ON THIS DAY: 31st July 1891: LETTERKENNY WELCOMES DR. CROKE
Thomas W. Croke was born in Cork in 1824 and after serving as Bishop of Auckland in New Zealand, became Archbishop of Cashel in 1875. He was a strong supporter of Irish Nationalism and as a result shared a passion for Irish freedom with the Bishop of Raphoe, Dr. Patrick O’Donnell.
On Friday 31st July 1891, three years after the ordination of O’Donnell as Bishop, as part of a weekend visit to Donegal to visit Glenveagh, Gartan, Falcarragh and Gweedore, Dr. Croke arrived in Letterkenny accompanied by Monsignor Browne, President of Maynooth College and Father Kinnane of Cashel. They stayed at the Bishop’s residence at Mount Southwell Place overlooking the Market Square.
The Derry Journal of 3rd August 1891 reports that the touring party were led into the town that night by torchlight procession and they proceeded to the Market Square led by the Tyrconnell Flute Band. Amidst loud cheers from the large crowd who gathered at the Square, Dr. Croke spoke to the people of Letterkenny and “complimented them on their characteristics, heroism and patriotism, observing that Donegal had produced more heroes and patriots than any other county in Ireland.”
Archbishop Thomas Croke died in 1902 and in memory of one of their first benefactors, the GAA renamed the Jones’ Road Sports Ground in Dublin as “Croke Memorial Park” in 1913.