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Fr Geoffrey Keating The Man and The Myth

Irish theologian, historian, and poet, Fr Geoffrey Keating (An tAthair Seathrún Céitinn) circa 1580-1644, ah yes now here is the tale of an Irish man, whose character and ability to speak truth, Ireland could benefit greatly from, at this present time.

In November 1603, he was one of forty students who sailed for Bordeaux to begin studies at the Irish College, under the charge of the Rev. Diarmaid MacCeallachan MacCarthy.

About 1610 following his obtaining of a degree of Doctor of Divinity at the University, he returned to Ireland and was appointed to the ‘cure of souls,’ at Uachtar Achaidh (Translated from Irish ‘Upper Fields.’) in the parish of Knockraffan, near Cahir. It was here that he annoyed the wealthy, when he threw aside the then prevalent social abuse of delaying Mass until the neighbouring gentry could find time to make their appearance.

( Click on image for larger picture.)

This Jesuit preacher, it was decided, needed watching and a spy soon reported that there was “in the diocese of Lismore Father Geoffrey Keating, a preacher and Jesuit, resorting to all parts of the diocese.

Fr Keating’s famous homilies on morality were soon to aroused the anger of a lady whom, shall we say, was considered to have rather loose morals, one Ellinor Laffan.

Having attended at one of his homilies, she felt that the eyes of the whole congregation were on her, and imagining that Fr Keating had preached that sermon especially for her benefit, to insult her, she made loud complaint to her relative, Donough O’Brien, Earl of Thomond, who was so enraged at her upset that he gave orders for Fr Keating to be apprehended, intending to punish him with all the vigour of the then law.

However, before the arresting soldiers reached his house, friends had warned him, and he was able to flee for safety, over the Galtee Mountains north of Tubrid, into the Glen of Aherlow, a place notorious for being the refuge of rebels and outlaws.

But enough about Fr Keating from me, except to say that I understand that his small silver chalice bearing the following inscription: “Dominus Galfridus Keatinge, Sacerd(os) Sacrae Theologiae Doctor me fieri fecit 23 February 1634“, is still preserved in the parish church of Cappoquin, in Co. Waterford.

If you really want to know more about Fr Geoffrey Keating, The Man and The Myth, same will be the subject of a talk by Dr Bernadette Cunningham author of “The World of Geoffrey Keating” and “Writing Irish History: The Four Masters and their world.” at  Abymill Theatre, Fethard, Co Tipperary on Friday, September 16th, 2011 at 8.30pm.

Admission:  €5.

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