The Preacher &
The Prelate

The Achill Mission Colony and the Battle for Souls in Famine Ireland

Patricia Byrne's book, "The Preacher and the Prelate"

The extraordinary story of a fight for souls on famine-ravaged Achill on Ireland's Atlantic coast in the nineteenth century

Edward Nangle’s mission aimed to lift a destitute people out of ignorance, poverty and idolatry. The fury of the island elements, the devastation of the Great Famine, Edward Nangle’s own volatile temperament, and the unbearable suffering of his wife Eliza and their children, all threatened the project’s survival.

The ugly charge of ‘souperism’, offering food and benefits in return for religious conversion, tainted the work of the Achill Mission. A spectacular conflict erupted between Edward Nangle and John MacHale, the fiery archbishop of Tuam. The two clergymen unleashed fierce passions with vitriol and polemic spewing out from pen and pulpit.

Did Edward Nangle and his Achill Mission save hundreds from certain famine death? Or, did they shamefully exploit a vulnerable people in their hour of need? This story spectacularly exposes the fault-lines of religion, society and politics in nineteenth-century Ireland. It is a story that continues to excite controversy to this day.

Available from Merrion Press



The Preacher and the Prelate:
The Achill Mission Colony
and the Battle for Souls in Famine Ireland

ISBN-13: 9781785371721

ISBN-10: 178537172X

Author: Patricia Byrne

Genre: Narrative Nonfiction

Binding: Paperback

Publisher: Merrion Press

Published: May 1, 2018

Editorial Reviews of
The Preacher and The Prelate

‘Byrne tells an absorbing story that will satisfy many readers curious about this sordid episode.’

IRISH TIMES, Brendan Mac Suibhne

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‘Told with pace and panache, The Preacher and The Prelate is an extraordinary and important read.’


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‘Now the fascinating story of the Achill Mission is told by Patricia Byrne ... the book sounds like it could be fiction, and indeed it's written in a narrative style that brings to life an extraordinary story ...’


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‘From its Prologue, set in the present time, Byrne’s new book The Preacher and The Prelate had me hooked...The referencing is impeccable, she has splendid end notes, a comprehensive index and an awe-inspiring bibliography.’

Patricia O'Reilly, Novelist

‘Fascinating Achill Island story.’

Selected by Aoife Barry,, as a ‘culture pick’
on Today with Sean O'Rourke, RTÉ RADIO 1

‘This epic tale of famine and evangelisation, sectarianism and medieval imperialism, evictions and decimation, souperism and cultural clashes reveals universal themes while telling a fascinating story of one man’s passion...on its impact on a remote community. The themes explored and unfurled bedevil many other areas of the world today.’

MAYO NEWS, Aine Ryan

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‘In a fascinating book, Patricia Byrne tip-toes skilfully through this minefield, looking for the human stories amid “the collision of opposing dogmas”.’

IRISH EXAMINER, Michael Duggan

‘In an absorbing narrative history of the Achill Mission, its fervent supporters and its strident critics, Byrne has laid bare a fascinating episode of 19th century Irish history.’

THE IRISH STORY, Gordon O'Sullivan

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‘It is not difficult to appreciate the enthusiasm of this author in her love of this place [Achill] and her interest in relating this part of its history. She excels with a beautifully written conclusion in the three-page epilogue at the end of the book.’

TINTEÁN (Australia), Rob Butler

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Amazon Reviews of
The Preacher and The Prelate

4.5 out of 5 stars