John Egan

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Egan, John, Chairman of Kilmainham, was born, probably about 1750, at Charleville, County of Cork, where his father was a Church clergyman. He entered Trinity College as a sizar, studied law in London, and after his return home married a widow lady of some fortune. In March 1789 he entered Parliament as member for Ballinakill; and from 1790 to the period of the Union, sat for Tullagh. He was a noted duellist. A contemporary account says: "In person he much resembles Fox; in manner he is rough, boisterous, and overbearing." He once fought with his intimate friend, Curran, fortunately without serious consequences. Egan complained of the great advantage his size gave to his adversary: "I'll tell you what, Mr. Egan," said Curran, "I wish to take no advantage of you whatever. Let my size be chalked out on your side, and I am quite content that every shot which hits outside that mark should go for nothing." In after life there were few of his old friends of whom Curran was accustomed to speak with greater affection than of Egan. In 1799 he was appointed Chairman of Kilmainham. His means were by that time reduced, and the post was then almost his only source of income. The office depended upon Government favour, and it was intimated that his support of the Union would lead to further advancement. As the final debate on the question proceeded, it was seen that he was writhing under conflicting emotions; at length he rose, delivered a furious speech against the Union, and sat down exclaiming: "Ireland — Ireland for ever and damn Kilmainham!" He died, it is said in poverty, May 1810, aged about 60. A writer in Notes and Queries, 2nd Series, suggests that Egan was the author of a number of letters on political characters of the day, that appeared during his life-time in the Dublin Evening Post, signed "Junius Hibernicus."

Sources

87. Cornwallis, Marquis, Correspondence: Charles Ross. 3 vols. London, 1859.
Cotton, Rev. Henry, see No. 118.

96. Curran and his Contemporaries: Charles Phillips. Edinburgh, 1850.

254. Notes and Queries. London, 1850-'78.
O'Callaghan, John C., see No. 186.

291. Public Characters of 1798. Dublin, 1799.

338. Walker's Hibernian Magazine. Dublin, 1771-1811.
Walker, Joseph C, see Nos. 20, 108.

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