Tuesday, October 23rd, 1-2pm
Location: Istabraq Hall, Limerick City and County Council, Merchant’s Quay
Religious ferment swept Ireland in the early 1800s and evangelical clergyman Edward Nangle set out to lift the destitute people of Achill Island out of degradation and idolatry through his Achill Mission Colony. The fury of the island elements, the devastation of famine, and Nangle’s own volatile temperament all threatened the project’s survival.
In the years of the Great Famine the ugly charge of ‘souperism’, offering food and material benefits in return for religious conversion, tainted the Achill Mission’s work. John MacHale, powerful Archbishop of Tuam, spearheaded the Catholic Church’s fightback against Nangle’s colony, with the two clergymen unleashing fierce passions while spewing out vitriol and polemic from pen and pulpit.
Did Edward Nangle and the Achill Mission Colony save hundreds from certain famine death, or did they shamefully exploit a vulnerable people for religious conversion?
Patricia Byre explores the dramatic story of the Achill Mission Colony which exposed the fault-lines of religion, society and politics in nineteenth-century Ireland, and continues to excite controversy and division to this day.
Patricia Byrne Bio
Patricia Byrne’s book, The Preacher and The Prelate – The Achill Mission Colony and the Battle for Souls in Famine Ireland, was published by Merion Press earlier this year. A previous book, The Veiled Woman of Achill – Island Outrage and A Playboy Drama, was published by The Collins Press and tells that story of the 1894 Valley House atrocity featuring James Lynchehaun.
A native of County Mayo, Patricia has lived in Limerick for over thirty years and worked for many years with Shannon Development Company. She took up writing a decade ago and is a graduate of the NUIG Writer Programme. Her work has featured in New Hibernia Review, the Irish Times (Irishwoman’s Diary), RTE Sunday Miscellany and The Irish Story. Her memoir essay ‘Milk Bottles in Limerick’ was named one of the Notable Essays of the Year in Best American Essays 2017. Website: www.patriciabyrneauthor.com