The temperance movement has had a long tradition in Ireland from the efforts of individual priests during Penal times to the current Pioneer Total Abstinence Association. One of the most famous crusaders for this cause was Fr. Theobald Mathew. Mathew was born in Tipperary and became a priest in 1814. In 1838 he founded the Cork Total Abstinence Society in response to the widespread drunkenness he was witnessing.
From his modest beginnings he became known worldwide. He visited England and the US and gave the pledge to hundreds and thousands of people. In October 1842 Fr. Mathew visited Paulstown at the invitation of then parish priest Fr. Michael Brennan. The following account is given in the Bengal Catholic Herald:
The very Rev T. Mathew arrived at the residence of the Rev. T. Brannan the zealous pastor of Paulstown, diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, on Sunday week. Whilst in Goresbridge alone he administered the pledge to 5,000. He then left for the church at Paulstown, where he preached in aid of the new school there, and had a numerous and respectable attendance. After the sermon he administered the pledge to more than 7,000, in all 12,700; and distributed 25l (pounds) in charity, for the excellent parish priest.