed promoter. Assigned to St Mary’s Priory, Tallaght, in 2000, his official association with the Apostolate of the Rosary came to an end two years later leaving him with a terrible sense of loss. 

However, no longer burdened with the management of the Apostolate of the Rosary, he devoted all his physical and spiritual resources to putting the Rosary into hearts, hands, and homes, adding to the many books and pamphlets he had already published. Always adroit in the use of technology, he also launched a blog on the Rosary and although his external ministry had diminished with age, he insisted that ‘there is … inner fire, still burning within me.’

The truth of his words was soon to be realised. In 2013, assigned to St Malachy’s Priory, Dundalk, Fr Gabriel was appointed chaplain to St Malachy’s Girls’ School. Firmly convinced that education had to enlarge the heart as well as fill the mind, he proved to be ‘a wonderful inspiration’ to staff, pupils, and parents. Indeed, admiration for Fr Gabriel prompted one pupil to address a letter of praise in his honour to His Holiness, Pope Francis, and she was favoured with a reply from the Apostolic Palace.

A fresh and fragrant loveliness

Naturally, his years began to make themselves felt and ill health began to intrude upon his life with an insistence he could no longer ignore. A man for whom the world of the unseen was no less real that the world of the seen, Fr Gabriel died in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, on 9 May 2019. After reposing in St Malachy’s Priory, his remains were removed to the church on 12 May 2019. On 13 May 2019, the memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, Fr Gregory Carroll, O.P., Prior Provincial, was the celebrant of the Mass of Christian Burial at which the choir of St Malachy’s Girls’ School sang as requested by Fr Gabriel. His remains were interred in St Patrick’s Cemetery, Dundalk.

Throughout the years of his priesthood and religious life, he constantly and faithfully laboured to ensure that ‘the wild rose of the Rosary would bloom with a fresh and fragrant loveliness.’ Ní bheidh a leithéad arís ann.

By: Fr John M. Cunningham, O.P., Provincial Archivist, published in the Catholic Voice: “An obituary of the late Fr Gabriel Harty, O.P., the Rosary Priest of Ireland”, 19 July 2019.

Aquinas week

The eighth annual St Thomas Aquinas Summer School, run by the Aquinas Institute of Ireland (, took place from August 4-10 at the Emmaus Centre, Swords. This session, the biggest yet, with some 50 participants from a dozen different countries, focussed on the teachings of St Thomas on the nature of virtue and vice in general, as well as specific virtues and vices.

Among the students taking part were doctoral students in philosophy and theology, as well as complete beginners, including two who recently completed their Leaving Certificate exams! As well as intensive seminars, participants heard a lecture on ‘The Virtues of Courtesy’ by Fr Alan O’Sullivan OP, and took part in a field trip to Mellifont Abbey and Drogheda, including a visit to the Dominican nuns in Siena Monastery.

Ordination of Fr. Matthew Farrell OP

Matthew Farrell, a native of Daingean, Co. Offaly, was ordained priest on Saturday, 6 July, in St Saviour’s church, Dublin, by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, of Dublin. Present at the ceremony were his three sisters, Lorraine, Michelle and Natalie, with their families, and his brother David and his family.

Father Matthew, aged 44, had a varied career before joining the Dominican Order in 2012. Immediately after secondary school he worked in the bar trade in Tullamore and in his native Daingean. Attending Athlone Institute of Technology as a mature student, he gained a degree in applied chemistry, working for seven years as a laboratory analyst. After the death of his father, he returned to Daingean to work in the family business with his brother. As a Dominican he spent a year in the noviciate in Cork before moving to the house of studies at St Saviour’s, Dublin, to study philosophy, Scripture and theology, in preparation for ministry as a priest. He made solemn vows (lifelong commitment) as a Dominican in September 2017.

Later this summer, he will move to Co. Kerry, to join the Dominican community at Holy Cross church, Tralee, and to begin his ministry as a priest there.

Father Matthew explains that by the end of secondary school he had ceased going to Mass and practising the faith in which he had been brought up. He continues: ‘When I was 24, my auntie brought me to a retreat which was ran by a lay association called Youth 2000. This sparked within me an interest in religion in general, but it was not until I was 28 that I made a decision to re-commit myself to the practice of the Catholic faith. I started to go to Mass every Sunday, went to regular monthly confessions and got involved with a Youth 2000 prayer meeting which had started in Tullamore in the parochial house.’ The outcome was, he explains: ‘I started to grow in my faith in the love and mercy of Jesus Christ and faith in the power of prayer and the sacraments to help me grow closer to God.’

At the age of 37, after considering the possibility that he was being called to religious life, he entered the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), founded 803 years ago.

The Mass, Yesterday, Today … and Forever

Irish Dominican Liam G. Walsh, who has given his life to studying theology and teaching it – in Ireland. Rome and Fribourg – has, this May, published a book on the history and theology of the Mass. The purpose is to help readers come to an awareness that takes them beyond seeing the Mass as holy ceremonial to be regulated by rubrics, beyond seeing it only in aesthetic terms, beyond making it a way of aligning themselves to ‘progressive’ or ‘traditionalist’ camps.

Further information is available on the Dominican Publications website.

Simple Professions 2018

Earlier in the year the three brothers who completed last years noviciate made their First Profession into the Dominican Order.

The brothers who spend a year in our Noviciate in Cork have now made their First Profession to continue with the next step in their life as a Dominican. In our Studium, which is in St. Saviour’s priory in Dublin, they are now studying philosophy and theology for the next few years and, with the help of God, to subsequently be ordained priest.

Please have a look at the short video of this joyful event. The photos of this event can be found here.


Parish Missions

In the last few months the Irish Dominicans have done a few parish mission, notably in September a mission in the Parish of Keady, Derrynoose & Madden in Co. Armagh and in the Parish of St. Peter’s in Drogheda Co. Louth in November.

On these missions a number of Dominican brothers go to a parish to lead the mission. Usually the mission consist of two or three session per day which can either take the form of the celebration of Mass or an hour of prayer with for example exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. During the week confession are heard after each session and often a whole day is dedicated to confessions where a priest would be available from de morning till the evening. Where time permitting part of the missions is also to visit local school and those housebound.

The missions are always a great source of hope and energy, and it is a privilege to be able to minister on these missions! Please keep our missions and ministries in your prayers!

Doctrine and Life – November edition

Please find below some of the articles in the November 2018 edition of Doctrine & Life.

An End to Awkward Translations of the Liturgy?

Thomas R. Whelan surveys the battles surrounding the translation of the Mass into a style of English suitable for public proclamation. While commenting on Lost in Translation: The English Language and the Catholic Mass, by Gerald O’Collins with John Wilkins, he points to the ways by which, during previous papacies, Rome took control of the translation process. He recognises that Pope Francis is now providing for the exercise of authority in the matter where it belongs, with local conferences of bishops.

Did Jesus See His Followers as a Family?

Rebecca Roberts examines the passages in Mark where Jesus calls his followers away from their own families and defines his kin group with a new set of values.

Re-vitalizing Europe beyond Its Diamond Jubilee

Patrick H. Daly describes a dialogue encounter held in Rome at the end of 2017, to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. He addresses problems now facing the European Union and points to ways in which the Church could put wind in the EU’s sails, recognising, with Pope Francis, that dialogue is a fundamental responsibility of politics.

Can We Have God without Heaven?

Martin Henry suggests that God honours us, as it were, by letting the apparent, humble ordinariness of our lives become a fundamental ingredient in the reality of the glory of heaven.

A New Dialogue between Church and State in Health Care?

David Begg continues his series on ‘Justice Questions’.

Impartiality without Gullibility

Archbishop Richard Clarke surveys themes in the writings of Elizabeth Bowen, especially her pointing to an innate and almost certainly unintended cruelty within innocence.

Oscar Romero: Long Walk to Sainthood

Ian Linden reflects on the canonization of Oscar Romero and on the actions both of his followers and of his detractors that delayed that proclamation.

A Month to Remember

John Scally is reminded in November of the death of his cousin Oliver, and of how suffering, particularly after the death of a loved one often appears an unanswerable conundrum for those who believe in the Christian God and it often rouses us to anger.

What Makes the Gospel of John Special?

Amanda Dillon reviews The Sign: Reading the Gospel of John, by Seán Goan.

To read an article from this issue, go to

Dominican Pilgrimage to Knock

This year the National Dominican Pilgrimage to Knock took place last Sunday the 14th of October. Each year on the second Sunday of October all branches of the Dominican Family travel to the Knock Shrine and lead the liturgical celebrations. As always pilgrims travelled from all the various Dominicans foundations throughout the island of Ireland. This year Fr. Ben Moran OP was the principle celebrant and Fr. Joe Dineen OP the preacher.

The official program began at 14:30 with the Anointing of the Sick, followed by Mass at 15:00. After the Mass there was Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and the blessing of the sick followed by the Rosary. Knock is the National Marian Shrine of Ireland. On the 21st August, 1879, fifteen people from the village of Knock witnessed an Apparition of Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, a Lamb and cross on an altar at the gable wall of the Parish Church. The witnesses while reciting the Rosary, watched the Apparition in the pouring rain for two hours. Although they themselves were saturated not a single drop of rain fell on the gable or the apparition.

Please find below a few pictures.

Rosary Rally and Fatima Novena

The start of the Fatima Novena in St. Mary’s Church, Popes Quay in Cork, was marked with a Rosary Rally last Saturday. There was a great turnout and all processed from the Grand Parade to St Mary’s church with the statue of Our Lady. Bro Jesse Maingot OP preached at the Mass which followed to open the Novena.

The Fatima Novena runs daily in St Mary’s until coming Sunday the 7th if October.

Please find some picture of the event below.

Simple Professions

Today our three novices made their First Profession into the Dominican Order. The Novices who have spend the last year in our Noviciate in Cork have now made their First Profession to continue with the next step in their life as a Dominican. In our Studium, which is St. Saviour’s priory in Dublin, they will study philosophy and theology in the coming years to, with the help of God, be ordained priest in years to come.

We congratulate brothers Benedict M.D. McGlinchey O.P., Christopher Vincent D. Gault O.P. and Blazej Martin J. Bialek O.P. on their commitment as they continue their formation within the Dominican Order in the coming years.

Please continue to keep all our brothers in your prayers as well as those who God calls to respond to His call.

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