June 22nd, 1961


FROM THE ARCHIVES:The Patrician Congress in 1961 was a reprise of the earlier Eucharistic Congress, marking the 1,500th anniversary of the death of St Patrick with all the panoply of a State visit. This report described a garden party in honour of the papal legate, the Armenian Cardinal Agagianian, at Blackrock College. –

SEVERAL THOUSAND people, sipping tea and lemonade on the sun-drenched lawns yesterday greeted Cardinal Agagianian, the Papal Legate, and the President, Mr de Valera, on their arrival at Blackrock College, Dublin.

Elegant ladies in fashionable hats and dresses and husbands in smartly tailored informal suits

sat under large multi-coloured parasols at the garden party of the year. On either side of the lawns, large white marquees billowed in the balmy breeze...

And the centre-piece of it all was the main building of the college, Castledawson House, its balcony draped in yellow and red... and decorated at the front with a giant badge of the Dublin Congress of the Patrician Year.

The crowd cheered the arrival of each of the Very Important Visitors – Cardinals Doepfner, Castro, Giobbe, and Marella, all now familiar names to the people of Dublin; The Taoiseach, Mr Lemass, and his wife, and some of the Ministers and their wives; the Lord Mayor, Councillor Maurice Dockrell and the Lady Mayoress, and a host of other church and civic dignitaries.

There was a standing ovation when the dark-blue presidential Rolls-Royce, escorted by police and white-helmeted Army motorcyclists, arrived. As they alighted from the car, the Legate and President were welcomed by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev Dr McQuaid, and the president of the college, the Very Rev Dr Anthony Hampson, CSSp. Introductions, a cup of coffee or a glass of sherry, and more introductions followed. Soon the balcony was crowded, the scarlet-robed cardinals seated on chairs which other cardinals had used during the Eucharistic Congress in 1932.

Then the great moment arrived. The distinguished figures of the short, bearded Papal Legate and the tall thin President de Valera, rose and walked forward down the red-carpeted steps at the front of the balcony.

A cordon of the Congress Volunteer Corps, who had preserved an open space on the lawn now had its hands full as the eager crowd pushed forward. First it was a word of thanks to the Army No. 1 band and the Artane Boys’ band, which earlier had played the Papal and National Anthems; then the open space seemed to be full as men and women crowded in to kneel and kiss the ring of the legate.

But the smiling Cardinal Agagianian had one more call to make before he returned to Áras an Uachtaráin – and this was to St. Mary’s School and Home for the Blind. Here, a ring of maroon-and-green uniformed girls and white-shirted boys waited. And as the cavalcade of cars arrived these children waved little Papal flags and smiled at the distinguished visitors that they could not see.