Elizabeth Mary Druhan[1]

Female 1876 - 1953  (76 years)

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  • Name Elizabeth Mary Druhan 
    Nickname Eliza 
    Born 4 Sep 1876  Lady's Island, County Wexford, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3, 4, 5, 6
    Christened 4 Sep 1876  Lady's Island, County Wexford Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 6
    Gender Female 
    _UID B9A724FD42654924B92A0B31512EE9A3BF1F 
    Died 6 Apr 1953  Kylemore, County Galway, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
    Kylemore Abbey 
    Buried 8 Apr 1953  Kylemore, County Galway, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [16
    Kylemore Abbey 
    Person ID I3997  Treefive
    Last Modified 25 Apr 2019 

    Father Daniel Druhan,   b. Abt 1833,   d. 4 Sep 1911, Lady's Island, County Wexford Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 78 years) 
    Mother Ellen Sinnot,   b. 10 Jan 1844, Carne, County Wexford, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Sep 1905, Eardownes, Broadway, County Wexford Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 61 years) 
    Married 28 Nov 1872  Lady's Island, County Wexford Find all individuals with events at this location  [17
    the Church of the Assumption 
    Family ID F1154  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 

    • Biography of Elizabeth Druhan/Sister Mary Placid/Dame Elizabeth Placid Druhan (1876-1953)
      collated by Rex Sinnott, New Zealand, 15 September 2012
      ONE of the most ancient of Wexford families is the Druhans, who have had many centuries of association with Our Lady’s Island. This link was only broken as recently as 1968, when Dermot Druhan, then head of the family, sold the historic pilgrimage island to the church authorities of the Diocese of Ferns. Thus the church regained possession of the island which was granted to the Canons Regular of St. Augustine by the Norman lord, Rudolph de Lamport, almost 900 years ago.
      The O’Druhans were territorial chiefs of Our Lady’s Island at the time of the Norman settlement. The family is noted for its distinguished service to the Catholic church.  In the fifteenth century two of its members were abbots of St. Mary’s, Ferns: Thomas O’Druhan from 1438 to 1460 and Dermot O’Druhan appointed in 1474.  During their abbacy, the tithes of Our Lady’s Island were owned by the Abbey of Ferns.

      Dr. Daniel O’Druhan was Vicar Apostolic of Ferns from 1624. He was the first counter-reformation head of the diocese, having fled from Wexford during the persecution of 1581. From 1581 to 1587 he studied in Salamanca and returned to Ireland in 1591. After his appointment as vicar apostolic he re-organised the Church in the Diocese of Ferns, disguising himself under the name of James Walsh.
      The most noted member of this family in modern times was Dame Elizabeth Placid Druhan, daughter of Daniel and Ellen (nee Sinnott) Druhan of Our Lady’s Island, Broadway, County Wexford. Daniel and Ellen married in 1872.  Elizabeth, born on 4 September 1876 and named Eliza, was their third child.
      Elizabeth Druhan and her sister and cousin [1] left Our Lady’s Island at an early age with their great-uncle, Dom Placid Sinnott, O.S.B., one of the founders of Downside Abbey, whose family lived at Bunarge, Carne. He had advised their parents to send the girls to the Benedictine Abbey at Ypres in France to be educated with a view to joining the order. The future Abbess entered the Order of Benedictine Dames at the age of 14 and was professed at the age of 19, receiving the name of Sister Mary Placid.   When her great-uncle was leaving her, he foretold that she would return to Ireland after twenty years with some members of her community to establish a new Convent in Ireland.  The prediction came true.
      On 20 August 1894, at the Irish Benedictine Abbey at Ypres, Belgium, High Mass was sung, a sermon preached by the Dean of Ypres and a ceremony of the clothing of two choir novices took place. The young ladies who received the monastic habit were Mdlle. Germaine de Grammont, a member of the well-known French ducal family of that name, and Miss Druhan, a grand niece of the Rev. Dom Placid Sinnott, O.S.B., of Downside. The novices received the names of Sister Ignatius and Sister Placida respectively.

      Catherine Druhan

      Eliza's sister Catherine became Sister Mary Evangelista of the Order of Notre Dame, Namur, where she died some years later; her cousin, Dame Mary Aloysius, O.S.B., was also in Ypres but died at Macmine, Co. Wexford – she had arrived there with members of the Order before 1920. Her aunt, Sister Mary Francis Gertrude, was a member of the Order of the Poor Clares at Alma Park, Manchester. 

      The wartime existence of the Benedictine nuns at Ypres are well reported in The Glorious Madness: Tales of the Irish and the Great War: First-hand accounts of Irish men and women in the First World War (Turtle Bunbury, 2014) in the chapter “The Irish Dames of Ypres”. Extracts follow:

      The Irish Dames of Ypres

      At least seven of the 15 Benedictine nuns who remained in Ypres after the departure of the German Dames were Irish. Dame Placid came from County Wexford, as did her cousin Kate Rossiter aka Dame Aloysia. Dame Patrick was certainly Irish, but from where is unknown. Sister Mary Winifred started life as Dublin-born Emma Hodges, and may have been related to the well-known Dublin booksellers. Sister Romana king, who would join the group in their flight from Ypres, is also thought to have been Irish.
      The second bombardment of the city of Ypres began on the afternoon of 28 October. Not everyone took it as seriously as they perhaps should have done. When a bomb blew out the windows of a house on Rue Notre-Dame, the owner gamely ordered the glazier to come and fit new ones.
      That night, Dame Teresa found just enough light to scribble in her diary:'The German shells fell on the town to-day. The first fell in the sleepy moat just outside the ramparts. We have now to live in our catacombs; even the sanctuary light is out, and the chapel no longer contains the Blessed Sacrament.'
      The main concern for the Prioress was to remove the 84-year-old Lady Abbess from harm's way. She assigned this task to 38-year-old Dame Placid, aka Elizabeth Mary Druhan, who was born at Our Lady's Island in County Wexford, where the O'Druhans were territorial chiefs at the time of the Norman invasion. She took her name from her mother's uncle, Dom Placid Sinnott, OSB, one of the founders of the Benedictine monastery, Downside Abbey.
      On 30 October, Dame Placid left the convent along with the three most vulnerable women: the paralysed Lady Abbess, the elderly Dame Josephine and 73-year-old Sister Magdalene Putte. The Lady Abbess did not want to go. As Dame Columban put it, the poor woman was so 'moved when the news was broken to her that it took four women to carry her downstairs.' With the aid of a carriage that the Prioress had managed to borrow, Dame Placid escorted her small party eight miles west to the small town of Poperinge - or 'pops as the British called it - where they were received into the convent of La Sainte-Union, together with several other refugee communities.
      Meanwhile, as the bombing intensified in Ypres, the Priores and the remaining Irish Dames dragged their carpets, armchairs and 'straw-sack' mattresses down to the cellar. As some priests were by now staying with them, the cellars were divided into male and female quarters.
      The mood was sombre in Poperinge, but the Irish Dames did what they could to resume their normal routine, making badges, praying and reciting the Benedictine grace before and after meals. They began visiting the wounded, which gave them an 'insight into human misery which we should never have had'. Men laid out for amputation, men with missing jaws, men with broken eyes. They fed them pear slices and tried to raise their spirits. When they died, as so many did, they offered 'De Profundis' for the repose of their souls.
      Dame Josephine did not survive. The 80-year-old Jubilarian, who had implored St Patrick to oust the Germans from Belgium, succumbed toa combination of shock and exhaustion.
      a few days after her funeral - during which a German bomb exploded nearby - Dames Placid, Columban and Patrick ventured on a 'decidedly dangerous' mission back into Ypres to assess the damage to their convent. They passed the 13th century Cloth Hall of Ypres; one side of the great Gothic building was destroyed and most of its life-sized statues were maimed and mutilated. Their convent was badly damaged but still standing and Dame Patrick managed to salvage a 200-year-old silver crozier.
      As the trio made their way back to Poperinge, a British cavalry unit passed them by and asked who they were.
      'we are English nuns from the Benedictine Convent of the Rue St Jacques,' answered St Columban.
      'We are no such thing', interjected Dame Patrick. 'We are Irish Benedictines!'
      'Irish!' laughed the soldiers. 'So are we'.
      They were duly escorted back to Poperinge by what sounds like a detachment from the connaught Rangers who sag 'Tipperary' as they marched.
      The British commandant in Poperinge had many things on his mind, one of which was a conviction that elderly Benedictine nuns should not be in a war zone. He placed three ambulances at their disposal, and so the 14-strong community, including their Lady Abbess, set off through heavy rains and bitterly cold winds for Bolougne, where they boarded a ship for England.
      In 1915, the Irish Dames did their best to celebrate 250 years since the founding of their order in Ypres. When Scholastica Bergé, the resilient Lady Abbess, passed away in 1916, Dame Maura Ostyn, the Prioress, stepped into her place. She was invested with the same silver crozier that the nuns rescued from the convent on their return trip.
      In November 1920, the Lady Abbess negotiated the purchase of the 'silent and forlorn' Kylemore Castle from the Duke of Manchester. Under her watch, the Benedictine community expanded to 24 nuns, who ran a farm that bred prize cattle, as well as a boarding school that continued until 2010.
      In thanksgiving for their safe delivery from Ypres to Kylemore, the Lady Abbess also recruited ten local men to erect a large statue of the Sacred Heart halfway up Dúchruach Mountain. It reminded the Benedictines of the soldiers of all the soldiers who had worn their badges along the Western Front.
      At the time of her death in 1940, the Lady Abbess was the only nun in Ireland entitled to wear a jewelled ring and to carry a crozier.
      Dame Elizabeth Placid Druhan

      Sister Mary Placid was elected Abbess of the Benedictine community, Kylemore, Co. Galway, in April, 1941, following the death of Lady Maura Ostyn, the Mother Prioress.  She was the first Irishwoman to hold the office in one hundred years, since Lady Abbess O’Byrne who died in 1840.  She was blessed and installed Lady Abbess of the Benedictine Abbey of The Irish Dames of Ypres, Kylemore Castle, County Galway in the Abbey Chapel on 17 April 1941 by the Most Rev. Dr Walsh, Archbishop of Tuam.  Her brother, Robert Druhan, of Messrs McHugh and Druhan, drapers and outfitters, North Main St, Wexford, attended the Pontifical High Mass and the installing ceremony.  At that time, many cousins of the Druhan family were members of religious orders in convents in Ireland, England and America.

      The new Abbess, known as Dame Elizabeth Placid Druhan, was a niece of the late Rev. J. Druhan, C.C., Glenbrien, and the late Rev. T. Murphy, Chaplain to the Presentation Convent and St John of God Convent, Wexford, and Secretary to the late Most Rev. Dr. Browne, Lord Bishop of Ferns.  She was also an aunt of Mr Dermot Druhan of Our Lady’s Island.
      Four years later, Dame Placid celebrated the golden jubilee of her profession.  Solemn Pontifical High Mass was celebrated in the Abbey by the Archbishop of Tuam, Most Rev. Dr. Walsh, who read a telegram from Cardinal Montini, then Acting Papal Secretary of State, conveying the Holy Father’s felicitations to the Lady Abbess.  The sermon during the Mass, referring to the Benedictines’ history and that of the convent at Ypres, was preached by the late Very Rev. Canon Cunningham of Clifden.
      Under Dame Elizabeth’s rule at the abbey, the community prospered and increased in numbers.
      The Right Rev. Dame Elizabeth Placid Druhan, O.S.B., Lady Abbess of Kylemore Abbey, died at the Abbey on 6 April 1953.  Solemn Requiem Mass was celebrated at the Abbey at 11am the following day, with the funeral service immediately afterwards.
      The Free Press, 26 April 1941, page 5
      The Irish Times, 7 April 7 1953
      The People, 11 April 1953
      Kylemore Abbey website:  http://www.kylemoreabbey.com/bc_abbesses.asp
      Hilary Murphy, Families of County Wexford 1986
      Death Record 2631931- Renvyle, Clifden, Co. Galway: Elizabeth Druhan

      [1] The sister was probably Catherine, 4 years younger than Elizabeth.  Her other sisters, Anastasia (1911 census) and Margaret (1901 and 1911 census), remained in Ireland.
      Baptised as Eliza, known as Elizabeth, later Lady Abbess of Kylemore Abbey - ref SIN677, Hilary Murphy to Rex Sinnott 31 Aug 2012. The cousin was a Rossiter, and is assumed to be Catherine Rossiter (born 1866) who is the only known daughter of Michael Rossiter and Margaret (Sinnott).

  • Sources 
    1. [S801] DIA018 Diary freeform - Druhan, Mary Ellen (Marie McCarthy, Carlingford, County Louth), DIA018.

    2. [S1113] BIR173 Births - Druhan, Ireland Civil Reg., BIR173., Eliza Druhan; 1876; Wexford; 14; 886.

    3. [S1410] BAP Baptism register Lady's Island, 4 September 1876; Eliza Druhan.

    4. [S2463] ancestry.com Ireland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911, 4 Sep 1876 Wexford: Eliza Druhan.

    5. [S3509] irishgenealogy.ie Civil Records, 10 September 2016; birth: Eliza Druhan, 4 Sep 1876.

    6. [S3685] findmypast Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms, 4 Sep 1876 Eliza Druhan.

    7. [S749] DTH183 Death Druhan, Elizabeth, DTH183.

    8. [S1138] DTH182 Death Lady Abbess of Kylemore (Eliza Druhan), DTH182., Lady Abbess of Kylemore Abbey; 7 April 1953; page 5; Short obituary.

    9. [S1139] DTH184 Death Abbess of Kylemore (Eliza Druhan), DTH184., Abbess of Kylemore; April 1953; Short obituary.

    10. [S1140] DTH186 Obituary Lady Abbess of Kylemore (Eliza Druhan), DTH186., Lady Abbess of Kylemore; 11 April 1953; Obituary.

    11. [S1229] DTH320 Death notice Druhan, Lady Abbess (Eliza), DTH320., Right Rev Lady Abbess Elizabeth Placid Druhan; 7 April 1953; page 1.

    12. [S1230] DTH320 Death notice Druhan, Lady Abbess (Eliza), DTH320., Right Rev Lady Abbess Elizabeth Placid Druhan; 8 April 1953; page 10.

    13. [S1232] DTH321 Obituary Druhan, Dame Elizabeth Placid, DTH321., Dame Elizabeth Placid Druhan; 7 April 1953; page 5; Brief obituary.

    14. [S1233] DTH322 Obituary Druhan, Right Rev Dame Elizabeth, DTH322., Right Rev Dame Elizabeth Placid Druhan; 7 April 1953; page 7.

    15. [S3509] irishgenealogy.ie Civil Records, 10 September 2016; death: Dame mary Placid (Elizabeth) Druhan, 6 Apr 1953.

    16. [S1492] BUR068 Burial Druhan, Sr Maria Placidas, BUR068.

    17. [S730] MAR121 Marriage Druhan, Daniel and Sinnott, Ellen, MAR121.