A revealing history of the Diocese of Kilmore, detailing events that occurred between 1100 and 1800, has been captured in a new book launched last week at the Pastoral Centre by Cardinal Seán Brady.
In writing the book, author Monsignor Liam Kelly, parish priest in Kill and Drung, spent two weeks sifting through a raft of documents meticulously stored at the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide in Rome.
The four years Msgr Kelly spent researching and writing his in-depth ecclesiastical assessment of the Diocese over the 700-year period sits neatly beside the history post-1800 examined by the late Fr Dan Gallogly.
“It was fascinating going through all that was contained in the Vatican libraries, discovering letters as early as 1400. I spent two weeks in Rome. I must admit it was thoroughly enjoyable,” Msgr Kelly, who studied history in college and has been researching and writing for over 30 years, told The Anglo-Celt.
“Finding new information was at times more exciting than the actual writing itself. It s hard to choose one element, which amazed me most over 700 years, because it was a time of constant change. The church and the Diocese of Kilmore in 1100 was very different from the one in 1800,” he said.
At the book s launch last week, Cardinal Brady complimented Msgr Kelly on his achievement.
In particular he admired the local curate s skilled treatment of the section concerning the Reformation.
Cardinal Brady noted how, by reading the book, he had learned much about Bishop William Bedell, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Kilmore who died in 1642.
He had also learned much about John Wesley, the Methodist leader, who had travelled around the diocese on missions in the second half of the 1700s.
As an aside, Cardinal Brady noted the preacher had on his journeys at the time been very impressed with Swanlinbar where the people there were as artless as if they had lived on the Welsh mountains . But Cardinal Brady said Wesley had been very unimpressed by Belturbet where the preacher found neither Papist nor Presbyterian; but to supply that defect there are Sabbath-breakers, drunkards and common swearers in abundance!
Bishop Leo O Reilly meanwhile described Msgr Kelly s book as “a very comprehensive and thoroughly researched history, which will provide a companion volume to the history of the post-1800 period by the late Fr Dan Gallogly.
The Bishop added that Fr Kelly has many publications on historical subjects to his credit, but this his latest, would “surely rank” as his magnum opus.
He concluded by saying: “We are greatly indebted to Fr Kelly and I thank him sincerely for his work and congratulate him warmly on his achievement.”
Fr Kelly thanked everyone who had helped him in writing the book and those present at the launch. The large gathering included dignitaries of church and state including Bishop Francis Duffy, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Bishop Joseph Duffy, the retired Bishop of Clogher and Deputy Brendan Smith (FF) and Senator Joe O Reilly (FG).
The book, which costs €35, is on sale in bookshops and in parishes throughout the diocese from Friday, November 3 onwards.