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THE VERY REVEREND
DEAN OF CORK,
HENRY IRWIN, ARCHDEACON OP EMLY, AND MINISTER OF SANDFORD CHURCH, DUBLIN,
(My late worthy rector;)
NAMES REVEREND, VENERABLE, AND HONORABLE, NOT MORE BY ECCLESIASTICAL AND CIVIL USAGE, THAN BY THE WILLING SUFFRAGE
OF THOSE AMONG WHOM THEY LABOUR IN THE LORD,
THIS LITTLE VOLUME
IS, WITH THEIR KIND PERMISSION,
AN HUMBLE TRIBUTE OF CORDIAL ESTEEM AND REGARD
FROM ONE WHO DESIRES TO BE USEFUL IN THE CAUSE WHICH
OCCUPIES THEIR AFFECTIONS AND THEIR LIVES.
It will be sufficiently evident from the price at which this book is sold, that it has not been published with any view to making money by the sale of it. The sole object contemplated in it is to disseminate information on the important subject of which it treats, and therefore the price is fixed so low, as barely to afford a hope that the returns of sale may be sufficient to defray the necessary expenses attending the publication. It is desirable that they who approve of the design and the present manner of executing it, should endeavour to increase the circulation of the work, by making it known among their acquaintances, and especially among those who are in the habit of purchasing small books for distribution among the people, school rewards, &c.: in this way much may be done to diminish the loss that may be incurred by the publication.
In this second edition, although the price has been slightly raised, it is not anticipated that purchasers of the work will object much to this, as the volume has thus been made in size and matter, and it is hoped in usefulness, double of the first edition ; while the expenses of publication have in consequence become considerably more than double of what they were in the former case.
IRELAND wants many things, and we have heard much concerning her wants. There is one thing however of which she has very great need, although there is little said about it in public, and that one thing is, a little history of some of the most important occurrences which have taken place in the Irish Church since its first foundation. We have already some large books, and perhaps one or two of moderate size, throwing some light on the matter; but we still want something comprehensive in plan, and published at such a price as to be within the reach of the poorest reader that desires to be informed on this interesting topic. It is greatly to be regretted that while there is abundance of little works to be found in every book-shop, on almost every subject which one can think of, there is not one to be found such as I here speak of.
There are little books on geology and botany, arithmetic and cookery; little books of birds, and beasts, and fishes; little books on music and farming; little books on dress, and on card-playing; and I could wish that there were none worse than even the last; but with all these you cannot get to buy one little book about the Holy Catholic Church in Ireland.
And yet there can be no subject that ought to be more highly esteemed, after the sacred Scriptures, than the history of the Church ; of that part of it especially which has been established in the country in which we were born. Great part of the Bible itself is taken up with the history of the Jewish Church, and the account of the Almighty's dealings with it; and although after the time of the holy apostles there were not inspired penmen to record with infallible accuracy the history of the Christian Church, still the subject does not cease to be interesting and instructive; but on the contrary, the accounts of later ages, from the apostles' time down to our own, written by many of the pious and holy men who lived in them, are full of things well worth our study, and more useful too for us to know than a great deal of what is commonly read among us.
The history of the Holy Catholic Church in Ireland ought to be studied with delight by Irishmen especially. For if the highest privilege which a man can enjoy in this world is to be truly a Christian, and that Christian Church to which we all claim to belong, is (as we say in the Apostles' Creed) the Catholic Church, next to being a Christian, and a good Catholic Christian, there can be no higher honour than that of being an Irishman. All that is worth desiring or honouring in the way of religion or of country, is in my mind comprehended in the three names “ Irish Catholic Chris
tian.” I would have Christian for my surname, Irish for my Christian name, and Catholic for my middle name. I do not of course mean Roman Catholic; for the phrase Irish Roman Catholic sounds queer in my ears, and almost like a contradiction in words; and the man that is a Romanist can scarcely be, in spirit, nationality, and true patriotism, more than half an Irishman. I hope that my reader if not already of the same opinion with me on this point, may with the Lord's blessing be more inclined to my way of thinking, when he comes to the end of the following little history, and sees how great enemies the court of Rome, and its head the pope, have ever been to the national and religious freedom of Ireland.
We want, I said, a small and cheap book on this subject; that it should possess these two qualities however is not enough: besides being of little size and cost, it should also be very accurate, and not contain a single statement which is not founded on good and trustworthy original authority, so that no candid reader shall have to object to any thing asserted in it, as if it were doubtful or untrue. It is the more necessary to be very cautious in this respect, because that from the want of such books as I speak of, the greatest ignorance has hitherto prevailed, and the grossest falsehoods and misrepresentations have been circulated and believed, concerning the state of religion here in old times.