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Fr Timothy Leonard | Major Gerard O'Dwyer

Fr Timothy Leonard

Fr Leonard
Fr Leonard

Timothy Leonard was born in Ballycraheen in June 1893 and baptised in Monaleen on June 19th. He attended Monaleen National School and later St Munchin's College. In 1911, he went to Maynooth and was ordained on April 28th 1918 for the diocese of Limerick. Shortly afterwards he joined the newly founded Columban Fathers and in early 1920 left with Bishop Galvin and sixteen other young priests. He worked in the Hubei Province in Central China. He returned to Ireland in 1924 but returned to China in 1926 and two years later was transferred to Kiangsi Province where he became Pastor of the parish of Nan Feng near the city of Kienchang. A group of bandits arrived in the town on July 5th 1920. He was celebrating Mass and had just reached the Offertory when the bandits broke into the Church and seized him. He made valiant efforts to protect the Blessed Sacrament, but they desecrated the Hosts before him. He was taken away, having refused to accede to a demand for ransom. He was taken into the hills and, after some weeks of captivity and a 'trial' he was killed on July 17th. He was the first Columban priest to suffer a violent death.

The Tombstone erected in memory of Fr Leonard
Tombstone of Fr Leonard

Two of his brothers were priests. Father William became an eminent Scripture scholar, spending much of his priestly life teaching Scripture in the Seminary in Manley, Australia. Father Joseph, his youngest brother was, like Timothy, ordained for the diocese of Limerick and became Parish Priest of Dromin-Athlacca, where he died in 1973.

Visiting Fr Leonard's grave site
Fr Leonard's second cousin, John Leonard,
together with a Columban Father Joe Houston,
visiting the site of his grave in October 2002

Major Gerard O'Dwyer

In the equestrian world during the late 1920s and the 1930s, Ireland had one of the best showjumping teams in the world. Part of this team was Monaleen man Major Gerard O'Dwyer and his horse Limerick Lace.

Before his army career, Gerard was a member of the IRA and took part in the raid that resulted in the burning of the RIC barracks in Kilmallock. After this event, he had to go on the run. O'Dwyer took the side of Michael Collins in the Civil War. He joined the Irish Army Equitation School after he had been offered a position there.

During his time in the Equitation School, Captain O'Dwyer won 8 Nations Cups in a row and 6 Aga Khan Cups at the Dublin Horse Show from 1926 to 1936. In 1934, O'Dwyer became a Major.

Fr Timothy Leonard | Major Gerard O'Dwyer
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