D'Alton: History of the Archdiocese of Tuam

Pdf D'Alton, Right Rev. Monsignor. History of the Archdiocese of Tuam. Volume 1. Dublin: Phoenix Publishing Co. Ltd., 1928.
Size:43.6MbytesModified: 7 July 2009, 13:27
Pdf D'Alton, Right Rev. Monsignor. History of the Archdiocese of Tuam. Volume 2. Dublin: Phoenix Publishing Co. Ltd., 1928.
Size:44.0MbytesModified: 7 July 2009, 13:26

History of the Archdiocese of Tuam by Monsignor D'Alton published in 1928 is a history of the Archdiocese of Tuam, in the west of Ireland principly in County Galway . It recounts the epic story of the area from the time of its founding by St. Jarlath, who lends his name to Tuam Cathedral, until the early 20th century.

The Archdiocese of Tuam is one of four eccelesiastical provinces which also include Cashel, Armagh and Dublin . Its suffragan sees or subordinate dioceses are the dioceses of Achonry, Clonfert, Elphin, Galway & Kilmacduagh and Killala. The metropolitan province was created by the Synod of Kells in 1152. The Diocese of Tuam has fifty-six parishes and eight subdivisions.

Prior to the Reformation, the dioceses incorporated numerous Celtic monastic jurisdictions. The diocese of Annaghdown was created in 1179. In 1485 it was united with Tuam by Papal Decree. The diocese of Mayo recognised by the Synod of Kells was suppressed in 1202 and formally joined with Tuam in 1632. Meanwhile bishops of Mayo continued to be appointed including Bishop Patrick O'Hely who was martyred in 1579.

After the English Reformation of the 16th century the monasteries of Tuam and its suffragan sees were dissolved and their property confiscated. The Anglican Church which recognized the English monarch as Head of the Church rather than the Pope in Rome , took over the diocese. Catholics would face almost three centuries of persecution. All subjects of the realm were obliged to pay tithes to the Anglican Church regardless of their religion.

The Gaelic Irish and the Old English descendents of the Norman conquerors rebelled repeatedly and between the late 16th and late 17th centuries lost their prestige, wealthy and territories. The majority Catholic population by the 19th century, when the last of Penal Laws were repealed, the paying of tithes was abolished and Catholic Emancipation was won, had been reduced to the status of peasants who existed on subsistence agriculture.

For much of these three centuries of political and religious oppression the Catholic Church in Tuam Diocese operated underground with clergy often having a price on their heads and liable to be arrested, tortured and executed. By 1825 the existing Catholic churches in the diocese were reportedly thatch rooted and in a wretched condition. With the relaxation of persecution a massive program of construction across Ireland saw stone churches with slated roofs built in nearly every parish in the country. The Cathedral of St. Jarlath was also constructed during this newly tolerant period.

During the catastrophic Great Famine of the 1840s, the population of the west of Ireland was decimated by hunger, starvation, disease and emigration. In many places whole communities vanished in the space of a few years. The Catholic Church, its religious orders and charities along with other religious congregations kept countless poor people alive.


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