Fr. Francis A. Gleeson Papers - UCD Digital Library

Fr. Francis A. Gleeson Papers

Abstract A collection of papers belonging to Fr. Francis A. Gleeson relating to his time as Catholic Military Chaplain to the 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers during World War I. The papers include diaries detailing life at the front and religious activities, Brigade Rolls listing mainly Roman Catholic soldiers, and correspondence from the families of men missing or killed in action.

letter Diaries Registers (Lists)
30 items
Type of resource
Location of original
The original papers are held in the Dublin Diocesan Archives, Holy Cross College, Clonliffe Road, Dublin 3.
Dublin Diocesan Archives
Repository reference
IE  DDA P101
Francis A. Gleeson was born on 28th May, 1884 in Templemore, County Tipperary, and was one of thirteen children. He studied in Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, before completing his studies at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, where he was ordained on 19th June 1910 by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. William Walsh. He was appointed Chaplain to St. Vincent's Male Orphanage, Glasnevin in October 1910. Two years later he was appointed Chaplain to St. Mary's Home for the Blind. On November 10th, 1914 Fr. Gleeson was appointed by the War Office to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, then already in action in France. His contract with the War Office was for one year and when it expired in November 1915, he returned to Ireland. After a period of convalescence, he served as a Curate in the newly opened temporary Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Gloucester Street, Dublin (now Sean MacDermott Street) from 16th December 1915. He re-joined the 2nd Munsters in France in May 1917 but was posted away from the 'Dirty Shirts' in February 1918. He completed his second two-year stint as a Military Chaplain with the British Army in May 1919, after which he returned to Dublin and served for a year in Gloucester Street, before being appointed as a Curate in St. Michael's Parish, Dun Laoghaire on 13th July, 1920. On account of his previous experience in the First World War, Fr. Gleeson was appointed as a Command Chaplain with the Dublin Army Command of the National Army of the Irish Free State on 12th February, 1923. He was appointed as a Curate in Bray Parish on 18th May, 1924, followed by the position of Parish Priest of Aughrim Parish on 20th January, 1941. Finally, he was appointed Parish Priest of St. Catherine's, Meath Street, Dublin, on 30th August, 1944. He was elected to be a member of the Metropolitan Chapter with the title of Canon on 7th May, 1956 and he died on the 26th June, 1959. Fr. Gleeson is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.
Engagements in which the 2nd Battalion of the Munster Fusiliers took part during Father Gleeson’s time with them (1)
Date: 1914 Dec 22 ; Event: Festubert
Date: 1915 May 9 ; Event: Aubers (Rue du Bois)
Date: 1915 Sept 25 ; Event: Loos
Date: 1917 June 7 ; Event: Wytschaete
Date: 1917 June 7 ; Event: Messines
Date: 1917 Jul-Nov ; Event: Ypres
Date: 1917 Aug 16 ; Event: Langemarck
Date: 1917 Nov 9 ; Event: Passchendaele
Date: 1917 Nov 20 ; Event: Tunnel Trench
Note: Father Gleeson’s second period of enlistment did not end until the fifteenth of May 1919 (2). However, when the 2nd Battalion moved south on the 1st Feb. 1918, to Longuavesnes to join the 16th Irish Division, Father Gleeson remained behind with 3rd Brigade (3). He returned to England on the 2nd of July 1918.(4)
(1) McCance, S. "History of the Royal Munster Fusiliers" (Schull, Co. Cork, 1995) II, p.239.
(2) "London Gazette", Supplement to, 17 June, 1919, p. 7819
(3) Jervis, H.S. "The 2nd Munsters in France" (Schull, Co. Cork, 1998) p.42.
(4) The Royal Army Chaplain's Department, Museum of Military Chaplaincy. Partial copy of chaplains movements in and out of France for the WW1 period.
Scope and content
Material relating to his time as Military Chaplain (1914-1919) including diaries and Brigade Roll Books of soldiers from the Royal Munster Fusiliers and other regiments while serving in France. The diaries give an account of the horror of war in all its sufferings and privations while detailing the extraordinary importance of faith to the Irish men whose lives were daily sacrificed on the front line. They give insight into terrible conditions suffered by the troops as well as activities such as, destruction of property, the ordinary French people, acts of valour, kindness, death, coffin making and much more. Correspondence between Fr. Gleeson and the families of men missing or killed in action show his interest in their plight and offers help and support. Many of the letters thank him for his kindness and acknowledge the great affection their loved ones had for him.
The diaries and brigade rolls are all handwritten. Typed transcripts created by the Dublin Diocesan Archives are included in the collection. Fr. Gleeson added some notes to the diaries retrospectively and censored parts by crossing out his handwriting.
World War, 1914-1918–France
Gleeson, Francis A., Father–Diaries
Gleeson, Francis A., Father–Correspondence
World War, 1914-1918–Chaplains–Diaries
World War, 1914-1918–Casualties–France
World War, 1914-1918–Registers
Great Britain Army. Royal Munster Fusiliers
World War, 1914-1918–Chaplains–Correspondence
World War, 1914-1918–Participation, Catholic
Nord-Pas-de-Calais (France)
Suggested credit
"Fr. Francis A. Gleeson Papers," held by Dublin Diocesan Archives. © Various copyright holders - see individual records. Digital content: © University College Dublin, published by UCD Library, University College Dublin <>

Cited/referenced by
Rickard, Jessis Louise (Moore), 1879-. The story of the Munsters at Etreux, Festubert, Rue du Bois and Hulloch. London : Hodder and Stoughton (1918)
abd - abdomen
Adj./Adjut. – Adjutant
Batt/Battn – Battalion
bes - beside
Brig/Brg – Brigade
Bvry – Beuvry
c/child - children
CE – Church of England
cemet - cemetery
Cpl - Corporal
CO – Commanding Officer
Coal boxes – type of explosive device
Coy – Company
CSM – Company Sergeant Major
dev – devotions
distill - distillery
dow – died of wounds
ev – evening
evac – evacuated
f/fa – father
FA – Field Ambulance
freq – frequently
GA – General Absolution
g/gm/gmo – grandmother
Glous - Gloucesters
gs – gunshot
gsw/gw – gunshot wound
Ho – home
Hosp – hospital
HQ – Head Quarters
HQ Sigs – Head Quarter Signaller
JJs/Jack Johnsons – type of explosive device
kd – killed
L/C – Lance Corporal
Lieut - Lieutenant
LNL/LN Lancs – Loyal North Lancashires
LSGT – Lieutenant Sergeant
m/mo – mother
MDS/MD St/DS – Munster Dressing Station
MGS – machine gun section
Mjr – Major
nw – nephew
Pl/Plat - Platoon
Plen Indul – Plenary Indulgence
Pt/Pte – Private
QMS – Quarter Master Sergeant
RAMC – Royal Army Medical Corps
RC/RCs – Roman Catholic(s)
RE – Royal Engineers
rgt shld – right shoulder
RMF – Royal Muster Fusiliers
Sain man – sanitary division
SB/Sbr – stretcher bearers
SH – Sacred Heart
sh - shot
sl/slgt – slight
SWB/SWBr – South Wales Borderers
Vet - veteran
vgc – very good Catholic
vy – very young
W.C./W. Cr. - Windy Corner
yest – yesterday
Dates 8.7, 9.17 usually refer to dates when the soldier received Confession, Holy Communion or General Absolution unless followed by abbreviations/words such as killed/wounded/evac.
Specific to P101/1:
(a) – still
(k) – killed
(w) – wounded
(mi) – missing
(s) – sick and gone to hospital

Record source
Descriptions created by staff of UCD Library, University College Dublin based on Dublin Diocesan Archives finding aid. Initial EAD record derived from MODS.12 January 2015

Finding aid author
Dowling, Noelle
1. Brigade roll of Roman Catholics : belonging to Francis A. Gleeson, R.C. Chaplain, 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, British Expeditionary Force, France [View...]
2. Diary of Fr. Francis A. Gleeson 23 December 1914 - 29 January 1915 [View...]
3. Brigade roll of mainly Roman Catholics and diary of Fr. Francis A. Gleeson 31 January 1915 - 30 April 1915 [View...]
4. Diary of Fr. Francis A. Gleeson 17 January 1915 - 4 October 1915 [View...]
5. Diary of Fr. Francis A. Gleeson 7 February 1915 - 3 May 1915 [View...]
6. Brigade roll of mainly Roman Catholics fighting with the British Expeditionary Forces [View...]
7. List of soldiers and diary of Fr. Francis A. Gleeson 10 - 11 November 1917 [View...]
8. Diary of Fr. Francis A. Gleeson 12 - 25 December 1917 [View...]
9. Margaret Maughan writing to Fr. Gleeson about her son James Maughan [View...]
10. Mrs. E. Thompson writing to Fr. Gleeson about her son Private W. Thompson [View...]
11. Elizabeth Meaney writing to Fr. Gleeson about her son Martin Meaney [View...]
12. Mrs. M. Doyle writing to Fr. Gleeson about her husband Sergeant J. Doyle [View...]
13. James Byrne writing to Fr. Gleeson about his brother Private Byrne, 6182 [View...]
14. Mrs. P. Currin writing to Fr. Gleeson about her husband Private Patrick Currin [View...]
15. Patrick O’Connor writing to Fr. Gleeson about his son Private Patrick O’Connor, 7093 [View...]
16. Mary Hawley writing to Fr. Gleeson about her son Private W. Hawley, 6463 [View...]
17. Mrs. Roger Campbell writing to Fr. Gleeson about her son Private William Campbell, 6934 [View...]
18. Ellen MacDonagh writing to Fr. Gleeson about her son Joachim MacDonagh [View...]
19. Mary McEvoy writing to Fr. Gleeson about her brother Private J. McEvoy [View...]
20. H. Dawes writing to Fr. Gleeson about his son Frank Dawes [View...]
21. Margaret Burke writing to Fr. Gleeson about her husband Private W. Burke, 3591 [View...]
22. Mary King writing to Fr. Gleeson about her son Christopher King [View...]
23. Fr. Gleeson writing about celebrating mass in a Nyssen hut [View...]
24. Page from a diary of Fr. Francis A. Gleeson [View...]
25. 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers:nominal book of casualties (killed) of above unit [View...]
26. List of soldiers [View...]
27. B Coy 2nd RM Fusiliers:list of NCOs & men killed & missing [View...]
28. Mr. & Mrs. Crimmins writing to Fr. Gleeson about their brother Ernest Crimmins [View...]
29. Thomas Casey writing to Fr. Gleeson about Sergeant w. Casey, 6906 [View...]
30. List of men killed in June 1917 [View...]

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Copyright of original resource Various copyright holders - see individual records

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