" Here's The Answer" (CATHOLIC HERALD, October 27) it is said that the use of " Father " for the secular clergy came in about sixty years ago. There is, if I remember aright, a similar statement in Snead-Cox's Life of Cardinal Vaughan. I submit that this is incorrect and that " Father " as a form of address spread from Gaelicspeaking Ireland to English-speaking Ireland and thence to the Englishspeaking world at a much earlier date.
The elders of the present generation in Ireland remember, through their grandparents, a practice that goes back for more than a hundred years. I have before me the works of two Gaelic poets, William Cotter (1690-1738) and John Murphy (1700-1762) who address in verse their parochial clergy as "Athair," anglice "Father." The Bishop of Ferns wrote in 1795 about the convict priest, "Father " James Dixon.
In Australia there was another convict, " Father " Philip O'Neill, in 1804. Archbishop Ullathorne thus addressed Father Therry in 1833, and it. was used by Archbishop Poiding in 1844 and by Governor Denison, of N.S.W., a convert, In 1858.
In England the Catholic Registry (1857) refers to Father Smyth, pastor of Aylesbury, Fathers O'Reilly and Scrutton, recently ordained, and to Father Toomey, of Westminster, all secular clergy of over eighty years ago.
"Mr " was used simultaneously in English-speaking Ireland, particularly on formal and official occasions. This, I think, was an acceptance for safety's sake of the current Protestant terminology rather than an inexact adaptation of the "general " Continental practice.
DONAL A. Remy (Rev.) Killarney.