Bio from the Oxford Site
Mannix, Daniel (1864-1963), Roman Catholic archbishop of Melbourne, was born on 4 March 1864 at the substantial family farm, Deerpark, near Charleville (Rathluirc), co. Cork, Ireland, first child of Timothy Mannix (1826–1910) and his wife, Ellen Cagney (1826–1925). The family was comparatively affluent and of the small farmer middle class. Of eight children, three died in infancy, one at twenty-two. The surviving sons went variously into medicine, law, the family farm, and, in Daniel's case, religion. A daughter was educated in France. Their parents combined intense piety with driving family ambition.
Mannix's early life and schooling were witness to both his mother's strong-willed management and his own abilities. From local schooling with the Sisters of Mercy and Christian Brothers, he was moved, aged twelve, to a more distant classical school for three years of Latin and an education designed for aspirants to the priesthood. He then went to St Colman's College, Fermoy, where he won a scholarship to the élite Irish seminary for priests St Patrick's College, Maynooth. Tall, handsome, bony (at that stage anaemic), and even then forthright and outspoken, Mannix had suppressed a boyhood ambition to be an artist, determining on the priesthood at the age of sixteen. He entered Maynooth in 1882 and demonstrated outstanding intellectual quality and application, but also, presaging the future, a formidable and principled independence. Ordained on 8 June 1890, he spent the next year studying at Maynooth's postgraduate institute, the Dunboyne Establishment. He was quickly appointed to the teaching staff of the college and to a succession of professorships by 1894, and to editorship of the moral theology section of the Irish Ecclesiastical Record. In all this he firmly upheld Roman authority against Gallican tendencies, and pursued moral logic with a rigour and austerity which attracted attention as seeming severe.
However, being made secretary of the Maynooth Union in 1896, Mannix took the emphasis of clerical discussion away from theoretical questions toward national, social, and economic issues. His interest then, and for the rest of his life, was to apply religion to the condition of the people—particularly the poor—with respect to housing, the co-operative movement, the sick, and temperance.
Mannix became president of Maynooth in 1903, imposing his strong will and a necessary reforming discipline on that college, and ensuring its incorporation into the Irish university system upon the establishment of the multi-college National University of Ireland in 1908. His sharp imposition of authority, demanding good manners, strict dogma, and student subservience, stood with his patent holiness, compassion, and practical concern for the welfare of college servants, to the confusion of critics. Although Mannix's outlook and disposition were nationalist, his religious priorities and practicality took him into confrontation with the growing tide of Irish nationalism associated with the Gaelic revival. His opposition to compulsory Irish, on the grounds that it was useless to a missionary clergy, led in 1908, after major public conflict, to the dismissal of his own professor of Irish, Michael O'Hickey. Mannix's good manners and acceptance of existing political realities in providing college hospitality to Edward VII in 1903, and George V in 1911, drew attacks from the leaders of Irish nationalism.
Unpopularity, in spite of his acknowledged brilliance, holiness, and remarkable poise, made Mannix's appointment to an Irish bishopric unlikely. Besides, the ageing archbishop of Melbourne, Thomas Carr, aware of Mannix's interest in, and political experience of, education issues, saw him as the right man to revive and spearhead the Australian campaign for state aid to Catholic schools. Mannix arrived in Melbourne as Carr's coadjutor in March 1913. He was forty-nine; fifty-three when he succeeded Carr as archbishop in 1917. After Cardinal Moran's more passive, and unsuccessful, search for community harmony, Mannix embodied a new spirit of Catholic challenge and confrontation, centred on the state aid issue. In this, and wider matters of Catholic social deprivation, Mannix provided electrifying leadership and became the focus for sectarian storms: ‘a sort of lightning conductor for all the abuse of the State of Victoria’ (Catholic Press, 15 March 1917) was the self-description he offered in 1917 at the height of the socially and politically convulsive conscription debate.
Aggressively willing to speak his mind in public, a tall commanding figure, Mannix not only championed religious principles, but attacked a society which he saw as excluding Catholics from wealth, power, and influence: he became a hero to the Catholic underclass. Tensions increased with the outbreak of the First World War. Catholic loyalty was being publicly questioned before the Irish revolution in 1916, but this worsened the situation, particularly as Mannix made clear his criticism of British policy towards Ireland to vast crowds (at times 100,000) assembled to hear him, mainly at religious occasions. His very public opposition to conscription, expressed during the 1916 and 1917 referendum campaigns, earned him the obsessive hatred of the prime minister, W. M. Hughes, though it is doubtful whether Mannix's opposition alone decided the rejection of conscription. These campaigns, Mannix's role, and rampant sectarianism were profoundly divisive, a situation protracted into the early 1920s by Mannix's defiant identification with the cause of Irish independence. He attempted to visit Ireland—via Irish America—in 1920 to visit his aged mother but his ship was intercepted by a British destroyer and Mannix landed in England, to worldwide Irish indignation. Efforts were made to have Mannix recalled to Rome or banned from re-entry to Australia in 1921. Australian Catholics had seen oppression and injustice in Ireland as their own predicament writ large, but the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 and the Irish Civil War of 1922–3 saw support disappear for Mannix's intransigence, and the emergence of a distinctively Australian Catholic consciousness.
In this, Mannix's vision of education as the way forward—and socially upward—came into its own in the 1920s and 1930s. His distinctive initiatives were in promoting lay and clerical intellectuality. He fostered the Jesuit order and their initiatives, opened Newman College at the University of Melbourne in 1917, and a major seminary in 1923: other Australian bishops distrusted both universities and lay intellectuality. And unlike other Australian bishops he encouraged lay initiatives in relation to the papal call for Catholic Action in the 1930s. All this fostered the Victorian Catholic conviction—not without basis—that it was the most vital Catholicism in Australia, with Mannix at its head.
In particular Mannix backed the energies of the layman B. A. Santamaria and urged the support of other bishops for The Movement, a Catholic Action organization dedicated to Catholic social policy and the purging of communist influence in the trade unions. This led, in 1954, to a major split in the Australian Labor Party, traditionally supported by most Catholics. In turn this led to a split of opinion in the Catholic hierarchy, which, being referred to Rome, resulted in a win for those who opposed the Mannix position. He continued in support of Santamaria and his organization, and in the view that Catholics in good conscience could not vote Labor. The whole matter was a major and protracted social and political trauma for Catholics, Labor, and Australians generally, with profound and continuing consequences: Mannix remained central to it, as actor and symbol.
Mannix died suddenly on 6 November 1963 at Raheen, Kew, Melbourne (where he had lived), aged ninety-nine, of strangulation of the bowel, and was buried on 8 November in St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne. Earlier that year he had communicated to the Second Vatican Council a critique of astonishing pastoral sensitivity and liberality. Despite his commitments prayer occupied four to six hours a day. Yet some of his contentious life invites adverse interpretation—egotism, authoritarianism, impatience with opposition, Irish obsessions. His greatness was such as to contain both contradiction and mystery, his persona and indeed appearance such as to be formidable and magnificent. He died a revered national icon. A man who kept his own counsel, he confided in no one, kept no diary, wrote seldom and formally, and destroyed documentation. His many biographers are without private sources and thus tend to reflect, more than usually, their own standpoints.
B. A. Santamaria, Daniel Mannix (1984) • M. Gilchrist, Daniel Mannix (1982) • J. Griffin, ‘Mannix, Daniel’, AusDB, vol. 10 • W. Ebsworth, Archbishop Mannix (1972) • F. Murphy, Daniel Mannix (1972) • C. Kiernan, Daniel Mannix and Ireland (1984) • P. J. O'Farrell, The Catholic church and community: an Australian history, rev. edn (1992) • N. Brennan, Dr Mannix (1964) • J. Murphy, ‘The lost (and last) animadversions of Daniel Mannix’, Australasian Catholic Record, 76 (1999), 54–73 • Catholic Press (15 March 1917)
Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission, Fitzroy, Melbourne, MSS |Society of Jesus Provincial Archives, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Hacket MSS
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Melbourne • National Film and Sound Archives, Canberra
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Melbourne
J. Lavery, oils, 1921, Dublin Art Gallery • J. Cato, oils, 1928, St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne • H. Newton, photographs, c.1960, Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission • C. Pugh, oils, 1962, University of Melbourne, Newman College • N. Boonham, statue, 1999, St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne • J. Longstaff, oils, Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission • M. Meldrum, oils, St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne • A. Mezaros, medallion on tomb, St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne • photograph, NL Ire. [see illus.]
Wealth at death
virtually nil; small bequests to servants and gold watches worth £150 and £5: Griffin, ‘Mannix’
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Patrick O'Farrell, ‘Mannix, Daniel (1864-1963)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/55446, accessed 23 Sept 2005]
Daniel Mannix (1864-1963): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55446
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