Researching the surname Flood
Joseph Mary Flood, Distinguished Past Pupil
By Luke Baxter
Name Address Telephone Baxter, Luke Knockahan Dublin Road Longford 043 45998
Joseph Mary Peter Flood was born 28th March 1882, third son, to Peter and Marcella Flood (nee Atkinson). He was baptised two days later by the Rev. T. McGoey with his uncle Christopher Flood and aunt Bridget Atkinson as sponsors. The Floods were a relatively well-to-do Catholic family, originally from the parish of Legan. Slaters Directory of Ireland 1881, lists his father, Peter, as a baker, grocer, spirit and porter merchant at No.1 Main St. Longford, and a member of Longford Town Commissioners. This premises, now No. 72, was later Monaghan's and Fitzgerald's and is presently owned by Mick and Mary Gaffney. In 1876, he is listed as a trustee of Curry Chapel and in 1894 as a poor-rate collector and Auctioneer and Valuer, of Rockspring House, Ballymacormack. He was Chairman of the Town Commissioners for 12 years, 1882-94. His second son, William Patrick, who was born in 1876, became Town Clerk in 1894 and held this position until about 1905. It is fitting that it was in this same Rockspring House, courtesy of Peter Flood, that the Young Grattan's GAA Club was founded in 1889. The Atkinson family operated a small shop, first in the Market Square area, and later at 44 Lr. Main St., now Multiphoto. Like the Floods, they too had their origins in Legan, in the townland of Ardandra. Dr. W.T. Atkinson, Longford, and Fr. Joe Atkinson, Curate in the parish of Templemichael and Ballymacormack 1885-1895, Adm. in the same parish 1895-96, and later Parish Priest, 1896-1903, of Ferbane, Co. Offaly, were members of this family. The school was built during his curacy while the Adm. at that time was Canon Meehan, native of Multyfarnham, and grand-uncle of the present day Donlon family, Milltenagh, Moydow.
Peter Flood left Main St., Longford, in 1888 to live in Ballymacormack. The young Joe Flood first attended St. Michael's and then Stonepark where his name appears in Master Quinn's roll book of 1893. In 1894 he entered St. Melís College, initially as a day boy, and one year later as a boarder. Leaving St. Mel's College in 1898, the young Joe Flood decided to become a priest, a tradition very much in the Flood family and latterly in the Langan and Atkinson families, relatives. It was even more appropriate that he should be attached to study at the Irish College in Paris. His great uncle, Rev. Peter Flood, D.D., native of Legan, Co. Longford, had received his seminary education in Paris, and was later to become Professor of Theology, first, at the College de Navarre and later the College des Lombards, as the Irish College was known then. This same Fr. Peter Flood, who had narrowly escaped death in the September Massacres in Paris of 1792, was then soon to return home and become Parish Priest of Edgeworthstown, and later President (1798-1803) of the recently founded Maynooth College.
Little is known about Joe's student career in Paris, except that he Spent the usual two years studying Philosophy and three years Theology, something which was to have a major influence on his later writings. About the year 1903, Joe Flood abandoned his vocation and returned home. He then entered the Royal University, graduating with a B.A. and B.L., and was called to the Bar in 1908. Joining the Department of Education, he was secretary of the Killanin Commission on National Teachers and for a few years acted as Hon. Secretary of the C.T.S. In January 1911, he issued his first publication, "Euripides in English Verse", in the New Ireland Review. His first book "Irish Saints and Scholars in France", was published in 1915.
Following the 1916 Easter Rising, he took an interest in politics and offered himself as a candidate in Longford in the 1917 elections. It was fitting, again, that he should start his canvass in the parish of his ancestors, Legan, enlisting the help of Fr. James Dowdall, P.P., and the late Joe Ross. Shortly afterwards he withdrew from the election, in favour of Senator Frank McGuinness. In 1917, he was appointed Professor of English and Roman Law at U.C.G., a position he held until 1923 when he became one of the first District Justices to be appointed by the new Free State Government. He was assigned to the jurisdiction of Limerick city and Nth. Tipperary. The popular Justice became well known in Limerick through the detailed reporting of court cases in the Limerick Leader every week. Crime in those days was nothing like what it is today and Mr. Flood's leniency and sympathy assured his popularity. He was equally popular with those interested in local History and Archaeology, especially the North Munster Antiquarian Society and the Old Limerick Society, of which he was one of the founders. To mark his work for the citizens of Limerick, the Corporation honoured him by making him a 'Freeman' of the City and by naming a street, "Flood St.", 'after him.
He retired from the Bench in 1947, but continued writing and, in 1950, was appointed to the Irish Film Censorship Appeal Board. He became President of the St. Mel's College P.P.U. in 1960, and, upon leaving office, presented a silver medal to the College, to be awarded for proficiency in Greek. In 1966 he entered St. Josephs Nursing Home, Kilcroney, Bray, Co. Wicklow, and died there on March 15th 1970. The records of the Nursing Home give an address of 55 Lansdowne Rd, (now offices), and show his wife, whom he had married late in life, as next of kin. His death notice in the Irish Times indicated a private funeral. He was sorely missed in Limerick, where his pamphlets are now collectors' items. It is difficult to believe that, when such a prolific author died, it was hardly mentioned either in the newspapers of his native Longford, or in the columns of the Limerick Leader, a paper he made so popular, and where he had spent most of his life.
Most of Joe Flood's books and articles are on religious topics, but also include histories, biographies, books on folklore, etc., and most of them are works which demand a great deal of research and scholarship. The following is a bibliographical list, taken from the index of the National Library in Dublin. A full list is available in the book "Longford Authors" by Leitrim Co. Librarian, Sean O'Suilleabhain, copies of which are available in the Co. Library, Longford.
Irish Saints and Scholars in France - 1915
The Abbe Edgeworth - 1916
Ireland, Saints and Scholars - 1917
In Five Provinces - 1918
Dublin in lrish Legend - 1919
Ireland and the Early Church - 1920
Irene: A selection of Prose - 1929
The Northmen in Ireland - 1933
Five Saints of France - 1937
Dr. Plunkett Bishop of Meath, (1779-1827) - 1949,