This article explores the lay-clerical relationship in Catholic Ireland from 1850 to the 1930s through an analysis of oratory, rhetoric, and storytelling. It examines how words, speech, and storytelling constructed and complicated the lay-clerical relationship. The Catholic priest's spoken word was a valuable tool in his parish mission; by preaching and making announcements from the pulpit, he transmitted the ideas of Ireland's postfamine Catholic revival, known as the “devotional revolution,” to the laity. Yet as the Catholic Church came to dominate much of cultural life and the position of the parish priest expanded, he sometimes found his authority undermined by parishioners who challenged his clerical performances and who employed their own forceful words and long-standing oral traditions, including legends and storytelling, to qualify clerical power. As a result, the local existence of the Irish Catholic priest was complicated and contested, and the Catholic laity successfully tempered and moderated clerical power.