Patrick Duigenan

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Duigenan, Patrick, LL.D., was born in the County of Leitrim in 1735. His father, whose name was in Irish O'Duibhgeannain, intended him for the priesthood. The boy's talents attracted the notice of a Protestant clergyman, who made him tutor in his school. Before long he became a Protestant, entered Trinity College, gained a fellowship in 1761, and was called to the Bar. He took an active part against the appointment of John Hely Hutchinson as Provost, and displayed his satirical powers in a series of squibs and pamphlets. It is said that being challenged on one occasion, and given the choice of weapons, he took the field armed with a loaded blunderbuss, which so astounded his opponent, that he was glad to settle the quarrel amicably. Duigenan became an active partizan of the Government in opposition to Grattan and the national party.

In 1785 he was appointed Advocate-General to the King, and in 1790 he entered Parliament. He strenuously supported the Act of Union, was named one of the Commissioners for distributing compensation under it, entered the Imperial Parliament, and was eventually appointed a member of the Irish Privy Council. To the last he opposed all measures of Catholic relief. "Dr. P. Duigenan was a rich original, and in his day no inconsiderable personage; not that he excelled in learning or in talent, though of both he had a fair proportion, but because he established himself as a kind of anti-Papal incarnation, and thereby collected a very considerable party."[96] "He adopted that method which is still employed by some politicians, of exhuming all the immoral sentiments of the schoolmen, the Jesuit casuists, and the mediaeval councils, and parading them continually before Parliament and before the country." Curran said that his speeches were "like the unrolling of a mummy — nothing but old bones and rotten rags... The nation to whom he owed his birth he slandered; the common people from whom he sprung, he vituperated; and the religion of his wife he persecuted; he abused the people; he abused the Catholics; he abused his country; and the more he calumniated his country, the more he raised himself."[154]

He was amiable in private life — a kind and indulgent master and a good husband. He even kept a Catholic chaplain for his wife. He himself declared: "I live in the strictest intimacy and friendship with several Roman Catholics, for whom I have the sincerest regard and esteem, knowing them to be persons of the greatest worth, integrity, and honour." He was for a time Vicar-General of Armagh. He is described as dressing in an antiquated manner, with a brown bob wig and Connemara stockings. He died about 1826. In 1771 he published a book of 326pp.: Lachrymae Academicae, or the Present Deplorable State of the College, levelled against the appointment of Hely Hutchinson as Provost.

Sources

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

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

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