On Thursday 7 July in the Colégio de Bom Sucesso, Lisbon, a long and distinguished chapter of Dominican life was brought to a dignified close in a seminar hosted by the Irish Embassy in Portugal, and addressed by leading Irish historians.
Marking the departure of Irish Dominican friars from Lisbon in 2021, and that of Irish Dominican sisters in 2016, this event examined two Dominicans in particular – Fr Daniel O’Daly OP (1595–1662) and Sr Margaret MacCurtain OP (1929–2020) – as well as the long history of Irish Dominicans in Portugal more generally.
Prof. Declan Downey (UCD) addressed the gathering on the career and significance of Fr O’Daly, the founder of both communities of Irish Dominicans in Lisbon, Bom Sucesso (nuns) and Corpo Santo (friars). Prof Downey provided a fascinating perspective on the religious and political activity of Fr O’Daly as a well connected and highly effective Irish exile in Counter-Reformation Europe. Dr Bronagh McShane (NUIG), author of the recently published ‘Irish Women in Religious Orders, 1530-1700’, told the story of the sisters of Bom Sucesso, while a panel of speakers, chaired by Dr Christopher Kissane, considered the overall story of Irish Dominicans in Portugal, from the seventeenth century to the present day. Following this seminar, the Portuguese translation of Sr Margaret MacCurtain’s pioneering study of Daniel O’Daly was launched.
Fr John Harris, Prior Provincial of the Irish Dominicans, attended this event and spoke warmly of its significance: ‘Lisbon and the Portuguese gave us a safe place where we could live our religious lives. It was marvellous to hear how we Dominicans gave so much back to the Church and people of Lisbon and Portugal. From 1615 to 2021 the friars gave themselves in service to God in Portugal. We received many blessings and brought many blessings. God be praised’.