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Arthur O'leary

Irish Humour Home




Arthur O'Leary was born in the year 1729, at Acres in the
parish of Fanlobbus, near Dunmanway, in the western part of the County
of Cork. His parents were undistinguished amongst the industrious and
oppressed peasantry, who at the time of his birth suffered under the
operation of the penal laws. The family from which he descended was
early distinguished in Irish history; but if his immediate ancestors
ever enjoyed a higher rank in the social scale than that which is
derived from successful industry, their circumstances had changed long
before his birth, as a name which excited the respect of his countrymen,
and a mind worthy the possessor of such a name, were the only
inheritance of which he could boast.

In the year 1747, after having acquired such share of classical
literature as the times he lived in would permit, O'Leary went to
France, with the intention of devoting himself to the service of the
Catholic Church.

A convent of Capuchin Friars at St. Malo in Brittany, was the school
where O'Leary imbibed the principles of the learning, virtue, and
philanthropy, which during a long life formed the prominent traits in
his character. After having received holy orders, he continued to live
in the monastery for some time.

In the year 1771 he returned to Ireland, and became resident in the city
of Cork. Shortly after his arrival there, he contributed to the erection
of a small chapel, in which he afterwards officiated, and which was
generally known in Cork as Father O'Leary's Chapel. Here he preached
on the Sundays and principal festivals of the year to persons of
different religious persuasions who crowded it to excess when it was
known that he was to appear in the pulpit. His sermons were chiefly
remarkable for a happy train of strong moral reasoning, bold figure, and
scriptural allusion.





Next: His Controversy With An Infidel

Previous: Curran And The Mastiff



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