George Simms

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George Otto Simms (4 July 1910 – 15 November 1991) was an archbishop in the Church of Ireland.

Early life and education[edit]

George Otto Simms was born on the 4 July 1910 in North Dublin in Ireland to parents John Francis A Simms & Ottilie Sophie Stange both from Lifford Co, Donegal as per his birth Certificate. He also attended the Prior School in Lifford for a time. He went on to study at Trinity College, Dublin, where he was elected a Scholar, having previously attended Cheltenham College, a public school in the United Kingdom.

Clerical and scholarly career[edit]

He became a deacon in 1935 and a priest in 1936, serving his title at St Bartholomew's, Clyde Street, Dublin under Canon Simpson.

In 1937 he took a position in Lincoln Theological College but returned to Dublin in 1939 to become Dean of Residence in Trinity College Dublin and Chaplain Secretary of the Church of Ireland College of Education. He was appointed Dean of Cork in 1952; consecrated a bishop, he served as Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, between 1952 and 1956. At forty-two, he was the youngest Church of Ireland clergyman appointed to a Bishopric since John Gregg in 1915.[1]

He served as Archbishop of Dublin, from 1956 to 1969. During this time, he maintained a courteous relationship with John Charles McQuaid, his Roman Catholic counterpart as Archbishop of Dublin.[2]

From 1969 to 1980, he served as Archbishop of Armagh. He was a scholar, and published research on the history of the Church of Ireland and on the Book of Kells. He was also a fluent speaker of the Irish language.[3]

Alongside Cardinal William Conway, Simms chaired the first official ecumenical meeting between the leaders of Ireland's Protestant Churches and the Catholic Church in Ballymascanlon Hotel, Dundalk, Co. Louth on 26 September 1973, an important meeting amidst the increasing violence in Northern Ireland. The meeting was protested by Ian Paisley.[4]

The Most Rev. Dr George Otto Simms is interred with his wife, Mercy Felicia née Gwynn (1915–1998), in the cemetery attached to St. Maelruain's Church, Tallaght, County Dublin.


  • For Better, for Worse, 1945
  • The Book of Kells: a short description, 1950
  • (ed with E. H. Alton and P. Meyer) The Book of Kells (facsimile edn), Berne, 1951
  • The Bible in Perspective, 1953
  • Christ within Me, 1975
  • Irish Illuminated Manuscripts, 1980
  • In My Understanding, 1982
  • Tullow's Story, 1983
  • (with R. G. F. Jenkins) Pioneers and Partners, 1985
  • Angels and Saints, 1988
  • Exploring the Book of Kells, 1988
  • Brendan the Navigator, 1989


  1. ^ Daithí Ó Corráin, Rendering to God and Caesar: The Irish churches and the two states in Ireland, 1949–73 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006), p. 71.
  2. ^ Ibid, p. 184.
  3. ^ Ibid, p. 81.
  4. ^ Ibid, p. 226.
  • Daithí Ó Corráin, Rendering to God and Caesar: The Irish churches and the two states in Ireland, 1949–73, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006).
  • Lesley Whiteside: George Otto Simms: A Biography, (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1990).
Religious titles
Preceded by
Arthur William Barton
Archbishop of Dublin
Succeeded by
Alan Alexander Buchanan
Preceded by
James McCann
Archbishop of Armagh
1969– 1980
Succeeded by
John Armstrong