Francis Ross Maguire was born on June 16, 1855, in Lambeth (London), son of Hugh Thomas Maguire. Engineering Surveyor, and Maria, Needlewoman. His parents were married in 1847 and reared nine children, of whom three were Deaf – the eldest, Theresa, born in Kings county (now Co. Offaly) in 1848, while the fifth. Francis Ross (1855) and the youngest. Walter William (1859) were born in Lambeth. It appears that Francis and Theresa were admitted to the London Asylum for Deaf and Dumb on Old Kent Road, Southwark (on 9th January 1865) before their father died at the age of 51 in the winter of 1867.
After the death of Hugh Thomas, their mother clearly became concerned for the children’s religious education. In August 1868, Francis and Walter were admitted to St. Joseph’s School for Deaf boys in Cabra after being recommended by Viscountess Castlerose and Most Rev. Dr. Manning of London. Walter, aged 9, was pupil No. 442 and Francis, aged 13, was No. 445. Their sister Theresa was admitted to St. Mary’s School for Deal Girls in September 1869 as pupil No. 400 at the age of 21 She had been recommended for admission by Very Rev. Fr. G. McMullen of London and she remained in school for three years during which time she received instruction in the sacraments. According to an old tattered address book, now in the DHC archive. the Maguire family lived in several different addresses between 1860 and 1890.
When he left Cabra Francis planned lo follow a career as an artist so he weal lo the Lambeth School of Art in London where he studied sketching, panting and stained glass techniques. Afterwards he got a job as a stained glass artist and painter of religious pictures. He completed work in Canterbury Cathedral and Folkestone Church. Francis married a Deaf woman from North Dublin Anne O’Brien in Fulham London in the spring of 1887. Anne was a former pupil (No. 273) of St. Marys School. They lived at No. 60 Wendell Road Hammersmith. His younger brother William lived with Theresa and her family of five children at No. 54 on same road.
The Last Supper
Four of Francis Ross Maguire’s works are now located in the DHC museum. One is a large, almost square painting called the ‘Last Supper’ which he initialled and dated ‘January 16th 1912’ in the bottom right-hand corner. This painting hung on the wall of the refectory in St. Josephs for many years. It was later moved because there was a risk of it being damaged. It is now permanently located in the DHC museum.
The Sacred Host
Francis kept in touch with the Deaf Male Sodality of St. Josephs and received circulars and news about his former schoolmates and his friend. Thomas Mahon. I understand that Francis visited Cabra regularly and stayed for several days when missions were being held. He informed the Superior Br. E. L. D’Alton (1911-1919) that he would like to paint a suitable mural in the church. The result was a representation of the Sacred Host with six angels which was completed about 1914 and which I believe, was warmly received by the community in St. Josephs and certainly reflects his artistic skills.
Unfonunately, most of the large old chapel was convened into new classrooms in the 1980s and, when a smaller chapel was provided the Lamb of God mural wa panially covered by the new lowered ceiling. In the summer of 1995 I met Richard McEIIigott from Listowel, Co. Kerry at the Deaf Club in Drumcondra. I enquired if he knew anything about Francis Maguire or if he remembered his work. Richard who at the time was only 10 years old told me that he actually saw Francis painting the mural himself on the wall behind the altar and he remembered the wooden scaffolding being erected in the chapel. He told me that it took about a year to complete the work. He also remembered that Francis had a pet dog and that he was a great friend of Thomas Mahon. Unfortunately Richard died in 1996. aged 93 just before I had an opportunity to visit him in Listowel and show him some photos and articles for my research on the lives of Francis Maguire and Thomas Mahon.
The Lamb of God
Another rectangular painting representing the Lamb of God was located on the front of the altar in the chapel until about 1935. It was then moved to the Brothers dining room. It is now in the DHC museum. The third painting is a small watercolour of the Cruciixion and can be dated to 1915. Finally there is a framed pidure of a fragment of stained glass with a representation of St. Joseph and the child Jesus.