James Duhig

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The Most Reverend Sir

James Duhig

3rd Roman Catholic Archbishop
James Duhig, 1953.jpg
James Duhig, 1953
Installed13 January 1917
Term ended10 April 1965
PredecessorRobert Dunne
SuccessorPatrick O'Donnell
Other post(s)Bishop of Rockhampton (1905 – 1912)
Ordination19 September 1896 (Priest) in Rome
by Cardinal Cassetta[1]
Consecration10 December 1905 Bishop
by Archbishop Michael Kelly[1]
Personal details
Born(1871-09-02)2 September 1871
Died10 April 1965(1965-04-10) (aged 93)
New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
BuriedSt Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane
DenominationRoman Catholic
ParentsJohn and Margaret (née Barry) Duhig
Alma materSt Joseph's, Gregory Terrace;
Irish College, Rome;
Pontifical Urbaniana University

Sir James Duhig KCMG (2 September 1871 – 10 April 1965) was an Irish-born Australian Roman Catholic religious leader. He was the Archbishop of Brisbane for 48 years from 1917 until his death in 1965. At the time of his death he was the longest-serving bishop in the Catholic Church (1905–1965).

Early years[edit]

Duhig was born in Broadford, County Limerick but emigrated with his family to Australia as a young boy. He completed his education at St. Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace, Queensland. After that, he worked for the Cooperative Butchering Company. After undertaking his studies for the priesthood at the Irish College and Pontifical Urbaniana University, both in Rome,[2] Duhig was ordained a priest in 1896 and his profile grew rapidly.


Archbishop Duhig at the opening of St Clement's Melkite Catholic Church, South Brisbane, 1936

On 10 December 1905, he became the youngest bishop in the Catholic Church when he was consecrated Bishop of Rockhampton. (Bishop Duhig penned the article on the Diocese of Rockhampton for the Catholic Encyclopedia.) On 26 February 1912, he was transferred to Brisbane, where he became the coadjutor archbishop to the elderly Archbishop Robert Dunne.[2] On 13 January 1917 he succeeded as Archbishop of Brisbane, a position he held for 48 years until his death in 1965.

In the early years of Duhig's tenure, his archdiocese took on an extensive building program, including churches, hospitals and schools, erecting more than 400 buildings, earning him the nickname of "Duhig the Builder".[3] These buildings are a prominent feature of the Brisbane landscape to this day. His most ambitious project, the Cathedral of the Holy Name in Fortitude Valley, was a casualty of the Great Depression which destroyed the value of the investments that were to finance the project. In addition to the construction of buildings, Duhig created over fifty new parishes and encouraged the establishment of twenty communities of religious men and women in an ecclesiastical province that had previously been dominated by the Irish Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy.[4]

One of his most notable acts as Archbishop was being the recognised founder of St Columban's College, with the school being founded in 1928 by the Archbishop, being located in Albion. On Sunday 29 January 1928, St Columban’s College was officially opened. The property, Highlands, was one of the stately homes of Brisbane. The site was spectacular, looking out over the Brisbane River and the city of Brisbane. Highlands was purchased by Archbishop Duhig in 1926 and passed into the hands of the Christian Brothers, whom he invited to run the College for the purpose of providing a Catholic education for young boys. As founder of St Columban’s College, Archbishop Duhig supported the Christian Brothers in their educational endeavours with large sums of money, especially in the late 1950s when the College had to expand dramatically. Archbishop Duhig always regarded the school as something very dear to him. He was a great diplomat and was proud of his association with the College.[5][6]

Public life[edit]

Duhig played an active role in public life. However, unlike his contemporary, Archbishop Daniel Mannix of Melbourne, who seemed to thrive on public attention, controversy and inflaming public passions, Duhig favoured accommodation with the (largely Protestant) established order. This was reflected not only in his being awarded official honours, but also in the positive ecumenical legacy that he left to the Christian community in Brisbane and throughout the State of Queensland.[7][8]

In February 1934, Duhig was elected President of the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland.[9]

In 1937 Duhig successfully proposed that the River Road (from Brisbane city to Toowong) should be renamed Coronation Drive, to celebrate the coronation of King George VI.[10]


Duhig played a major role in the development of the University of Queensland, being a member of the university senate from 1916 until his death in 1965.[11] He established St Leo's College, where an annual lecture is given in his honour.[12][13] The university recognised Duhig's contribution by naming the Duhig Library after him and awarding him an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.[11]

Duhig was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1954 in recognition of service as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane,[14] and made a Knight Commander (KCMG) of the order in 1959 in recognition of service as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Queensland.[15]

Published works[edit]

Duhig published the following works:

  • Duhig, James (1947), Crowded years, Angus and Robertson, retrieved 2 September 2016


  1. ^ a b "Archbishop James Duhig". The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. 19 February 2011. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b The Catholic Encyclopedia and its makers. New York: The Encyclopedia Press. 1917. pp. 50.
  3. ^ "Who was James Duhig?". University of Queensland. 8 December 2006. Archived from the original on 1 August 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2009.
  4. ^ "Still feeling as fit as ever". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane, Queensland: National Library of Australia. 1 September 1952. Archived from the original on 22 December 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  5. ^ "History". St Columban's College. Archived from the original on 5 March 2022. Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  6. ^ "Duhig". St Columban's College. Archived from the original on 5 March 2022. Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  7. ^ Boland, T.P. "Duhig, Sir James (1871–1965)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  8. ^ R. and R. Sullivan (2013). "Archbishop James Duhig and the Queensland Irish Association, 1898-1920: exploring connections" (PDF). Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society. 34: 44–57. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 February 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  9. ^ "ARCHBISHOP DUHIG PRESIDENT". The Evening News. No. 3848. Queensland, Australia. 8 February 1934. p. 8. Archived from the original on 23 July 2022. Retrieved 23 July 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ "In other cities". The Advertiser. Adelaide, Australia: National Library of Australia. 14 May 1937. p. 31. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  11. ^ a b "Duhig building". University of Queensland. Archived from the original on 24 April 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  12. ^ "About St Leo's - Men's Residential College in UQ | St Leo's College". Archived from the original on 19 March 2022. Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  13. ^ "St Leo's offers vital support". The Catholic Leader. 17 July 2015. Archived from the original on 25 July 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  14. ^ "Duhig, James: The Order of St Michael and St George - Companion". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 10 June 1954. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  15. ^ "Duhig, James: The Order of St Michael and St George- Knights Commander". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 13 June 1959. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Boland, T. P. (1986). James Duhig. St Lucia, Qld.: University of Queensland Press.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by 3rd Roman Catholic Bishop of Rockhampton
1905 – 1912
Succeeded by
Preceded by 3rd* Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane
1917 – 1965
Succeeded by