Ruler of Catholic Ireland

John Cooney
John Charles McQuaid

An in-depth study of the most significant Irish clergyman in the history of the state.

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576 pages
234x156 mm

Also available as an Electronic Book (ePub)


An in-depth study of the most significant Irish clergyman in the history of the state

For three decades, 1940-72, as Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, John Charles McQuaid imposed his iron will on Irish politicians and instilled fear among his clergy and laity. No other churchman amassed the religious, political and social power which he exercised with unscrupulous severity.

An admirer of the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover, Archbishop McQuaid built up a vigilante system that spied on politicians and priests, workers and students, doctors and lawyers, nuns and nurses, soldiers and trade unionists.

There was no room for dissent when John Charles spoke in the name of Jesus Christ. This power was used to build up a Catholic-dominated state in which Protestants, Jews and feminists were not welcome.

John Cooney is a journalist and broadcaster based in Dublin. He is a visiting Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen and Director of the Humbert Summer School in County Mayo. A former Religious Affairs correspondent with the Irish Times, he is author of The Crozier and The Dáil, Church-State in Ireland 1922-1986.

This is an important and powerful book. Nobody who has an interest in the history of modern Ireland will read it without being enthralled by the windows it opens into hitherto unseen corners of our national life. The archives are rich indeed and John Cooney has gone through them with a searchlight. In many areas, a telling phrase is picked out to illuminate an aspect of McQuaid's character or of his interaction with others, in a way which adds immeasurably to our understanding of the ways in which the struggle for power was waged, in the old days, behind closed doors.

The Irish Times
John Horgan - The Irish Times

Cooney has performed a signal service in meticulously tracing the ways McQuaid wielded the influence which the Catholic State conferred on him as Archbishop of Dublin

The Sunday Tribune
Eamonn McCann - The Sunday Tribune

This is a fine, meticulous biography, revealing McQuaid in all his complexity, brilliance, arrogance and insecurity ... Impessive and well-written account.

Evening Herald
David Robbins - Evening Herald

This is an important book which should be read by all those interested in the history of independent Ireland.

The Sunday Independent
Ronan Fanning - Sunday Independent

A trove of (such) detailed anecdote, lucidly described and compellingly written ... you will fly through its 700 pages. Even the footnotes are interesting. It is an absorbing description of post-independence Ireland and its evolving social and cultural mores. In all, this is a fascinating and intriguing account, beautifully produced with detailed indices and a mischievous compliment of photographs.

In Touch Magazine
Eamon Delaney - Magill

Immensely readable and comprehensively researched ... (it) meets an essential criterion of good biography ... that it should illuminate the period as well as the subject. As a controversial portrait of a remarkable figure and as an important contribution to modern Irish historiography, it can be confidently recommended to history students and the general reader .

The Sunday Independent
John A Murphy - Sunday Independent

The book is a fine piece of historical research. It's excellently written and will become, I believe, an indispensable insight into the Ireland of the 1940s, 50s and 60s

Vincent Browne

Get stuck into the rich red meat of primary research with which it is replete

John Horgan
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