I am delighted to announce that I have negotiated an agreement with Orpen Press for the publication of Dr Fr Gearóid O'Donnchadha's Quest: A Journey Through Philosophy, Science and Spirituality (provisional title). The last book by the now sadly deceased priest, scholar and academic is something I have been working on for some time, and it is therefore very satisfying to secure agreement for publication. Orpen Press is one of Ireland's most reputable independent publishing houses (more about Orpen Press below). Sincere thanks to Managing Director Gerry Kelly and Managing Editor Eileen O'Brien for showing faith in Fr Gearóid's fascinating and important book.
I'm also grateful to the estate of Fr Gearóid, including Risteard Pierse, and particularly Robert and Olive Pierse, for entrusting me with the task of editing Fr Gearóid's book and securing the manuscript a suitable and ambitious publisher. I am also very grateful to all the members of the Quest editorial team, including Dr Fr Pat Ahern, Dr Breda O'Dwyer, and Ms Noreen O'Brien, for investing so much time and energy into what was no doubt a challenging, if rewarding, process. I'm also very grateful for the help, insights and assistance of Dr Sarah Meehan O'Callaghan, who, in her capacity as editor and academic consultant with JM Editing and Literary Agency, helped the editorial process enormously.
Orpen Press is a perfect home for Fr Gearóid's last book. Many of Orpen's previous books have a lot in common with his. Paddy Butler's book (The Extraordinary Story of Mary Elmes) on the Irishwoman who won widespread and deserving acclaim for her efforts to save Jewish children during the Second World War, and, more recently, Marion McGarry's book Irish Rituals and Customs: How our ancestors celebrated life and the seasons, come to mind. Books with themes and preoccupations that overlap with the themes and preoccupations that Fr Gearóid wrestled with throughout his varied life as priest, scholar and writer .
A little bit about this interesting book. In Quest, Fr Gearóid explores a range of fascinating subjects, including quantum theory, phenomenology, developments in sociology, eastern mathematics, and the history of the Christian faith. He then applies these ideas to some very practical social and moral dilemmas, arguing that faith and humanity remain the best solution to the sense of meaninglessness people often experience in the modern world. While a book of ideas,Quest is passionately written, with Fr O’Donnchadha drawing on his years of experience as both a priest and university teacher. Fr O’Donnchadha was both a distinguished academic ( he was a lecturer in what is now Munster Technological University),specialising in sociology, and the author of a popular column on social and cultural issues for the Kerryman newspaper. He managed to combine both these vocations in Quest, which is both intellectually stimulating and personal.
On a philosophical level,Quest’s greatest achievement is to blend the phenomenology of Edith Stein and Edmund Husserl with the ‘symbolist interactionist’ theory of George Cooley and Charles Meade, placing the idea of love and empathy (as developed by Husserl and Stein) in dialogue with cutting-edge developments in the social sciences. While grappling with complex ideas in Quest, he is also eager to appeal to the layperson, impress upon them that it is possible to find meaning in the modern world.
Now readers will have an opportunity to wrestle with and enjoy the final book by this interesting thinker.