Monsignor Dermot Pius Farrell was born in Castletown-Geoghegan, County Westmeath in 1955. He was educated at St Finian’s College, Mullingar and St Patrick's College, Maynooth. Now an independent affiliate of the newly constituted National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM), St Patrick's houses both the Pontifical University and the National Seminary for Ireland.
Ordained in 1980, Farrell undertook postgraduate studies at Maynooth. He had a brief tenure as curate in Mullingar in 1981. In 1985 he went to Rome to complete his doctorate at the Gregorian University, while serving on the staff of the Pontifical Irish College. On his return to the Diocese of Meath in 1988, he was appointed curate in Tullamore. In 1990 he was appointed to the Faculty of Theology at St Patrick's College, Maynooth.
President of St Patrick's College, Maynooth
In 1993, Farrell was appointed Vice-President and executive secretary to the then President of St Patrick's, Dr Micheál Ledwith, his cousin. Allegations of serious misconduct against President Ledwith led to his resignation. Dr Matthew O'Donnell of the Philosophy Department succeeded him as President. After O'Donnell's sudden death in 2006, Dr Farrell was appointed President of St Patrick's College (Pontifical University and National Seminary). NUI Maynooth was reorganised by the Universities Act 1997, and Dr W.J. Smyth was appointed President of NUIM.
Dr Farrell presided over the revision of the formation programme Pastores Dabo Vobis at St Patrick's. He also supervised the renovation of its heritage buildings. His term as President, however, coincided with a general decline in vocations in the Roman Catholic Church.
During Farrell's tenure, Dr Charles Curran, a controversial U.S. professor of theology, was invited to speak at the McDonagh Conference held at the college. The Conference was held to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the eminent liberal theologian and Professor Emeritus, Fr Enda McDonagh, a native of Bekan. It transpired that Dr Curran had been censured by Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) in 1986, due to his opposition to Roman Catholic Church ban on contraception.
Dr Farrell served as President of St Patrick's College for a decade. He was appointed Parish Priest of Dunboyne, in the Diocese of Meath, effective 1 September 2007. He replaced the retiring Monsignor Edward Dunne. Monsignor Farrell was replaced as President at St Patrick's by the Vice-President and Professor of Moral Theology, Dr Hugh Connolly, of the Diocese of Dromore. Farrell was appointed Vicar-General to the diocese of Meath in October 2009, whilst retaining his position as Parish Priest of Dunboyne/Kilbride.