A People’s Church – The Diocese of Achonry from the Sixth to the Seventeenth Century is not only an ecclesiastical history of the diocese of Achonry; it is also a socio-political examination of the lives of its people from the sixth to the seventeenth century. It charts the first thousand years of Christianity in Ireland, while tracking important figures, identifying key events and situating all within the context of the time. The study draws on sources in the National Libraries of Ireland and Britain, and significantly the Vatican Archives in Rome.
Beginning with a survey of what St Patrick would have found in Ireland in the sixth century, and the early Achonry saints, Attracta, Finninan and Fechin, then covering the establishment of the monasteries, and the establishment of the diocese as an entity along with local parish and rectory boundaries, the social and political life of Achonry is charted right through to the impact of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and the campaigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The impact that this one diocese on the west coast of Europe had on the Council of Trent, and the volume of correspondence between Achonry and the Vatican is a revelation in itself.
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