Where in Clane would you find buried together a Frenchman and a Pole? The answer is 'at the cemetery in Clongowes'. The remains of the early Fathers at Clongowes were transfered from the graveyard of Mainham to the Jesuit plot in 1866 and are marked by a handsome Celtic cross at the head of the main path. They include Fr. Cladius Gautard S.J., a Frenchman, and Fr. Caisimir Hlasko S.J., a Pole.
Fr. Gautard came to Ireland before the restoration of the Order. Between 1798 and 1800 he officiated as chaplin to the religious of George's Hill Convent in Dublin. he lived in Clongowes Wood following its establishment in 1814 and died there on 25th October 1821.
Fr. Hlasko, born in Poland in 1782, was a professor of natural philosophy and dogmatic theology and reached Dublin in 1820. He taught in Clongowes, where he died on 27th January 1831, aged 49.
In the best cosmopolitan tradition of the Order, the national culture stood only to benefit by exposure to the best of Europe. What might seem more of a surprise in its own way, is that the parish of Clane was well represented in this cultural milieu, in that no less than two very eminent Jesiut Fathers in the Clongowes community of the time were members of local families, a fact which may go a long way towards explaining the Jesuits' choice of Clane for the establishment of their first college in Ireland. Fr. Charles Aylmer was born in Painstown on 26th August, 1786. He distinguished himself in many publications, and in 1814, assisted at the formal re-establishment of the Order by Pope Pius VII in Rome with four of his Irish brethern, including Fr. Bartholomew Esmond, also a native of Clane. Later that year, Fr. Esmond and others under the direction of Fr. Peter Kenny S.J., the newly appointed Irish Sub-Provincial and recently Vice-President of Maynooth, established Clongowes Wood College. Fr. Aylmer was himself appointed Provincial in 1817 for five years, and died in Gardiner Street on 4th July, 1849, aged 63 years.
Fr. Bartholomew Esmond S.J. was a son of Colonel John Esmond, United Irishmen, medical doctor at Clane and leader of the insurgents at Clane and Prosperous on the first night of hostilities, May 23rd, 1798.
Reproduced from "Le Chéile" by kind permission