Fr Timothy 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.
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.
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.