Philip Conolly

Philip Conolly (1786 – 1839) Roman Catholic chaplain
A man ‘of no small ability and attainments, witty and full of dry humour’, Conolly laboured for fourteen years among ‘a wicked and perverse generation’, making regular quarterly visits on horseback to Launceston, George Town and other settlements. So efficient was his ministry that Sir George Arthur sought, albeit without success, a higher salary for him in 1826, claiming that no one could have performed the duties of his office ‘with more satisfaction to the Government’.

Philip Conolly was born in County Monaghan, Ireland. Educated for the priesthood, he was ordained at Maynooth, and did pastoral duties for five years in the Dublin archdiocese. He answered the call for volunteer missionaries when the British government consented to have Roman Catholic chaplains stationed at Botany Bay and the Derwent. A Protestant magistrate described him as ‘a truly loyal man, and a very useful member of Society’. The archbishop of Dublin said: ‘We have known Rev. Philip Conolly to be a Catholic Clergyman of exemplary religious and moral habits’. These references satisfied Earl Bathurst, who told Lachlan Macquarie in October 1819 that Fathers Conolly and John Joseph Therry had his authority to officiate in Australia.

The two chaplains arrived in Sydney in the Janus in May 1820, and after a year’s duty there, Conolly reached Hobart Town on 14 April 1821. His first Mass was celebrated at a store owned by Edward Curr, later manager of the Van Diemen’s Land Co., with nine free people present. Macquarie had insisted on restricting the time and place of Divine Service, assistance at marriages and the instruction of children in government institutions, but William Sorell and (Sir) George Arthur proved somewhat more tolerant.

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John Therry (1790 – 1864) Catholic priest :

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