An in-depth study of the most significant Irish clergyman in the history of the state.
For three decades, 1940-72, as Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, John Charles McQuaid imposed his iron will on Irish politicians and instilled fear among his clergy and laity. No other churchman amassed the religious, political and social power which he exercised with unscrupulous severity.
An admirer of the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover, Archbishop McQuaid built up a vigilante system that spied on politicians and priests, workers and students, doctors and lawyers, nuns and nurses, soldiers and trade unionists.
There was no room for dissent when John Charles spoke in the name of Jesus Christ. This power was used to build up a Catholic-dominated state in which Protestants, Jews and feminists were not welcome.
'This is an important and powerful book. Nobody who has an interest in the history of modern Ireland will read it without being enthralled by the windows it opens into hitherto unseen corners of our national life. The archives are rich indeed and John Cooney has gone through them with a searchlight. In many areas, a telling phrase is picked out to illuminate an aspect of McQuaid's character or of his interaction with others, in a way which adds immeasurably to our understanding of the ways in which the struggle for power was waged, in the old days, behind closed doors.'
'Cooney has performed a signal service in meticulously tracing the ways McQuaid wielded the influence which the Catholic State conferred on him as Archbishop of Dublin'
'This is a fine, meticulous biography, revealing McQuaid in all his complexity, brilliance, arrogance and insecurity ... Impessive and well-written account.'
'This is an important book which should be read by all those interested in the history of independent Ireland.'
'A trove of (such) detailed anecdote, lucidly described and compellingly written ... you will fly through its 700 pages. Even the footnotes are interesting. It is an absorbing description of post-independence Ireland and its evolving social and cultural mores. In all, this is a fascinating and intriguing account, beautifully produced with detailed indices and a mischievous compliment of photographs.'
'Immensely readable and comprehensively researched ... (it) meets an essential criterion of good biography ... that it should illuminate the period as well as the subject. As a controversial portrait of a remarkable figure and as an important contribution to modern Irish historiography, it can be confidently recommended to history students and the general reader .'
'The book is a fine piece of historical research. It's excellently written and will become, I believe, an indispensable insight into the Ireland of the 1940s, 50s and 60s'
'Get stuck into the rich red meat of primary research with which it is replete'