Addressing over 150 guests at the launch, Dr Wallace, a native of Askeaton, described the book as a wonderfully written and illustrated publication which will have pride of place in homes across Limerick.
“I believe this to be a very important and beautifully written book. It is extremely well put together, in terms of illustrations, lay-out, the historical introductions by author Liam Irwin; from front to back it is a truly outstanding piece of work,” he said.
“Each individual parish is dealt with superbly; its notable priests, its history, churches, antiquities, great men who came from the parish. It’s amazing the detail that has gone into it.
“Above all else, there is a huge debt owed by the legions who will get to enjoy this book to its author Liam Irwin in pulling all of this together. He has preserved the history of the Diocese in a wonderful publication and from the parallel world that I live in, I can testify to the huge volume of work that this has been.
“There is also great credit due to retired Bishop Donal Murray, who initiated this project and very much followed it through to the end. He lit the spark for this outstanding publication and Liam brought it all together, with the help of many others of course, in what has clearly been a five year labour of love. They have truly left us with something remarkable to enjoy.”
Dr Wallace said that the significance of the book would be hard to overstate. “It is important because there isn’t a book like it in Limerick. We know we have an incredible Christian culture. It is very deep and Liam and all involved have captured and preserved this brilliantly. They have brought it together in a considered, generous and inclusive way.
“In historical terms, Limerick has huge significance. I happen to be from Limerick and am very proud of it. I have always seen the greatness of the place and we now have a book worthy of it.”
Mr Wallace said he was particularly taken by the attention given to the architectural strengths of buildings, Churches and otherwise, across the Diocese. “The finest Church in Limerick in my opinion, not least having read Liam’s book, is Rathkeale. It is the finest Christian place of worship of the last two centuries. It was designed by the greatest Irish architect of that era, JJ McCarthy, who also designed both Kilmallock and Ballingarry, but McCarthy himself considered it to be his finest work.
“I was also struck by the level of detail in relation to place-names in the county. This takes a huge amount of work as Liam explains the place names, which are all of Gaelic origin, effortlessly, which is indicative of the entire book.”
Also speaking at the launch, Bishop Brendan Leahy said: “We all owe so much to Bishop Murray for starting and staying with the project, to Liam Irwin for his amazing work and the many others who contributed so handsomely along the way. I have no doubt but ‘The Diocese of Limerick – an Illustrated History’ will find its way into many Christmas stockings on the 25th. It is a publication we are all hugely proud of.”
Copies of the book are just €20, and are available in all Limerick parishes.