Edward McCabe was born in Dublin 14 February 1816. He was educated at Father Doyle's school, Arran Quay, entered the seminary at Maynooth in 1833, and was ordained 24 June 1839. After serving successive curacies in Clontarf and the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, in 1856 McCabe was made parish priest of St. Nicholas Without in Dublin (Yes, the parish name is actually 'St. Nicholas Without' because it was outside the walls of Dublin City). Transferred to Kingstown in 1865 he served four years in a parish, eventually becoming vicar general. In 1877, suffering ill health, Cardinal Cullen called on McCabe to assist him. In 1878 Dr. McCabe was consecrated titular Bishop of Gadara, and upon the death of Cardinal Cullen in 1879, he became Archbishop of Dublin. He was 'given the red hat' (i.e. made a Cardinal) in 1882.
Edward Cardinal McCabe, like his predecessor Cullen, distrusted popular movements and in his public speeches often railed against rebels and agitation, pronouncing his support for the government and rule of law. Nationalist newspapers branded him a 'Castle Bishop', making reference to the British seat of rule at Dublin Castle, and marked him as an enemy of his own Irish people. His life was threatened and for a time he was under police protection. Cardinal McCabe died at his home in Dun Laoghaire 11 February 1885, three days before his 69th birthday.
The tomb which contains the mortal remains of the Cardinal is embellished with symbols, both Celtic and Christian. There are 8 angels on the mausoleum: 4 on top of the sarcophagus, (two at his head and two at his feet), and 4 on the roof of the mausoleum. On the floor there is an eagle emblem bearing the name Johannes, a symbol associated with the biblical evangelist John the Baptist. The two bird heads may be the Celtic symbols for geese which are used in Christian art as markers of singularity of thought. The double dragon heads on the outer wall may be emblematic of the reconciliation of the body and soul on Judgement day.
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Reference for biographical information: MacThomáis, Shane. Glasnevin Ireland's NecropolisAll Photographs ©Copyright J. Geraghty-Gorman aka irisheyesjg. All rights reserved.