Bing Crosby letter to John Charles McQuaid to go on display

The millionaire crooner wanted Irish nuns to staff a hospital he was bankrolling

 Bing Crosby pictured in August 1967 with his horse, Dominion Day, which won the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh with trainer  Paddy Prendergast. Photograph: Dermot Barry/The Irish Times

Bing Crosby pictured in August 1967 with his horse, Dominion Day, which won the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh with trainer Paddy Prendergast. Photograph: Dermot Barry/The Irish Times

Tue, Sep 17, 2013, 17:06

Crooner Bing Crosby wrote to the Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid requesting that he get Irish nuns to run a new hospital in California.

Crosby contacted Archbishop McQuaid in October 1961 to try and get staff for the Sacremento Hospital saying all attempts in America to do so had been “futile”.

The letter will go on display on Friday night as part of the Archdiocese of Dublin’s first ever participation in Culture Night.

Bing Crosby Letter

Rooms at the former seminary in Holy Cross College in Clonliffe, in Drumcondra, are being turned into an exhibition space for the evening.

Crosby was the most famous ficticious Catholic clergyman in the world at the time having won an Oscar for his performance as Father Chuck O’Malley in 1944 and following it up with the equally successful The Bells of St. Mary’s. In real life he was a practising Catholic and a prolific giver to Catholic causes.

He wrote to Archbishop McQuaid acknolwedging that asking Irish nuns to move to California would be a “very serious undertaking for a group of Sisters, but I can assure you that I will make it a personal obligation of mine to see that everything is in order and stays that way”.

In turn the Archbishop recommended he speak to the Mother-General Reverend Mother Mary Gabriel who had just emigrated to Birmingham, Alabama.

Quite what became of the hospital is not revealed by the correspondence, but the Catholic Herald had a report that Reverend Mother Gabriel did go to Sacramento to see the hospital take shape and that it was being bankrolled by Crosby.

Another document that will go display is a letter from an angry Archbishop William Joseph Walsh to a woman named Dora Montefiore at the time of the Dublin Lockout in 1913.

Mrs Montefiore, a socialist and supporter of the lockout, wanted to bring children from poor backgrounds in Dublin to England for the duration of the strike.

Archbishop Walsh said Mrs Montefiore would be better off contributing to a hardship fund than “spending money wastefully, as well as in a manner distasteful to the great mass of the poor mothers of Dublin, in paying the cost of deporting the children to England.”

The Dublin Diocese has one of the largest archives in the country. Among the documents going on display is a parchment from 1558. Hugh Curwen, then Archbishop of Dublin, who expressed his approval of the marriage of Henry VIII to Ann Boylen, issued the parchment.

He would later declare himself a Protestant and would be accused by the Archbishop of Armagh of “serious moral delinquency”.