Patrick McAlister, Bishop of Down and Connor, 1886–95

Ambrose Macaulay

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ISBN: 1-85182-997-0
January 2006. 160pp; ills.

Patrick McAlister was bishop of Down and Connor for only nine years, but during that short episcopate he had to cope with the worst riots of the 19th century in Belfast, triggered by the Home Rule bill of 1886. Thirty-two people lost their lives, and much damage was done to property. Catholic-owned public houses were particularly vulnerable. Four years later McAlister confronted the supporters of Parnell, and founded his own newspapers in opposition to the Parnellism of the local nationalist journal.

At pastoral level he continued his predecessor's policy of providing churches and schools for the increasing population of Belfast, and establishing societies to deal with the social problems and welfare needs of the less fortunate members of society. Political antagonisms in the city and the complete dominance of the corporation by the Conservative party added to the difficulties of pastoral care.

Ambrose Macaulay was a priest of the diocese of Down and Connor. His publications include William Crolly, Archbishop of Armagh, 1835–49 (1994) and The Holy See, British Policy and the Plan of Campaign in Ireland, 1885–93 (2002).