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.
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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 principally 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 ecclesiastical provinces including Cashel, Armagh and Dublin . Its subordinate dioceses are the dioceses of Achonry, Clonfert, Elphin, Galway and 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, wealth and territories. For the majority Catholic population in the 19th century, the last of the Penal Laws were repealed, the paying of tithes was abolished and Catholic Emancipation was achieved. However the majority had 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 roofed and in a wretched condition. With the relaxation of persecution a massive program of construction across Ireland saw stone churches with slated roof 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.

In the latter part of the 19th century the land reform campaign of the Land League and the Irish Parliamentary Party was supported by the Catholic Church. By the early 20th century the hated landlord system was broken up and Irish tenant farmers became the owners of their land. The Diocese of Tuam like its counterparts elsewhere in Ireland provided schools, hospitals and provided for the welfare of the poor. In the late 19th century places of pilgrimage such as Knock and Croagh Patrick became very popular with pilgrims.

In the 20th century the largely peaceful democratic drive for Home Rule was replaced by violent republican revolution against British rule between 1916 and 1922 followed by a brutal civil war between Irish political factions until 1923. The Catholic Church would enjoy a pivotal position in the new Irish state, influencing public opinion, lawmakers and morality. The Archbishop of Tuam as well as his counterparts in Armagh, Cashel and Dublin became important national figures.

Monsignor Edward Dalton was born in Roscommon in 1865, ordained in 1887 and served in a various parishes in County Galway between 1887 and 1941. He was appointed Vicar Forane and Canon in 1911, promoted to Canon Theologian in 1920 and finally a Domestic Prelate monsignor in 1921. Late D'Alton was Dean of the Cathedral Chapter 1930 and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Tuam in 1933. He died in 1941.


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