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Liam O'Rourke

My thesis explores ‘The Church of Ireland episcopate c.1660-1740’; my research focuses on the re-establishment, development and cultural changes of the Church of Ireland episcopate between the period of the Restoration of Charles II and the early years of George II. Long seen as a period of inertia for the Church of Ireland, in recent years, a number of scholars have challenged these perceived ideas that the Church of Ireland was led by a bench of prelates who were regarded as carpet-baggers, careerists, banal, indifferent or incompetent in administering their sees. Instead I suggest that one must understand the complexities and extreme difficulties that many a bishop faced when administering an Irish diocese during a period of political and economic turmoil underpinned by the wars in Ireland in the 1640s and again in the years 1689-91. I begin by examining the social and cultural origins of the 110 bishops that served the Irish sees, many of whom were Irish-born; a significant development in the making of the Church of Ireland, given that the vast majority of the bishops that were appointed during the early Stuart period were of British birth, with only a handful of Irish born being elevated to the episcopal bench. The formative years of the bishops will be explored by examining their education and their careers prior to their elevation to the episcopal bench. Concepts of what it meant to be a bishop in late Stuart and Hanoverian Ireland will be explored by examining their temporal and spiritual duties. Finally I will discuss their finances to tease out further questions about their roles in the metropolitan city of Dublin and across the provinces, a hitherto unknown area in the history of the Church of Ireland in the early modern period.

 My other interests are the Anglican Church across the British Isles and the Colonies in North America; the social, intellectual and cultural achievements of Churchmen in Britain and Ireland; and the Reformation in the Nordic countries.

Research Papers:

  • ‘The viceroy of the earl of Essex, 1672-77’ Seminar paper at NUI Maynooth, March 2008.
  • ‘The religious policies of Arthur Capel, first earl of Essex, 1672-77’, IHSA conference NUIM April 2009
  • ‘Viceregal Chaplains in Ireland, 1660-1714’ at the Church of Ireland Historical Society, Christ Church Cathedral Dublin, November 2013.
  • ‘Improvers & entrepreneurs of Protestant Ireland: Bishops of the Church of Ireland’ University of Kent, April 2014.
  • ‘The county of Kent, and its links with early Modern Ireland’ Canterbury Historical & Archaeological Society, May 2015.
  • ‘The life and career of Archbishop John Vesey: Patriot and Reformer, 1638-1716’ (forthcoming Conference of the British and Irish Church in the seventeenth Century, University of Kent, 21-23 June 2017)