Philip O'Sullivan Beare

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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O'Sullivan Beare, Philip, nephew of preceding, son of Dermot O'Sullivan, was born at his father's castle on Dursey Island, late in the 16th century. In February 1602, he was sent to Spain, with some other youths, as hostages for the performance of agreements made between the King and the O'Sullivans. Some time after the fall of Dunboy he was joined by his aged father and mother (who had endured all the horrors of his uncle's retreat), his brother Donald, and his sisters Helen and Nora. He was educated at Compostella, and entered the Spanish navy.

All his leisure for some years, even at sea, was devoted to the composition in Latin of historical and polemical works. He says upon one occasion: "I am practising rather with the sword than with the pen. How few excel in one, much less in both; it is so exceedingly difficult to combine the study and composition of history with the actual realities of military life, especially at sea, where, instead of enjoying the calm of a library, men are the sport of the billows, rocked in the wild heavings of the ocean, and often almost engulfed in the abyss." He maintained a memorable discussion with Archbishop Ussher relative to the ancient Irish Church, in which neither of them was very choice in his language. Ussher calls him "as egregious a liar as any (I verily think), that this day breatheth in Christendom;" while O'Sullivan devotes nearly ten chapters to abuse of his opponent. "Ego te vel Ussherinum ursum rudissime et insulsissime uncantem dimitto ne armata bellua cornibus me petas."

The work upon which his reputation rests is, Historiae Catholicae Iberniae Compendium (Lisbon, 1621), republished with notes by Dr. Kelly of Maynooth, in 1850. It contains Topography, Pilgrimage to St. Patrick's Purgatory, the English in Ireland from the Anglo-Norman Invasion to 1588, and in Book iv. (the most important), a history of O'Neill's and O'Donnell's wars. D'Arcy McGee says: "He stands before us a simple and easily understood character; frank and betimes choleric, with great faith in his own religion, and great devotion to his country." His Patriciana Decas appeared in 1629, and his Archicornigeromastix, Sive Jacobi Usheri Heresiarchae Confutatio some time later. He also wrote numerous tracts, and the lives of some saints, which do not appear to have been published. Not many years after the publication of his Compendium, he lost nearly all his near relations. His sister Helen embarked for Ireland, and was drowned on the voyage; his father died at the age of 100, and was buried in the Franciscan church at Corunna; his brother Daniel was killed in an engagement with the Turks; and his mother soon followed. There remained but one sister, Leonora, who had taken the veil at an early age; and with her, he tells us, he long mourned for the death of his parents, and of the brother and sister that accompanied them into exile.

He died in 1660, as appears by a letter from Father Peter Talbot (afterwards Catholic Archbishop of Dublin) to the Marquis of Ormond, dated from Madrid, the 10th of January 1660. "The Earl of Birhaven," he writes, "is dead, and left one only daughter of twelve years to inherit his titles in Ireland and his goods here, which amount to 100,000 crowns."

Sources

75. Catholicae Iberniae, Historiae: D. P. O'Sullevano Bearro: Edidit Matthaeus Kelly. Dublinii, 1850.

195. Irish Writers of the Seventeenth Century: Thomas D'Arcy McGee. Dublin, 1846.

233. Manuscript and Special Information, and Current Periodicals.

339. Ware, Sir James, Works: Walter Harris. 2 vols. Dublin, 1764.

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