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‘Episcopal visitations of the diocese of Meath 1622–1799’: The RCB Library’s Book of the Moment

‘Episcopal visitations of the diocese of Meath 1622–1799’: The RCB Library’s Book of the Moment

The ‘Book of the Moment’ in the RCB Library is the latest volume in the Library’s Texts and Calendars series: Episcopal visitations of the diocese of Meath 1622–1799. Edited by Dr Michael O’Neill and published by the Four Courts Press (www.fourcourtspress.ie), in association with the RCB Library, it will be launched by the Bishop of Meath and Kildare, the Most Revd Pat Storey, at a reception in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Trim, on Thursday 6th July 2017, at 6.30pm.

Episcopal visitations are formal/structured accounts – parish by parish – which build up to give an in–depth state of a diocese at a given time. Specific questions were asked and the answers – and indeed non–answers or evasions – helped the bishop to build up a picture of the diocese, and the strengths and weaknesses of individual parishes and clergy. The early visitation records of the Church of Ireland were largely destroyed in the fire at the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922, which greatly enhances the significance of those that have survived in copy form.

The current volume provides editions of the visitations of the diocese of Meath for the years 1622, 1693, 1733 and 1799, covering the episcopates of James Ussher (Bishop of Meath from 1621 to 1625), Anthony Dopping (bishop from 1682–97), Welbore Ellis (1732–34), and finally Thomas Lewis O’Beirne (1798–1823). Two of these sources are located in Marsh’s Library, Dublin, the third in the RCB Library, and the fourth in the Library of Trinity College Dublin. 

This is the eighth volume in the RCB Library’s Texts and Calendars series, and the first to focus on sources outside either Dublin or Belfast. It brings all four diocesan visitations together as a single edition, offering unique insights into the life of the Church of Ireland and its interaction with the wider community, from the post–Reformation period to the eve of the Act of Union. As the enlightening introduction reveals, there is much in the content of these records about the spiritual and temporal life of the Church in a large Irish diocese during the 17th and 18th centuries, providing a framework for more detailed studies of localities, based on the records of individual parishes.

The editor, Dr Michael O’Neill, is well known as an architectural historian, who has written widely on the heritage of the Irish Church, and manages the project to digitize, catalogue and make available online the Church of Ireland’s extensive collections of architectural drawings, available at: www.archdrawing.ireland.anglican.org

All are welcome to attend the launch in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Trim, on Thursday, at 6.30pm, or for those who cannot make the launch the book may be purchased through the Church of Ireland online bookstore here: https://store.ireland.anglican.org/store/product/129/episcopal-visitations-of-the-diocese-of

‘Book of the Moment’ is also being highlighted via the Library’s new twitter feed – @RCBLibrary – as an initiative aimed at promoting books of interest to its multiple audiences via Twitter. See: https://twitter.com/rcblibrary

For further information please contact:

Church of Ireland Press Office 
Church of Ireland House 
61–67 Donegall Street 
Belfast, BT1 2QH 

Tel: (028) 9082 8880 (from NI)
Tel: (048) 9082 8880 (from RoI)
Email: Press Office 

Paul Harron

+44 (0)7787 881582

Peter Cheney

+44 (0)7774 295369

Janet Maxwell

+353 (0)87 948 4412