The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross is

The Right Reverend Paul Colton
B.C.L., Dip.Th., M.Phil., LL.M., Ph.D.

Born 13 March 1960

Deacon 1984, Priest 1985, Bishop 1999

Bishop Paul Colton was born in Derry on 13th March 1960 while his family were living in Buncrana, Co. Donegal.  His father was from Dublin and his mother from Wexford.  When he was two years old the family moved to live in Cork which he has always considered to be home.

Dr Colton was educated at Saint Luke’s National School, Douglas, Cork; Cork Grammar School; Ashton School, Cork; and at the age of 16 was one of two Irish people awarded a scholarship to attend the Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada which is part of the worldwide United World Colleges movement. During his studies there he worked in the Library Service, played ice-hockey, sang in the College Choir, and travelled throughout Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to the Yukon Territory, as well as across Canada and back during mid-winter on a bus!

In 1978 he returned home to Cork and completed studies in law at University College Cork. He played hockey with UCC Men’s Hockey Club and also renewed his involvement in Cork Church of Ireland Hockey Club to which he belonged from the age of 11. He was actively involved in scouting at every level and sang in the choir of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork. Having been accepted for ordination training he went to the Church of Ireland Theological College (Trinity College, Dublin) in 1981.  During that time he was awarded the Moncrieff Cox Prize for preaching.

He was ordained deacon in 1984 to serve in the Diocese of Connor as curate in the parish of Saint Paul, Lisburn, Co. Antrim. While there, motivated by the desire to create greater understanding and cross-community contact he studied part time for the degree of Master in Philosophy at the Irish School of Ecumenics.

He first met Susan, his wife, while they were both at primary school in Cork.  They married in 1986  in Saint Luke’s Church, Douglas, Cork, by which time Susan’s career as a primary school teacher was well under way.  In 1987 they set up their new home in north Belfast and Bishop Paul was appointed Vicar Choral at Saint Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.  As well as pastoral care of the choir and the cathedral congregation he was responsible for organising significant civic liturgical occasions including royal visits, and specialised in ecumenical and youth work.

In his years in Connor Diocese he served also as Bishop’s Domestic Chaplain (1985-1990); as Minor Canon of Belfast Cathedral (1989-1990) and as secretary of the Down, Dromore and Connor Diocesan Board of Missions. From 1986 to 1990 he was Chairman of Connor Youth Council.

In 1990, at the age of 29, he was appointed Incumbent of Castleknock and Mulhuddart, with Clonsilla in the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough.  During his time in Dublin Diocese he served also as a Priest Vicar, Registrar and Chapter Clerk, at Christ Church Cathedral (1990-1995); as Rural Dean of St Mary (1994-1999); and as Canon of Christ Church Cathedral (1997-1999)

During his time in Dublin Diocese he served on the diocesan committee for the Decade of Evangelism; on Diocesan Council and the Diocesan Glebes and Finance Committee. He was a training member of the Interchurch Marriages Preparation Course (1991-1998) and one of the chaplains to the Association of Interchurch Families.  He worked part-time also as Co-ordinator of Religious Programmes involving the Protestant Churches at Radio Telefís Éireann (1993-1999).  In that connection he became involved as an Honorary Chaplain of the Actors’ Church Union (1994-1997) and as Area Chaplain (Ireland) from 1996-1997.

Bishop Paul’s ecumenical involvements have included membership of the then Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland; (now Churches Together in Britain and Ireland) and as a Member of the Central Committee of the Conference of European Churches from 1992-1997.  He represented the Church of Ireland as a corresponding member in the Meißen Conversations which led to an agreement between the Church of England and the Protestant Church in Germany.  He was Church of Ireland Representative at the Porvoo Conversations and Porvoo Communion Contact Group 1989-1999.

Within the Church of Ireland he has served as a member of the General Synod and briefly as Honorary Secretary of the General Synod (January-March 1999).  Before his ordination as Bishop he was involved in the Committee for Christian Unity, the Liturgical Advisory Committee and served as honorary secretary of the Council for the Church Overseas.

He was elected Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross by an Electoral College on 29th January, 1999 and consecrated on the Feast of the Annunciation (25th March, 1999) in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

He was enthroned in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork on 24 April 1999; in St Colman’s Cathedral, Cloyne on 13 May 1999 and in St Fachtna’s Cathedral, Ross on 28 May 1999.

Quite apart from his work in the Diocese the Bishop’s areas of interest today include a significant number of charities including Saint Luke’s Home for the Elderly in Cork.  He has participated in and contributed in recent years in the European Consortium for Church and State Research. He is very involved in the field of education, on school boards of management, as a governor and as Patron of 20 primary schools and one comprehensive school.  He chairs the Boards of Midleton College.  He is a member of the Board of Education of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland and is chairperson of the Secondary Education Committee. He is one of the five trustees of the Church of Ireland Clergy Pension Trustees Ltd.

The Bishop is also a member of the National Suicide Research Foundation which is based in Cork and a patron of many societies and organisations including the London Cork Association, Ból Chumman na hÉireann, the Ballyphehane Pipe Band, the Cork Mental Health Association, the Surgeon Noonan Society and ICICYMA (Garryduff Sports Centre).  He and all his family are avid supporters of Manchester United Football Club.

He studied part-time for and completed the degree of Master of Laws (Canon Law) in Cardiff University in 2006 .  In May 2013 he successfully defended his PhD in Law at Cardiff Law School.  The Bishop’s area of research related to sources of law – religion law (State law governing religions, religious groups and people), and religious law (law religious groups make for themselves internally), with, naturally, a particular interest in the Church of Ireland.  He continues to be an Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University Law School at the Centre for Law and Religion.

Bishop Paul and Susan Colton have two adult sons.  Susan retired recently after a distinguished career as a primary school teacher, principal and deputy principal.  Her last post was as Deputy Principal at Saint Luke’s National School, Douglas, Cork where both she and the Bishop started their education.

To write to the Bishop please write to:  The Bishop’s Office, Saint Nicholas’ House, 14, Cove Street, Cork, T12 RP40

Residence: The Palace, Bishop Street, Cork, T12 WEY1.



‘The Pastoral Care of the Interchurch Family’ in SEARCH (1997)

‘The Law of Patronage of Schools in Ireland’ in SEARCH (September, 2006)

‘The Pursuit of a Canonical Definition of Membership of the Church of Ireland’ in [2008] 10(1) EccLJ 3

‘Schools and the law: a patron’s introspection’ (2009) Vol 28 No 3 Irish Educational Studies 253

Author of:

“Religion and Law in Dialogue in Ireland” in Religion and Law in Dialogue:Convenantal and Non-convenantal Co-operation between State and Religion in Europe – Religion et Droit en Dialogue:Collaboration Conventionnelle et Non-conventionielle entre l’État et Religion en Europe (Peeters, Leuven, 2006)

‘Churches and Other Religious Organisations in Ireland as Legal Persons’ in Churches and Other Religious Organisations as Legal Persons (Peeters, Leuven, 2007)

‘The Financing of Religious Communities in Ireland’ in B. Basdevant-Gaudemet and S Berlingo The Financing of Religious Communities in the European Union: Le Financement des religions dans les pays d l’Union Europeéne (Peeters, Leuven, 2009)

‘Religion in Public Education in Ireland’ in Gerhard Robbers (ed), Religion in Public Education (European Consortium for Church and State Research, 2011) 227-56

‘The Application of the Freedom of Religion Principles of the European Convention on Human Rights in Ireland’ in Achilles Emilianides (ed), Religious Freedom in the European Union: the Application of the European Convention on Human Rights in the European Union (Peeters, Leuven, 2011)

‘Irlande’ in F Messner, Dictionnaire du Droit des Religions (CNRS Éditions, Paris, 2010)

‘Religion in Criminal Law in Ireland’ in N Doe and M Kotiranta (eds), Religion and Criminal Law – Religion et Droit Pénal (Peeters, Leuven, 2013)

‘Ireland’ in G Robbers and C Cole (eds), The Encyclopedia of Law and Religion – 5 Volume Set (Brill/Nihoff, Leiden, 2016) ISBN 978 90 04 23683 6

‘The rise of ecclesiastical quasi-legislation’ in Frank Cranmer, Mark Hill QC, Celia Kenny and Russell Sandberg (eds), The Confluence of Law and Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2016)

‘Midleton College and the Church of Ireland’ in Trevor West: The Bold Collegian (Lilliput Press, 2016) ISBN 9781843516767


The Bishop’s Office
St. Nicholas House
14 Cove Street
T12 RP40

Loc8 Code: WCR-42-T36

The Bishop’s Secretary
Denise Stobart

Telephone: +353 21 500 5080

Email the Bishop’s Secretary

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