W. H. Grattan Flood

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William Henry Grattan Flood
Grattan Flood.jpg
Born (1859-11-01)1 November 1859
Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland
Died 6 August 1928(1928-08-06) (aged 68)
Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland

William Henry Grattan Flood (1 November 1859 – 6 August 1928), a noted author, composer, musicologist and historian, was born in Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland. As a writer and ecclesiastical composer, his personal contributions to Irish musical form produced enduring works. As an historian, his output was prolific on topics of local and national historical or biographical interest. (Waterford Writers 2005)

Flood was given the title Chevalier by Pope Benedict XV in 1917, and thereafter was called Chevalier Flood by his close friends and admirers. He is not to be confused with the unrelated Irish statesmen Henry Flood or Henry Grattan.


Flood's family had a great influence on his education. He was born to William and Catherine (FitzSimon) Flood, the Master and Matron of the Lismore Union Workhouse. He had one older sister (Maria), and five brothers (Francis (his twin brother), Patrick, Frederick, George and James (who died in infancy). Flood received his elementary education at his grandfather's (Andrew FitzSimon) boys academy in Lismore, and was given music lessons by his aunt, Elizabeth FitzSimon. He quickly became an accomplished pianist and, at the age of nine, was invited to give a recital for the Duke of Devonshire at Lismore Castle. He entered Mount Melleray in 1872 and graduated in 1876. During this time, he received private tuition in music from Sir Robert Prescott Stewart (1825–1894) and developed proficiency on other musical instruments. In 1876, he was named organist of St. Peter's Cathedral in Belfast, Northern Ireland and later took the same position at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles, North Tipperary. A devout Catholic, William entered St. Patrick's in Carlow, County Carlow and spent several years studying for the priesthood (Capuchin Annual 1974). After leaving the seminary, he entered the Royal University of Dublin and completed his Doctorate in Music. He then accepted positions as Professor of Music at the Jesuit Colleges of Tullabeg and Clongowes Wood, and from there went on to Cotton College (St. Wilfrid's) near Stoke-On-Trent in Staffordshire, England.

Flood returned to Ireland to teach at St. Kieran's College in Kilkenny, County Kilkenny and St. McMartan's College in Monaghan, County Monaghan. By 1895, he had again taken a position as organist at St. Aidan's Cathedral in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, a post that he would hold until his death in 1928. It was during this period that Flood authored the majority of his musical compositions and historical publications. In December 1898, he was wed to Margaret Delaney and, over the next 12 years, the couple had six children, including Catherine (Kathleen), Mollie, Agnes, William, Patrick and Margaret (Rita). Following his death, his daughter, Kathleen, assumed the position of organist at St. Aidan's until her death in 1956.

Works and Legacy[edit]

Contributions to Musicology[edit]

  • The Story of the Harp (1905)
  • History of Irish Music (1927)
  • The Story of the Bagpipe (1911), illustrated with engravings, a useful but controversial work (Universe of Bagpipes 2006)

Contributions to Ecclesiastical Music[edit]

  • Mass in Honor of St. Carthage
  • Numerous hymns
  • His scholarly work resulted in the papal honors from four Popes.
  • His influence in spearheading the revival of Irish culture was corroborated on page 103, "The Transformation of Ireland 1900–2000." (Ferriter 2004)
  • Flood and his daughter Kathleen held the position of organist for 63 years at the Cathedral of St. Aidan, Enniscorthy, County Wexford.

Historical Contributions[edit]

  • History of the Diocese of Ferns (1916)
  • articles for the Journal of the Waterford
  • articles for the South East of Ireland Archaeological Society (1895–1915)
  • articles for The Cork Historical Journal
  • contributions for the prestigious publication – Dictionary of National Biography
  • contributions for the prestigious publication – Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1904–1910).

Other Career Activities[edit]

Publications, Papers, Musical Compositions and Honors[edit]

  • Centenary of James Clarence Mangan
  • Centenary of Prout
  • Centenary of Michael William Balfe, the composer of the opera The Bohemian Girl
  • Centenary of William Vincent Wallace, the composer of the opera Maritana
  • Paper by Flood read at the Gregorianin Rome in 1904
  • Paper by Flood read at the International Music Conference in London in 1911
  • Paper by Flood read in Paris in 1914.
  • President of the Musical Section of the Celtic Congress in Brussels in 1910.
  • Appointed correspondence member of Societe Francaise de Musicoloque, Paris in 1922
  • Flood's magnum opus: A text book in High School for Celtic Students in Paris
  • Provided evidence at the Apostolic Process for the Beatification of Venerable Oliver Plunkett in 1907.
  • History of the Diocese of Ferns (1916) the only monograph thus far published of this diocese.
  • The History of Enniscorthy, (1898)
  • History Irish Music (1905)
  • Story of the Harp (1905)
  • Story of the Bagpipe (1911)
  • Memoirs of Vincent Wallace (1912)
  • Memoirs of Father James Dixon, (1912)
  • Selected Airs of O’carolan, (1917)
  • Early Tudor Composers, (1925) – with a preface by Sir W. Henry Hadow, Mus Director, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University
  • John Field Inventor of the Nocturne (1920).
  • Contributed articles to The Catholic Encyclopedia
  • Contributed articles to Dictionary of National Biography
  • Contributed articles to Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians (5 vols. 1904–1910)
  • Contributed articles to Archivium Hibernicum (1912–1915)
  • Contributed articles to The Anthenaeum Saturday Review,
  • Contributed articles to The Month
  • Contributed articles to Ecclesiastical Review
  • Contributed articles to Irish Theological Quarterly
  • Contributed articles to Irish Ecclesiastical Record Studies
  • Contributed articles to Ave Maria,
  • Contributed articles to The Irish Rosary
  • Contributed articles to Musical Times
  • Contributed articles to Musical Opinion
  • Contributed articles to Musical Quarterly
  • Contributed articles to Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland
  • Contributed articles to Cork Archaeological Journal
  • Contributed articles to Waterford Archaeological Journal
  • Contributed articles to Musical Herald, etc.
  • Edited a new standard edition of Moore's Irish Melodies, The Spirit of a Nation (1911).
  • Edited the music of The Armagh Hymnal in 1915.
  • Composed the Mass of Saint Aedan in B flat; Saint Aedan or Saint Mogue being the first Bishop and Patron of the Diocese of Ferns (died 631 AD)
  • Composed the Mass of Saint Carthage in A; Saint Carthage as Patron of Lismore where Doctor Flood was born
  • Composed the Mass of Saint Wilfrid in G – Saint Wilfrid was the patron of Cotton Hall in Staffordshire where he was professor for some years.
  • Composed a Benediction Service (dedicated to Pope Leo XIII)
  • Composed Clongowes Wood College Song (1914)
  • Composed many madrigals, part songs, hymns, piano solos, marches, organ transcriptions
  • Song compositions, worthy of note: Irishmen All
  • Song compositions, worthy of note: Our Loved Ones Far Away with words by T.D. Sullivan.
  • Hymn composition, most outstanding: Hymn to Christ King (1925) which is sung in every church in the diocese of Ferns and in many other places, even as far away as Australia. The words of this hymn were written the late Father Patrick Brennann

Papal Honors[edit]


  • A memorial in the form of a limestone Celtic Cross, with a Celtic Harp carved on it was raised in Enniscorthy shortly after Chevalier Flood's death. It bears the inscription:


CHEVALIER WILLIAM HENRY GRATTAN FLOOD, ENNISCORTHY, IN RECOGNITION OF HIS INVALUABLE SERVICES TO IRISH MUSIC AND LITERATURE. DIED AUGUST 6TH 1928. ”Irish orators of rival fame – Combine to mould his memorable name; – But music was his first love and his last –

And links in him our present with our past."—Epitaph by Alfred Perceval Graves.


  • Flood P.P., Willam Grattan. (1974). "Renowned Irish Musicologist" (PDF). The Capuchin Annual 1974: 56–62. Retrieved 25 June 2006.  A succinct and informative account of the career, work and legacy of W.H. Grattan-Flood is contained in an article written by his son, William Grattan Flood who was a parish priest.
  • Ferriter, Diarmaid. (2004). The Transformation of Ireland 1900–2000. Great Britain: Profile Books Ltd. ISBN 1-86197-307-1.