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Century-old sermons offer window into Ireland’s history

Over the first 40 years of the 20th Century, Ireland went through a dramatic period of war and state-building that has shaped the nation. Throughout that period, Lackagh-born priest Fr Paul Rabbitt was reflecting on the events that surrounded him as he gave his sermons at Mount St Joseph’s Abbey in Roscrea in the Catholic brand of nationalism that so defined the foundations of the Irish State.

This week, at an event in Lackagh, a copy of his collected sermons was unveiled at the Lackagh Museum and Heritage Centre, offering an insight into his thinking at the time.

This unique collection of writings, spanning the years 1903 to 1940, has been securely maintained at Mount St Joseph’s in Tipperary since his death in 1940, but thanks to the persistence of his grand-nephew, John Rabbitt, copies of all nine volumes have been brought home to Fr Paul’s native Lackagh.

John, who grew up in the same place as Fr Paul in Grange, Lackagh, says the existence of these sermons wasn’t common knowledge in the family until relatively recently – although cousins in New Zealand were very aware of them.

“Fr Paul had three brothers that went to New Zealand in the late 1800s and they knew more about it than those at home. I suppose my father didn’t see any significance, but his uncles in New Zealand knew about them because Fr Paul was writing to them and their wives,” explains John, who now lives in Galway City.

Caption: John Rabbitte with one of the ten volumes of Historic Archival Sermons & Memoirs of Fr Paul Rabbitt presented to Lackagh Museum. Photo: Brian Harding.

Get the full story with photos over two pages in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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