Father Thomas Crotty, a Dominican

father crotty and o'gorman

Father O'Gorman on left of photo, Father Crotty is in the centre

An Irish Dominican priest who was sent to Limburg by the Vatican, and continued to work there after the Irish Brigade moved to Zossen. He was by all accounts non political, and neither encouraged nor discouraged, men to join the Irish Brigade. He took his work to be soley religous,

1867. Martin Crotty and his wife Ellen and their eldest son Tom moved from Athy to New Ross where 10 more children were born, the youngest of whom was named James Crotty, born in New Ross in 1867. In 1870 the Crotty family moved to Kilkenny.

1884. When James Crotty joined the Dominican Order in 1884 took the religious name Thomas. Ordained in Rome in 1891, he returned to Ireland the following year to join the staff of Newbridge Dominican College.

1900 Apr 21. He was appointed Prior of the Dominican community in Athy where he remained for just over two years. Subsequently he was Prior of the Black Abbey in Kilkenny before transferring to Rome where he was Prior of San Clemente for two periods.

1914 Oct 28. Letter from J.T. Crotty, 8 Piazza Santa was 134 Maria Maggiore, (Rome), to John Hagan in Irish College in Rome, accepting his invitation. Stating his satisfaction at Cardinal Gasquet having been cleared of 'the infamous action' he was charged with – 'the dear old man is after all fair enough for an Englishman'. Some comments on the brute force against the Germans which many of their countrymen have regrettably taken sides with.

1914 Nov 21. reported to be with Von Wedal in Berlin. Came directly from Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome in Nov 1914. The Vatican made him available for an "indefinite period of time"Geoffrey Parmiter who wrote a biography of Roger Casement which was published in 1936 claimed that Casement found Fr. Crotty to be “a raging Fenian”, who nevertheless confined himself strictly to his priestly duties. Casement was very friendly with Fr. Crotty and spent a considerable amount of time in his company. Indeed Parmiter states that “between Casement and Fr. Crotty there sprung up a great and everlasting friendship”. Fr. Crotty is generally credited with helping Casement to strengthen his interest in the Catholic Church and this ultimately led to Casement’s conversion while awaiting execution in 1916.

Quinlisk criticises Crotty for preventing many men from joining the Irish Brigade.

Father Crotty at Limburg 1915 - Irish Independent

1915 May 9. Plunkett is at Limburg, and meets Father Nicholson and Crotty

1915 Aug 13 Crotty in correspondence with Casement to try to get a permit to visit all POW camps with Irishmen

1915 Oct 14. Letter from J.J.Crotty, c/ o Mrs.Schreine, 123 Macher, Villa Park, Maastricht, (The Netherlands), to Hagan in Rome ('carissimo'), wholely agreeing to Hagan's point of view, as stated in his last letter. Nicholson ought to have followed Hagan's advice; he himself has only performed his pastoral duties, and will document his activities in a brochure. He will humbly undergo the editing that his (Superior) General demanded before its publication. Asking him to congratulate O'Gorman and tell him that his successor, now in the States, had not been detained on his journey. He has to travel much from his posting, commenting on the beauty and prosperity of the country where 'a live beggar is an impossibility'. He has had post only from J.Hickey, and Glenmore, and publishes letters in the papers. His landlady is a Tipperarywoman.

1915 Nov 15. Monteith in his diary. I have just met Father Crotty here, one of the Irish priests sent from Rome to take charge of the spiritual needs of the Irish here. I did not care to spend too much time in Father Crotty's company. I was afraid I might place him in a false or compromising position. He was there as a priest and only as a priest.

1916 Jan 22. Fr. Thomas Crotty is recalled to Rome, apparently at the request of the German military. He writes to Von Wedel that he received a letter fom the Superior General of his order instructing him to return to Rome as soon as possible.

The German War Ministry and Nadolny wanted Crotty’s removal from the Brigade. The German Foreign Office wanted Crotty to be recalled by the rector of the Irish College in Rome under pretence that he was needed back in Rome. But Crotty wrote to Matthias Erzberger, a leading politician in the Zentrum political party and future leading member of the German-Irish society, asking him for help. He feared that the return to Italy, which had in the meantime entered the war on the side of the Entente, would lead to handing him over to Britain. As a result of Erzberger’s and other highranking personalities’ speaking out for him German Foreign Office agreed to allow Crotty to remain in Limburg. T

1916 Feb 16. Letter from [I.] Schreine, 123 Maker, Villa Park, 33 Maastricht (The Netherlands), to Hagan in Rome, with a message conveyed in writing from Fr.J.I.Crotty: Hagan is to call on his and Hagan's friend; everything possible should be done to have his superior general's letter rescinded and permission given to Crotty to stay at his work in Limburg an der Lahn, for the sake of the prisoners. The Prussian authorities expressed their regret on Crotty's receiving his superior's letter.

1916 Mar 17 Crotty celebrates mass in Limburg for Holohan's burial.

1916 Sep 17 Letter from P.J.Crotty, Albertinum Convict, 96 Fribourg, Switzerland, to Hagan in Rome, offering sympathy for his illness. Giving some descriptions of his work with the prisoners, and on journeys to 'distant Kommandos' where some are engaged. There are less men now, about 150 having gone to Switzerland and about the same having returned home. Fr.Joe Hickey is in contact with news, and assists by raising awareness of them in Ireland; there is a good supply of parcels for the 'boys' from generous friends so that they 'are well off and want for nothing'. He is about to celebrate his priestly jubilee and the men are saving for a memorial chalice for him – now that they can earn money they have also been paying a monthly tax for the chapel. Asking Hagan to obtain a papal blessing for them for the event (he is arranging a personal blessing through Fr.Salvati).

1916 Nov 1. His 25th jubilee of ordination was celebratedin Chapel of Irish Prisoners of War, Limburg/ Lahn

1917 Aug 10. Postcard from Fr.P.J.Crotty, Kriegsgefangenenlager Giessen (Hessen, Germany), to Hagan in Rome. The postcard depicts an Irish cross erected to the memory of Irish prisoners of war who died at Limburg an der Lahn. (with Italian censor's stamp; sent from Switzerland)

1917 May 25. A celtic cross was erected at Limburg at the initiation of Rev. J. T. Crotty. It commemorated the deaths of POWs at the camp

1921 he was a member of the Commission for the revision of the Dominican Constitution.

1924 Aug. he returned to Ireland to become Prior of the Waterford Foundation.

1927 Dec. he transferred to Newry

1930 Nov 29. He died unexpectedly in Newry.

Irish Brigade