A noted author and historian with strong Kilkenny connections will recreate the Ireland of the 1960s and 1970s when he speaks at the Clubhouse Hotel in the city on Sunday September 11.
Tim Pat Coogan, who will be taking part in a programme commemorating his friend Bishop Peter Birch, is the son Eamonn and Beatrice (nee Toal), both of whom were prominent in the newly-independent Ireland.
Eamonn was a Castlecomer-born barrister and Kilkenny T.D. who was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the newly-formed Garda Siochana at the age of twenty-six. He was elected in 1943 to succeed W. T, Cosgrave as Dail member for the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency but died at the age of 52 in 1948, before he could be re-elected in the poll of that year.
Beatrice Toal was a former Dublin Civic Queen of Beauty who later became noted for her book ‘The Big Wind’.
Tim Pat himself achieved fame as the dynamic young editor of the ‘Irish Press’ from 1968 to 1987, when he resigned in the face of the corporate debacle that resulted in the closure of the paper.
Since then he has built a career as an authority on the revolutionary period and legacy of Ireland’s history, completing studies of Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera, and the IRA, as well as writing major works on the Irish diaspora and modern Ireland.
On Sunday he will be reminiscing about the two decades during which he watched Ireland lose much of its traditional allegiances and practices, as Peter Birch set an alternative agenda that seemed like a new dawn – a hope to be dashed in the three tumultuous decades of political, economic and religious disintegration that followed.
Accompanying Tim Pat will be his daughter Thomond, an adult education co-ordinator at UCD, who also has strong Kilkenny connections.
Admission to the 8 p.m. event in the Club House ballroom is completely free.
Earlier in the day there will be a commemoration in the late bishop’s native area of Jenkinstown, including Mass at 12.15 celebrated by Bishop Freeman, a ‘spiritual walk’ in Jenkinstown Wood led by Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, and a short talk on the bishop’s local connections by Denis Bergin.
Details of all events are available at www.bishopbirch100.org