Walter MacDonald


Life
1854-1920; b. June, Emil, Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny; ed. St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny and Maynooth; ord. 1876; taught at St Kieran’s; Professor of Dogmatic Theology, Maynooth, 1881; also briefly Professor of Canon Law; head of the Dunboyne Establishment; published Motion, Its Origin and Conservation (1898), on relation between theology and science, and placed on the Index Librorum as contrary to doctrine on Free Will, Dec. 1898; five subsequent theological works refused imprimatur;
 
promoted open competition and academic tenure for professorial staff; permitted to publish Principles of Moral Science (1903), on ethical principles transmitted by tradition; fnd. Irish Theological Quarterly, but forced to withdraw from editorial committee; supported Charles Stewart Parnell after the split; supported Vatican appeal of Fr. Michael O’Hickey against dismissal; supported James Larkin;
 
friend of Sean O’Casey; urged reforms in the managerial system in National Education; supported right of Catholics to enter TCD; published Some Ethical Questions of Peace and War (1919), Some Ethical Aspects of the Social Question (1920); d. 2 May, Maynooth; Reminiscences of a Maynooth Professor, edited by Denis Rolleston Gwynn (1925); his A History of the Parish of Mooncoin appeared in 1960. DIB DIH

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Works
Some Ethical Questions of Peace and War, with special reference to Ireland [1919; rep. in ‘Classics of Irish History’], with an introduction by Tom Garvin (UCD Press 1998), 160pp.; Denis Rolleston Gwynn, ed., Reminiscences of a Maynooth Professor (London: Johnathan Cape 1925).

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Criticism
Louise Fuller, ‘Walter McDonald’s window on Maynooth, 1870-1920’, in Evangelicals and Catholics in Nineteenth-century Ireland, ed. James H. Murphy (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2005) [Chap. 11].

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Quotations
Reminiscences of a Maynooth Professor, ed. Denis Gwynn [London 1925; rep. edn. (Cork: Mercier Press 1967): ‘[Revolution] which the official guardians of our religion will not comm, coming, or will endeavour to keep out with their broomsticks.’ (p.269.) Further: ‘History … proves that laws have been better made and better observed since subjects became free to criticise them ... and there would be ever so much less for history to record, with shame and tears, if there had been more criticism, reverent but fearless, of those who occupied high places, even in the Church, in the past.’ (ibid., p.227.) [Both the foregoing quoted in Ruth Fleischmann, ‘Knowledge of the World as the Forbidden Fruit: Canon Sheehan and Joyce on the Sacrificium Intellectus’, pp.127-37; in A Small Nation’s Contribution to the World, ed. Donald E. Morse, et al., eds,. Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1993, p.136. )

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Patrick Maume - writing on Ethical Questions of Peace and War and Comments on Some Criticisms Received by Rev. Walter MacDonald: "These are interesting because they are exceptions to the rule [i.e., separatists emphasising jus ad bellum, imperialists jus in bellum] since MacDonald - who was a Maynooth professor and wrote from a Parnellite home rule standpoint - argues, against attempts by to justify the IRA campaign by reference to Catholic just war theory, that the British Crown had acquired legitimate authority over Ireland by prescription and consequently the Dail government was not a legitimate sovereign entitled to wage war. It would also be worth extending the analysis to the Civil War, since some Republicans certainly argued that the Treaty should be rejected on the grounds that by accepting Irish sovereignty as a grant from the British Crown they would be retrospectively admitting that the Crown had previously possessed legitimate authority over Ireland, and thus that the Dail government had not been entitled to wage war and the War of Independence had been a mere murder campaign." (Posted on the DIASPORA E-List - online, 1 March 2012.)

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