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Matthew Gibney, Bishop of Perth.

Matthew Gibney was born in Aghaknock, parish of Killeshandra of Michael Gibney and Alice Prunty on 2 November 1837. He was educated in Kilmore Academy and All Hallows College where he was ordained on 14 June 1863 for the diocese of Perth. He arrived in Perth in December of that year to minister to a small Catholic community scattered over a vast diocese. It was only twenty years since Bishop John Brady had established the first church in Perth. Gibney was a man of remarkable energy, courage and zeal who pushed on with a programme of opening orphanages and schools in spite of bigoted opposition from the authorities just as John Brady had experienced earlier.

Between 1850 and 1868, when transportation was abolished, 9,720 convicts came from Britain to Western Australia. The last shipment in 1868 carried 63 Fenians. News of their arrival evoked an outburst of anti-Irish feeling and pressure was brought on the Governor to prevent them landing in Fremantle. Through the intercession of Gibney they were allowed settle in Guilford where he frequently visited them. One of his priests, Patrick McCabe, a native of Gowna, helped John Boyle O'Reilly escape from the colony and as a result had to flee himself.

By accident Fr Gibney was on the scene at Glenrowan, on his way from Kilrnore in Victoria to Albury in New South Wales, when Ned Kelly and his gang made their last stand against the police. He administered the last rites to the dying Kelly and braved it into the burning hotel against the advice of the police where the others were surrounded only to find the rest of the gang, Dan Kelly (Ned's brother), Steven Hart and Joe Byrne already dead.

Gibney was consecrated bishop of Perth in 1887. His work for education was matched by his work for the aborigines whose cause he championed against colonial exploitation. He opened up a new mission to them in the Kimberleys.

The discoverey of gold in Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie in 1892 brought an influx of people to the diocese. To cope with this he invited the Christian Brothers to Perth in 1894, the Oblate Fathers the same year, the Sisters of St John of God in 1895, Loreto Sisters in 1896, the Notre Dame de Missions in 1897 and the Redemptorists in 1899. He visited his native Cavan in 1898 in an effort to recruit vocations for his diocese. In his efforts to acquire property for the establishment of Church institutions and the burden of supporting schools following the withdrawal of state aid from denominational schools in 1895 he ran the diocese into debt and was forced to resign. At the time he was criticised for his rash administration but the diocese which continued to grow had subsequently good reason to acknowledge his foresight in purchasing land for schools, churches, and orphanages. He died on 22 June 1925 in Perth and was buried in the sanctuary of the cathedral .

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