The college acted as a refuge and provided shelter during the
wars that peppered the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The aid
provided at the Irish College helped strengthen the relationship
between France and Ireland.
Beyond its walls, the community could count on the support of the Irish bishops, including twenty-six diocesan bishops who took a constant interest in the affairs of the College. They always gave their approval for the building to be used during times of war, and some of them, such as the Bishops of Clogher and Tuam, even committed themselves personally to the cause. The actions of Charles Ouin-La-Croix during the War of 1870 demonstrate the cooperation between France and Ireland, a partnership that played an important role in the site's history.
During the Franco-Prussian War, between July 1870 and January 1871, Lazarists, professors, and students were forced to evacuate the premises. Nevertheless, the college remained open so its charitable works could continue. In his letter to Rector Thomas Mac Namara dated 20 February 1871, Charles Ouin-La-Croix, who served as administrator from 1859 to 1873, wrote that the college had been fully converted into a military hospital (have a look at the complete digitized document). This initiative formed part of the vast war effort in Paris. The temporary military hospital was the first of its kind to be financed by the Comité de la Presse (Committee of the Press). Created in the wake of a patriotic subscription effort publicised by the French press, the committee set up several military hospitals and medical outbuildings in Paris. The college welcomed injured soldiers from September 1870 to February 1871. Here, Charles Ouin-La-Croix writes about the fifty or so "pious and charitable Ladies" of the neighbourhood, three Sisters of Hope, and six Brothers of the Christian Doctrine who took care of about three hundred sick and wounded soldiers.
The cellars of the Irish College