Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

Harrington Edward né le 9 juillet 1915 à Lixnaw
dans le diocèse de Kerry, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1934
prêtre le 3 avril 1938
décédé le 17 février 2001

1938-1947 Kilcogan, professeur de philosophie
1947-1955 Cork, secrétaire provincial et archiviste
1955-1964 diocèse de Jos, Nigeria
1964-1965 Wilton, directeur
1965-1968 diocèse de Jos, Nigeria
1968-1982 Cork, secrétaire provincial
et archiviste jusqu’en 1973
1983-1984 Cork, aide archiviste
1984-1989 Cork, procureur
1990-2001 Cork, retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 17 février 2001, 
à l’âge de 85 ans

Father Edward Joseph HARRINGTON (1915 - 2001)

Edward Joseph Harrington was born in the parish of Lixnaw, Co Kerry, on 9th July 1915. He died in St. Theresa’s nursing unit, SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork, on 17th February 2001.

Edward Harrington (called ‘Ned’ in the Society and ‘Eddie’ within his family) was brought up in Abbeydorney (the family address was ‘St. Anne’s’, Drumounnig) and received his early education in that town. In 1927 he commenced his secondary education at the Jeffers Institute in nearby Tralee. Four years later he matriculated and in the following year, 1932, successfully completed his Leaving Certificate. It was Fr. Maurice Slattery, also a native of Abbeydorney, who introduced Ned to the Society. Fr. Slattery had been twice Provincial of the Irish Province (1913-1918) (1925-1931) and was shortly to become Superior General. In September 1932 Ned entered the Society’s Novitiate and House of Philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co. Galway. Two years later, his course complete, he began his theological studies in the Society’s major seminary, at Dromantine, Newry, Co. Down. Ned was received as a member of the Society on 1st July 1934. He and another class member, Martin O’Meara, both below the canonical age, could not be ordained priests with the fifteen remaining members of their class on 19th December 1937. Their ordination took place later, on 3rd April 1938, in St. Colman’s Cathedral, Newry. The ordaining prelate was Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese.

After ordination Ned was sent to U.C.G. to study for a degree in Philosophy and Education. For the next three years, residing in Kilcolgan he cycled the ten miles to Galway and back in all kinds of weather. During this time, also, he lectured to the students under a scheme which had been devised some three years earlier. SMA students who had attended U.C.C. for a year – after completing their secondary schooling in the Society’s Cork college – were permitted to complete their degree studies at U.C.G. The arrangement was negotiated between Fr. Stephen Harrington, the Irish Provincial and Fr. Anthony McAndrew, Superior of Kilcolgan (acting for the Society), and Alfred O'Rahilly, President of U.C.C. and Professor Howley of U.C.G. (acting for the universities). From Kilcolgan the SMA students went out to U.C.G. one day each week where they received lectures in philosophy from Professor Howley, and later from his successor, Fr. Phelim O'Briain, O.F.M. The lecturer in education was Dr. Pat Larkin. These lectures were supplemented by classes given in Kilcolgan by priests designated for that purpose by the university's philosophy and education departments. Fr. McAndrew was the first to give these lectures. Others who taught the degree course in Kilcolgan were Michael Mahony, Tony Glynn, Gerry McGahan, and John A. Creaven.

Ned was to receive an honours degree in 1941 and he was to spend ten years lecturing on the degree course to the students in Kilcolgan. Overcoming the problems posed by a severe speech impediment, he guided class after class through the difficult mazes of philosophy between 1938 and 1947. He is remembered by students of this era as a hard-working and conscientious teacher. He is also remembered as a stern referee of Gaelic Football matches, unafraid to send to the line not only offending students but staff members who infringed. These included John A. Creaven who he was later to serve as Provincial Secretary for 10 years. During the course of 1947 the heavy load he had been carrying for so long became too much and Ned fell ill. After recuperation and rest he was appointed Secretary to the Provincial and Archivist at the Society’s headquarters in Blackrock Road. Ned’s exceptional talents as a secretary and administrator soon became evident, and indeed he was to spend much of the remaining years of his active life in this work.

Ned’s first term as Provincial Secretary came to an end in 1955 when his superiors acceded to his repeated requests for a mission appointment. In December of that year he went to the diocese of Jos in Northern Nigeria where John Reddington was bishop. After four months in Kagoro, where he assisted Peter Bennett and was introduced to the missionary life, Ned was posted to Kafanchan mission. During his first tour of duty he also served in Akwanga. After leave in Ireland Ned returned to Jos in January 1959 where he was appointed Supervisor of Schools, a key administrative post which required him to liase with the Government Education Department, ensuring that Catholic Schools were of a sufficient standard to receive government subsidies. In 1962, after his next leave in Ireland, Ned was appointed Principal of Mary Immaculate College in Kafanchan, an institution which provided teachers for the numerous elementary schools throughout the diocese. In June 1964 Ned was invalided home to Ireland and, after a period of convalescence, was appointed Director of Students in the Society’s university hostel at Wilton, Cork. In this capacity his former students remember him as a man of prudence and common sense. A year later, his health restored, he returned to C.M.I. Kafanchan, remaining in charge of this important institution until 1968 when, after the Provincial Assembly of that year, he was appointed Secretary to the new Provincial, Fr. Laurence Carr.

Ned found that the new Provincial envisaged a significantly enlarged role for him than the one he had exercised formerly. His secretarial portfolio, Fr. Carr explained, was to involve far more than the routine tasks of managing the Provincial office. Ned was to attend all Provincial Council meetings – these meetings were to be far more frequent than in the past - where he was not only to take the minutes but where he must be prepared to offer his advice and counsel when sought. In addition, Fr. Carr asked him to take on the responsibilities of Archivist for the Province, following a recommendation at the General Assembly of that year that each Province should have an Archivist. Ned was to remain Provincial Secretary until 1982, when, entering his 68th year and feeling that a younger and more energetic man was needed, he relinquished the onerous duties he had performed so well. In February 1983 he became assistant to the Society’s Archivist and a year later took charge of the Treasury. He retired from active work on 1st January 1990 when he was in his 75th year.

It must be said that although Ned spent much of his life in Ireland, his heart was in Africa. In 1979 he requested the then Provincial, Fr. Con Murphy, to be relieved of his duties as Secretary so as to be able to return to Jos. He had already been eleven years continuously as Secretary and felt he was becoming ineffective. ‘If I were released within the coming year,’ he told the Provincial with characteristic humility, ‘I believe I could become re-acclimatised to Nigeria. Last summer I made enquiries as to my prospects in that country. The Jos Vicar General assured me I could be fitted in. And the Regional Superior in Ibadan told me I would be very welcome… So there is hope at least.’ But Ned was much too valuable at Provincial headquarters to be spared. Nor did he demur. Indeed throughout his life, with exemplary humility, and total loyalty, he did the bidding of his superiors always.

Ned made an extraordinary contribution to the administration of the Province, serving under no less than five Provincial superiors. He was also called upon on a number of occasions to act as Secretary to International Society meetings. As Fr. John Quinlan, Provincial at the time of Ned’s death, said in his funeral homily, ‘Fr. Harrington’s efficiency was legendary, his courtesy unfailing and his loyalty and sense of duty truly admirable’. His contribution to building up the Archives was no less significant between 1968-1973 when he was archivist and again between 1983-1984 when he was assistant. Although Ned had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Province and its affairs, discretion and charity led him to take many secrets to the grave. His declining years were made difficult by deteriorating eyesight which, among other things, prevented him from reading. However he remained very independent, insisting on doing everything for himself right up to the end of his life.

Throughout his life Ned took a keen interest in the fortunes of Kerry football, although his enthusiasm was always discreet and well contained. In terms of active participation in sporting activities, Ned was a dedicated swimmer. Indeed until well into his seventies, he swam into the winter months at Poul Gorm near Crosshaven which was Cork’s equivalent of Dublin’s Forty-foot, suitable only for serious swimmers.

He is buried in Wilton Cemetery.