1. The Summoning of the Synod
The first national synod of the Catholic hierarchy held in Ireland since the middle ages opened on Thursday, 22 August 1850, at Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Its goal was to reform the Catholic Church, root and branch, and to ensure that it conformed in everything to the standards of the universal Catholic Church as set by Rome. Pastoral care and preaching were sometimes fitful, attendance at mass was irregular, and the administration of the sacraments (including baptism) was inadequate. It is true, there had been a great deal of church building—20 before 1800, 60 between 1800 and 1830, 170 between 1830 and 1850—but in the eyes of Paul Cullen, the whole church was in need of an overhaul. The Synod was called by Cullen, the newly appointed Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland (head of the Catholic Church). He had recently returned from Rome as Apostolic Delegate, a papal office that gave him complete control over the Catholic Church in Ireland. He used his powers to reform it. Rome was concerned about the administration of the Church in Ireland. An ‘ultramontanist’, Cullen believed that every national church should follow the Roman model exactly, in practice, in teaching, and in discipline. He was utterly opposed to local or popular religious expressions and determined to end these in Ireland. The Synod marked the beginning of this process.
Under Cullen’s strict control, the Irish hierarchy discussed popular religious beliefs and practices, considered how these differed from those of Rome, decided what to keep, what to suppress, and what to change, in order to make the Catholic Church in Ireland conform exactly to Roman standards. The Synod was also concerned with contemporary social, economic, and political problems, particularly those thought to involve moral issues, and which therefore required the attention of the bishops.
The Synod of Thurles attracted much attention from the public and the Government because of one major matter, the University Question. In 1845, five years before the Synod, the Government had introduced the Colleges (Ireland) Act to establish a new system of university education (the Queen’s Colleges), and this was one of the reasons why the Synod met. The Government had acted in response to a successful campaign for educational reform. This Act was extremely controversial because prominent politicians and clerics had opposed it, and split public opinion. The Irish bishops, as well as the priests and the laity, were deeply divided on the issue. The Synod was to resolve their disputes and agree on a single policy about University education for Catholics.
2. Educational Problems: Primary Education
The bishops had been divided about the state-supported national schools system established in 1832. There was opposition from Protestants and Catholics who wanted the Government to establish exclusively religious schools run by the Churches. The Archbishop of Dublin, Daniel Murray, and eighteen other bishops, supported the national school system because they believed that it was the best that the British Government would give. However, ten bishops followed John MacHale, Archbishop of Tuam, in opposing the system.
MacHale and his followers believed that Government schools might be used to convert Catholic children to Protestantism, and they insisted that the Catholic hierarchy have control of Catholic education to safeguard Catholic faith and morals. Unable to resolve their differences, the Irish hierarchy appealed to Rome in 1839 for guidance. The Holy See responded in 1841 that each bishop was to decide for his own diocese whether or not to support the national schools.
3. Educational Problems: University Education
This Vatican decision resolved the debate about non-denominational education for a while but the issue flared up again over university education. Catholics were allowed to attend Trinity College Dublin, the only University in Ireland, but were not entitled to the same honours and privileges as Protestants. Furthermore, the teaching staff of the University had to be in Anglican Holy Orders, that is, had to be ordained Protestant clergymen. Sir Thomas Wyse, a landed Catholic from Waterford city, and others interested in education, were concerned about the lack of educational facilities for the middle and upper classes, and especially for Catholics. They praised the Government for providing a national and universal primary system of education for all children but urged it to provide progressively better facilities for the more privileged classes who would later govern the country. They lobbied the Government for state-supported second and third level institutions.
On 9 May 1845, the Colleges (Ireland) Bill was introduced in the House of Commons: it proposed to establish provincial Colleges to be granted University status once opened. The Government was to finance the establishment and maintenance of the Colleges and the Crown was to be responsible for appointments and dismissals. Its core principle was that the Colleges were to be non-denominational: no religious test was required of staff, and religion was not to be taught as a university discipline. The Colleges (Ireland) Bill was passed on 10 July and became law on 31 July 1845. The Act stipulated that it ‘shall be lawful’ to assign lecture rooms ‘within the precincts’ so that each student may ‘receive religious instruction according to the creed which he professes to hold’ from recognised religious teachers. The Act established provincial Colleges on the model of University College London (founded in 1826), providing non-sectarian, non-residential, low-fee, third-level education.
4. Public and Episcopal Conflict
The public was deeply divided. Protestant loyalists, for the most part, supported the Act. Members of the Young Ireland party, Protestant and Catholic, hoped ‘mixed’ education would help reconcile Protestants and Catholics and unite them in the campaign for Repeal. Sir Thomas Wyse was the most important figure in educational reform in Ireland, and many middle-class Catholics who campaigned with him, supported the Act. However, Daniel O’Connell, and many in his Repeal movement were against the Colleges, because of the opposition of influential bishops. Many Catholic bishops were hostile to the idea of so-called ‘godless colleges’ and pressed the Government to make provision for religious appointments and instruction. The Government hoped to appease Protestants who were opposed to Government grants for Catholic education, and to assure Catholics that the Colleges were not intended to convert them to Protestantism.
There were disagreements, however, amongst bishops and clergy. Archbishop William Crolly (1780–1849) stated at a public meeting in Armagh that he was satisfied with the Government amendments and would give his approval for a College in his diocese. Crolly was impressed by the Government’s assurances that it would not discriminate against Catholics in the Colleges and he hoped that it would grant more concessions in the future. He was concerned about proposals to leave the College in Ulster to Presbyterians, and those in the rest of the country to Anglicans and Catholics. He hoped to persuade the Government to establish the proposed college in Armagh rather than in Belfast (a largely Presbyterian city). He was confident he would have more influence on it in Catholic Armagh, his cathedral city. Besides, Crolly believed that Catholics would attend the Colleges no matter what their bishops said, and thought that such a challenge to his authority would weaken his influence with the Government. The Archbishop’s letter led to serious controversy amongst clergy and laity. Crolly was accused by some of abandoning the Catholic souls in his care, praised by others for accepting the best measure that could be had. In his defence, Crolly referred to the Papal ruling of 1841 that bishops could decide as they judged best about national schools in their own diocese.
A majority of bishops opposed Crolly and argued that university was very different from national schools because College students, living away from home, would not have their parents and local priests to look after their religious instruction. Crolly’s claim to make decisions for his own diocese was challenged by bishops who argued that the Catholic hierarchy should act as a body because the three Colleges served the entire country and affected all bishops. It was felt that the bishops would weaken their position with the Government by disagreeing in public and thereby lessen their chances of getting a better deal.
Crolly convened a meeting of the bishops to discuss the Bill in Dublin on 21 and 23 of May 1845. Following heated debate, the bishops agreed that they should resolve their differences and issue a joint statement. First, they condemned the proposed colleges as ‘dangerous to the faith and morals of the Catholic pupils’. Nevertheless, they wished to co-operate with the Government to provide University education for Catholics ‘on fair and reasonable terms’ if the Government accepted their demands. These were: that a proportion of the professors and teachers in the Colleges should be Catholic, and that these should be sanctioned by the bishop of the diocese; that Catholics should hold the professorships in history, logic, metaphysics, moral philosophy, geology, and anatomy; that Catholic bishops should be members of the Boards of Trustees responsible for appointments and dismissals; and, finally, that Catholic chaplains should be appointed to look after the interests of Catholic students.
The Government rejected all the bishops’ demands but promised to uphold Catholic interests. Government ministers and members of parliament, who were deeply opposed to proselytism, tried to allay people’s fears. The Government made a slight change to the Bill to allow religious instruction in Colleges if paid for by private endowment. Full control of the Colleges, however, still remained with Government.
In spite of reassurances and concessions, the bishops, as a body, refused to compromise on their demand for Catholic Colleges for Catholics. They explained that they did not suspect the intentions or motives of the Government but argued that there were no safeguards against the abuse their powers in the future by Governments and College authorities. MacHale sent a letter to O’Connell to be read in Parliament and O’Connell backed the bishops’ notion that the Government would not intervene in the Colleges’ affairs to protect Catholic rights and interests. He said:
You tell me that you will protect the Catholics. You say, that if a professor preaches infidelity [Protestant attempts to convert Catholics], you will dismiss him. I am not satisfied with that. I mean you no disrespect, but I will not take your word for it. The bishops insist on having a power lodged in them for finding out the infidelity, and of having some voice at least in the dismissal of professors who might inculcate it.
Many bishops opposed the Colleges Bill as one for ‘godless colleges’ and called on the Government to make provision for religious appointments and instruction. The Government amended the Bill to enable the Colleges to offer classes on religious studies, but only if they were financed privately. This did not satisfy the bishops.
In spite of the bishops’ seeming unity, however, they were still deeply divided. Archbishop Crolly, in particular, was strongly in favour of the Colleges. To show their opposition to Crolly, nineteen bishops made a statement on 13 September repeating their opposition to the Act, in spite of changes. Some of these had supported the national schools a few years earlier. Archbishops MacHale of Tuam and Slattery of Cashel sent an appeal to Rome for assistance through Dr Paul Cullen, Rector of the Irish College in Rome and a staunch opponent of the University Act. They included the memorial to the Lord Lieutenant, and the resolutions of the bishops. The Holy See did not respond until October 1847—because of political disturbances in Rome—and repeated its previous decision against any co-operation with the Colleges. It suggested an alternative: the establishment of a Catholic University and urged unity amongst the hierarchy.
In the meantime, Ireland had experienced two years of devastating famine, O’Connell had died, Sir Robert Peel’s Conservative Government had been replaced by Lord John Russell’s Liberals, who seemed initially more favourable to Catholics. After consultation with Dr Murray, Archbishop of Dublin, Lord Clarendon, the Lord Lieutenant, prepared a revised copy of the College statutes for the consideration of the Pope, and reiterated the Government’s commitment to giving Catholics proper representation on College boards and staff. MacHale protested strongly against Murray’s intervention and went to Rome with a statement signed by seventeen bishops to the effect that the altered University Act did not grant any more concessions to Catholics. Having heard Clarendon’s case, Rome issued a statement on 11 October 1848 denouncing, once again, the Government Colleges, and calling for the establishment of a Catholic University. It instructed that future meetings of the Irish hierarchy should be organised according to canon law and should send their decisions to Rome for approval.
The Government had by now established Colleges in Galway, Cork and Belfast, which had 400 students on opening in autumn 1849. A priest was appointed first President of Queen’s College Galway, and a prominent Catholic scientist, Sir Robert Kane, first President of Queen’s College Cork. Catholic deans of residence were appointed with the approval of the resident bishops. However, a majority of the hierarchy were still dissatisfied, because of the small number of Catholics appointed as teaching staff.
The death of Archbishop Crolly of cholera in April 1849, was a blow to those who supported the Queen’s Colleges. Rome appointed Dr Paul Cullen as his successor. He returned to Ireland with yet another rescript that forbade priests to hold offices in the Colleges. On 30 May 1850, Cullen issued a letter summoning the bishops to a synod to be held in Thurles in August.
5. The Opening of the Synod of Thurles
The bishops issued pastoral letters to explain the objects of the Synod and urged people to pray for its success. They avoided the controversy that prompted it, and stated that synods appeared unusual only because they had been banned during the penal era. However, most people understood the importance of the University question and awaited the outcome with keen anticipation. Newspapers took up the cause with vigour. The Government was displeased at Cullen’s refusal to discuss the issue with it, although it attempted to conciliate the bishops as much as possible in public.
The Synod opened in Thurles with great ceremony and lasted almost three weeks. Some 10,000 people gathered to witness the procession of bishops and clergy from St Patrick’s College to the Cathedral where Cullen celebrated High Mass to open the proceedings. Laurence Forde, master of ceremonies, reported that:
the mass was celebrated by the Primate himself with full solemnity—all the arrangements were modelled as far as possible on the plan of the Papal Chapels, the music too was Ecclesiastical, the Mass was the old Irish College Mass in four parts quite in the Palestrina style.
Four Irish archbishops and twenty-three Irish bishops were entitled to attend. Three of the bishops were incapacitated by age or illness and were represented by procurators [deputies]. Besides the archbishops, bishops, and their procurators, the mitred abbot of Mount Melleray and the provincials and heads of the various religious orders also assisted at the Synod. Each bishop and procurator was attended by a theologian, except the primate, who in his capacity as Apostolic Delegate was entitled to two theologians. There were also three secretaries who were responsible for keeping the minutes and recording the resolutions and propositions voted upon. There were, of course, numerous other clergy who assisted at the public ceremonies but were not entitled to attend the regular sessions of the Synod, which were held in private. Two sessions or congregations were held each day, morning and afternoon, except Sundays, and the participants were all formally bound to secrecy. At the morning sessions, the entire Synod assembled to listen without comment to the opinions of the theologians on the various propositions to be considered. At the afternoon sessions, only those who had votes—the bishops, procurators, and mitred abbot, twenty-eight in number—met to discuss and decide by majority vote the various matters to be considered. The secretaries took minutes and recorded the votes. The actual debates of the Synod were held in private and their decisions were to remain confidential until approved by Rome.
In the first week of the Synod there was little contention, and the work of the fathers proceeded briskly. The early agenda consisted mainly of propositions concerning the rules by which the Synod would be conducted; matters of faith; the administration of the sacraments; the life and character of the clergy; the duties of the bishops, parish priests, and curates; ecclesiastical property; and the establishing of archives.
6. The Queen’s Colleges: Heated Debate
When the propositions regarding the Queen’s Colleges were introduced, however, the harmony was shattered. The press and public also had a keen interest in the debates on the Queen’s Colleges. On 27 August 1850, the Dublin Evening Post, a strongly conservative and Unionist paper, announced that the Queen’s Colleges had received royal assent for University status. A few days later, the Government announced its list of Visitors to sit on the Boards of Trustees. These included nine laymen for the three Colleges, with two Catholic and two Protestant bishops for each College.
A huge crowd attended the second public session of the Synod, a mass held in the Cathedral in Thurles on 29 August 1850 at which MacHale gave the sermon. MacHale did not make a direct attack on the Government, however, but emphasised the Catholic Church’s claims to protect the interests of Catholics. The reports of the proceedings of the Synod, now available in Roman archives, show that party lines were sharply drawn. One of the secretaries of the synod, Fr Dominic O’Brien, described the opening of the debate on the Queen’s Colleges:
The Archbishop of Dublin rose and declared that he received the rescripts of the Holy See with the most obsequious respect; but that, none the less, he would never act contrary to his conscience, whether out of respect for the Holy See, or for any other reason. The Archbishop said also that he would never oppose the rescripts, but that, while receiving them with the most respectful silence, he would never do anything to put them into effect. He would never impose any censure or ecclesiastical penalty on any priest or other ecclesiastic who sought or accepted any office in these Colleges; he would not prevent them being appointed deans of residence; he would not procure the removal from office of those already appointed; and he would not exhort the faithful to stay away from these Colleges, or to keep their sons away from them.
This uncompromising declaration set the tone for what followed. Two decrees excluding priests from the Colleges under pain of suspension were approved by 14 bishops and opposed by 13. Another decree, admonishing the laity to ‘reject and shun’ the Colleges, was approved by 15 and opposed by 12. The papal party seems to have been surprised at the extent to which their opponents were prepared to flout the clear wishes of the Holy See. Archbishop Cullen later commented that the Archbishop of Dublin exhibited ‘an obstinacy that was remarkable’. Bishop Cantwell of Meath wrote that ‘during the Synod his Grace of Dublin and his adherents evinced a most fractious and disobedient spirit’, and added that the Synod was brought to a satisfactory conclusion only ‘by the mildness, rare tact and great talent of Dr Cullen’.
7. Continuing Disagreement and its Resolution
The majority were surprised at the attitude of their opponents in the Synod, and astonished at their continued resistance afterwards. As soon as the Synod had dispersed, the thirteen bishops of the minority appealed to Rome against the decrees on the Queen’s Colleges. Archbishop Murray had this published in the press, although the proceedings of the Synod were confidential. Thus on 5 September 1850, the Dublin Evening Post reported that the Synod opposed the Universities by a majority of only one vote. Next day, the Cork Examiner reported that Dr Cullen was going to compel priests to break all links with the Colleges. Complaints from the majority poured into Rome. ‘The question now is whether Pius IX or the English Government is to govern the Catholic Church in Ireland’, wrote Archbishop Slattery of Cashel. Archbishop Cullen declared:
The real question to be decided is whether one ought or ought not to obey the decision of the Holy See; whether the Pope ought to rule the Church in Ireland through the majority of bishops, or whether, on the other hand, the English Government ought to rule it by means of the Archbishop of Dublin.
By the end of 1850 there seemed to be a crisis in the Irish Church. Relations between the two parties in the Irish hierarchy were never worse. Within a few months things changed. In September 1850, the Pope set up an English Catholic hierarchy of archbishops and bishops to rule the Catholic Church there. This caused much resentment among English Protestants because it seemed to flaunt the rapid progress of Catholicism in England. The Government’s reaction was provocative. In 1851, it introduced and carried the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, which made it a penal offence for Catholic bishops to use territorial titles.
This played right into the hands of Cullen and his supporters. They had always said that the British Government was an enemy of the Catholic Church; the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill seemed to prove their point. In the weeks of its passage through Parliament there was a stampede away from the Government by the Catholics who had supported it until now. Archbishop Murray issued a pastoral condemning the Government’s action. The Catholic members of the Bar—of all sections of the Catholic community the one reputed to be the most devoted to the Government’s interests—issued a protest against its legislation. The Ecclesiastical Titles Act was never enforced and was quietly repealed by Gladstone in 1871. However, the moderate party was badly shaken. They could no longer believe that the attitude of British statesmen to the Catholic Church was, on the whole, one of good will.
8. Summary of the Decisions of the Synod of Thurles
Education. The Synod condemned the Queen’s Colleges and resolved to establish a Catholic University. It called on priests to increase the number of schools and to direct ‘those pious associations for the diffusing of catechetical knowledge and the caring of the poor’. It accepted that each bishop should have discretion in relation to primary education in his diocese.
Administration. The Synod discussed the canon law in the different dioceses and decided on a uniform system, in particular relating to the administration of sacraments outside the church. During the eighteenth century and because of the penal laws, baptisms, marriages, and confessions took place mostly in private houses. These practices still remained in the early nineteenth century. The bishops wanted to end them in order to bring the Irish Church into line with the discipline of the universal Catholic Church but they did not wish to force change on people too abruptly. They ruled that marriages and baptisms were henceforth to take place in churches, apart from exceptional cases. A register of marriages and baptisms was to be kept in each church. Marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics were to be discouraged. The Church’s disapproval of such unions was to be shown by withholding much of the normal marriage ritual. They did not ban the ‘stations’, that is, masses in private houses at which priests heard confessions, because they anticipated great opposition to this. The legislation showed, in fact, that there were no serious differences between Catholicism in Ireland and on the Continent.
Organisation & Discipline. Priests were instructed to attend retreats and to keep themselves informed about theological matters. They were prohibited from going to public houses, horse races, and theatres. Each parish was to have a parochial house. Parish priests were not to have more than fifteen acres of land, and curates were forbidden to hold any land without the consent of the bishop. Priests were forbidden to denounce people or movements from the altar, or to say mass after noon. Catholic clergy were not to engage in public disputes with members of other religions, and the laity were forbidden to engage in discussions with non-Catholics.
Proselytism & Conversions. Measures were recommended to counter the work of proselytisers who tried to convert people to Protestantism by sermons, publications, and rewards. Special attention was paid to the dangers faced by emigrants, and those who lived or worked in Protestant environments such as with landed families or in the armed forces. To combat this, specially commissioned preachers were to be invited to give retreats. Sodalities were to be established for the laity, and Catholic books were to be published to help strengthen the faith.
Secret Societies. Secret societies were condemned.
Matters in Dispute. Questions on which the bishops could not agree were to be referred to Rome.
9. The Conclusion of the Synod
After two weeks of intense private discussions amongst the hierarchy, interrupted by lavish public masses and ceremonial processions that attracted thousands of people from all the country, the Synod of Thurles ended on 9 September, 1850 with High Mass. The Synod then forwarded its decrees to Rome. It could not make its findings public until they had received papal approval.
10. The University Question Again
On its last day of sitting, the Synod sent a letter to the Government, declining to accept any positions on the Colleges’ Board of Trustees which, according to many reporters, was evidence that the hierarchy had decided against any co-operation with the Colleges. The bishops’ pastoral letter, issued on the 14 September, ‘read in full Synod and unanimously adopted’, condemned the Colleges as
… an evil of a formidable kind against which it is our imperative duty to warn you with all the energy of our zeal and all the weight of our authority. In pointing out the dangers of such a system we only repeat the instructions that have been given to us by the Vicar of Jesus Christ … [who] has pronounced this system of education to be fraught with ‘grievous and intrinsic dangers’ to faith and morals. … The successor of Peter has pronounced his final judgement on the subject. All controversy is now at an end––the judge has spoken––the question is decided.
The bishops also published the rescripts from Rome, issued in 1847, 1848 and again in April 1850, which declared that priests were not allowed hold office in the Colleges. The pastoral address also announced that the bishops planned to establish a University for Catholics. It also referred to the Famine, sympathised with ‘victims of the most ruthless oppression that ever disgraced the annals of humanity’, and condemned the ‘desolating track of the exterminator … in those levelled cottages and roofless abodes’. The Prime Minister and other members of Government were angered at this attack on landlords ‘which could excite the feelings of the peasant class against those who were owners of the land’.
Many prominent Catholics withdrew their support from the Colleges after the publication of the bishops’ pastoral. The Dublin Evening Post, on 17 September 1850, reported that some bishops objected to the pastoral because the Synod’s decrees had not yet been approved by Rome, that the bishops were almost evenly divided about the issue, and that there was only a majority of one opposed to the Colleges. The Prime Minister denounced the statement issued by the hierarchy at the end of the Synod.
11. The Synod’s Decrees Come into Force
The Decreta Synodi Plenariae Episcoporum Hiberniae (‘Decrees of the Plenary Synod of the Bishops of Ireland’) were approved by the Vatican and published in Dublin in 1851. They came into force for the Irish Catholic Church on 23 May 1851, but some time passed before they were accepted. They were not popular with the clergy, and three years after the Synod, Cullen complained that the decrees were not observed even in Thurles. Though the clergy were instructed to keep out of politics, this ruling had little effect on their political activities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
At the beginning of January 1852, however, Cullen was able to report to Rome that the decrees were in force in every diocese except Galway. A fortnight later MacHale wrote to say that Galway had fallen into line. The final blow to the moderate party was the death of their leader, Archbishop Murray, in February 1852. Murray had been the one bishop of distinction on the moderate side. None of the survivors had his qualities of leadership. His successor at Dublin was Archbishop Cullen, who was translated from Armagh. Now the moderate party virtually ceased to exist. The mild Gallicanism of certain professors at Maynooth continued to worry Cullen for some years to come, but among the bishops the reconciliation between the two parties seemed to be complete.
12. A Landmark in Church History
The Synod had generated remarkable excitement because it was the first Synod held for hundreds of years. It was also the first public formal meeting of the Catholic hierarchy, and the first public expression of its power and influence, since the relaxation of the anti-Catholic Penal Laws of the eighteenth century. People today may find it difficult to understand the extent of interest in the rulings of the Synod amongst all shades of political opinion in Ireland, and in Government offices in Dublin and in London. Leading newspapers had written lengthy daily editorials to try to influence the bishops in Synod.
Within ten years of the Famine, church building had fully recovered its momentum, in particular the provision of cathedrals. The joint pastoral of the Catholic bishops, November 1859, stated (with some exaggeration): ‘in every part of the country we see churches rising up that rival in beauty of design and elegance of execution the proudest monuments of the zeal, piety, and the taste of our forefathers’. The Synod marked an important stage in the rising confidence of the Catholic Church and its leaders and shaped Irish Catholicism for well over a century to come.
Church attendance increased dramatically from about thirty-three per cent before the Famine to over ninety percent by the century’s end. This renewed devotion was helped by the increase in religious vocations, the expansion of church building since the 1840s, and the decline of the Irish population after the Great Famine. In the two decades following Cullen’s arrival in Ireland the number of priests increased by nearly a quarter, to a total of about 3,200. This equates to one priest for every 1,250 people in 1870. Between 1850 and 1870, the number of nuns in Ireland increased from 1,500 to over 3,700, or one nun for every 1,100 people. By 1900, there were over 14,000 priests, monks, and nuns, equating to one religious for every 235 people. Catholic lay people now had more access to clergy and churches than at any other time in modern Irish history.
An ultramontane, authoritarian, puritanical, and pietistic Catholic Church was created in Ireland and henceforth it had a powerful influence on education, public morality, social life, and national politics, though it professed to be non-political. Irish missions and migrants brought this type of Catholicism to the English-speaking world—to Britain, the British Empire and the United States of America. It was influential: nearly 30 per cent of the 730 bishops at the first Vatican Council, 1869–70, were either Irish or of Irish descent.
Gillian M. Doherty & Tomás O’Riordan