Ffrench was a descendant of The Tribes of Galway, though by the 18th century his family had become Protestant. His father, Edmund, was Mayor of Galway and the town's Protestant Warden. In 1761 he, as Mayor, signed the notorious "manifesto of intolerance, known as The Black Petition.
In 1794 Ffrench was accepted as a Dominican postulant in The Claddagh priory of Galway. He took the habit at Esker monastery, Athenry; his name in religion was Martin, but it was a name he never used. He studied in Lisbon where he was ordained in about 1804. From 1806 to 1810 he served at St. Michan's, Dublin.
He was the last Warden of Galway, elected despite been ineligible as a member of a religious order. His term was turbulent. He was criticised for not ending the disputes between the religious orders and the secular clergy. However, he did succeed in bringing the Presentation Sisters to the town, as well as building 'St. Nicholas's parish chapel', later the Pro-Cathedral, on Middle and Lower Abbeygate Streets. The Wardenship was brought to an end in 1831, being absorbed into the new Diocese of Galway. Between 1824 (consecrated 1825) and his death he also served as Bishop of Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.
Ffrench retired to Thornville, Kinvara, building some nine churches, and aiding in school education. Towards the end of his life he lived near his sister, Mrs. Blake-Forster, at Park Lodge, Gort. He died on 14 July 1852 and was buried in the grave of Colman mac Duagh. His sister was grandmother to the writer Charles French Blake-Forster.
|Warden of Galway