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Bishop John Ireland
Posted by: Adrian Branch Library Date: March 04, 2002 at 10:09:27
In Reply to: Bishop John Ireland from St. Paul MN by Margretta Clark Aviles of 99

Dear Ms. Aviles,

No doubt you know of Bishop Ireland's
works. I am going to recap before I
address your question, in case a future
researcher is looking for the Bishop.
A short biographical summary follows
this history of his work with the I.C.C.O.
I apologize for the duplication of information.

Let me preface this by saying that
Bishop Ireland was responsible for
the I.C.C.O. - the Irish Catholic
Colinization Organization - primarily
in MN, although two sites were tried
in Nebraska.

Bishop Ireland brought this idea into
reality, from a failed attempt 20 years
earlier. In 1876, the first ICCO colony
in Swift Co., MN, was begun.

The idea was to establish Catholic colonies/
areas throughout Minnesota. This practice
differed from that of normal immigration
practices, in that the immigrants would go
to an area in which the land was already
set aside, a church was in place with a
Rev., [in this case, a Priest] and a
school was established BEFORE the arrival
of the immigrants. This was a very attractive
idea. [I won't go into the details - if
someone should need more info, please contact

I am writing to you from Adrian, MN -
considered to be the most successful
of the colonies [although, by the
early 1890s, the entire project was
considered to be a failure]. If Bishop
Ireland was around today, he would be
pleased because the colonies in this
area are still predominantly Catholic.
The Catholic school in Adrian was active
until the early 1970s.

There are some good books and articles
on the ICCO.

Since your question dealt with Bishop Ireland's
heritage, I will quote what I found in the
"Encyclopedia Britannica, c. 1988 Vo. 6, page

John Ireland
Born September 11, 1838, Burnchurch, County Kilkenny, Ire.
Died September 25, 1918, St. Paul, MN, USA

Ireland immigrated to the US with his parents in 1849, settling in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

He was ordained a Priest at St. Paul in 1861.

In 1862 he became chaplain of the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, for the duration of the Civil War.

Fr. Ireland was rector of St. Paul Cathedral when he was appointed Bishop-coadutor in 1875.

He became Bishop in 1884, and ArchBishop in 1888.

Founder of the Catholic Colonization Burea / I.C.C.O.

In 1894 he founded the St. Paul Seminary."

A biography is listed "Life of Archbishop John Ireland" c1953, by James H. Moynihan.

You can find his grave by going to:
There is a tombstone and inscription.


We would be quite interested in sharing information.

Adrian Branch Library
Adrian, MN

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