Hugh MacMahon

Life
1640-1737; [no ODNB article].

Commentary
Gerard O’Brien, ed., Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, collected Essays of Maureen Wall, 1989, Archbishop of Armagh, 1715; active in reorganising the church in Ulster as bishop of Clogher, since 1707; tracked by Edward Tyrrell, and escaped to Flanders for two years, the local magistrates refusing to assist, c.1712; wrote an account there of the state of the church, addressed to the Pope, detailing deprivations of the clergy and the poverty of the people; returned to Ireland 1714; went into hiding in 1720 when a hunt was made for him ensuing on accusations from some apostate priests; established Dominican convent in Drogheda [extant today], 1722. About 1719 the old dispute Primacy broke out between Dublin and Armagh about, bishop Byrne ignoring his summons to Armagh; the Pope supported MacMahon in this case; MacMahon applied himself for many years to writing his famous book, Jus Primatiale Armacanum, setting out in detail the arguments for the primatial dignity and jurisdiction of Armagh; died in Drogheda, 1737 at 77 years of age. [O’Brien/Wall, p.36]. FURTHER, Hugh MacMahon, appointed Bishop of Clogher in 1707, reported to the pope on the state of religion on the island in 1714. In striking contrast to his remarks on Ulster in general [vide supra], he wrote, ‘it is regarded by all as little short of a prodigy how this pilgrimage, though prohibited by name, in the foremost place, and under the most severe penalties by Act of Parliament, suffered little or no interruption from the bitter Scots Calvinists living in the neighbourhood and elsewhere. When I myself visited the place, under the guise of a Dublin merchant, for under the disguise of a trader or tradesman the prelates and non-registered priests of this country generally find it necessary to conceal themselves, the minister of that district received me very kindly. Though everywhere else throughout the kingdom the ecclesiastical functions have ceased, on account of the prevailing persecution; in this island, as if it was placed in another orb, the exercise of religion is free and public, which is ascribed to a special favour of Divine providence, and to the merits of St. Patrick.’ 5,000 persons from all parts of the country made the pilgrimage each year. [idem, 53]

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