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The Man in the Middle

St Laurence O'Toole, Patron Saint of Dublin

Author(s): Desmond Forristal

ISBN13: 9781847304346

ISBN10: 1847304346

Publisher: Veritas Publications (1 February 2013)

Extent: 100 pages

Binding: Paperback

Size: 21.2 x 13.8 x 1.2 cm

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  • A reissue of the popular 1988 book to celebrate this Year of Faith, which focuses on the life of Laurence O’Toole, one of the most colourful saints of Ireland.


    Born in 1128, much of St Laurence O’Toole’s youth was spent as a hostage of King Dermot McMurrough, the man who brought the Normans to Ireland. Upon his release, he became Abbot of Glendalough and then Archbishop of Dublin. He played a central role during the Norman invasion – as archbishop, he was the man in the middle, a churchman reluctantly involved in affairs of state, a mediator trusted and called on by all sides.


    He became renowned as a builder of churches, a man of prayer and a worker of miracles. This account draws on a variety of unpublished sources to provide a dramatic and gripping biography.

  • Desmond Forristal

    Desmond Forristal was parish priest of Dalkey until his retirement in 2001. Ordained as a priest in 1955, he worked for almost twenty years as scriptwriter and director on Radharc religious documentaries, and is the author of numerous successful plays and biographies. He passed away in September 2012 at the age of eighty-one.

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    First published in 1988, this is a readable biography of the saint most closely associated with the nations capital and who played a key role in events surrounding the Norman invasion of Ireland. His part in that episode is well known but Forristal also reminds us that as a youth he was a hostage of King Dermot McMurrough and that as a churchman he was responsible for building many churches. As the archbishop of Dublin he was caught in the middle between the invaders, who claimed to be acting on the popes behalf, and his own people. lt was a difficult time for him and finally he died in exile in Normandy in 1180. Forristal gives us an insightful account of the saint and the times in which he lived.


    Books Ireland, April 2013


    Nearly a thousand years ago, tribal family infighting for position and power was unremitting in an Ireland fragmented by warring factions, and where sons and daughters were routinely traded to secure land, wealth and loyalty in the various regional bids for kingship. Into this turbulent society Laurence OToole was born around the year 1128 and this short book charts his life from boyhood hostage to saint.


    Over time he proved to be a capable builder of churches and an untiring seeker after justice. As Abbot of Glendalough and then Archbishop of Dublin he was recognised for his openness to new European ways of thinking and working and equally for his administrative expertise. This ensured that his monasteries had plentiful stock provisions and revenue from which he fed the poor and homeless. As Archbishop of Dublin he was forced into the politics and intrigue of the Norman invasion and into managing the widespread lawlessness which already flourished outside of the monasteries. As a man of profound insight and holiness and with a deep interior life, he would draw on these qualities to understand people and situations. Gradually, he became known as a mediator of unusual skill, gaining the trust of all sides in the many negotiations to which he was invited. Alongside all these attributes, his distinctive air of authority meant that he was recognised as a natural leader. As a peacemaker, his work brought him to Eu in France where he died in 1180, far from the land and people he cared for so passionately.


    Desmond Forristal was a priest for the Archdiocese of Dublin and a successful writer, biographer and scriprwriter. He has researched unpublished material to write this colourful account of the life of Laurence OToole, patron saint of Dublin.


    Reality Magazine, Summer 2013

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