Bishop Browne to Launch Book Banned by Predecessor in 1933

Editor, Brendan McCarthy inset on a wrap around of his first book on Kerry priest and historian, Fr. William Ferris (1881-1971). The book will be launched at Ballygarry House Hotel on Thursday, June 7th. at 7pm.

A little bit of history will be made on Thursday, June 7th when the Bishop of Kerry Ray Browne will officially launch a book which was banned by his predecessor Dr Michael O’Brien, Bishop of Kerry 85 years ago.

Bishop O’Brien took exception to a claim by curate Fr. William Ferris in his History of the Parishes of BallymacElligott, Ballyseedy, O’Brennan and Nohoval.

St. Brendan Born in Ballymac

Fr. Ferris claimed that St. Brendan was born in BallymacElligott and not in Fenit, as was accepted diocesan tradition and, on those ground, his bishop forbade publication.

Changes were requested by Bishop O’Brien, Fr. Ferris refused and the manuscript has lain dormant in the archives ever since.

Five Years Work

Now, following five years work by editor, Brendan McCarthy, the book has finally been published and will be officially launched by Bishop Ray Browne at Ballygarry House Hotel on Thursday, June 7th. 2018 at 7pm. All are welcome to attend.

A Lifetime’s Labour

“I am delighted the Bishop has agreed to launch the book. Whatever about St Brendan’s birthplace, I think it is fitting after all this time that we pay tribute to Fr. Ferris who devoted a lifetime’s labour to preserving the history and heritage of the Kerry parishes and communities he served,” said Mr. McCarthy.

A Vast Archive

“During his curacy in the parish of BallymacElligott in the late 1920s/early 1930s, Fr. Ferris collected a vast archive of local history from his parishioners whose authentic voices come through clearly and evocatively in the book,” the author continued.

“The book is fully indexed and includes a detailed biography of Fr Ferris who was a fascinating individual in his own right. Priest, Sinn Féin activist, gaeilgeoir, polemecist, temperance advocate and free-thinker.

He was a formidable presence in Kerry and beyond during the first half of the twentieth century.

About the Book

“The book is unique not only because the content will be new material to the public but also, thanks to Fr. Ferris recording it in the early 1930s, the fund of local history, genealogy, reminiscences, folk memory, place names, archaeological heritage, etc of a passing generation was not taken to the grave but was in fact preserved and is now finally available to the public,” Mr. McCarthy concluded.

It is, in Fr Ferris’s own words, ‘A history of the people, by the people, for the people.’

About the Author

Brendan McCarthy is a native of Tralee and is a graduate of University College Dublin and a solicitor by profession.

After a twenty five year legal career in the City of London, he now pursues his interest as a local historian.

His current area of research being Fr. William Ferris’s unpublished histories of Kerry parishes.

About Fr. Willian Ferris

Fr William Ferris (1881-1971) was a priest of the Kerry Diocese and served during his career in Listowel from 1914-15; in Firies from 1915-18; in Tralee from 1918-22; in Rathmore from 1922-29; in BallymacElligott from 1929-34; in Millstreet from 1934-35; in Allihies from 1935-38; in Glenflesk from 1938-43 and in Ballylongford from 1943-69.

He died in 1971 aged 90 years and is buried in the church grounds in Ballylongford.

During his life, Fr. Ferris published six books, including his major political work The Gaelic Commonwealth in 1923 and The Story of Man in 1948 – a book that proved very controversial.

Five Parish Histories

He wrote five parish histories of which his History of the Parishes of BallymacElligott, Ballyseedy, O’Brennan and Nohoval is the first to be published in full.

The book will be on sale at €15 on the night and in bookshops afterwards. It will delight not only archaeologists and historians as it also it provides a powerful chapter on the people and place-names of its geographical remit.


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