Abbe Nicholas MacCarthy

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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MacCarthy, Nicholas, Abbe, was born in Dublin, 19th May 1769. He was educated at the University of Paris, and especially distinguished himself in philosophy and Hebrew. When but fourteen he received the tonsure. The Revolution obliged him to take refuge with his relatives at Toulouse, where his foreign birth enabled him to escape proscription, and he occupied his time in incessant study. The loss of a sister decided him to seek ordination as a priest, at Chambery, 19th June 1814. This step he had put off for twenty years, principally from ill-health, and a fear that he was not competent for the office. His mind was so richly stored with well-arranged materials, that he acquired the power of speaking on almost any subject upon short preparation; it is said that he was able to arrange a sermon in his passage from the sacristy to the pulpit.

His oratorical powers were something remarkable, and he would have been made Bishop of Montauban in 1818, but for his sudden determination to enter the Society of Jesus. His appeals for charitable institutions were as effective as those of his fellow-countryman, Dean Kirwan — persons who had neglected to bring money, laid watches, jewellery, or notes of hand for large amounts on the collection plate. After the Revolution of July 1830, Abbe MacCarthy retired to Italy, where most of his latter days were spent. He died of fever, at Annecy, 3rd May 1833, aged 63. In consequence of his insuperable aversion to writing, few of his sermons have been preserved.

Sources

34. Biographie Générale. 46 vols. Paris, 1855-'66. An interleaved copy, copiously noted by the late Dr. Thomas Fisher, Assistant Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin.

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