Belfast Telegraph

Ulster-born first Archbishop of New York to be honoured by blue plaque

By Adrian Rutherford

A cleric born in Co Tyrone who became the first Catholic Archbishop of New York is being honoured with a blue plaque.

John Joseph Hughes emigrated from rural Ireland to America in the early 19th century and become one of the most influential Americans of his time.

He lectured to Congress, was thanked by Abraham Lincoln for his support of the Union during the American Civil War, founded Fordham University and laid the foundation stone at St Patrick's Cathedral in New York.

His remarkable story will be celebrated this weekend with the unveiling of a blue plaque at St Macartan's Church in Augher, Co Tyrone, by Archbishop Eamon Martin.

The event is being organised by the Ulster History Circle, which puts up blue plaques across Ulster's nine counties to celebrate people of achievement.

Circle chairman Chris Spurr said: "On the 220th anniversary of his birth, the Ulster History Circle is delighted to commemorate Archbishop Hughes with a blue plaque at the very place in his native parish where he returned to preach in 1846."

Hughes was born in June 1797 in the townland of Annaloghlan near Augher.

The third of seven children, he was ordained as a priest in Philadelphia in 1824 several years after his family moved to America.

Consecrated as bishop in 1838, he became the fourth Bishop of New York 1842 and the First Archbishop of the city in 1850.

Hughes preached a sermon supporting the Union cause at St Patrick's Cathedral in 1862, for which Abraham Lincoln praised him. He died two year later.

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