Introduction to the Clogher Diocesan Records

Date published: 14 December 2007

Part of: Significant privately deposited archives , C - Significant privately deposited archives

This is a document summarising some of the most interesting and significant content within the Clogher Diocesan archive (DIO RC/1 and DIO 2) held in PRONI.


DIO RC/1: Summary

This extensive archive, 1789 to 1938, contains around 1,150 documents and volumes, mainly correspondence, but also including pastoral letters, philosophical treatises, sermons, funerary inscriptions, political papers, accounts, wills, letters of probate, maps, diaries, notebooks, etc.  Some documents are in Irish or Latin.  Where they are in Latin, rough translations are provided in the list.  The archive has been fully calendared.

In many respects, the layout of this archive has similarities to that of an estate archive.  The content is of course concerned largely with theology, liturgy, clerical politics and pastoral care.  However there is considerable cross-over with an estate archive in the sense that both are also concerned with politics, property and of course human nature.  The classification scheme lays out in detail the subjects covered, which are multifarious and consequently of interest to the general and local historian as well as to the ecclesiastical historian.

The archive begins with the Roman Catholic Church, still under the influence of pre-Revolutionary European Catholicism, as exemplified in the papers of the émigré Abbé Delahogue.  It moves through the period of virtual re-establishment of the diocese, under Bishop James Murphy, who had to face challenges from parochial clergy resentful of the dilution of the independence they had enjoyed during the Penal Era.

DIO2: Summary

The Clogher Diocesan archive of the Church of Ireland is as extensive as, but very different to, the Roman Catholic.  It contains around 1,500 documents, made up mostly of correspondence, but also including visitation books, ledgers, minute-books, registers, sermons, legal papers, etc.

In comparison to the Roman Catholic archive, it is mundane and in content somewhat disappointing.  There is no hint of the turmoil of the Tithe War and Disestablishment, or the erosion in other ways of the position of both the Church and the prominent members of its laity who exercised patronage in its parishes.  Nor is there documentation of the Church's reaction to the Ne Temere Decree or the threat that Home Rule would bring Rome Rule.

Instead this is the administrative archive, the official face, of the diocese; the bare record of marriages and burials; who got what position; who was present at what visitation; who was nominated to what; what was discussed by the Glebe Committee, or select Vestry.  Accounts are meticulously maintained, marriage licences issued, etc.  The essence of this archive is the record of the day-to-day running of the diocese, with little of a controversial nature entering in.

The diocesan archive, though it lacks such drama, provides a useful source for church and local historians.  Typical of the records are the Visitation Books (DIO2/2), documenting, for example, 'The Annual and Ordinary Visitation of the Rt Honorable and Most Reverend Father in God, Marcus Gervais by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Metropolitan and Bishop of Clogher [between 1850 and 1886 Clogher was united with Armagh] held in the parish Church of Clones for the Diocese of Clogher on Thursday the 17th Day of October 1872'.


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