Secret Masses in Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXVI

It is also a matter of fact, that though the Protestant services were not attended, and the lives of the Protestant ministers were not edifying, that the sacraments were administered constantly by the Catholic clergy. It is true they date their letters "from the place of refuge" (e loco refugii nostri), which might be the wood nearest to their old and ruined parish-church, or the barn or stable of some friend, who dared not shelter them in his house; yet this was no hindrance to their ministrations; for we find Dr. Loftus complaining to Sir William Cecil that the persecuted Bishop of Meath, Dr. Walsh, was "one of great credit amongst his countrymen, and upon whom (as touching cause of religion) they wholly depend."[8]

Sir Henry Sidney's efforts to effect reformation of conduct in the clergy and laity, do not seem to have been so acceptable at court as he might have supposed. His strong measures were followed by tumults; and the way in which he obtained possession of the persons of some of the nobles, was not calculated to enhance his popularity. He was particularly severe towards the Earl of Desmond, whom he seized in Kilmallock, after requiring his attendance, on pretence of wishing him to assist in his visitation of Munster. In October, 1567, the Deputy proceeded to England to explain his conduct, taking with him the Earl of Desmond and his brother, John, whom he also arrested on false pretences. Sidney was, however, permitted to return, in September, 1568. He landed at Carrickfergus, where he received the submission of Turlough O'Neill, who had been elected to the chieftaincy on the death of Shane the Proud.


[8] Depend.—Shirley, p. 219. An admirable History of the Diocese of Meath, in two volumes, has been published lately by the Rev. A. Cogan, Catholic priest of Navan. It is very much to be wished that this rev. author would extend his charitable labours to other dioceses throughout Ireland.