John Ireland

Ireland, John (Īrˈlənd) [key], 1838–1918, American Roman Catholic prelate, first archbishop of St. Paul, Minn. (1888–1918), b. Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. He emigrated to St. Paul in childhood. He was educated at French seminaries, was ordained (1861), and soon enlisted as a chaplain in the Civil War. He became prominent when he was cathedral pastor (1867–75) at St. Paul, as a strong advocate of total abstinence, opposing the liquor interests, and as an opponent of political corruption. In 1875 he was made coadjutor bishop of St. Paul and in 1884 bishop; in 1888 his see was made archiepiscopal. Bishop Ireland was an energetic spokesman for liberal American Catholicism. He gained many enemies by advocating state support and inspection of Catholic schools and by opposing the use of foreign languages in American Catholic churches, except in extreme need, and in parochial schools under any circumstances. He was in favor of Western settlement by immigrants, who could thereby escape the poverty of the Eastern urban environment. He continually made public statements on political matters, and he was a close personal friend of Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

See biography by J. H. Moynihan (1953).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.