Rosary Crusade in Ireland

The date is April 25th, 1954. A streamer spans the entrance to Tuam. It reads “Welcome Father Peyton” The boy who, at the age of 19 had left his native Attymass in Ballina was being welcomed back to Ireland as the now celebrated Father Peyton for the initial rally in his native Ireland in his World Rosary Crusade.

He had travelled non-stop from New Zealand where he had addressed a rally the previous Sunday, to keep this appointment with the Archbishop of Tuam. He was returning to the land whose soil, as he well knew, was sanctified by the blood of martyrs for the faith; a land represented at home and abroad by a distinguished band or ecclesiastics.

He was bringing with him what, in the interval, had made him a central figure in the United States, North Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It was not modern invention of the New World – It was the simple rosary beads he had taken with him from his humble, holy home in Attymass, that had remained his greatest treasure and had inspired and sustained his
“The Family that Prays Together Stays Together” Crusade.

Father Peyton is a tall burly man, as kindly as he is persuasive, convincing and impressive in his heart stirring advocacy of the efficacy of devotion to Family Prayer, he won a niche in the affections of the Irish people that will ensure for him their eternal gratitude and remembrance. He brought tears to their eyes and joy to their hearts.

His presence was like a refreshing breeze even on this Island of St Patrick
which has built up a great spiritual empire. His rallies, from a numerical viewpoint and the devotion and fervour of those participating were magnificent spectacles that will be spoken of by succeeding generations.

Quoted from “An Irish Independent – Reporter pens an impression of Father Peyton and his Crusade”
Souvenir Edition 1954.

Photographs and descriptions are taken from a souvenir edition of the Irish Independent in 1954.


On Sunday April 25th 1954 Thousands of people thronged the GAA Stadium in Tuam where the Archbishop of Tuam most Rev. Dr. Walsh, opened the Family Rosary Crusade Rally.
From all over the Archdiocese people were arriving all day and hundreds of motor cars lined the roads approaching the town. In Tuam for more than an hour before the rally began hundreds of men, women and children formed and walked in procession to the stadium reciting the Rosary as they went.
About two hundred Aran Islanders, led by Very Rev T. Varley arrived earlier at Galway on the Dun Aengus and travelled to Tuam by train.

“The streets were gay with bunting and papel and national flags, while the American flag was flown in honour of Father Patrick Peyton.”
The Archbishop of Tuam Rev. Dr Walsh and Father Patrick Peyton were met on arrival at Clifden by Very Rev. Chancellor D. Corcoran, P.P, V.F.
They went to the centre of town, where a special altre had been constructed.
A guard of honour drawn from local Irish-speaking F.C.A units, was in attendance and was inspected by the Archbishop

A congregation estimated to number almost 18,000 people many of whom had travelled through the early hours of the morning heard Father Peyton appeal for greater devotion to the Family Rosary on Sunday May 2nd 1954.


On Tuesday evening, May the 54 a large number of people from Gort and the district assembled in The Square to hear Father Peyton. The Rosary Priest was accompanied by the Bishop of Galway Most Rev.Dr. Browne and was greeted on arrival by Right Rev.M.J. Fallon D.C.L, P.P. V.G Dean of Kilmaghduagh, who announced that all 2,500 households in the Deanery had signed the Rosary Pledge.
Very Rev.E Conway, P.P, Kilbeacanty, Diocesan Organiser of the Rally, led the public recitation of the Rosary. Most Rev. Dr. Brown gave Solemn Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the open air alter.

The congregation assembled in ‘The Square’.


Remarkable scenes of fervour and devotion marked the visit of Father Peyton to preach to about 6,000 people in the Fair Green at Ennistymon on Thursday May 6th. When he had concluded and was leaving with the Bishop of Galway, Most Rev. Dr. Browne and a procession of Priests,the crowd, which had listened in silence broken by sobbing to his address, shouted greeting and good wishes and finally broke through the line of stewards to shake his hand.


An immense throng of more than 30,000 people crowded the stands and general enclosure of the Racecourse, Ballybrit, Galway on Sunday May 9th. It was one of the greatest Rallies of the Rosary Crusade held in the Western Province and was sponsored by the Bishop of Galway Most Rev. Dr Browne.
Headed by a cross-bearer and acolytes a procession which included the Mayor and members of Galway Corporation in their robes of office and members of the Galway Harbour Board, Galway Co. Council, professors and staff of U.C.G, a large gathering of the Diocesan Chapter, the secular clergy and members of the various orders followed by Father Peyton and the Bishop of Galway, marched up the racecourse to Our Lady’s Alter, which had been erected opposite the Grandstand and close to the Mass Rock.


More than 30,000 people gathered in Loughrea on Sunday My 16th, 1954 with their Bishop and priests and religious of the Diocese of Clonfert to pay tribute to Our Lady at a Rosary Crusade Rally. It was regarded as the biggest gathering in the town since Liberator held his repeal demonstration there in 1843.


Thousands of people from many parts of the Diocese of Achonry gathered on Ballaghaderreen on Sunday May 23rd 1954, and fro more than an hour stood in Heavy rain to listen to Rev. Patrick Peyton speak on the Family Rosary. The rally brought one of the largest assemblies ever seen in the town.
Father Peyton spoke from an alter erected in the Market Square. The Bishop of Achonry Most Re. Dr. Fergus attended with members of the Cathedral Chapter, clergy of the Diocese and members of the religious communities


Intense downpours of rain lasting for considerable periods did not prevent Roscommon’s Rosary Crusade Rally from being held on Thursday, May 27th, 1954 and an estimated crowd of 20,000 gathered in St Coman’s Park to take part in it. While Father Peyton was addressing the crowd there was a heavy shower but he continued speaking as an umbrella was held over his head. Despite the weather, the rally was accorded the enthusiasm and zeal which had been a feature of previous gatherings in the West.


A stirring appeal for devotion to the Rosary was made by Father Peyton when he addressed a great gathering from all over Connaught at the showgrounds Sligo on Sunday, May 30th 1954.
The day was in some way a compensation for the poor weather closing the other Connaught meeting of the Crusade.
The sun shone down warmly on a wonderful scene of colour and devotion as the Rosary was recited and the crowd of about 20,000 joined in hymns.


There were 4,000 people from the Deanery of Erris in Belmullet on Wednesday, June 2 1954 to greet the Bishop of Killala, Most Rev. Dr. O’Boyle and Father Patrick Peyton for the opening of the Rosary Crusade in the Diocese.
The Houses, shops and cottages in Belmullet were newly-painted ad the streets bedecked with flags and bunting.


Dark heavy rain Clouds,which had been threatening all the morning, rolled away and the sun shone down on the last of the Rosary Crusade Rallies to be held in the Western Province, as close on 15,000 people from all parts of the diocese of Killala gathered on Sunday, June 6th, 1954 in the James Stephens Park, Ballina, to hear Fr. Peyton.

The Bishop of Killala, Most Rev. Dr. O’Boyle, accompanied by Father Peyton, with Right Rev. Monsignor Dean Timlin, P.P, V.G., Crossmolina and Very Rev. P. Canon Maloney, Adm, Ballina entering the park.
The voice of this great crusading priest, which has been heard by millions of people all over the world in his appeal for greater devotion to the Family Rosary, vibrated with emotion and pride as he stood before the temporary alter in the G.A.A Grounds almost in sight of his native parish to preach his message amongst whom he grew from boyhood.

Children at the Ballina Rally

Over 100,000 attended the Rosary Crusade rally in the grounds of Our Ladies Hospice, Beechmount,


Belfast. It was the greatest gathering of Belfast Catholics ever known, and the biggest crowd which had attended Father Peyton’s Crusade in Ireland.
Eighty thousand assembled in the grounds, and in the MacRory Park nearby there were several thousand mothers with their young children, to whom ceremonies were relayed. A further 1,000 elderly and infirm people were likewise accommodated in the Broadview Cinema and they were afterwards visited by Father Peyton.



Fifteen thousand people from North and Mid-Antrim attended a Rosary Rally addressed by Father Patrick Peyton in Ballymena on Thursday night June 17th 1954. The full programme was carried out despite persistent drizzle.

The Bishop of Down and Connor, most Rev. Dr. Mageean who presided, said the rain made the Rally an act of penance as well as prayer.
Father Peyton spoke in praise of the people who by their deliberate free will, stood in the rain in an act of recognition of Almighty God.
“I would not change tonight for a great hot burning day”
said Father Peyton,
“You have give such joy.”
Later the skies cleared and the Rally ended in fine weather.


Within sight of the grave of St Patrick and a few miles from Saul where the National Apostle first landed, more than 30,000 people from all parts of the North gathered on Sunday, June 20th 1954, in a 30-acre field outside Downpatrick for the final Rosary Rally in the Diocese of Down and Connor.


Despite heavy rain, 15,000 people gathered in Pairc Tailteann at Navan on Thursday night June 24th 1954, to hear Father Peyton preach on the Family Rosary. Contingents of people arrived in the town from various parts of the Diocese of Meath. They formed a procession and walked from St. Mary’s Church to Pairc Taillteann, which was given by the G.A.A for the rally.

Father Peyton

Father Peyton was welcomed by Bishop of Meath, Most Rev.DR. Kyne (seated on the left)
A crowd estimated at over 17,000 listened with rapt attention to the fervent words of Father Peyton who spoke with great emotion.

Fr Peyton

Priests were present from many parts of the Diocese.


The message of the Family Rosary was conveyed by Father Peyton to a large assembly of the people of the Diocese of Meath, at Mullingar, where the Rally was held in Cusack Park, in view of the twin towers of the Cathedral

Rally 1954
Fr Peyton 1954 Rally
Fr Peyton seen addressing his audience of between 20,000 and 25,000 in the local show grounds.

Forty thousand people gathered in Waterford City on Wednesday night, July 14th, 1954, to hear Father Peyton. The Rally, the second to be held in the diocese of Waterford and Lismore took place in the grounds of St. John’s College.
The rally was organised for the Waterford Deanery, which embraces the city and a large portion of the county, but the massed ranks of the big hosting from the area was augmented by thousands of people from various other parts of Munster and also from Leinster.

“I shall take away with me from Ireland the Greatest love I have ever had for a people” said Father Peyton, in a special interview in Clonmel after he had addressed the final Rally in the Rosary Crusade arranged for the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore on Sunday July 18th 1854 by Bishop Most Rev. Cohalan.


Most Rev Dr. Cohalan

Crowds at Rally

Despite a number of counter-attractions including the Cork v Tipperary hurling final, over 20,000 people filled the Clonmel Sportsfield to hear Father Peyton reiterate his stirring appeal for devotion to Family Prayer.

Ferns Diocese Marked the Feast Of the Assumption with a Great Finale.
The greatest religious spectacle ever seen in Co. Wexford took place on Sunday August 15th 1954 at OUr Lady’s Island. 14 miles from Wexford Town, when over 40,000 people gathered for the 21st and final rally. It was the most impressive of the Father Peyton Rallies and the ceremonies were held in brilliant warm sunshine.
It synchronised with the opening day of the annual pilgrimage to the island. The lake had been drained an grass -seed sown on the temporary reclaimed foreshore to accommodate the gathering.

Large crowd gather

In a letter to His Eminence Cardinal Griffin, Archbishop of Westminister, on the occasion of the Family Rosary Crusade in Wembley, London. His holiness Pope Pius XII mad the following appeal:-
Never before has the world been so direly in need of prayer as at the present time, when a dangerous form of materialism tends to undermine man’s relations with his Creator and with his fellow man and to destroy the sanctity of family life.
The most powerful antidote against the evils that threaten human society is prayer, especially collective prayer, for Our Devine one has said: “If two of you shall consent upon earth concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done unto them by my Father who is in heaven.
For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matt XVIII, 19-20)
And what form of collective prayer could be more simple and yet ore efficacious than the Family Rosary, in which parents and children join together in supplicating the Eternal Father, through the intercession of their most loving Mother, meditating meanwhile on the most sacred mysteries f our faith? There is no surer means of calling down God’s Blessing upon the family and especially of preserving peace and happiness in the home than the daily recitation of the Rosary. And apart from its supplicatory power, the family rosary can have very far reaching effects, for, for if the habit of this pious practice is inculcated into children at a and impressionable age, they, too, will be faithful to the Rosary in after life and their faith will be nourished and strengthened…..
We earnestly exhort those of Our beloved children towards whom the Crusade has been directed to regard the join recitation of the Rosary in the family circle as the most important collective act in their daily lives, and a most certain way of obtaining the spiritual and temporal favours of which they stand in need.
Taken from Irish Independent Souvenir of Father Peyton’s Rosary Crusade in Ireland 1954.

St Michael’s
40 Castle Avenue
Dear Mothers and Fathers, Husbands and Wives, Sons and Daughters of Ireland – May Our Blessed Mother use me to thank you for all the love and friendship you have so generously lavished upon Her and the Family Rosary Crusade. During these past months, as the Family Rosary Crusade moved into the four provinces of Ireland you have responded with a warmness and love that will never, never leave my heart. God in his graciousness has given this crusade for the Family Rosary the authority, prestige and leadership of very many Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops throughout the World who have brought this crusade to their diocese and have given themselves to Mary millions of families who have pledged themselves to say the daily Family Rosary.
But through all these years it has been the longing of my life, that Ireland Mothers and Fathers and children would give their love and friendship, their faith and backing to this world effort to restore the Family Rosary. I have not been disappointed. I have got from you, dear people of Ireland, a love and warmness and response and I will keep this in my heart until the day I die. Wherever the rallies took place, you turned your homes into shrines of Our Lady. Torrential downpours or cold winds did not deter you from coming out and generously lending your sincerity, your conviction, your bodies your souls to help effectively Our Blessed Mother in her efforts to bring to the family every day the friendship, the love and friendship, the love and protection of God himself.
Bidding farewell to you, I will say, and I am sure Our Blessed Mother will confirm it, that the faith, the living faith and the love of God in the men and women of Ireland today will place them side by side with the best men and women Ireland ever produced. I am lonesome leaving you, very lonesome, but I will as best I can, while I live, in my Masses and prayers try to pay back my debt to you – the dear people of God and Mary in Ireland for what you have done for the Family Rosary Crusade. For the convenience of those who have already done so, I would like to suggest you sign your name on the Family Rosary Pledge on the back of this souvenir as a symbol of your great love for Our Lady and Her Rosary.
The greatest part of my debt has now been paid as I say my heartfelt thanks to the Hierarchy, Clergy and Religious who made this victory possible for Our Blessed Mother.
I offer my thanks to all the newspapers for helping the Crusade, particularly the Board of Directors, the Editor and the staff of the “Irish Independent” for having in this souvenir paid so great a tribute to the Family Rosary Crusade.
May God and Mary love bless and protect you always.
Sincerely in Jesus Christ and Mary


Taken from Irish Independent Souvenir of Father Peyton Rosary Crusade in Ireland 1954