Arthur O'leary

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.

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