The Irish Priests Series

In part 22 of Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh’s series, he profiles Fr. Aloysius Travers, the Capuchin priest who heard the last confessions of Padraig Pearse, James Connolly, and Jim Larkin


Shortly after the 1916 rebellion against British rule in Ireland, a Capuchin priest made notes of his experiences during the fighting. This was his note for Friday morning, the twelfth of May: “About 1 a.m. car called and Father Sebastian accompanied me to (Dublin) Castle.

“Heard Connolly’s confession and gave him Holy Communion. Waited in Castle Yard while he was being given a meal. He was brought down and laid on stretcher in ambulance. Father Sebastian and myself drove with him to Kilmainham. Stood behind firing party during the execution…”

The “Connolly” referred to in the note is, of course, James Connolly, one of the rebel leaders. The author of the note was Fr. Aloysius Travers, a priest in the Capuchin Friary in Dublin’s Church Street.

Fr. Aloysius’s role in the 1916 Rising was not confined to one morning’s work. He played a significant part in the events of that memorable week, helping to broker the surrender that ended the killing of innocent civilians.

Along with his fellow friars, he then ministered to the rebels who were imprisoned and executed. Patrick Pearse, the Rising’s leader, requested to see Fr. Aloysius specifically, as the Capuchin priest was already a well-known figure in Dublin.

He was born William Patrick Travers on the 20th of March, 1870, in Cork. He came from a devout family. Two of his brothers became friars and one sister became a nun. William joined the Capuchin Order (a branch of the Franciscans) in 1887, taking “Aloysius” as his name in religion, and was ordained in 1894.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own