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John D'Alton

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John D'Alton
Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh
and Primate of All Ireland
See Armagh
Enthroned 1946
Reign ended 1963
Predecessor Joseph MacRory
Successor William Conway
Ordination 18 April 1908 (Priest)
Consecration 29 June 1942 (Bishop)
Created Cardinal 12 January 1953
Rank Cardinal priest of S. Agata dei Goti
Other Bishop of Meath 1943-1946
Personal details
Birth name John Francis D'Alton
Born 11 October 1882
Claremorris, County Mayo, Ireland
Died 1 February 1963 (aged 80)
Dublin, Ireland
Buried St Patrick's Cathedral Cemetery, Armagh
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Parents Joseph D'Alton and Mary D'Alton (née Brennan)

John Francis D'Alton (October 11, 1882–February 1, 1963) was an Irish Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who served as Archbishop of Armagh and thus Primate of All Ireland from 1946 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1953.[1]


John D'Alton was born in Claremorris to Joseph D'Alton (d. April 1, 1883) and his wife Mary Brennan, at the height of the Land Wars in Ireland. He was baptised four days later, on October 15, 1882, with Michael and Mary Brennan acting as his godparents. D'Alton's mother had a daughter, Mollie Brennan, from a previous marriage; she remarried again after the Cardinal's father died in 1883.

He obtained an extensive education at Blackrock College, Holy Cross College in Cloniffe, the Royal University in Dublin, Irish College in Rome, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and National University in Dublin. He was a close friend of Éamon de Valera, whom he befriended at Blackrock College. In his first year in Blackrock, de Valera beat D'Alton in two subjects, Maths, which he would later go on to teach and, ironically, Religion. D'Alton was ordained to the priesthood on April 18, 1908, completing his studies in 1910. He then taught Ancient Classics, Latin, and Greek at St. Patrick's College in Maynooth until 1942, becoming its President in 1936, and was raised to the rank of Monsignor on June 27, 1938.

On April 25, 1942, he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Meath and Titular Bishop of Binda. D'Alton received his episcopal consecration on the following June 29 from Cardinal Joseph MacRory, with Bishops Edward Mulhern and William MacNeely serving as co-consecrators, in the chapel of St. Patrick's College. He later succeeded Thomas Mulvany as Bishop of Meath on June 16, 1943.

D'Alton was named Archbishop of Armagh and thus Primate of All Ireland on June 13, 1946, and was created Cardinal Priest of S. Agata dei Goti by Pope Pius XII in the consistory of January 12, 1953. A cardinal elector in the 1958 papal conclave, he was a member of the Central Preparatory Commission of the Second Vatican Council but lived long enough to only attend the Council's first session in 1962.

He died from a heart attack in Dublin[2] at age 80, and was buried on the grounds of St Patrick's Cathedral. He was succeeded by his auxiliary bishop, William Conway.

Cardinal D'Alton was seen to be more ecumenical in outlook than other members of the Irish hierarchy. He tried to broker talks between the Irish Free State and the United Kingdom to ease the tensions between both countries,[3] even going so far as to address the situation regarding the Irish ports, but to no avail. He was also a historian, and authored such works as Horace and His Age: A Study in Historical Background (1917), Roman Literary Theory and Criticism: A Study in Tendencies (1931), and Selections from St. John Chrysostom (1940).


  1. Miranda, Salvador. "John D'Alton". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  2. TIME Magazine. Milestones February 8, 1963
  3. Ibid.

External links

Religious titles
Preceded by
Thomas Mulvany
Bishop of Meath
Succeeded by
John Anthony Kyne
Preceded by
Joseph MacRory
Archbishop of Armagh
Primate of All Ireland

Succeeded by
William Conway
no:John Francis D'Alton

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