Tá eolas ina thaobh in Clerical and Parochial Records of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, 1863 le W. Maziere Brady. Tá de thuairim ann gurbh é a chliamhain a scríobh Forty years in the Church of Ireland, or, The pastor, the parish and its people from 1840 to 1880. Ba iad a thuismitheoirí Joseph Devonshire Fisher agus Margaret Allen arbh as Cluain Tí Foircill i gceantar Cheann Toirc di. Baill de Chuallacht na gCarad ba ea iad. Fágadh ina dhílleachta é agus ba é a uncail a thóg mar bhall d’Eaglais na hÉireann é. Dhealródh gurbh é seo an William Fisher a chuaigh isteach i gColáiste na Tríonóide agus a bhain BA amach in 1836; ba é Joseph Fisher, feirmeoir i gContae Phort Láirge, a athairsean, dar le cáipéisí an choláiste. Deirtear gur chaith sé tamall ag déanamh léinn in Oxford freisin. I ndiaidh a oirnithe bhí sé ina churáideach i gCloich na Coillte sular ceapadh é ina reachtaire ar Chill Mua, an paróiste ina bhfuil Carn Uí Néid agus an Cruachán, in 1842. Nuair a thosaigh an Gorta Mór bhí 8,000 duine sa pharóiste, iad ocrach agus gan sagart acu. Deir Desmond Bowen in The Protestant crusade in Ireland, 1800-70: ‘But he had a deep love of the Irish people and was more interested in becoming a good pastor to them than becoming involved in abstract theological studies. So he balanced his theological interests by studying some medicine and learning Irish.’ Deir a chliamhain: ‘Among other things he made the Irish language a prominent object of study, knowing it not only colloquially but grammatically and sufficiently closely to read the most ancient MSS. Some were sent to him for translation from the British Museum, and he used mention as a proof of the care and accuracy with which the Curator of MSS there attended to them that on one occasion although he did not himself know any Irish he sent him back a MS as he found a word in it untranslated, the fact being that in this instance one English word stood for two in Irish. His knowledge of the Irish tongue was to be hereafter of immense service to him and to the people among whom he worked.’

Le hairgead ó chairde leis i Sasana rinne sé gach dícheall dá pharóisteánaigh. ‘As a result of this work he contracted famine-fever himself and almost died. During his illness the people were completely demoralised; they had quarrelled with their priest, who fled the community, leaving them without the paternalistic direction he had once given them’ (Bowen). Bhí luí aige le Gluaiseacht Oxford, tar éis dó Tracts for the times le John Henry Newman a léamh.

Trí sheans fuair sé amach go raibh riail eaglasta ann a rinneadh i 1634, ach a bhí ligthe i ndearmad, go raibh de dhualgas ar shagairt Eaglais na hÉireann clog na heaglaise a bhualadh gach Satharn chun daoine a ghairm chun faoistine. De réir a chéile tháinig na céadta ag déanamh a bhfaoistine leis. ‘He often said that until then he never knew what sin was, or what lurked in men’s minds.’ Bhí muinín ag daoine as. ‘Standish O’Grady, whose father was a nearby parson, said that the degree of faith the people had in Fisher could be measured by the fact that all remittances sent home by hundreds of emigrants passed through his hands’ (Bowen). In 1847 fuair sé suim mhaith airgid ar choinníoll gur ar oibreacha poiblí a chaithfí í.

Ghlaoití Teampall na mBocht ar shéipéal a thóg sé sa Tuar Mór. Deir Brady gur in 1847 a togadh é; go raibh 509 Protastúnach sa cheantar tuairim 1860, go raibh ceithre cinn de ‘Church Education schools’ ann agus tuairim 94 páiste ag freastal orthu. Thóg sé freisin teach scoile agus teach don churáideach; d’íoc sé muintir na háite as an obair seo. Níor bhain siad úsáid as trucailí ná as rothaí; lena lámha amháin a thóg siad an séipéal. Na mná a rinne cuid mhór den obair fad a bhí na fir ag obair ar scéim a d’eagraigh Major Hugh Parker, oifigeach faoisimh an cheantair. Ní raibh páirt ag feirmeoirí ná siopadóirí san obair. Fiafraíonn Bowen: ‘How does one judge William Allen Fisher in terms of “souperism”, or bribing people to convert to Protestantism?’ agus is é a bhreithiúnas féin nach raibh sé mar a shamhlaigh eití míleata na bProtastúnach ná na gCaitliceach é: ‘He appears to have been a singularly devoted Anglican High Churchman who was a natural pastor, his primary concern being the welfare of the people he loved.’

Nuair a chinn Coláiste Columba, Ráth Fearnáin, go mbeadh an Gaeilge mar ábhar acu shíl sé go bhféadfaí sin a chur chun leasa pháistí na háite. In History of St Columba’s College deir G. K. White: ‘A Mr Fisher, Rector of Crookhaven, Co. Cork and an Irish-speaker . . . sent six boys from his parish, aged from twelve to fourteen, to be “serving boys” at St Columba’s. They were all Irish-speaking with little knowledge of English, and though officially Roman Catholic they attended Fisher’s school [in 1845] . . .’. Le toil a muintire a cuireadh na buachaillí seo go dtí an coláiste ach dealraíonn sé gur caitheadh go dona leo agus nár cuireadh orthu an t-oideachas a gealladh. In ainneoin impíocha Fisher seoladh abhaile iad.

Nuair a cuireadh an tAthair John Murphy, nia le Seán Ó Murchú, Easpag Chorcaí, chuig an paróiste, d’fhill an chuid ba mhó dá phobal ar an Eaglais Chaitliceach. Deirtear gur fhan thart ar 600 dílis do Fisher. Lean sé leis sa pharóiste agus deirtear gur chabhraigh sé le daoine nár fhéad pósadh, toisc iompúcháin creidimh, dul go Meiriceá. Bhí gorta sa pharóiste arís in 1862 agus rinne sé iarrracht ar fhás agus tionscal an lín a fhorbairt agus cheannaigh saighean agus feisteas eile d’iascairí ach theip ar na seifteanna sin. Tholg sé fiabhras ag freastal ar dhuine dá thréad le linn gorta 1880 agus cailleadh é 7 Lúnasa 1880 ag 9 Sráid Líosáin Uachtarach, Baile Átha Cliath (fógra báis in Cork Constitution 10 Lúnasa 1880). Phós sé 24 Feabhra 1844 Anna Carson, iníon leis an Urramach Thomas Carson. Bhí triúr mac agus beirt iníonacha acu. Rinne Eoghan Harris taighde ar chúrsaí Fisher i rith an Ghorta agus bhunaigh an dráma Souper Sullivan air. Léirigh Tomás Mac Anna é ag Féile Amharclannaíochta Bhaile Átha Cliath 1985.

Diarmuid Breathnach

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