Irish bishop buried in Perth diocese he created in 1845


AN IRISH bishop, who died 140 years ago, was finally laid to rest yesterday in the diocese he created.

Cavan-born John Brady, who was prelate of Perth in Australia from 1845 until his death in 1871, is credited with spearheading the spread of Catholicism in western Australia.

But his time in Australia was cut short, after Vatican chiefs ordered him to return to Ireland because he kept making a mess of the parish’s books and accounts.

However, yesterday he was finally returned home when he was honoured at an intimate ceremony in St Mary’s Cathedral.

A small number of relatives from Ireland were present, as his remains – which had been exhumed from a grave in France last March at the request of the Australian parish’s current bishop – were re-interred alongside the bishops who served after him.

Archbishop Barry Hickey, of the Archdiocese of Perth, said: “The church, in a formal sense, dates back to his arrival. He represents the beginning of the work of the Catholic Church of Western Australia.”

Fr Brady arrived in Western Australia in 1843 to a colony that had no Irish priests and returned in 1845 at the head of a large group of missionaries and religious orders.

He petitioned Pope Gregory XVI to establish the Perth diocese in 1844 and the diocese was established the following year.

He remained in Perth as bishop until 1852 when he was ordered to return to Ireland due to his refusal to accept a Vatican-appointed apostolic administrator to take charge of the parish’s assets and book-keeping duties. Brady retreated to his native Kilmore, Co Cavan, for some time before he withdrew from active church life and spent his last years as a hermit in Amélie-les-Bains in France, retaining his title of Bishop of Perth until his death, aged 71.

“He had every reason to refuse to resign,” added Archbishop Hickey. “It was a protest against what he saw as the unfair usurpation of his rights as diocesan bishop.”

In 2009, St Mary’s cathedral

in Perth was reopened after a three-year $33 million renovation and redevelopment, which included the building of a crypt to mausoleum standards with 16 compartments in all.

All but one of the other bishops who served at St Mary’s and the diocese were also exhumed and reinterred at the cathedral.

Archbishop Patrick Joseph Clune, born in 1864 near Ruan, Co Clare, was Lord Bishop of Perth from 1910 to 1913 and the first Catholic Lord Archbishop of the diocese until his death in 1935.

Clune, who acted as an intermediary between the English prime minister Lloyd George and Irish leaders during the War of Independence, is buried in a plot in a Perth cemetery owned by his Redeemptionist Order.