An endangered species: a parish priest turns to fiction to make sense of the disappearance of priesthood in Ireland

06 December 2017 | by William King

The Irish Priest


Explaining why he wrote his book, An tOileánach (“The Islandman”), Tomás O’Crohan said: “I have done my best to set down the character of the people about me so that some record of us might live on, for the like of us will never be again.” Writing in Gaelic, O’Crohan, a ­fisherman with little formal education, vividly and movingly describes the final years of the people who once lived on the Great Blasket Island off the coast of the Dingle peninsula, County Kerry.

It may seem a bleak comparison to make, but echoes of that valediction may be felt with respect to the place of the Catholic seminary in Western culture. 

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