‘Castleisland’s Best’: Mundy Prendiville (1900-1968), Archbishop of Perth

Redmond Garrett Prendiville, otherwise Mundy Prendiville, was born on 11 September 1900[1] at Glanlarehan, Cordal, Castleisland.[2]  He was the youngest of sixteen children of Garrett Prendiville and Hannah Sullivan.[3]


He was educated at the local National School and St Brendan’s College, Killarney, subsequently at All Hallows College, Dublin from where he was expelled for playing cards.  He went on to study at University College, Dublin and St Peter’s College, Wexford.  He was ordained priest at St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny on 1 June 1925.


John Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, looks across at Mundy Prendiville’s former family home at Glanlarehan.  In the centre, St Brendan’s College 1916, Mundy Prendiville pictured on the left of the front row.  Image courtesy Nicholas McAuliffe


Prendiville was a keen sportsman, and shortly before his ordination, he was called on to play for Kerry in the 1924 All Ireland final, played on 26 April 1925 due to the temper of the times:


In Kerry there had been little activity on the football-field.  In the aftermath of the 1916 Rising many Kerry Gaelic footballers were interned in Frongoch and Ballykinlar.  More were imprisoned during the Civil War … In St Peter’s College in Wexford, Mundy Prendiville was coming to the end of his studies for the priesthood, and was due for ordination in June.  His presence on the Kerry team would be invaluable, as his speed and accuracy as a forward were well known.  The problem was, however, how to get Mundy to Dublin for the match.  According to one story, John Joe Sheehy and Den Joe Bailey, both members of the Kerry team, drove to Wexford to ask for permission for Mundy to play.[4]


It seems that Prendiville had arrived in Dublin with little time to spare: ‘In the midfield triangle were the incomparable Brosnan, Stack and Mundy Prendeville, arrived a few hours previously to battle for Kerry’s honour – a formidable trio.’[5]


A match report gives an idea of the challenges faced in bringing the game about:


The miracle is how Kerry won in the circumstances.  They introduced a new full back who only played two friendlies with his native county.  Jack Walsh was new to the position of centre half.  John Joe Sheehy had not played on the wing for years.  Mundy Prendeville did not play on the 40 yards for over a year.  The team, as a whole, were practically a new combination with the various changes.  The team likewise laboured under many other difficulties.  Two members live in Dublin, others on the Shannon’s shore while the goal keeper came from Dingle.  Yet with this scattered selection and the disadvantage of not playing frequently together, Kerry defeated the greatest football combination of modern times.


Kerry played ‘like men possessed’ and ‘clung to their men like the ivy on the old garden wall’:


Dublin craft went down before Kerry brawn.  The Metropolitans could not withstand the dash and vigour of Kerry’s methods.


Glimpses from the past: Memories of the 1925 triumph at Croke Park


A special word of praise was given to the Kerry trainer, Dr Eamonn O’Sullivan, for placing his services ‘gratuitously and willingly at the disposal of his native county.’  He was also credited with the innovation of a scoring board erected at his suggestion:


There was a large scoring board on the railway wall at Croke Park last Sunday on which the scores were registered as the game progressed.  It could be read all over the ground and was highly appreciated by the spectators.  Fittingly too when the final whistle sounded, the new score board announced the exhilarating news: KERRY 4 points DUBLIN 3 points.[6]




In September 1925, Prendiville followed two brothers and two sisters to Australia.  He was appointed to St Mary’s cathedral parish, with particular responsibility for the Church of St Francis Xavier in East Perth.


His performance in the years that followed was such that on 22 October 1933, he was consecrated titular archbishop of Cypsela and coadjutor archbishop of Perth.


In the wake of this extraordinary achievement overseas, Castleisland historian, T M Donovan, wrote about the race of Prendiville, and their association with the Earls of Desmond:


He comes from one of the Norman-Gaelic families in East Kerry, the Prendivilles of Dysart … The founder of his family was a Norman knight that held the lands of the great part of the old parish of Dysart by feudal tenure from the Earls of Desmond.  This Prondvild (modern Prendiville) Estate was held by Sir John FitzRedmond Prondvild before the Elizabethan conquest of the Geraldine principality of South Munster … [he] must have been one of the Earls’ chief supporters as his lands bounded the Manorlands surrounding the central fortress of the great Earls of Desmond, the Island of Kerry, the old name for Castleisland.[7]


Donovan observed that ‘Prondvild’s’ possessions probably embraced all the fine limestone lands around the village of Dysart, the great sloping meadows of Bonard, Bullockfield, Kilcow, Ballymacdonnell and round by Cladane, Lisheenbawn, Slievewenuck, Annabeg and Farran:


The boundary between these ancient Prendiville lands and the Manor lands of the Earls of Desmond was the little stream that comes from the Wild Goose bog and flows into the River Maine between Sandville and Camp … Despite centuries of persecutions from the days of Elizabeth to 1829, a period of about 400 years, a Prondvild held on to a small part of their great patrimony.


Donovan described the family residence:


In the very centre of these old Prondvild estates there stands a homestead, owned and farmed by a Prendiville.  Tourists passing from Killarney to Limerick can see this fine home which was built by the Archbishop’s grandfather near the main road between Farranfore and Castleisland not far from Lisheenbawn Cross.


Donovan also remarked on the history of Prendiville family names:


The old family names come down through the centuries, Redmund from the Norman, and Gearoid (Garrett) from the Gael.  The father of our Archbishop was named Gearoid (Garrett) and his uncle, who lived in the old homestead, was named Redmond, which shows, all the way down the centuries the union of Norman and Gael … physically and spiritually, Kerry has given to West Australia of its best and bravest.[8]


‘The Builder’


In 1935, Prendiville succeeded Archbishop Clune as fifth bishop and second archbishop of Perth.  He was named bishop assistant at the Papal throne and Count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1958.  During his episcopacy, 61 new churches and chapels were built in the Perth archdiocese and he oversaw 240 new buildings and 54 renovations of existing buildings, which earned him the title of ‘The Builder.’  He was responsible for setting up St Thomas More College at the University of Western Australia.[9]


Mundy Prendiville, Archbishop of Perth, writes from St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth to Father Senan Moynihan about the latest edition of The Capuchin Annual.  Images courtesy Nicholas McAuliffe.  In the centre, the archbishop at a consecration ceremony in 1948


Archbishop Prendiville died as a result of a cerebrovascular accident on 28 June 1968 at St John of God Hospital, Subiaco, Nedlands City, Western Australia.[10]  He was buried in Karrakatta Cemetery.[11]


Prendiville Catholic College, established at Ocean Reef, Perth in 1986, was named in memory of Archbishop Prendiville.[12]



[1] He was baptised on 16 September 1900.  The address on his baptism certificate is Glenlaran, parish of Castleisland, parents Gerard Prendiville and Joanna Sullivan.  In an article by Fr Kieran O’Shea, Prendiville’s date of birth is given as 8 December 1899 at Glenlarhan, Castleisland (‘Archbishop Redmond Prendiville’ by Rev Kieran O’Shea, Castleisland Desmonds GAA Club Memories in White and Blue (1983) pp33-34).

[2] The Australian Dictionary of Biography, ‘Prendiville, Redmond (1900-1968)’ by Katharine Massam gives Prendiville’s place of birth as Wood, parish of Brosna. 

[3] Twelve children are named on the Census of Ireland 1901: Thomas (20), Bridget (17), John (15), Peter (13), Ellie (11), Gerald (9), Bessie (6), Maurice (5), Patrick (4), Hannah (3), Mary (2), Redmond (7 months).

Seven children are named on the Census of Ireland 1911: Gerald (18), Bessie (16), Maurice (15), Patrick (14), Hannah (13), Mary (12) and Redmond (10).

The Liberator Tralee 25 May 1929 records the death of John Prendiville, draper, North Fremantle, who married Annie Molloy.  ‘Mr John Prendiville was a native of Cordal, Castleisland, where his brother Maurice still resides.  He was also a brother of Rev Mundy Prendiville, ADM, Perth, who was a member of the Kerry All Ireland Champions 1924.’ 

Maurice Garrett Prendiville referred to above, died at Glenlarhan, Cordal on 5 March 1967 at the age of 75.  He was buried in Old Kilbannivane cemetery, Castleisland.  His sister was Mother M Laurence, Mother General of the Dominican Order, West Australia.

[4] ‘Permission was refused ... After the match, Mundy Prendiville returned to Wexford and though threatened with expulsion a second time, it seems that a Fr Quaid pleaded his cause with success, pointing out that football was a religion in Kerry ... All the players of that great 1924 team are gone to their eternal reward with the exception of Jack Walsh of Asdee, who is still hale and hearty’ (‘Archbishop Redmond Prendiville’ by Rev Kieran O’Shea, Castleisland Desmonds GAA Club Memories in White and Blue (1983) pp33-34).  Prendiville was named Man of the Match.

A photograph of Archbishop Prendiville waiting to throw in the ball of the 1943 All Ireland appears in The GAA 100 Years (1984) by Michael O’Hehir.

[5] Kerryman, 2 May 1925, ‘Wonderful Kerry!  Champions Once More.’

[6] Match report, The Liberator Tralee, 30 April 1925.  Report also carried in the Kerryman, 2 May 1925, ‘Wonderful Kerry!  Champions Once More.’

See photo of team in Comoradh na Milaoise; Mundy Prendiville does not appear in the team photograph.  Eamon Fitzgerald, Caherdaniel was a sub, with Mossie Galvin, Tralee, Eugene Moriarty, Killarney and John ‘Gal’ Slattery, Tralee.  

Diarmuid O’Connor, great grand-nephew of Archbishop Prendiville, plays football for Kerry (Na Gael).

[7] Donovan continues: ‘The English valuer of the lands of the murdered Earl writes of a ‘certain parcel of land or town called Dysarte, being the best land for arable land, meadow, pasture, and feeding, adjacent to the demesne lands of the Manor of the Island, formerly in the possession of John FitzRedmund Prondvild’ (‘Kerrymen in the Hierarchy’ by T M Donovan, Kerry Reporter, 17 February 1934).

[8] ‘Kerrymen in the Hierarchy’ by T M Donovan, Kerry Reporter, 17 February 1934.

[9] Reference: Australian Dictionary of Biography, ‘Prendiville, Redmond (1900-1968)' by Katharine Massam. ‘During the period 1935 to 1945, Archbishop Prendiville doubled the number of diocesan clergy and created 19 new parishes; opened 25 new schools and blessed 33 churches and chapels.  He also introduced five new communities and a Mission to Seamen at Fremantle’ (Obituary, Evening Echo, 28 June 1968, ‘Most Rev Dr R G Prendiville’).

[10] In an obituary (Irish Examiner, 29 June 1968), it was noted that in his student years, Mundy was taken as a hostage by a group of Black-and-Tans travelling in a lorry to remove a land mine at Ballyseedy.  

[11] Australian Dictionary of Biography, ‘Prendiville, Redmond (1900-1968)’ by Katharine Massam.

[12] Dictionary of Irish Biography, ‘Prendiville, Redmond Garrett (‘Mundy’)’ by Jim Shanahan.