Diocese of Meath and Kildare

Diocese of Meath and Kildare

The United Dioceses of Meath and Kildare is a diocese in the Church of Ireland located in Ireland. The diocese is in the ecclesiastical province of Dublin.[1]


Overview and history

When the Church in England broke communion with the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England was established by the state as the established church. Later, by decree of the Irish Parliament, a similar new body became the State Church in the Kingdom of Ireland. It assumed possession of most Church property (and so retained a great repository of religious architecture and other items, though some were later destroyed). The substantial majority of the population remained faithful to Roman Catholicism, despite the political and economic advantages of membership in the state church. They were obliged to find alternative premises and to conduct their services in secret. The English-speaking minority mostly adhered to the Church of Ireland or to Presbyterianism. In 1833, the two provinces of Dublin and Cashel were merged. Over the centuries, numerous dioceses were merged, in view of declining membership. The same is true for this diocese where it can be seen that each of the entities listed in the title would have been a diocese in its own right. In 1976, the historic sees of Meath and Kildare were united (Kildare Diocese having for the previous century and a quarter been united with the neighbouring Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough). It is for this reason that the united diocese has two cathedrals.

History of the diocese of Meath

Although there had been abbot-bishops at Clonard Abbey since the sixth century, the diocese of Clonard proper was not formally established until 1111. It was one of the twenty-four dioceses established by the Synod of Rathbreasail. The diocese covered roughly the western part of the Kingdom of Meath with the bishop's seat located at Clonard Abbey. During the twelfth century, the bishops of Clonard acquired most of Meath as their territory and frequently used the title "Bishop of Meath" or "Bishop of the men of Meath". After Bishop Simon Rochfort transferred his seat from Clonard to Trim in 1202, the normal style became the "Bishop of Meath".

History of the diocese of Kildare

In the 5th century, the Abbey of Kildare was founded by Saint Brigid, a double monastery of nuns and monks. The abbey was governed by an abbess, who was the 'heir of Brigit' (comarbae Brigte), and by abbots, bishops and abbot-bishops, who were subordinate to the abbess.[2] It was not until the 12th century however, that the bishopric was formally established at the Synod of Rathbreasail (1111 AD).[3] The diocese covered roughly the northern part of County Kildare and the eastern part of County Offaly.

Diocesan structure

In Meath

The cathedral church of the former diocese is Trim Cathedral. There are ten parishes in this part of the United Dioceses: Athboy, Athlone, Castlepollard (Rathgraffe), Clara, Julianstown, Kells, Mullingar, Navan, Trim, and Tullamore (Kilbride).

In Kildare

The cathedral church of the former diocese is Kildare Cathedral. There are six parishes in this part of the United Dioceses: Clane, Clonsast (Clonbullogue), Mountmellick, Naas, Newbridge (Morristownbiller), and Portarlington St Paul (French Church).[4]

List of Bishops of Meath and Kildare

Bishops of Meath and Kildare
From Until Incumbent Notes
1976 1985 Donald Caird translated from Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe; elected 9 September and confirmed 14 September 1976;[5] translated to Dublin in 1985.
1985 1996 Walton Empey translated from Limerick and Killaloe in 1985; subsequently translated to Dublin in 1996.
1996 present Richard Clarke elected and consecrated in 1996.[6][7]

See also


  1. ^ History: Bishops of Kildare and Bishops of Meath. Retrieved on 16 June 2009
  2. ^ Moody, T. W.; Martin, F. X.; Byrne, F. J., eds (1984). Maps, Genealogies, Lists: A Companion to Irish History, Part II. New History of Ireland: Volume XI. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 259–262. ISBN 0198217455. 
  3. ^ Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 357–358. ISBN 0-521-56350-X. 
  4. ^ Parishes in the Diocese of Meath & Kildare. Church of Ireland. Retrieved on 16 June 2009.
  5. ^ E. B. Fryde et al., Handbook of British Chronology (Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 403.
  6. ^ Meath & Kildare. Church of Ireland. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  7. ^ Essays on post-Catholic Ireland and the Christian future, Richard Clarke at columba.ie

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