It is almost 50 years since I first met Ambrose Macaulay.  It was October 1960 it was in the Irish College in Rome.  He was already a priest doing post-graduate studies at the Gregorian University.  Naturally they were studies in Ecclesiastical History.  We have remained good friends ever since – meeting at such functions as the Oliver Plunkett Union meetings – Past-Pupils Unions etc.

During his years in Rome, Father Ambrose developed a great love for the Eternal City, for Italy, for the Church and especially for the history of the Church.  In the intervening years, despite his many demanding pastoral commitments such as University Chaplain and Pastor of the busy city parishes, Ambrose has found time to continue to do his research in libraries and archives here in Ireland and abroad and to write historical works of the highest standards. 

He is a man who does not believe in wasting time, even on holidays.  During my thirteen years on the staff of the Irish College, Ambrose was a frequent visitor.  His visits were always focussed and purposeful.  I can still see the chair being pushed back from the breakfast table every morning at 7.45 am and him getting ready to set forth energetically for yet another foray into the archives of Propaganda Fide, Secretary of State or the Vatican or the Roma Vicariate.  He has shared the fruits of his research in volumes that are at once scholarly and eminently readable.

In 1983 he published     Dr Russell of Maynooth,
In 1987             Patrick Dorrian, Bishop of Down & Connor.
In 1994             William Crolly, Archbishop of Armagh 1835-49. 

All of this has involved a huge amount of study and travel and research.

I think that it is precisely because he knows so much Church History and knows it so well that Mons Ambrose does not easily panic or become depressed in the face of current difficulties either in the Church or civil society.

Now he has turned his attention to Armagh once again – to the study of the Appointments of the Archbishops of Armagh in the Nineteenth Century.  It is all very interesting – sometimes exciting and also just a little worrying.  It is worrying to think that in a hundred years time future historians may be analysing the events and the facts behind what is happening now.  In fact, it makes the prospect of death so much more palpable.  Thank God I am not going to be around to see all of that.

But, in the meantime, I congratulate you, Mons Ambrose, on this, your latest work of historical scholars.  I wish you every success in your future writing and study and I am delighted to know that you have so successfully coped with recent health problems and that you are back into such good form.

I also congratulate Cumann Seanchais Ard Mhacha and the Ó Fiaich Archive and Library Committee on all the excellent work they do promoting an interest in history, in local history and, in particular, in the history of our local Church.  This work is very precious for it helps show how the Church – the Body of Christ – is a Society – in its own right with its own authority, capable of exercising rights, discharging duties and acquiring property The study of history gives us all a sense of achievement and perspective.

Prospre Procede