SIR – Like many Southern Star readers, I wish the author of Archon a happy retirement. However, I wish to disagree with some of the content of his final column entitled ‘Bishop was a man of many manuals’ (Southern Star 30/1/21). To a large extent some of the content of this article regarding the late Bishop Danial Cohalan, who was Bishop of Cork from 1916 to 1952, was either unproven or factually incorrect.
The author of Archon states that Bishop Cohalan was very much pro-British and showed loyalty to the Crown without offering a shred of evidence for making this assumption. Clearly, Archon did little research on Bishop Cohalan. If he had, he would have discovered that the late Bishop made a number of scathing attacks on the British authorities when he condemned them as an unjust aggressor where physical force was justified as a last resort.
When he travelled to Brixton prison in October 1920 to visit his close friend Terence MacSwiney (on hunger strike), he strongly condemned the British Authorities for MacSwiney’s imprisonment and called on the British to release him. He again blamed the British for MacSwiney’s death in 1928.
Archon’s assumption that Bishop Cohalan was hostile towards the IRA only has partial merit, insofar as he was opposed to violence from all sides and would have highlighted this in many of his pastoral letters. Yet, he presided and officiated at both Terence MacSwiney’s and Thomas McCurtain’s funerals and engaged directly with the volunteers to bring the hunger strike in Cork Prison to an end.
Of course, Bishop Cohalan, like his peers, was in favour of the Treaty as having potential for peace and condemned the anti-Treaty side during the civil war that followed. This would be consistent with the overall approach of the Catholic Church, including Bishops and most priests, and was based on the fact that a majority in Dáil Eireann had voted in favour of the treaty in January 1922.