The Life of Bishop Donald Caird
The Episcopal life of Donald Caird encompasses many of the most critical junctures in the twentieth century Irish story. From Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath he was elected Archbishop of Dublin in 1985 remaining there until 1996. As such he was Primate of the Anglican church in the Republic of Ireland when the Northern Troubles continued on their violent path which led eventually to the Hillsborough Agreement of 1985, the Downing Street Declaration of 1993 and the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Donald Caird, along with the Anglican Primate of All-Ireland, Robin Eames, were consulted and provided advice and guidance along of the way.
Aonghus Dwane’s just-released biography of Donald Caird covers not only the Troubles in the North but the period of the pro-life and divorce referendums in the South which were characterised by incessant controversy and often intemperate debate. Throughout a stormy narrative there emerges a churchman who is a philosopher deeply committed to his Christian faith, a gaelgőir deeply committed to the Irish language and a traditionalist who nevertheless ordained one of the first woman priests in the Church of Ireland. As Bishop of Meath and Archbishop of Dublin Donald Caird maintained an ecumenical dialogue and close personal relationships with the leading Roman Catholic prelates of his time and helped grow the spirit that emerged as the Irish churches took the first steps towards each other in the Ballmascanlon talks of 1973. The author, Aonghus Dwane, spoke to Paul Loughlin.