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Thursday 24 July 2014

Historian and priest Coogan honoured with plaque

Published 06/06/2003|00:11

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SLANE priest and historian Dean Anthony Coogan is to be honoured with the erection of a plaque at his former home, this Saturday at 11am.

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Mimnagh’s shop on Main Street is the birthplace of the prolific priest.

Anthony Coogan was born in 1826, one of five sons and three daughters of baker Thomas Coogan and his wife Ann Sillary.

A former Protestant who turned Catholic to marry Thomas, Ann purchased a substantial house and farm at Shalvanstown, Slane, for her son Charles.

Two other sons became surgeons in the army.

Anthony went to school locally then attended St Finian’s Seminary in Navan (now moved to Mullingar) where he studied for the priesthood, becoming a dean shortly afterwards.

Noted for both his academic and humanitarian work, Dean Coogan published three volumes on the history of the Diocese of Meath, the only ecclesiastical history on the churches and graveyards of the diocese.

He also did a lot of research on priests in the penal days and drew great inspiration from them.

He spent 15 years as a priest in Navan where he founded the Catholic Young Men’s Society in 1863.

He also did a lot of work on behalf of the poor people of Navan, fighting against bigotry and intolerance, working to relieve their squalor and overcrowding.

Dean Coogan’s Trojan work was cut short when he died at the age of 45.

Research into his life and work has led Sheila Crehan, secretary of Slane Historical Society, to believe that Dean Anthony Coogan was a hugely charismatic figure.

‘By all accounts he was a great preacher and was in great demand in Liverpool where he was often invited to preach to the Irish congregations there,’ said Ms Crehan.

Dean Coogan’s nearest surviving relative is Ray Coogan, from Slane and his daughter Mary McDonnell of Tullyallen. More members of the Coogan clan reside in Rathkenny.

It is hoped that many will turn up on the day to honour their forebearer.

The ceremony will be performed by Professor Alfred Smyth of Canterbury University and Very Reverend Fr Gerry Rice.

All are welcome to attend the ceremony.

Prof Smyth was in Slane two years ago to give a talk and at that time, suggested a Coogan memorial.

Slane Historical Society has been working on it since then.

Refreshments will follow in the Conyngham Arms Hotel.

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