Early life and education
Neil Farren was born in Buncrana and received his secondary education at St. Columb's College in Derry. He was an outstanding academic. He graduated from University College, Dublin with first class honours BA in 1914. He received a Bachelor of Divinity and a Doctor of Divinity from Maynooth College in 1916 and 1918, respectively. At the end of World War 1, in 1918, he was ordained to the priesthood for service in the Derry Diocese. After ordination, he took on postgraduate studies at the Gregorian University, Rome, and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Canon Law for his (later published) thesis Domicile and Quasi-Domicile. As a priest, he taught in Derry and became President of St. Columb's College in Derry at the age of 35, and served in this post from 1928 until 1939 when he was appointed bishop. He was bishop when the building of the new St. Columb's College was begun. He was a brilliant mathematician and administrator who had an interest in design also, e.g. he designed the St. Columb's College crest and suggested to architect, Liam Mc Cormack, to base the design for a new St. Aengus church, Burt, Co. Donegal, on the ancient Grianan of Aileach ring fort that stands on a hill above what is today the architectural award-winning, circular, church building.
He was Ireland's youngest bishop when appointed and during the Second World War he was appointed "ordinary" of the American forces in Ireland, and his services were recognised by the award of the United States Medal of Freedom, an award bestowed on few others.
He was bishop during 'the Troubles' in Derry, and during 'Bloody Sunday'. During his time as bishop he campaigned for a University in Derry. He participated in the second Vatican Council in Rome (1962-65). He took an active interest with his Church of Ireland counterpart, Bishop Peacock, in seeking to restore peace among the communities in Derry, and he engaged with civil rights leaders, Eddie Mc Ateer and John Hume. A book about Dr. Farren was written by Rev. Bernard Canning of the Paisley diocese.
An obituary recalled that he became bishop at a time of rapid expansion and that he "opened 25 new schools, 23 new post-primary schools and many more primary schools." 
He served as Bishop of Derry until his 80th birthday in 1973 and then, as apostolic administrator until the appointment of Dr. Edward Daly as his successor in 1974.Bishop Farren died on 7 May 1980 having spent his retirement in his native Buncrana. His remains are interred to the right of the main entrance of St. Eugene's Cathedral, Derry. Next to his remains lie the remains of his successor, Dr. Edward Daly. St Eugene's Cathedral - The Exterior</ref>
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