The Archbishop with a Talent for Agitating for His People and Place; MARY CARR BIOGRAPHY Mannix Brenda Niall Test Publishing [Euro]39.50

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), October 4, 2015 | Go to article overview

The Archbishop with a Talent for Agitating for His People and Place; MARY CARR BIOGRAPHY Mannix Brenda Niall Test Publishing [Euro]39.50


Daniel Mannix, the Archbishop of Melbourne for almost 50 years was a towering figure in 20th-century Australia and a passionate fighter for Irish Independence. This engaging biography by Brenda Niall of the austere and forbidding Church leader who died in 1963 aged 99, charts the progress of his long life while opening a fascinating window on Irish Catholic Australia and its reliance on the 'old country' for its identity.

Mannix was born in Charleville, Co.

Cork and as a brilliant and exceptionally ambitious scholar was earmarked early for advancement.

He became president of his alma mater, Maynooth college, the training seminary for priests and he was regarded as the natural successor to the Archbishop of Dublin, William Walsh.

However, by the time that lofty position became vacant - in 1921 - he had ruined his reputation.

He was seen as a troublemaker in Australia for his anti-conscription stance and his stormy political interventions, usually on the side of the poor. He was a pariah in Ireland and deeply unpopular in Vatican circles.

His life in Australia fanned the flames of a latent nationalism and he became an unswerving Republican in the years after the Easter Rising of 1916 when Home Rule was abandoned and the country thrown into chaos.

Determined to do his bit for the cause he embarked on a US lecture tour in 1920 where he joined Eamon de Valera on a platform in Madison Square Garden, New York.

He became a celebrity when on his voyage from the US to the Vatican, the British refused to allow him land in Ireland and threatened to charge him with sedition.

Unlike the clergy who threw their weight behind the moderates, once the Treaty was signed Mannix stubbornly refused to budge in his allegiance to Sinn Fein.

He quickly saw how the party's refusal to take an oath of allegiance would stand in the way of progress so he returned to Ireland in 1925 to try and change the leadership's mindset and embolden the dispirited Republic movement. …

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