Société des Missions Africaines – Membre honoraire

BLAKE Llewellyn Joseph

né en 1840 à Ballinafad
dans le diocèse de Tuam, Irlande
fait comte papal par Pie X le 4 décembre 1905
membre honoraire le 17 décembre 1913
décédé le 8 septembre 1916 
Count Llewellyn J. Blaken

décédé à Cloughballimore, Irlande, le 8 septembre 1916



Count Llewellyn Joseph BLAKE (1840 - 1916)

A Cloughballimore (Irlande), le 8 septembre 1916, retour à Dieu de Monsieur le Comte Blake Llewellyn, membre honoraire de la Société.

Pour sa grande charité, il avait été créé Comte papal par le pape saint Pie X en 1905. Pour le don des propriétés de Ballinafad et de Kilcogan, ainsi que de nombreuses bourses d'études, il était devenu, à la demande de la Province d'Irlande, membre honoraire de la Société le 17 décembre 1913.

Count Llewellyn Joseph BLAKE (1840 - 1916)

Llewellyn Joseph Blake was born in the year 1840, at Ballinafad, Co. Mayo, in the archdiocese of Tuam. He died at Cloughballymore house, Kilcolgan, Co Galway, on 8 September 1916.

The youngest of five brothers, Llewellyn was a member of the distinguished Blake family of Mayo and Galway, which entered Ireland with De Burgo in the twelfth century. Llewellyn received private tuition at home from English and French professors and spent a good deal of his youth in France, the language of which he could speak with correctness and fluency. His father, Maurice Blake, died when his youngest son was a mere lad of eleven, while his mother, Anne Blake, died in the year 1881. When not quite 40 years old, after he had served for fifteen years in the Connaught Rangers, seeing service in India (and retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel), Llewellyn married a widow, Mrs Honoria Murray of Northampton House, Kinvara, Co Galway (she was an O'Regan, a member of the milling family). Always a devout man, on the death of his wife without issue, he consecrated himself to a life of prayer and charity. No sentimentalist, hard headed in business matters, Llewellyn took care that the wealth at his disposal should be employed productively. Thus it was that he spent a considerable time seeking out suitable charities to endow.

His contacts with the S.M.A. came in 1899 when, testing the waters as it were, he had sent insignificant sums of money to a variety of religious congregations. Joseph Zimmermann, superior of the Irish branch of the S.M.A., one of the beneficiaries, responded by a lengthy letter in which he outlined detailed plans for an Irish mission to Africa. Fr. Zimmermann followed up his letter by calling on Llewellyn in his home at Ballinafad, and presenting at first hand his vision of a future which would revive Ireland's ancient missionary glory. At the heart of his concept was the development of the Irish branch of the Society as an autonomous Province, which would recruit its own members, train them and then despatch them to its own mission fields in the African continent. Taken by the determination of his interlocutor and persuaded that the project was viable, Llewellyn decided there and then to make substantial funds available to the Irish branch of the Society for the education of candidates to the missionary calling. In total, between 1899 until his death in 1916, Llewellyn subscribed in excess of £20,000 towards the education of students. Moreover, at his death he bequeathed eight fifteenths of his assets, amounting to a sum of £60,000, to the Society's benefit.

Not only did Llewellyn provide most of the Irish branch's financial means, but his intervention on its behalf was an important factor in winning the support of Cardinal Michael Logue and several leading bishops for Fr. Zimmerman's project. His advocacy, both in Irish clerical circles and at Rome, of a distinctly Irish enterprise, free from continental control, won for that concept a measure of acceptance which Fr. Zimmermann, despite his exceptional powers of persuasion, could never have achieved alone. Fr. Zimmermann's project was greatly facilitated too by Llewellyn's decision to make over his Ballinafad property to the Society to be used as a college for the education of priests. Later he was to give his Cloughballymore (Kilcolgan) property to the Society for the same purpose. He was also to richly endow these colleges so that large numbers of students could be admitted. Ballinafad opened as an apostolic school or secondary college, in 1907, under the patronage of the Sacred Heart. Kilcolgan was given over to the Society in 1915, opening its doors as a novitiate and house of philosophy in September 1918. For his benefactions towards the Church's missions Llewellyn was created a Papal Count by Pope Pius X in 1905. And for his gifts of property and funds he was admitted (at the request of the Irish Province which was erected in May 1912) as an honorary member of the Society on 17 December 1913. The Blake Motto, 'virtus sola nobilitat', emblazoned over the students entrance door at Kilcolgan in 1918, truly summed up the man.

Michael Collins, who was ordained for the Society in 1907, was one of the first members of the Society to take up residence in Cloughballymore in the summer of 1915. He provides a description of Llewellyn a year before his death: 'The first impression of the Count was not a little awe inspiring. A tall heavy man 5 feet 11 inches tall and about 16 stone in weight he had a remarkably large head and body; a short pointed white beard and a strong aquiline nose, and a pair of deep set grey blue eyes, that seemed terribly penetrating. He was evidently a well bred man, leading quietly in conversation, but rather reserved and somewhat distant perhaps it was shyness and modesty. Usually dressed in a black frieze frock coat, striped trousers, with heavy "K" boots, he combined the appearance of a country gentleman and a military commander. As he passed in conversation from one topic to another, one grew a little less afraid of him; for he took a very fine common sense, and even pleasant, view of things; he seemed very candid and simple in his expression of thought, and was deeply religious minded, while referring to over pious people as "great craw thumpers".'

A record of Llewellyn's death and burial is to be found in the house diary of Ballinafad, for September 8th. 'On today Llewellyn Count Blake, Lt. Col. 3rd Connaught Rangers and Founder of this college died at Cloughballymore, Kilcolgan. After High Mass at Ballindereen church his remains were transferred from Ardrahan to Cork and interred in Wilton College grounds following High Mass at which Dr. Cohalan the newly appointed bishop of Cork presided'.

He is buried outside the south side of the public church at Wilton, Cork (behind the sanctuary), at a spot he chose himself.