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pleting his theological course in Ireland, as well as the circumstances of the times allowed, he was ordained priest, in 1618. He then set out for Rouen, where he prosecuted the study of canon law in the same school with the justly celebrated John Lynch, author of "Cambrensis Eversus," "Alithinologia," "Icon Antistitis," etc., etc. Having distinguished himself in every department of academic lore, and earned the reputation of a rare scholar, he returned to his native diocess-deprived of a bishop since the death of Richard Brady*-and was appointed vicar apostolic of Kilmore, in 1625. Two years afterwards he was consecrated bishop of that ancient see, by Fleming, archbishop of Dublin, in St. Peter's, Drogheda. During his government of the see of Kilmore, Fleming of Dublin, Dease† of Meath, and other prelates, were engaged in a controversy, about certain exemptions on which the mendicant orders insisted as their right; and among the bishops who then decided in their favour was Hugh Kilmore, who, by an instrument signed with his hand and seal, in June, 1627, declared that the Regulars were not bound to contribute, of their precarious income, to the maintenance of the ordinary or of the parishpriests of the diocess in which their convents were situated.
In the year immediately following, Boyle, earl of Cork, and Loftus, viscount Ely, were appointed lord's justices, in the absence of deputy Falkland, and these two unscrupulous persecutors availed themselves of their ample powers to harass the unfortunate Catholics, fining them for absenting themselves from the protestant churches, and having their children baptized by their legitimate pastors. Not satisfied with this mode of extortion, they gave a sort of roving commission to a staff of greedy officials, whom they styled surveyors of bells and parish churches," empowering them to go through the country, in order to report "on the state of religious edifices;" and while on this tour of inspection, "to cess themselves on the papists for chickens and bacon, and to arrest all suspected dignitaries of the "Romish religion." On arriving in the neighbourhood of Kilmore, where, in virtue of their high powers, all the hen-roosts and hog-styes were placed under contribution, they were informed that Hugh O'Reilly, a popish bishop, had presumed to exercise his functions in that quarter, ordaining, confirming, and administering other sacraments; and they at once resolved to carry him to Dublin, if they could lay hands on such a
*He died at Multifernam, in 1607.
† Dease was a true friend to the religious orders, and to the Capuchins especially, for he empowered the latter to establish a convent in Drogheda-"in civitate nostra Pontanensi”—in 1635. In 1629 he and Dr. Fleming bore testimony to the great good which the said order effected in their respective dioceses; and it may not be out of place to quote here a portion of the archbishop's letter :-"Nos in Domino agnoscimus, et attestamur eos (Capucinos), tametsi paucos numero (quod satis dolendum est) haud solum ab odore suavi exemplaris vitæ, sed etiam ab actionis piæ assiduo fructu esse laudatos passim, ita quod omne genus hominum per civitates et villas turmatim illos adeant."
This office was created in Queen Elizabeth's time, and so highly were its emoluments prized by the "Reformers," that Sir Ralph Lane petitioned for it in 1596.
daring delinquent. The bishop, however, took refuge in the homesteads of his poor flock, and notwithstanding the temptation of large rewards, none could be got with enough baseness or treachery to surrender him to his enemies. How often, in those evil times, have the catholic prelates found, in the rude cabin of an Irish peasant, that shelter and protection which they could not hope to get within the moated mansions, inhabited by wealthy lords of their own communion! Another incident, which we cannot pretermit, will show that, at the period of which we are writing, the life or liberty of a catholic bishop weighed very lightly in the estimation of an English lord-deputy or his substitutes.
We must first, however, premise that the Pope, after a year's deliberation, resolved to confer the primacy on Hugh Kilmore, and that the bull sanctioning his translation to the archiepiscopal see reached Ireland, in 1627. Nevertheless, he did not exercise primatial jurisdiction before 1630, as the pallium was not sent to him till the last-named period, when he was succeeded in the see of Kilmore by Eugene Sweeney.* Let us now revert to the incident to which we have alluded.
When about to leave the scene of his earliest labours, Hugh, now archbishop elect of Armagh, asked Father Cahill, parish priest of SS. Michael and John to get a Dublin artist to make two seals,† one bearing the arms of Kilmore, for the newly-appointed bishop, the other for himself, with the insignia of the primacy. Cahill executed his commission, but no sooner were the lords justices made aware of this simple fact, which they regarded as an illegal assumption of ecclesiastical titles, than they issued their lettrede-cachet for the arrest of the priest, whom, as they could not lay hands on the principal delinquent, they flung into the dungeon of Dublin Castle, from which he fortunately escaped after a lengthened imprisonment. We mention this circumstance solely to show how intolerant was the bigotry of the executive at the period, and how delighted those justices would have been to trample under foot such a dignitary as Hugh, archbishop of Armagh, had he had the misfortune to cross their path. As for the latter, be it told to his honour, he was not unmindful of what Cahill had suffered in his behalf; for, at a subsequent period, when the poor man was
* As we may not have opportunity to speak of this prelate again, suffice it to notice that he was educated at Rouen, where he received priest's orders, in 1618. After Cromwell's subjugation of Ireland, he fled to Dartry, and concealed himself in Glenenda, whither he was followed by multitudes of his poor flock. He was the only bishop who remained in Ireland during the protectorate and commonwealth. At the Restoration he was allowed to exercise his functions; and on the death of O'Reilly, he was appointed vice-primate. He held a synod at Bawn-buidhe, county Cavan, in 1669, and died in October of same year. Dr. Maxwell, the protestant bishop, allowed his remains to be buried in the cathedral of Kilmore, and this simple fact is a conclusive answer to the calumnies Bedell's biographer, who represents bishop Sweeney in the most odious light.
†The writer possesses the matrix of the seal used by Hugh O'Reilly, when vicar-apostolic of Kilmore. It is made of brass, and bears the O'Reilly arms with this legend, "Hugo Rellius Kilmoren. Vic. Apost." For this venerable relic Rev. Mr. O'Connell, president of Kilmore seminary, will accept M's grateful thanks.
entangled in some difficulties about canonical institution in his parish, the primate generously came to his rescue, and had him rehabilitated.*
On taking possession of the see of Armagh, O'Reilly's first act was to convoke a synod of his clergy at Drogheda, where, among other ordinances he enacted stringent laws against the use of chalices made of tin and other base metals; for the plunder of the churches and the confiscation of six counties in Ulster, after the attainder of the Earls, had impoverished both clergy and people, and compelled the former to celebrate the divine offices as best they could, and without strict observance of the rubric, as far as altar requirements were concerned. Another matter of no less interest to his pastoral vigilance was the depravation of morals then pervading all classes in the see of Armagh; for the new colonists, or "undertakers," as they were called, had imported with them vicious habits hitherto unknown to the Irish. To guard his poor flock against such corruption and contagion, O'Reilly laboured incessantly, and it was his good fortune to find that his efforts were crowned with success; for the survivors of the wars of Tyrone not only clung with fidelity to the religion of their fathers, but kept themselves uncontaminated by the profligate example of the planters, who had ousted them from their lands. While thus reforming the discipline of the clergy, and reconciling the dispossessed laity to their hard lot, O'Reilly had to proceed with greatest caution, frequently administering confirmation in the woods or on the hill-sides, and occasionally resorting to some sheeling improvised for the celebration of mass. Withal, in the face of those multiplied difficulties, he bore himself enduringly and courageously as beseemed a great archbishop, with the blood of an ancient and noble race in his veins. When the representatives of the old septs grew wrathful, and would have thought it not ill done to slay the "colonists," for whom they had been evicted from their rightful inheritance, he had only to instance the calamities which had befallen his own family and kindred, in order to stay the uplifted hand and angry blow; but when he addressed himself to their religious sensibilities, and showed that sufferings and oppressions have ever been the portion of the predestined, and that God, in his own good time might foreclose the term of endurance, they listened to him with reverence, and drew hope and comfort from his holy counsels. For fully eleven years before the rising of 1641, archbishop O'Reilly was obliged to discharge all the functions of his office as it were clandestinely; for, to say nothing of the anti-catholic settlers who were then scattered over Ulster, the principal towns of his see were garrisoned by troops, who, in their fanatic horror of prelacy of any denomination, would have deemed it a goodly act to imprison or hang him. We can, therefore, understand how it is that the foresaid term of his primacy is not characterized by any of those demonstrative proceedings which would have been inseparable from his dignity and position under other and better circumstances. There is, however, one fact connected with the early years of his archiepiscopal
* For many intere ting particulars about this priest and the clergy of Dublin at this period, see Gilbert's Dublin.
government which we may not pass over-his earnest but unsuccessful attempt to have the Gregorian calendar universally observed, not only in his own diocess, but throughout all Ireland. In fact, he was the first Irish bishop who endeavoured to supplant the old Julian computation; but his efforts in that regard did not succeed, as the attempt was generally viewed in the light of a strange innovation.
Pretermitting all notice of the crueltics and bitter oppression which justified the Insurrection of 1641, we have only to state, that archbishop O'Reilly, like the other members of the Irish hierarchy, did his utmost to restrain the violence of the people, who would have wreaked vengeance on their persecutors, had they been left to their own wild instincts, at that momentous crisis. With Sir Phelim O'Neill and Magennis, lord Iveagh, he employed his great influence, urging them to keep the armed multitudes in check, and to prevent, as far as in them lay, the massacre and pillage of protestants. Such salutary restraint, enforced by the exhortations of the primate, produced most merciful results; for the northern chieftains, and the rude array they commanded at the first outbreak, respected him too much to violate the lessons of forbearance and charity which he perseveringly inculcated. It is not our province to deal with the gross misrepresentations which have been written of the conduct of the Irish insurgents at this period, or with the horrid calumnies heaped on the head of Phelim O'Neill and his followers, for they cannot stand the test of historical criticism; but we may safely assert, that archbishop O'Reilly's interposition saved many a life, and protected innumerable homesteads from fire and sword. Borlase, Temple, and others, have utterly ignored his interference on behalf of the protestant colonists, who were then wholly at the mercy of the insurgents; but we have only to repeat that the highly-coloured exaggerations of those lying writers would wear some show of truth, if he had not interposed his high authority to curb the fierce impulses of men who had become desperate by reason of the flagrant injustice to which they had been subjected in their religion and estates.
At length, when the revolution had spread through the midland and Munster provinces, and the lords of the pale found it necessary to arm for their lives and freedom of religion, archbishop O'Reilly bethought him that the movement might be shaped into a national organization, which, if supported by an efficient senate, treasury, and army, would be able to sustain the king against his enemies, and secure for the Irish catholics the repeal of all those cruel laws, which pressed so heavily on them since the apostacy of Henry VIII. This, indeed, was a grand idea, worthy the brain of a great statesman, and never since then, or before that period, has Ireland produced so great a prelate as he who originated the catholic con confederacy.
Devoting all his energies to this grand object, primate O'Reilly convened a provincial synod at Kells, early in March, 1642, when the bishops declared that the war undertaken by the Irish people, for their king, religion, and country, was just and lawful. In the May following, he caused a national synod, composed of prelates and lay lords, to meet at Kilkenny,
where, after having ratified their former declaration, they framed an oath of association, to be taken by all their adherents, binding them to maintain the fundamental laws of Ireland, the free exercise of religion, and true allegiance to king Charles. Both synods were attended by the entire of the Irish hierarchy, either personally or by proxy, with the exception of Thomas Dease, bishop of Meath, whose eventful history is inseparably associated with that of Hugh, archbishop of Armagh.
The family of Dease is one of great antiquity in the county Westmeath, where they possessed considerable landed estates early in the fifteenth century. They were also seized of a goodly property in the county Cavan, and the head of the family, in 1596 and 1630, was Laurence Dease, father of Thomas, who, on the death of his elder brother, succeeded to the entire estate. This Thomas* was born in or about the year 1568, and from his earliest boyhood resolved to embrace the ecclesiastical profession. Having completed his studies at home, where he earned great reputation as a poet in the Celtic tongue, and made himself thoroughly master of classical literature, he was ordained priest, and then proceeded to Paris, where he graduated in theology, philosophy, and canon law, and was honoured with the title of doctor in each of these faculties. Paris was the first scene of his sacerdotal career, and in that city he devoted himself to the performance of the most irksome, yet charitable offices that could fall to the lot of a missionary priest. At length, his piety, learning, and gentle breeding made character for him at Rome, and Gregory XV. named him to the see of Meath. Dease was accordingly consecrated at Paris, in May, 1622, and arrived in Ireland towards the close of the following October. On taking possession of his diocess, he convened a synod of the clergy, and after exhorting them to co-operate with him in reforming many abuses then prevalent, he warned them of the necessity of proving themselves loyal subjects to the English government in all things compatible with conscience. Unqualified loyalty was the fixed and ruling principle of his life, and nothing would have been more paradoxical in his eyes than an attempt to subvert any government, no matter how despotic or unjust. If anything were wanting to heighten Dease's respect for English rule, at the period of which we are writing, he found it, doubtless, in his constant association with his maternal relative, Richard, tenth baron of Delvin, in whose mansion he resided for nearly twenty years after his elevation to the see of Meath. Delvin, it must be recollected, was, in his hot youth, "a rebel," but worked his reconciliation, and saved his estates by turning traitor to O'Neill and O'Donnell, with whom he had, according to his own confession, plotted, in 1607, to subvert the government of sir Arthur Chichester. Grown old and very religious, he regretted the past, and I ke many another pardoned revolutionist, found it safest policy to make a parade of his loyalty, and to denounce on all occasions the abettors of any attempt at insurrection. The interests of the prela e and the baron were in most respects identical, for both were zealous sons of holy Church, aud
* St. Leger, the Jesuit, wrote a life of Thomas Dease.