Father Daniel Brislane. 1909 -1963.
Father Daniel Brislane was born in Tipperary in 1909 and studied at St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny before going to the Cardiff Diocese.
At the outbreak of the Second World War he was called up on an Emergency Commission on October 2nd. 1939 (Army Number 99617) and embarked with the British Expeditionary Forces for France with the 1st. Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers on October 10th.
He returned to England from Dunkirk on June 1st. 1940. He then served in North Africa, Italy and Vienna from 1943-1946. He was Mentioned in Dispatches for services in Italy and this appeared in the London Gazette of May 23rd. 1946.
He was released from Army Service on November 27th. 1946.
In 1947 Father Brislane came to Bromyard as Parish Priest. He realised that the church in Frog Lane was no longer suitable and found new premises in Old Road. His continued efforts and the full co-operation of Parishioners provided the present Church and Presbytery in Old Road, for which he raised funds largely by the sale of second hand clothes and waste materials for which he advertised regularly in the Catholic Press. The first Mass was the Midnight Mass at Christmas 1956. The main entrance door came from Saltmarshe Castle which Father Brislane obtained when it was being demolished. The Stations of the Cross are from Italy and most of the church furniture came from the old church in Frog Lane.
Father Brislane died in 1963. His funeral took place on October 28th. The Requiem Mass was celebrated by his cousin, Father Creed of St. Tello’s, Cardiff assisted by Father Daniels of Leominster and Father Garvie of Worcester. 75 priests from all parts of South Wales and the West Midlands were in the congregation. His brother Martin and sister Bridie also attended.
The vicars of Ocle Pychard, Bishops Frome and Bromyard were present plus members of the District Council and representatives of many organisations in Bromyard. After the funeral Mass the coffin was carried to Bromyard cemetery where he is buried.
Captain Rev. Daniel Brislane
Chaplain to the Forces 1939 – 1946.
Rev. Dom. Denys Matthieu O.S.B.
The history of Bromyard states that “it seems reasonable that Roman Catholics lived in and around Bromyard from the Reformation until the establishment of the Bromyard mission”. However, it would appear that they would have to travel to Harvington or Hindlip (the home of Blessed Edward Oldcorne) to attend Mass.
In 1889 a temporary Catholic chapel was opened at Bromyard in the Falcon Assembly Rooms. The altar was given by Mr. and Lady Katherine Berkley of Spetchley Park. This chapel was used for three years and then Mass was said at Rosemore Grange, Whitmore the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Dale.
In May 1902 Mr. And Mrs. Dale went to Rome to obtain the Blessing of Pope Leo XII upon the establishment of a permanent Mission in Bromyard. In 1908 the Bishop of Newport eventually granted permission for the establishment of a Mission - provided they found a priest to take charge.
In the same year Father Denys Matthieu, a French Benedictine Priest, came to Bromyard, having been twenty years at Buckfast Abbey. A house in Church St. was taken and furnished as a temporary Chapel and Presbytery and Father Denys said the first Mass there on March 8th. 1908.
Father Denys was a very accomplished, resourceful monk: a Member of the Society of Inventors in France, a gold medalist of the City of Paris, an expert electrician, a linguist and a proficient painter in oils. He also made all his own clothes, vestments and even his sabots. Father Denys set about building a Church and a site in Frog Lane was chosen. It involved much hard work and combined effort. Father Denys gave lessons in French and Painting to help purchase building materials. He himself designed the Church, and building was begun in 1913.
On Easter Sunday, April 12th. 1914, Mass and Benediction were celebrated in the new Church, dedicated to Saint Joseph. In July of the same year Bishop John Hedley, OSB, of Newport and Menevia, officiated at the Sacrament of Confirmation. St. Joseph’s Church was approached by 13 steps and the building which was of reinforced concrete was 42 feet long by 16 feet wide. It had two side chapels and a transept.
Later a room was added to the back where Whist Drives were held to raise funds. The first wedding recorded in the Marriage Register was that of Terence James McSwiney to Muriel Murphy in June 1917. McSwiney was a founder member of the IRA and one-time Lord Mayor of Cork.
In 1932 Father Denys retired as Parish Priest. The Bromyard News and Record made mention of all the work he had done in Bromyard over the preceding 25 years noting that “...he had a flair for building and was never happier than when dabbling in concrete”.
Father Denys died in 1935 and is buried at Belmont Abbey.