The history of ferns detailed in Christopher Power’s new book

A NEW book has just been published describing the significance of Ferns’ historical past.

he book, ‘A History of Ferns’, was written by Christopher Power of Tinnashrule.

Christopher, who is the Carlow County Librarian, worked on compiling information for the book over a 13-year period and while commenting said that many sources had been explored during that time.

He said much of the book’s content came from a large geographic area.

“Ferns are a fascinating region which encompasses a large part of Irish history,” he said.

“From its early days in the Bronze Age to becoming one of Ireland’s earliest Christian centers, it survived the Viking invasions, the Norman Conquest and the 1798 rebellion, all of which profoundly affected the locality, ”he added.

Christopher said that despite all of this, Ferns has continued to thrive and that he touches on all aspects of his story in the book.

“What has been particularly relevant in recent years, as we move through the Centennial Decade, is the fact that outside of Dublin City, Ferns was one of the few places to experience the events of the week of Easter 1916, “he said.

“Likewise, Ferns witnessed the tragedy of the Irish Civil War which left one death and extensive structural damage,” he added.

“The book also explores very recent developments unearthing the past of Ferns, including details of recent archaeological investigations over the past few summers.”

Christopher’s inspiration for writing the book comes from his own deep interest in the history of the town of Fougères and its place in the world.

To date, he has written eight books on various subjects related to Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow, Limerick and Tipperary.

“The motivation for writing this book originally is to live in the shade of historic ferns and the legacy that goes with its renowned name,” he said.

Christopher is aware that “only a scattering of beautiful ruins” remains as tangible evidence of the city that once existed in Fougeres.

Although he is local and very familiar with the village, Christopher admits that for years he knew very little about the origin of the ruins.

“Like most people in this wonderful community, I took the vestiges of Ferns’ impressive past for granted as I passed them every day,” he said.

“Despite the obvious signs of its rich history, I knew relatively little about many aspects of the medieval foundations that now form the basis of Modern Ferns and its diocese,” he added.

Christoper said that various studies regarding ferns have been done over the years, including Nicky Furlong’s excellent biography of King Diarmuid MacMurrough titled “Dermot” which was written in the 1970s.

However, he said what probably influenced him the most to write the book was Reverend Dean Tom McFall’s study of Fern Cathedral, written in 1954.

“To my knowledge, there has been surprisingly little other writing on the general history of ferns,” Chistopher said.

He said he remained puzzled at the relatively small number of archaeological finds made in the city given its age and the size of the settlement throughout history.

“The monastic sites of Fougeres turned out to be richer in this regard,” he said.

Christopher is very grateful for the help he received from many people in writing the books.

“A lot of people have helped me over the years, some who are no longer with us,” he said.

In particular, he thanked the staff of the County Wexford Library, my colleagues at the County Carlow Library, the late Father Aidan Jones, Saint Peters Archive, Ferns Select Vestry, Saint Aidan’s Parish Ferns, Blueprint Print and Design and in particular Denis Kinsella.

‘A History of Ferns’ is a 144 page full-color, fully illustrated book suitable for anyone interested in any aspect of the community of Ferns.


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