Father Johann Berkessel

Father Johann Berkessel, originally from Niederelbert, was a catholic Priest who lived at Balduinstein, a small town a few miles west of Limburg. After ordination he spent 18 years at Rockwell College in Ireland working as a priest. He had been a priest at Winden from 1901 to 1901. Later priest at Daisbach und Balduinstein. He died in 1927

The relevant references to him in relation to Casement's Irish Brigade are :-

1914 Dec 14. letter from Father O'Gorman, Limburg, to Hagan in Rome. Relating his and Fr.Crotty's visit at Balduinstein to Pfarrer Berkessel, a priest who spent 18 years at Rockwell College; on the train they were overheard speaking English, denounced and subsequently cross-examined.

1915 Jan 15. Letter from Casement to von Wedel. I am asking permission for a local catholic priest Pfarrer Berkessel to visit the men.He has long been in Ireland and knows and likes the people

1915 May 16 From Plunketts diary. "Casement and I went by the train to see Father Berkessel. at Balduinstein. Very good poteen and wine. Walk to the Big Castle. Sweet music. The church with nine Irish men. Back 7.30 in the evening"

1915 May 17 From Plunkett's diary " Meeting with Casement, Father Berkessel and Capt von Lubbers and Father Nicholson and after that with Casement and Capt Boehm"

1915 May 24. From Plunkett's diary." Limburg. Father Nicholson goes to to Balduinstein to see Father Berkessel."

1915 Nov 15. Monteith records I also met a German priest, Father Berkessel, who had a Tipperary accent, he had lived years in Ireland. A most lovable man, it was good to hear him talk, he, previous to the war paid an annual visit to Ireland, and is coming again when the war ends. I hope to meet him." "Casement gave me a letter of introduction to Father Berkessel, a Catholic Priest who lived about 12 miles outside Limburg in a country parish. One Sunday evening I set out with Zerhussen to visit him. We climbed up the side of a hill in darkness and arrived at his presbytery about 7 pm. The house was hundreds of years old, a massive stone structure, with iron studded doors, with a great iron knocker which resounded like a thunder clap. The great unlighted building on the side of a snow covered mountain, with a roaring torrent below, gave me an eerie feeling. The crash of the knocker as it fell from my hand made me jump. The first knock met with no response. In answer to the second, we heard the sound of heavy footsteps coming towards the door. The bolts were drawn and the chains dropped and a white haired man, carrying a horn lantern, stood before us. He addressed us in German and asked our business. Zerhussen answered for me and informed him that an Irishman had come to visit him...the old priest spoke with a pronounced Tipperary accent. The good father explained how he had come by his knowledge of Irish and his Tipperary accent. He had shortly after his ordination, some difference with his government, and for reasons of conscience, emigrated to Ireland, and lived and worked in Tipperary for years. ...When train time came it was hard to leave...I saw him a number of times during my stay at Limburg

Priests with the Irish Brigade