Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Diocese of Elphin: People, Places and Pilgrimage

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Diocese of Elphin: People, Places and Pilgrimage

Article excerpt

The Diocese of Elphin: People, Places and Pilgrimage. Edited by Francis Beirne. (Blackrock, Co. Dublin: Columba Press. 2000. Pp. 403. L30.)

Recent years have seen a spate of Irish diocesan histories. In 1995 Oliver Curran produced her substantial, but largely unusable, update of Dean Cogan's classic nineteenth-century diocesan history, which itself was reissued by Four Courts Press in 1992, accompanied by Alfred Smith's interesting biography of Cogan. Ignatius Murphy's remarkable three-volume work on the diocese of Killaloe from the eighteenth century (Dublin, 1991-92) has come to constitute the modern model for diocesan histories. Also very impressive is James Kelly and Wire Keogh's History of the Catholic Diocese of Dublin (Dublin, 2000), which contains some of the most important essays written on religion in Ireland in recent years. Henry Jeffries and Ciaran Devlin co-edited and published an important but uneven collection of essays under the title History of the Diocese of Derry from Earliest Times (Dublin, 2000). To this rich production has recently been added the present work, edited by Francis Beirne.

This is a substantial book but is neither a conventional chronological history (who would attempt that today!) nor is it a collection of essays by specialists. It is rather a mixed bag of primary and secondary historical sources, with no consistent organizing theme apart from the celebration of the identity and achievement of this West of Ireland diocese. Because of this, the book is of limited use to historians. …

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