Cashel, Ireland, on 22 April 1840
Took the habit: Sicklinghall, on 31 October 1856
Oblation: Sicklinghall, on 1 November 1858 (No. 481)
Priestly ordination: 17 May 1864
Died: Belmont House, on 27 January 1894
Morgan O’Dwyer was born in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, on 22 April 1840, the eldest son of Roger Keating O’Dwyer of Cullen, Co. Tipperary. He was a cousin of the Bishop of Limerick and related through his father to a Westminster Judge, Sir Henry Sheehy Keating. He was also closely related to Michael Doheny of 1848, outlaw and poet. His own character was in contrast with these. He spent some time in the Sicklinghall Juniorate before he began his novitiate there on 31 October 1856. He and Gibney were the first fruits of the Sicklinghall juniorate. In the General Council Register on 24 October 1858 we read: “Brother O’Dwyer, concerning whom Father Master has sent a highly satisfactory report, was admitted with a unanimous vote.” He made his oblation in Sicklinghall on 1 November 1858. He studied theology in Montolivet from 1859 to 1862. Father Mouchette, scholasticate formator, judged him “very good, applies himself to his duties”, but over-timid to the point that, in 1861, he wrote that Brother O’Dwyer “shows at times every sign of mental imbalance, so much, in certain matters that resemble scruples, is he caught up in his poor head.”
On the closure of the Montolivet scholasticate in 1862, he was sent to England. He spent some time with his family, thought of entering the Trappists, then continued with his scholasticate in Sicklinghall. In August 1862 Father Joseph Arnoux wrote that he “is very pious. It has even seemed to me that he has followed his leaning towards prayer to the detriment of his studies. This comes from his intellectual deficiency and his failure to reflect on his behaviour. He has average ability. His health is good…” At this point the scholasticate in Sicklinghall closed and the scholastics went to Dublin. For some time doubts were entertained as to his sanity to the extent that in 1864 it was questioned whether his brother Bryan should be admitted to oblation. Father Cooke reassured the General Council.
After his ordination by Bishop Whelan, o.s.a, in Maynooth on 17 May 1864, he ministered in London, Leith in Scotland and for some years in the reformatory in Philipstown. Becoming ill at the end of his life, he retired to the novitiate in Belmont House, Stillorgan. He died on 27 January 1894. The writer of his obituary wrote: “So ended this humble life that lasted 54 years, spent in the most modest works, but which everywhere gave a sweet perfume of edification and a lasting memory of holiness.” In another obituary he was described as “a priest of entirely uncommon holiness of life”. After the requiem mass in Belmont chapel, he was buried in the Oblate cemetery in Inchicore. His brother Bryan was also an Oblate and one of his sisters was a Sister of Charity of St. Paul.
Sources and Bibliography
Oblation formula; seven letters; 2 page obituary manu. Codex
historicus Lys Marie, Sicklinghall 1852-1864.
Provincial Archives: Codex historicus House of Retreat, Inchicore, Dublin, 1856-.
“R. P. Morgan O’Dwyer”, in Missions OMI, Vol. 62 (1928), p. 562-565.
Missionary Record, 3 (1894) page 85 (Obituary).