MAURICE R. WOLFE (1891–1962)
Maurice Richard Wolfe was born on March 9, 1891, in the townland of Cratloe, parish of Athea, County Limerick, the son of Richard James “Brown Dick” Wolfe, a member of the district council, and Ellen Maher Wolfe. His siblings included Honora “Nora” (b. 1882), John Richard James (b. 1883), Ellen “Ellie” (b. 1885), Patrick (b. 1887), and Catherine (b. 1889).
Wolfe’s birth record lists his name as Maurice Patrick; however, all subsequent records, including his gravestone, indicate his name to be Maurice Richard.
Wolfe attended Abbeyfeale National School and Saint Michael’s College, in Listowel. He graduated to Saint Patrick’s College, a seminary in Thurles, County Tipperary, and then to Oscott College, in the Diocese of Birmingham, in England. Ordained a priest on March 16, 1916, he worked at Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church, in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, from 1916 to 1922, and then at Saint Catherine’s, in Birmingham, and Sacred Heart in Hanley, Staffordshire County. From 1924 until his death, Wolfe served as the parish priest in Old Fallings, a suburb of Wolverhampton.
According to an obituary published in the Limerick Leader, Father Wolfe in 1924 “bought the property in Old Fallings Lane, now known as St. Chad’s College, and invited the Marist Brothers to open a grammar school for boys. He built a primary school—St. Mary’s, Cannock Road, in 1928. And in June 1934 he saw the completion of the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour next to the school. In 1938 Father Wolfe was appointed Rural Dean, and a decade later was appointed Canon of the Cathedral Chapter.
The same obituary notes Wolfe’s nationalist bona fides.
Despite his long exile, Canon Woulfe was throughout his life a strong nationalist and at all times maintained a strong love for an allegiance to the old land. In his post-student days he made the acquaintance of many of the men engaged in the independence movement, as his home was a welcome and ever-open refuge for the officers and men of the West Limerick Old I.R.A. Brigade during the Black and Tan Regime.
Wolfe suffered from Parkinson’s disease late in his life, and died at Old Fallings on November 24, 1962. He is buried at Saint Bartholomew's Church in Athea.