Was just reading the Wikipedia article on Mungret College
and under notable past pupils I followed a link to a James Coyle
, whom I had never heard of.
What an extraordinary story.
(From the above article) On August 11, 1921, Father Coyle was shot in the head on the porch of St. Paul's Rectory by E. R. Stephenson, a Southern Methodist Episcopal minister and a member of the Ku Klux Klan. There were many witnesses. The murder occurred just hours after Coyle had performed a secret wedding between Stephenson's daughter, Ruth, and Pedro Gussman, a Puerto Rican she had met while he was working on Stephenson's house five years earlier. Gussman had also been a customer of Stephenson's barber shop. Several months before the wedding, Ruth had converted to Roman Catholicism.
Father Coyle was buried in Birmingham's Elmwood Cemetery.
It really conveys not only the anti-Catholicism of the KKK at the time, something which is understandably overlooked in emphasising their racism, but how strongly aligned huge swathes of society were with it. In particular, Hugo Black (1886-1971)
, who became a US senator and subsequently a very famous judge of the US Supreme Court, was one of the five KKK lawyers who defended E.R. Stephenson, the KKK killer. Black reinvented himself as a 'New Dealer' and a liberal closely aligned with FDR and was one of the nine judges in the famous Brown v. Board of Education judgement in 1955 which outlawed segregation in US schools. The judge in Stephenson's trial was also in the KKK.