Raising Funds for Papal Crusaders

The Clare County Library hosts a website with prodigious genealogy and family history resources; many databases can be searched online at: http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/genealogy/genealog.htm.

The Clare Library and Clare Roots Society (CRS) have collaborated on a number of genealogy-related projects over recent years, with the projects published on the Clare Library website. The Clare Champion reported on a recent project. Excerpts from the November 21, 2014 newspaper story are reproduced here:

In 1860, over 1200 volunteers from Ireland travelled to Italy to fight for the Papal States in the Papal Wars. An appeal was made throughout the country for funds to support the volunteers.

Twenty-three Catholic parishes from Clare published lists of subscribers in newspapers of the day and, now, members of Clare Roots Society have undertaken to transcribe the names of these subscribers, resulting in a database of over 4000 names.

This week, members of Clare Roots Society handed over the Papal Army database (to the county library).

In recent times, staff at the library’s Local Studies Centre came across extensive lists of subscribers’ names published in the The Clare Journal, the local newspaper of the day. The subscriptions were in response to an appeal for funds to support the Irish volunteers to the Papal Army in the summer of 1860.

(The Local Studies Centre librarian) immediately saw the value of these lists to genealogy researchers tracing Clare families. The printed lists not only included the surname but also the Christian name of subscribers and the sum contributed. In some cases, the list included the title of prominent citizens or business names, and some area names of residences…

In the summer of 1860, the Papal States were at war with Garibaldi’s Revolutionary Army. The Papal States straddle Italy around the Rome area and were an obstacle to unifying Italy and achieving freedom for its people.

An appeal to join the Papal Army in this war was heard by over 1200 Irishmen, who made their way across the continent to join the fight. The full list of names of individuals and their place of resident was contained in a British Intelligence Report (59th report of the Duty Keeper of the Public Records of Ireland 1860) as volunteers left Ireland.

Thirty-seven persons are noted as residents of Clare, all listed as from Ennis. Apparently this referred to the administration centre in Ennis and not their actual place of residence in the county.

An appeal was made for funds and, in total, collections of 23 parishes…were printed in the various newspapers. Many additional parishes contributed but, it would appear, never published in print…

(CRS search of newspaper archives at the National Library of Ireland  identified nine additional parishes.) Five were found in The Munster News and Limerick and Clare Advocate and a further four in the The Limerick Reporter and Tipperary Vindicator

The ad-hoc nature of the Papal Army – poorly organized and badly equipped – ensured a short war with surrender to the Revolutionary forces in September of that year. It is estimated between 70 and 100 Irish died or were wounded. The Irish officers and soldiers were held as prisoners in Genoa for a brief time before their release.

Most men returned to Ireland by November of that year to a hero’s welcome. The Clare Journal published an article on their homecoming with the following extract:

Soiree to the Irish Brigade at Ennis

The Catholic Young Men’s Association entertained the Ennis section of the returned crusaders in their large hall in Old Chapel Lane. The room, which is a large one, capable of accommodating 1000 persons, was well filled, and there could not be less than that number present.

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