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Hugh Quigley

Date of Birth: 
December 1819
Date of Death: 
April 1883


Fr.Hugh Quigley





Much of what is known of Fr. Quigley is learnt from the introduction to his book "The Irish Race in California and on the Pacific Coast" (1878).which outlines his youth in Ireland and gives a brief description of his missionary work in the United States. He was both an author and priest  born to Hugh Quigley and Mary Lynch in Affick, Tulla, County Clare in December 1819. In his early years Hugh studied at  a hedge-school. This system was a result of the Penal Laws 1695 whereby Catholics were not allowed to educate their children abroad or to set up schools for their children. He also received a classical education. Despite  this level of education there was little opportunity for advancement in the Tulla of the 1830s. The land was poor and social conditions were miserable. He moved to Dublin where he  passed the examination for entrance to Maynooth College. However, because of his refusal to take the obligatory oath of allegiance to the British Government, he forfeited his place. At this point, there are conflicting versions of his life. One is that he went to Rome where he studied for the priesthood and graduated with first class honours and received the Gold medal from Sapienza University. Another version is that he studied at St. Mary’s Seminary in Youghal, County Cork and on graduation was ordained in Glasgow. In Scotland and in England he gained a reputation as a lecturer of note. He returned home to Ireland in 1847 for a short period and was a supporter of plans for the 1848 Rising. Disappointed by the lack of organisation amongst the nationalist groups, his involvement with them soon ceased. These were Famine years in Ireland and Hugh witnessed its ravages while working as curate in Tulla and Killaloe.  He is said to have privately encouraged parishioners in Tulla to steal food from their landlords to feed their starving wives and children,  His outspoken views on injustice and his dedication to helping the poor brought him to the attention of the authorities and eventually it seems he may have been forced to leave. He went to Rome where he received a doctorate in theology in late 1847. Hugh Quigley emigrated to America in 1849, having been invited to the New York diocese by Bishop Hughes. He worked with Irish immigrants and also initiated the construction of Catholic churches in America. His first American mission was at St. Mary's Church in Waddinton New York where many Irish immigrants had relocated from Ontario and Quebec having been driven over the border by the economic and politcal downturn in Canada after 1837.Otherher areas he became involved with were aiding the Chippewa Indians near Lake Superior and the miners of California. He won a lawsuit concerning the use of the Bible in public schools. This theme of the role of religion in public schools later emerged in his fiction writings.

His publications include The Cross and the Shamrock(1853 in Boston), The Prophet of the Ruined Abbey, written a year later in 1854 (published 1863 in Dublin), Profit and Loss(1873 in New York) and The Irish Race in California and on the Pacific Coast(1878 in San Francisco).

Hugh Quigley died in Troy, New York on 30th April 1883. He is buried at St. Mary’s cemetery in Troy.











Location in USA: 
Troy, New York