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James MacGeoghegan



Born at Uisneach, Westmeath, Ireland, 1702; died at Paris, 1763. He came of a long family long settled in Westmeath and long holding a high position among the Leinster chiefs, and was related to that MacGeoghegan who so heroically defended the Castle of Dunboy against Carew, and also to Connell MacGeoghegan, who translated the Annals of Clonmacnoise. Early in the eighteenth century, the penal laws were enacted and enforced against the Irish Catholics, and education, except in Protestant schools and colleges, was rigorously proscribed. Young MacGeoghegan, therefore, went abroad, and received his education at the Irish (then the Lombard) College in Parish, and in due course was ordained priest. Then for five years he filled the position of vicar in the parish of Possy, in the Diocese of Chartres, "attending in choir, hearing confessions and administering sacraments in a laudable and edifying manner". In 1734 he was elected one of the provisors of the Lombard College, and subsequently was attached to the church of St-Merri in Paris. He was also for some time chaplain to the Irish troops in the service of France; and during these years he wrote a "History of Ireland". It was written in French and published at Parish in 1758. It was dedicated by the author to the Irish Brigade, and he is responsible for the interesting statement that for the fifty years following the Treaty of Limerick (1691) no less than 450,000 Irish soldiers died in the service of France. MacGeoghegan's "History" is the fruit of much labour and research, though, on account of his residence abroad, he was necessarily shut out from access to the manuscript materials of history in Ireland, and had to rely chiefly on Lynch and Colgan. Mitchel's "History of Ireland" professes to be merely a continuation of MacGeoghegan, though Mitchel is throughout much more of a partisan than MacGeoghegan.

E. A. D'Alton.








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