Cogan: The Diocese of Meath

Pdf Cogan, Rev. A. The Diocese of Meath: Ancient and Modern. Volume 1. Dublin: John F. Fowler, 1862.
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Pdf Cogan, Rev. A. The Diocese of Meath: Ancient and Modern. Volume 2. Dublin: Joseph Dollard, 1867.
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Pdf Cogan, Rev. A. The Diocese of Meath: Ancient and Modern. Volume 3. Dublin: Joseph Dollard, 1870.
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Fr. Anthony Cogan (1826-1872) was a priest and scholar of the diocese of Meath. He was born in Slane, Co Meath in 1826 and died there, according to his memorial in Slane Roman Catholic church, at the age of 45 years.

Fr. Cogan was a committed amateur historian. He was well read and largely self-taught. He began writing articles for the Tablet in 1856 and went on to write what his biographer, the scholar Alfred P. Smyth, has described as “the first complete post-Reformation history of an Irish Catholic diocese”.

Fr. Anthony Cogan never strayed too far from his native diocese, except to make brief trips to Liverpool where he preached to the Irish that were in exile. His priestly life involved ministering in rural parishes in and around Navan. At the time of his death, Cogan was the Dean of the seminary in Navan and the Diocesan Archivist.

His three volume diocesan history was a massive undertaking. The strength of the work is that Cogan made great use of an extensive archive, which included manuscript materials from the early 17th century. Cogan encouraged the bishops of Ireland to preserve chronicles of their dioceses for future generations. Sadly, the archive that he established in Meath does not survive. In 1909 Bishop Gaughran ordered that virtually the entire diocesan archive be burned.

The subsequent destruction of the Meath Diocesan Archive renders Cogan’s ‘The Diocese of Meath’ a most important source for the history of this important Irish diocese.

In 1992 Fr. Cogan’s book was re-issued by the Four Courts Press together with a supplementary volume by Alfred P Smyth, ‘Faith, famine and fatherland in the Irish midlands: perceptions of a priest and historian Anthony Cogan 1826-1872’.


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