Kerry’s own “Schindler” Remembered

Kerry’s own “Schindler” Remembered

During World War II a unique and innovative Kerryman was the instigator of a campaign that saved over 6,500 lives.  His name was Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty and today was the official launch of a Memorial Society to honour this great man. 

Some people have a vague recollection of what the Monsignor and his cadre achieved during this very dangerous time, mostly through the 1983 film, “The Scarlet and The Black”, which stared Gregory Peck as the Monsignor and more recently through a published novel, “The Vatican Pimpernel” written by Brian Fleming.  However, his heroic deeds have mostly gone unnoticed in Kerry and in Ireland.

The main aim of the Society is to generate more awareness of the Monsignor’s life through a series of events and activities and just as important; a second aim is to fundraise for a fitting and prominent memorial to the Monsignor in a central place in Killarney town. This will act as a tribute to this great man and also a reminder, that in times of extreme stress and strife, bravery and compassion is demanded of people, especially in helping other people in greater need.

This is a principle the Monsignor lived by all his life but especially during World War II when he was based at the Vatican.  During World War II set up a network of safe houses throughout Rome and in the surrounding areas.  Using his many connections the Monsignor was able to smuggle people in danger out of Italy or hide them from the Nazis until the war was over.  The people he saved included members of the Jewish community, US and UK servicemen and many more nationalities whose lives were at risk.  Even after the war was over he campaigned on behalf of German Prisoners of War to ensure that they were being treated properly.  He also befriended his nemesis, Colonel Herbert Kappler (who had signed the Monsignor’s death warrant during the war) and the Monsignor was one of the few people to regularly visit him in prison for years afterwards. 

Present at the launch of the Committee was Pearl Dineen, the Monsignor’s niece who lives in Cahirciveen, where the Monsignor spent the last two years of his life.  “The family are delighted to be a part of this initiative to raise awareness of my uncle and it is fantastic to see the various organisations coming together like this to make things happen. “

The Memorial Society will be setting up a Website with more detailed information on the Monsignor’s life and a schedule of events and activities that are being planned to honour this great man. Visit for more information.

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