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  • History of the Diocese of Clogher
  • Salvador Ryan
History of the Diocese of Clogher. Edited by Henry A. Jefferies. (Dublin: Four Courts Press. Distributed in the United States by ISBS, Portland, Oregon. 2005. Pp. 249. $65.00.)

The Irish diocese of Clogher, which incorporates County Monaghan, most of County Fermanagh, and portions of counties Cavan, Donegal, Louth, and Tyrone, has the good fortune of possessing many rich and important historical records. The Clogher Historical Society, which has produced the well-respected journal Clogher Record since 1953, has ensured that a lively interest in ecclesiastical history continues in the diocese to this day. This volume builds upon this strong tradition of historical scholarship by making available a pot pourri of important articles which cast light not just on Clogher but also on significant national historical questions.

The editor, Henry A. Jefferies, admits that the volume does not pretend to be exhaustive, and this is borne out by the lack of treatment given to the early modern period:nevertheless, there is much to recommend this collection. Charles Doherty begins with a study of the early cult of St. Molaisse, arguing that the ecclesiastical site of Devenish was an important and powerful force from the early seventh century, with wide jurisdiction, and that the status of Armagh, with the support of the Airgialla dynasty, only increased considerably around the year 640. Cormac Bourke traces a number of significant metalwork survivals from the early medieval period and in particular saints' bells. Katharine Walsh, in a substantial and comprehensive article, examines evidence for the popularity of St. Patrick's Purgatory (Lough Derg) among late medieval continental pilgrims and provides much that is new and original. Brendan Smith explores diocesan relations in the late medieval period, with particular reference to papal interventions and the relationship between the bishop of Clogher and the archbishop of Armagh, which varied from collaborative [End Page 287] to hostile. Henry A. Jefferies, in a ground-breaking study of the papal registers referring to Clogher, challenges the view that the late medieval Irish church was on the verge of "total breakdown."His systematic examination of the registers reveals some significant statistics, which call into question previous generalizations. A second article by Jefferies, which assesses the career of Dr. Hugh MacMahon, vicar general and later bishop of Clogher from 1707 to 1715, also constitutes a fascinating yet accessible study of the practicalities of living under the penal laws in one Irish diocese. MacMahon's relatio status is the most comprehensive found for any diocese during the period and is of considerable importance not just for local history but for national history also. Two poems treating of the pilgrimage to Lough Derg are edited by Seosamh Ó Dufaigh, who in later articles casts light on both Richard Owens, bishop of Clogher (1894-1909), and on the Lenten pastorals of Bishop Patrick McKenna (1916-1922). Eamon Phoenix and Daithí Ó Corráin explore aspects of diocesan history in the twentieth century, Phoenix examining the issue of partition and Ó Corráin the career of Bishop Eugene O'Callaghan (1943-1969).

There are, however, some careless errors and inconsistencies within the text, which should be rectified for future printings. A typographical error on page 20 has the translation "In all Ireland Macculaisre"inserted into the Latin text of the hymn of Molaisse while "Macculasrius Hibernia" appears in the English translation. The sentence beginning "It need hardly be said. . ."on page 29 requires a complete re-write as it contains a number of errors. On page 38, the author McKenna is spelt in two different ways at note 96. There is no agreement on whether translations should be provided for quotations in Latin (a translation is given at note 44 on page 17, for example, but not for note 3 on page 41). On page 44 (line 13) and page 45 (line 10)"Middle Ages"is found written in upper case and lower case respectively. There is also a noticeable lack of consistency between articles regarding nomenclature:on page 44 we are introduced to Jacobus de Voragine (of Legenda Aurea fame) who in a subsequent article is found under the Italian version, Giacamo de Varragio (p. 70). On...


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