Ordained in Maynooth in 1821 for the diocese of Killala, John Patrick Lyons, a native of Bekan, near Ballyhaunis in Co. Mayo, was appointed Administrator of Ballina and, four years later, parish priest of Kilmore Erris, an area of co - extensive with the Mullet peninsula.
Lyons was a gifted writer, an Irish scholar, a strident polemicist, a liberal educationalist, a determined litigant, a modernising agriculturalist, an admired antiquarian, a savior of his people in the famine of 1830 - 1831, and as his vast library attests, a man of wide learning.
Fearless in confronting those in church and state who had vested interests in maintaining the status quo, Lyons brought a reforming vision and a robust style to his many and varied enterprises. He tried to convince the Cistercians, experts in agricultural husbandary, to move from France to Kilmore Erris; he debated publicly with Prodestant evangelicals; he forced the sacking of local magistrates for their incompetence and dishonesty; he took his own parishioners and the local landlord to court for defamation; he played a central part in the 'Killal troubles', supporting his bishop Francis O'Finan, who was forced by Rome to dismiss him as vicar general; he fought a determined, rearguard action against Archbishop John Mac Hale, with whom he developed a life long, mutual antipathy, he traveled the long journey from Erris to Rome three times in seven years, and he died aged 47, in 1845 on the cusp of the Famine.
- Publisher: Fr. Brendan Hoban
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