Bishop Farrell, a native of Castletown-Geoghegan, County Westmeath, was ordained in June 1980 as a priest for service in the Diocese of Meath. He has a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University of Rome. His dissertation was on the work of Bernard Haring, whose moral theology emphasised growth in Christian love and fullness of life rather than the cataloguing of sins. He served as director of formation in the Irish College before he returned to Maynooth to lecture in moral theology. He was later appointed President of St. Patrick’s College in 1996, retiring in 2007. He then served as Parish Priest of Dunboyne for 11 years until his move to Kilkenny as Bishop of Ossory in January 2018. He was ordained Bishop by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in St. Mary’s Cathedral on 11th March 2018. He was appointed successor to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on 29th December 2020.
With being archbishop of Dublin, he will be the Metropolitan Archbishop of our province which is made up of the dioceses of Dublin – Counties Dublin and sections of Wicklow and Kildare – , Ferns – mostly County Wexford -, Ossory – most of County Kilkenny (excluding Graignamanagh and Paulstown), six parishes in Co. Laois, and one parish in County Offaly -, Kildare and Leighlin – two parishes of County Kilkenny, County Carlow, sections of Kildare and Offaly. The Diocesan boundaries were drawn up in the 12th century and allow for the Bishop of each Diocese to get to the sea without having to travel by land through the Diocese of another Bishop. That time, Bishops might be at loggerheads!! Archbishop Farrell will also be the Primate of Ireland – the Archbishop of Armagh is Primate of All Ireland.
While the Archdiocese of Armagh is the seat of the Primate of All Ireland, Dublin is the seat of the Primate of Ireland, and Archbishop Farrell’s appointment has reverberations for the wider Irish Church, particularly south of the border. With 198 rural and urban parishes and a potential flock of over one million Catholics, it is significantly bigger than the country’s next three most populous dioceses – Down and Connor, Meath, and Derry – combined. It is also the most secularised; Mass attendance in some urban parishes is reportedly less than two per cent.