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Remembering Most Reverend John Kyne (1904-1966)

"50th anniversary this week of death of Bishop John Kyne" 
by James Wims

Friday 23 December is the 50th anniversary of the death of Bishop John Kyne, who served as Bishop of Meath for almost 20 years, until 1966, and who was succeeded by Bishop John McCormack.

The 8:30am Mass in the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar last Sunday, 11 December, was a memorial Mass for Bishop Kyne, who was a native of Longwood, Co. Meath.

On Sunday 18 December, Bishop Michael Smith was the principal concelebrant, with Fr. Michael Kilmartin, PP, of the 12 noon Mass in the Church of the Assumption, Longwood, where Bishop Smith talked about the life and times of Most Rev. Dr. Kyne, the bishop who accepted him as a student for the priesthood while completing his studies in St. Finian’s College, Mullingar.


Relatives of Bishop John Kyne are pictured above with Bishop Michael Smith & Fr. Michael Kilmartin, PP after the concelebrated Mass.
The nephews, nieces, grand-nephews, grand-nieces, and great grand-nephews pictured are, back row, from left, Geraldine FitzGerald, Dermot Quigley, Bronagh Burke, Michael Burke, Niamh Burke, Michael G. Burke, and, in front with Fr. Michael Kilmartin and Bishop Michael Smith, two of Bishop Kyne's great grand-nephews, Quin Fisher and Malachy Fisher, who served the Mass.

During the 7:15pm Vigil Mass in Longwood on the previous night, 17 December, historian Noel French gave a short presentation on Bishop Kyne, who grew up on the Fair Green there and subsequently attended the deliberations of the Second Vatican Council. 


The legacy of Bishop John Kyne lives on to this day.

He led the first pilgrimage from the Diocese of Meath to Lourdes, in September, 1948, and it was also the first such pilgrimage to Lourdes from an Irish diocese.

Bishop Kyne was the first Bishop of Meath to be consecrated in Rome since the Reformation and only the second for an Irish diocese since the Reformation.

Based in Mullingar, he became the first President of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. The first All-Ireland Fleadh was held in Mullingar in 1951.


John (Jack) Anthony Kyne was born on Friday, 4 November, 1904 in Longwood.

His earliest formal education was at Longwood National School and he subsequently won a scholarship to St. Finian’s College, Mullingar, where he would later become a member of the staff.

In 1922 he was awarded a scholarship to study for the priesthood at the Irish College in Rome, and he was just 22 years of age when he was ordained a priest, on Sunday, 31 July, 1927.

Returning to Ireland, he served as curate in Navan, being appointed to the staff of St. Finian’s College, Mullingar in October, 1928.

Two years later, in 1930, the then Fr. Kyne was appointed as Vice-Rector of the Irish College in Rome.


Dr. Kyne was Vice-Rector at the Irish College in Rome when the city was occupied by the Germans during World War 2, and his skills as a negotiator ensured the safety and well being of the students.

He was given the papal honour, Monsignor, in 1939 and was appointed Papal Chamberlain in 1940.

Seven years later he was appointed bishop, on 17 May, 1947, and at the age of 42 years he was consecrated Bishop of Meath on Sunday, 29 June, 1947, in the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome.

Cardinal Raffaele Carlo Rossi was the principal ordaining prelate for his episcopal ordination, assisted by Archbishop Edoardo Tonna and Bishop Ilario Alcini.


Bishop John Kyne served as Bishop of Meath for more almost 20 years.

During that time he undertook a programme of building or replacing churches in the Diocese, and these are part of his legacy.

He was 62 years of age when he died suddenly on Friday, 23 December, 1966.

Bishop Kyne’s grave is in the grounds of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar.

"Dr. John Kyne, Bishop of Meath, 1947-66 - died 50 years ago"
by Noel French 

Bishop John Kyne was remembered last weekend in his native Longwood parish. Fr. Michael Kilmartin PP organised the event to commemorate the death of Dr. Kyne fifty years ago.

Most Rev. Dr. John Kyne, Bishop of Meath and native of Longwood, Co. Meath, became the first President of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and the first President of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society. Bishop Kyne led the first diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, the first such pilgrimage from an Irish Diocese to Lourdes.

John Anthony Kyne was born on 4 November 1904 in Longwood, the son of John and Mary Kyne. Bishop Kyne’s father was John Kyne, the Royal Irish Constabulary Sergeant in Longwood. Bishop Kyne’s mother was Mary Glancy (sometimes recorded as Clancy) and she married John Kyne in Dangan, Roscommon in 1891. The couple had twelve children.

John (Jack) Kyne attended the local school on Longwood where the teacher was Mr. Conway. He showed a prowess for mechanics, being able to dismantle and re-assemble a clock. He was awarded a scholarship to St. Finian’s College, Mullingar. In 1922 he won a scholarship to study for the priesthood at the Irish College in Rome and the Pontifical College of Propaganda, where he won prizes for moral theology, scripture and canon law. Ordained in 1927 Fr. Kyne returned to Ireland where he became curate in Navan before joining the staff of St. Finian’s College in October 1928 for a period of two years.

In 1930 Fr. Kyne was appointed Vice-Rector of the Irish College in Rome, a position he held for seventeen years. During the tense war years Dr. Kyne’s skills in negotiating ensured the safety and wellbeing of the students at the college in particular when the Germans occupied the city. He received the title of Monsignor in 1939 and was appointed Papal Chamberlain in 1940. Supply of food for the college was a problem and Mgr. Kyne grew vegetables to supplement food at the college and is said to have kept a few pigs although this was against the law. Rabbits were bred in the handball alleys.

In 1947 Dr. John Kyne was announced as the new Bishop of Meath. Bishop Kyne was the youngest member of the Irish Hierarchy when he was appointed to Meath. Kyne was the first Bishop of Meath to be consecrated in Rome since the Reformation and only the second one for an Irish diocese since the Reformation.

There were huge welcoming ceremonies for the new bishop in his native diocese. At Longwood hundreds of people welcomed him and he stopped to pray in St. Mary’s Church where he had been baptised. He then crossed the road to say a prayer at his parents’ grave. He returned to Longwood in October to receive a special crozier presented to him by the parish.

Bishop Kyne led the first Meath Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, in September, 1948 and each year he led the pilgrimage to Lourdes. Following Mass in St. Mary's Church, Navan, the 450 on the first pilgrimage were led by Navan Boys' Band to Navan railway station, crossed the Irish Sea from Dun Laoghaire on to London, where they stayed overnight. They crossed the English Channel, travelling on to Paris and on to Lourdes. There were twenty three invalids with the group on that first visit, who travelled separately by air from the main group - the first invalids to arrive this way from Ireland.

In December 1950 Fr. Callery, Parish Priest Ballinabrackey held a meeting in Mullingar to revive the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society. Bishop Kyne attended and made patron, promising to be an active member of the Society. In 1955 Bishop Kyne provided the foreword to “Riocht na Midhe," which was the first volume of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society. A journal of this kind, Bishop Kyne said, would “foster a proper respect for relics of the past, and for the proper motives.”

In January 1951, representatives of the Piper’s Club, Dublin, travelled to Mullingar to meet a group of local enthusiasts with a view to forming a branch of the Piper’s Club in Mullingar. After a lengthy discussion it was decided to form an organisation which would embrace all traditional instrumentalists. The first Fleadh was arranged in Mullingar in May 1951. The first standing Committee of Cumann Ceoltóirí na hÉireann was elected by members of the Pipers’ Club in October 1951, at Arus Ceannt, Thomas Street, Dublin, with Most Rev. Dr. Kyne, as President.  At a meeting in Mullingar, in early 1952, it was decided to change the title of the organisation from Cumann Ceoltóirí na hÉireann to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Bishop Kyne was a great supporter of the Irish language movement. In 1952 when he opened Feis Midhe he said “If we want to be a big force in the world, we will have to base all our efforts on the restoration of Irish language and culture. It is our heritage and it is our duty to do all in our power to ensure that the heritage is not lost to Ireland or the world.”

In October 1963 Bishop Kyne departed for Rome and attended all the sessions of the Second Vatican Council, but suffered from poor health towards the end of the event. Bishop Kyne died 23 December 1966 aged 62.





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