Parish Of Birth
St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth Co Kildare, Ireland
Details Of Ordination
St. Mary & St. Anne’s Cathedral, Cork
Bishop : 29/8/1916 – 24/8/1952
Auxiliary Bishop of Cork : 7/6/1914 – 29/8/1916
St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth/Prof. Theology : 7/9/1996 – 7/6/1914
Tracton CC : 11/1884 – 09/1886
St. Finbarr’s Seminary, St. Patrick’s Hill : 01/1884 – 11/1884
Kilbrittain CC : 10/1883 – 01/1884
Post-Graduate Studies/Maynooth : 1882 – 1883
Born: 14 July 1858 Educated: St. Vincent’s (CM), Cork, & Maynooth
He was a brother of Very Rev. Canon Jeremiah Cohalan, P.P., Bandon (1918-1930). He was an uncle of the brothers, Most Rev. Daniel Cohalan, Bishop of Waterford (1943-1965), Archdeacon Jeremiah Cohalan, P.P., The Lough (1945-1955) and a granduncle of Very Rev. Donal Linehan, P.P., who currently serves in the Diocese.
Date Of Death
Place Of Death
Bon Secours Hospital, Cork.
Place Of Burial
Originally at St. Finbarr’s, Farranferris; reinterred at St Mary and St. Anne’s Cathedral grounds in 1996.
In the 1916 Rising as Auxiliary Bishop of Cork he acted as mediator between the Cork Volunteers and the British military authorities. With the Lord Mayor of Cork he arranged for the Volunteers to place their arms in the custody of the Lord Mayor in return for vague guarantees against arrest, guarantees the British authorities failed to honour.
In the first year of his episcopate as Bishop of Cork, he threw out a challenge to Sinn Fein in the summer of 1917.
“The Sinn Fein party is henceforth on trial. Its work has been the work of opposition, of pulling down. If it is to justify its existence it must have a practical authoritative policy. Sinn Fein, it is said, is divided. So far there has been no authoritative statement of constructive Sinn Fein policy”.
Bishop Cohalan was one of the strongest opponents of conscription in 1918. At a public meeting in Cork he proposed the resolution protesting against the attempt to conscript Irishmen “…..in defiance of the will of the Irish people” to fight England’s war. He was also a signatory to the Statement on Conscription issued April 18, 1918, by Irish Hierarchy meeting in Maynooth and took an active part in organising the protest movement in his own diocese.
He was the celebrant of the Solemn Requiem Mass for Thomas McCurtain, the Lord Mayor of Cork murdered by the R.I.C. in March 1920. In the same year, he also visited another Mayor of Cork, Terence McSwiney, shortly before he died on hunger strike in Brixton Prison. By 1923, however, he would seem to have changed his mind.
On December 12, 1920, he issued a decree of excommunication against those who perpetrated violence.
“Anyone who shall, within the Diocese of Cork, organise or take part in an ambush or in kidnapping or otherwise, shall be guilty of murder or attempted murder and shall incur by the very fact the censure of excommunication”.
His policy, however, was considered to be ineffective, coming at a time when the Black and Tans – auxiliaries recruited from the scum of British prisons and drop-outs from society – went on the rampage throughout Cork, killing and murdering Catholics including two priests, elderly Canon Thomas J. Magner and Father Michael Griffin in Co. Galway. His policy caused confusion and divided his Catholic community and was regarded as counter-productive in the interests of the Church.
Preaching in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Cork on December 10, 1922, he welcomed the new institution, setting up the Irish Free State and the partition of Ireland. He saw it “as pleasure of freedom and independence” and while “not perfection” it was “a great measure of freedom”.
Bishop Cohalan would appear to have changed his stance on the question of hunger strikes. In 1920 he had visited Terence McSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, while on hunger strike in Brixton Prison, but in 1924, he refused Catholic burial to Denis Barry – another hunger striker.
In 1925, he exhorted Catholics “…..not to vote for any candidate” in the Senate election” ….. who is likely to support an un-Catholic measure or proposal in the Senate. Union and harmony between citizens are very necessary in Ireland at the moment. Yet it will be remembered that a certain number of Protestants have been disturbing this harmony by endeavouring in the name of civil rights to force on us Catholics the un-Catholic legislation or permission to divorce with the right to marry. And, be it remembered, that even under British rule there is no divorce in Ireland”.
In 1937, he made what could only be described as a bold offer to the Protestants of Cork following an article in the Church of Ireland Gazette under the heading Rome and Ourselves: The Things That Divide. Cohalan took up the defence of Rome and suggested the author had been imbued with false principles of modernism. He proceeded to tackle various aspects of the criticism “……in order to remove misconceptions and misunderstanding and to speak of the Catholic Church as known to those within and so often misrepresented and on this account misjudged by those outside”.
He said that Catholics could not hope that those who did not belong to the Church would accept their definition of the Catholic Church as instructed by Jesus Christ, for, if they accepted that definition, they would join the Catholic Church.
“There is a longing in the Christian world for universal Christian union. There is so much evil in the world and the powers of darkness are so active that many are sighing and praying for united Christian action. But unity of action is impossible without unity of belief, of faith. Now Irish Protestants and chief among them Cork Protestants have it in their power to hasten unity of faith”.
“Why should they stick to justification by faith – a German-made religion originated by a failed priest. Nowhere are the social relations between Catholics and Protestants happier than in Cork.
“No doubt old differences cannot be forgotten in a moment. Protestants will prefer to worship by themselves as in the past”.
“But that difficulty can be easily surmounted. They have a most worthy and venerated Bishop, respected by all. Let him only come to terms for himself and his flock, with the Pope, and it can easily be arranged that he shall be the Catholic Bishop for his own people in St. Finbarr’s while I continue as Catholic Bishop in St. Mary’s …..”
Besides his contributions to the Irish Ecclesiastical Record ( IER)Catholic Bulletin his literary works included:
- Trinity College and the Commissions (1908),
- De Deo Uno et Trino (1909),
- De Deo Creatore (1909),
- Trinity College: Its Income and its Value to the Nation (1911),
- For the Catholic Emancipation 1829 – Cork Centenary Record, he wrote on, The Veto Agitation (1929).