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Diocese of Ross
Diocese in Ireland. This see was founded by St. Fachtna, and the place-name was variously known as Roscairbre and Rosailithir (Ross of the pilgrims). St. Fachtna founded the School of Ross as well as the see; and his death occurred about 590, on 14 August, on which day his feast is celebrated. The succession of bishops was uninterrupted till after the Reformation period. King John in 1207 granted the cantred of Rosailithir to David Roche, regardless of the claims of the native chief, the O'Driscoll, but the episcopal manors were left undisturbed. In 1306, the value of the bishop's mensa was 26 marks, while the cathedral was valued at 3 marks; and the tribal revenue of the see was but 45 pounds sterling. The number of parishes was 29, divided into 3 divisions; and there was a Cistercian abbey, Carrigilihy (de fonte vivo); also a Benedictine Priory at St. Mary's, Ross. The Franciscans acquired a foundation at Sherkin Island from the O'Driscolls in 1460. Owing to various causes the see was not in a flourishing condition in the fourteenth century, and the Wars of the Roses contributed to the unfortunate state of affairs which prevailed in the second half of the fifteenth century. Blessed Thady MacCarthy was appointed Bishop in 1482, but was forcibly deprived of his see in 1488. However he was translated to the united Sees of Cork and Cloyne in 1490; was again a victim of political intrigues, and died a glorious confessor at Ivrea in 1492, being beatified in 1895. In 1517 the revenue of the diocese was but 60 marks. At that date the chapter was complete with 12 canons and 4 vicars, and there were 27 parishes, including three around Berehaven. Thomas O'Herlihy assisted at the Council of Trent, and ruled from 1562 till his death on 11 March, 1580. It was not until 1581 that Queen Elizabeth ventured to appoint a Protestant prelate under whom, in 1584, the Sees of Cork and Cloyne were annexed to Ross. However, in the Catholic arrangement Ross continued independent, and Owen MacEgan died a confessor in January, 1602-3. In 1625 the bishop (de Torres) was a Spaniard, who ruled his diocese through a vicar-general. In 1647 the nave and tower of the cathedral were levelled by the Puritans; and the bishop (MacEgan) was basely hanged by Lord Broghill, on 10 April, 1650. At length, in 1693, Bishop Sleyne of Cork was given Ross in commendam, and the see continued under his successors till 1748, when it was united to Cloyne under Bishop O'Brien. From 1748 Ross was administered by the Bishops of Cloyne, but it regained its autonomy under Bishop Crotty, and in 1857 Bishop O'Hea was consecrated to Ross. During the episcopate of Dr. O'Hea (the Catholic population was then 65,000) the episcopal see was transferred to Skibbereen, and the diocese was materially improved under his fostering care. His successor, William Fitzgerald (1877-97) also labored zealously. The present bishop, the Most Rev. Denis Kelly, was born near Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, in 1852, and was educated at Ennis and Paris. He was appointed president of the Killaloe Diocesan College in 1890, and was consecrated 9 May, 1897. Bishop Kelly has acted on several Royal commissions, and has recently (1911) been named one of the two commissioners for the projected Home Rule finance. In 1901 the Catholic population was 46,694, and there were eleven parishes-two of which were mensal-served by 28 priests. The latest returns give the number of churches as 22, and there are three Convents of Mercy, respectively, at Skibbereen, Clonakilty, and Rosscarbery. There is no chapter, but there are two vicars forane.
Calendar of Papal Registers (9 Vols., London, 1893-1911); BRADY, Records of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross (Dublin, 1864); IDEM, Episcopal Succession (Rome, 1876); ARCHDALL, Monasticon Hibernicum (Dublin, 1873); SMITH, Cork (new ed., Cork, 1893); Irish Catholic Directory (1911).
W. H. Grattan-Flood.