A NEW book has just been published outlining the significance of Ferns’ historic past.
The book, ‘A History of Ferns’, was written by Christopher Power, from Tinnashrule.
Christopher, who is a County Carlow librarian, worked on compiling information for the book over a 13-year period and commenting on it he said many sources were explored during that time.
He said a lot of the material in the book came from a wide geographical spread.
“Ferns is a fascinating area that encompasses so much of Ireland’s history,” he said.
“From its Bronze Age beginnings, to becoming one of Ireland’s first Christian centres, it survived invasions by Vikings, the Norman conquest, and the 1798 Rebellion, all of which profoundly affected the locality,” he added.
Christopher said that despite all this Ferns has continued to thrive and he touches on all aspects of its history in the book.
“What has been of particular relevance in recent years, as we move through the Decade of Centenary, is the fact that outside Dublin City, Ferns was one of the few locations which experienced the events of Easter Week 1916,” he said.
“Similarly, Ferns witnessed the tragedy of the Irish Civil war resulting in one fatality and much structural damage,” he added.
“The book also explores very recent developments, unearthing Ferns past including details of the recent archaeological surveys in the last few summers.”
Christopher’s inspiration for writing the book comes from his own deep interest in the history of the Ferns locality and its place in the wider world.
To-date, he has written eight books on various subjects connected to Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow, Limerick and Tipperary.
“The motivation for originally writing this book is my living within the shadow of historic Ferns and the heritage that goes with its renowned name,” he said.
Christopher is mindful of the fact that “only a scattering of beautiful ruins” remain as tangible proof of the city that once existed in Ferns.
Despite being local and very familiar with the village Christopher admits that for years he knew very little about the origins of the ruins.
“ Like most people of this wonderful community, I took the remains of Ferns’ impressive past for granted as I passed them every day,” he said.
“Despite the obvious signs of it’s rich history I knew relatively little about many aspects of the medieval foundations that now form the basis of modern day Ferns and its diocese,” he added.
Christopher said various studies concerning Ferns have been made 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 most to write the book was Rev Dean Tom McFall’s study of Fern’s Cathedral written in 1954.
“To my knowledge there has been surprisingly little else written about the general history of Ferns,” said Christopher.
He said he remains puzzled about the relatively small amount of archaeological discoveries made in the town given its age and the scale of the settlement there throughout history.
“Ferns’ monastic sites have proven richer in that regard,” he said.
Christopher is very appreciative of the help he has received from numerous people in the writing of the books.
“Many people have assisted me over the years, some who are no longer with us,” he said.
In particular he thanked the staff of Wexford County Library, his colleagues in Carlow County Library, the late Fr Aidan Jones, Saint Peters Archive, Ferns Select Vestry, Saint Aidan’s Parish Ferns, Blueprint Print and Design and particularly Denis Kinsella.
‘A History of Ferns’ is a fully illustrated, full colour 144 page book suitable for anyone with an interest in any aspect of the Ferns locality.