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Mark Hone

'Last Absolution of the Munsters'

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BatterySergeantMajor

Thanks for this interesting thread.

The painting is so moving and powerfull that it doesn't mind to which religion you belong (I'm an atheist) to see the emotion in it. I am very impressed.

I hope the place will be found. Please keep us informed.

Erwin

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Max

I also find the painting very moving and powerful, it almost has a medieval feel to it (I know, I need to take the pills)

Andy

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Morval Ross

Hi Pals,

I am trying to find out further information on Father Gleeson after the war. I think my original location may be inaccurate. I know believ that his resting place is in the small village of Toomevarra in County Tipperary. I spoke to my dad but he is a way at the moment but he does have an original copy of Father Gleesons obituary which I will post once I get a chance to go and visit home.

I will post further information as I recieve it.

Ross.

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Patrick H
Hi Pals,

I am trying to find out further information on Father Gleeson after the war.  I think my original location may be inaccurate.  I know believ that his resting place is in the small village of Toomevarra in County Tipperary.  I spoke to my dad  but he is a way at the moment  but he does have an original copy of Father Gleesons obituary which I will post once I get a chance to go and visit home. 

I will post further information as I recieve it.

Ross.

Hi Ross,

Would certainl;y be interested in anything you find. Keep me/us posted please

Patrick

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marina

I'll second that,

Marina

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michel knockaert

hi all, "la rue du bois" is in the village of RICHEBOURG (pas-de-calais) few kilometers from AUBERS and it seems to me that I saw in one of the conference rooms of the town hall of this village this painting or perhaps a copy.

I go there as soon as possible interested

friendly

Michel KNOCKAERT

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edwin astill

There is a windmill in the middle right hand edge - does this aid identification of the site? Or may be it is an artistic whim.

Cheer up about the bishop..... think of the torment he is undergoing right now!

Edwin

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Beinn

I just thought I would add to the conversation as I saw this thread a few days ago and then happened to read a few lines about in Tommy - The British Soldier on the Western Front by Richard Holmes.

In it the chapter on Man and God he mentions a few religious men that actually took the fight to the enermy. Some without arms but commanding men and other how actually renounced their vows and enlisted. He mentions special praise for the catholic priests as they were most often seen at the front lines becasue of there need ot give final absolution to fallen men, whereas other were told to stay in the background and not risk their lives, which many soldiers viewed as cowardice especially as they were advocating taking the fight to the germans (though some anglican priests were found in the front lines). I digres:

Holmes states that Father Francis Gleeson, mounted with a stole over his service dress, gave absolution to 2/Royal Munster Fusiliers at a wayside shrine as the battalion moved up to attack Aubers Ridge in May 1915: the men, heads, bared, within the sound of gunfire, then sang Te Deum.

The Munster lost 19 Officers and 374 men with only eight being taken prisoner.

The incident formed the basis for Fortunino Matania's 'Last Absolution of the Munsters'.

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Sullivan

CANON FRANCIS GLEESON May 1884 - June 1959.

Chaplain to the 2nd battalion Munster Fusiliers.

Francis Gleeson was born on 28th May, 1884, in Templemore, Co. Tipperary. He was one of thirteen children. He was educated for the priesthood at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, Dublin, and St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, where he was ordained in 1910.

Father Gleeson was appointed Chaplain to St. Mary’s Home for the Blind on 27th March 1912. On, or shortly after, the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, he volunteered to serve as a military chaplain. In November of that year, 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, from 16th December 1915, as a curate in the newly opened Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Gloucester Street, Dublin. 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.

He returned to Dublin serving 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, Father 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, 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.

Information source:- RC Diocese Dublin.

Sullivan

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Sullivan

The Last General Absolution of the Munster Fusiliers, Saturday 8th May 1915.

I read with interest the above subject matter which appeared back in August 2005. I have been researching this event for some time, hoping I could find the location of the Shrine in the Matania painting. The clues so far to date, the history of the Munster Fusiliers by Capt. S. McCance, page 127 vol 2, states as follows-

'..On the 8th the Battalion marched through Rue du Bois and halted on the side of the road about 500 yards away from the trenches..'

I have a photocopy of Chaplain Father Francis Gleeson's diary, covering the dates Friday 7th May to Wednesday 12th May another clue is contained in the diary as follows:-

Diary heading, 8 Saturday.

We march out from xxx billet (Locon) about 900 strong, our Commanding Officer being Major Rickard and the Adjutant, Captain Filgate - two of the kindliest men I have come across. We leave about 7.00. The scenes of enthusiasm are outstanding. I ride my horse. Give Absolution to Batt. during rest on road. Opposite La Contin Church between the shrine of 'N.D. de la Bonne Mort' and another shrine we xxx. The men all sing hymns 'Hail Great St. Patrick'. I go further up - near the trenches and bid good bye to all. So Sad !!.

I suspect they may have been close to a village by name of Richebourg L' Avout.

Some of the writing is difficult to decipher and I am following this up with the Archivist of the RC Diocese Dublin.

I carried research on the location of the original painting, I was advised by the Documentation Officer Department of Art, Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London, as follows:-

According to our records, the painting was destroyed by fire during the Second World War. It was one of a number of Matania First World War works that were in the hands of the Illustrated London News and other publications. Matania was an artist who produced work for use in such publications and as a result much of his original work was purchased by, or belonged to, these publications. It was whilst with them that they appear to have been destroyed during the Second World War. Our Matania collection consists of two original works, one poster, several lithographs and four reproduced prints. We have an old newspaper cutting relating to his painting of the Munsters, but this contains only a small black and white, poor quality image of the work.

Fortunately prints from the mentioned publications survived to remind us of that poignant moment, I am fortunate as I have had a copy of one of those prints of the 'The Last General Absolution' for some years now. At the moment I am revising my web page about this event and hope to have it posted to my web site shortly.

The original Shrine I believe was destroyed during the ebb and flow of battles around Neuve Capelle. It was rebuilt in 1935 and paid for by a local landowner. Unfortunately modern progress saw it removed for road widening, some reports say it was destroyed in the process. All that remained was a plaque that was attached to the base.

I am interest in photos of the Rue du Bois area to aid my research, any submitted to me by interested persons will be appreciated.

A fine statuette of Father Gleeson was commissioned by the Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain to the Army. It is available in three

standard finishes: golden bronze, hand-painted or silver-plate. The overall height of the mounted figurine is 11 ½ " from the hooves of the horse to the top of Father Gleeson's head.

Produced by Ballantynes of Blackburn.

See web site:-

http://www.ballantynes-walkerburn.com/acat...Department.html

Sullivan.

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Sullivan

Sorry about the double post, I did try to add an image of the plaque that was on the shrine and rescued by a local when the shrine was removed for road widening. I have no idea what happened to my post as the image is not there. I must read the help section again.

Sullivan.

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ian turner

Sullivan,

Thanks for your information, which adds more to our knowledge of the subject in Matania's painting.

The Last Absolution is a very moving depiction, and it is fascinating to know more about the Chaplain's history.

Thank you.

Ian Turner

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Pat Holscher

Neat painting! Thanks for posting it!

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Pat Holscher

What was the size of the original painting?

I'd rarely think this, but I wish somebody made a print of this painting. I really like it.

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curranl

Hello Pat,

Prints of this picture are available; at least they were up to a few months ago. Schull Books in County Cork have them - I bought one about six months ago. The print measures 30cm x 40 cm or thereabouts (that's 12inches by 16 for the heathen imperialists).

If you put Schull Books into Google it should throw up the contact details.

I should add that I have no commercial interest in the company! :P

Regards,

Liam.

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Pat Holscher

Liam, thanks.

I ran a few searches on Schull Books but the URL I pulled up had expired. If anyone knows of one, I'd appreciate receiving it.

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michaeldr

That's close!

neck & neck

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Pat Holscher

Thanks!

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Steven Broomfield

And also neatly confirms Liam (curranl)'s surmise about the line from above the priest's head to the underneath of the horse!

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pabbay
As a matter of interest has anyone ever established the exact location of the blessing of 2nd Munsters in the Rue De Bois, prior to their attack on Aubers Ridge, as immortalized in the painting by Fortunino Mantana?

Being from Munster stock myself I found the painting truly wonderful and so poignant.

On the larger image there is a windmill in the top right corner, perhaps this can be used to identify a location but if the artist was not there himself who knows?.

Regards

Pabbay

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