Bishop Thomas Lewis O'Beirne

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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O'Beirne, Thomas Lewis, Bishop of Meath, was born in the County of Longford in 1747. He was intended for the Catholic priesthood, and was sent with his brother to St. Omer's; but eventually joined the Established Church. Much of his success in life has been attributed to a chance meeting with Charles Fox and the Duke of Portland at an inn in England. He was appointed chaplain in the British fleet under Lord Howe; and whilst in this service published a pamphlet in defence of his patron, the Admiral.

In 1782 he accompanied the Duke of Portland, Lord-Lieutenant, to Ireland as his private secretary. He was in 1791 collated to the rectory of Templemichael and vicarage of Mohill, in the diocese of Ardagh, where his brother was at the same time a parish priest. In 1795 he became chaplain to Lord Fitzwilliam, who obtained for him the bishopric of Ossory, whence, in 1798, he was translated to Meath. In his place in the Irish House of Lords he objected to the recall of Lord Fitzwilliam, and was one of those peers who voted against the Union and signed the Lords' Protest.

As a preacher he was highly esteemed. "He was occasionally sublime, frequently pathetic, and always intelligible to his auditors... His person was of the middle size and slight; his face was thin and expressive." Cotton gives a list of his numerous sermons, charges, and pamphlets. He died at Ardbraccan, 17th February 1823, aged 76, and was there buried. During his episcopate fifty-seven churches and seventy-two glebe houses were built in his diocese.

Sources

6. Annual Biography. London, 1817-'27.

118. Ecclesiae Hiberniae Fasti: Rev. Henry Cotton: Indices by John R. Garstin, M.A. 5 vols. Dublin, 1851-'60.

154. Grattan Henry, his Life and Times: Henry Grattan. 5 vols. London, 1839-'46.

265. O'Leary, Rev. Arthur, Life and Writings: Rev. M. B. Buckley. Dublin, 1868.
O'Hanlon, Rev. J., see Nos. 3a, 192, 267, 274.

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