Memorial publication planned to honour Cardinal Ó Fiaich

July 20, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

To mark this, the 20th anniversary year of the death of Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich, a memorial book featuring some of his most important works is to be published.

‘The Ó Fiaich Treasures’ is the brainchild of the Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive (CÓFLA) in Armagh city, where the vast majority of the former Primate’s work is archived.

Earlier this year CÓFLA took the decision to set about publishing a book in memory of the late Cardinal as a way of marking his immense contribution to Irish society and to act as a ‘living memorial’ of Tomás Ó Fiaich’s life and work.

Its contents will provide an interesting insight into his early life around Cullyhanna and Crossmaglen, while also serving as an important source of historical information.

To ensure the success of this publication, CÓFLA is seeking public support – in the form of pre-subscription – to help finance the project.

For more information on pre-subscription email or telephone 02837 52 29 81.

Outlining the publication, Mgr Raymond Murray, Chairman of the Committee, says: “This celebratory book of the Library/Archive is beautifully illustrated with pictures of personalities, great and little, all reflecting Irish social life.

“We welcome the generosity of pre-subscribers, not only to subsidise publication but provide funding for the Library/Archive. All pre-subscribers will be acknowledged in the book and receive an advance deluxe hardback copy.

“The Ó Fiaich Treasures is a veritable treasure chest, providing not only a directory to books and documents but richly illustrated with stories, letters, songs, photographs  and artefacts, painting  a picture of life in Ireland and the Irish in exile.

“One finds in it tales of the Irish involvement in conflicts in Spain, France, Italy, Mexico as well as a depiction of the horrors of the trenches of the First World War. There are even secrets to be unfolded on German spies in Ireland during the Second World War,” he added.


The Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive, a free independent institution, is a wondrous gem nestling behind St Patrick’s Cathedral on one of Armagh’s seven hills.  The Library/Archive is a repository of books and documents that reflect Cardinal Ó Fiaich’s special interests: Irish history, especially ecclesiastical and local history, the Irish language and Celtic studies, the Irish abroad, and Irish sport with an emphasis on the GAA.

It has a fine and growing collection of books on these subjects, some of which are very rare.

CÓFLA, as well as housing the archives of the Roman Catholic diocese of Armagh from the late eighteenth century including the papers of almost every Archbishop of Armagh since the 1780s, also specialises in the following areas: Irish History, both local and national; The Irish abroad; The Irish Language; Irish church history and the Irish Sport, particularly Gaelic games.

This has been added to by a fine collection of artefacts and manuscripts and several important collections covering the northern troubles in the last forty years.

The holdings of the library and archive reflect the principal interests of the late Primate of All Ireland and are housed in state of the art facilities open to academics, casual visitors, the general public and tourists alike.

Roddy Hegarty, Director of CÓFLA, said: “The Cardinal’s own papers and books formed the core of a collection which has grown steadily over the years and today represents one of the finest examples of an independent library and archive in Ireland.

“CÓFLA houses many rare and unique treasures which are preserved alongside its growing archive and library and which together reflect the broad spectrum of religious, political, sporting and social life of Ireland and the Irish people at home and abroad over the last five hundred years.”

Commenting on the content of the upcoming publication, Gerry Murphy, CÓFLA Committee member, said: “Archives are generally the preserve of scholars and individuals seeking material worthy of inclusion in historical works or in family history records.  This book ‘The Ó Fiaich Treasures’ overlaps the needs of both.

“The reader will discover documents and papers not previously seen or known about,” he added.

Anyone interested in pre-subscribing to the publication is asked to download the application form from the website: [] or contact Joe Canning at COFLA on 028 28 3752 2981.