[Fr.] Thomas A. Finlay

Life
1848-1940 [Rev. T. A. Finlay]; b. Co. Cavan, ed. St Patrick’s College, Cavan; St. Acheul, Amiens; and Gregorian University, Rome; joined Jesuits, 1866; ord. 1881; Rector of Belvedere College, 1882-87; Prof. of Economy, UCD and President of University Hall, Dublin; member of the RIA; supporter of Co-operative movement and Vice-President of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society [IAOS]; fnd. with others Lyceum (1887-1893), later merging with New Ireland Review which he edited 1894-1911; assured W. B. Yeats that there was nothing blasphemous in Countess Cathleen prior to production, 1899; his address on trade unionism to the Maynooth Union in 1899 was answered by James Connolly in the Workers’ Republic; issued a serial novel, The Chances of War, publ. in The Irish Monthly (No. 3-5, 1876-75). DIH DUB FDA

[ top ]

Works
Four in Hand (Dublin 1917), contains Our Irish Canals, and Races of Castlebar; also The Chances of War (Dublin n.d.), tale of 1646; With the Army of O’Neill (Dublin n.d.) [school edn.] (See Cathach Books, Cat 12.)

[ top ]

Criticism
Thomas Morrissey, Thomas Finlay SJ, 1848-1940: Educationalist, Editor Social Reformer (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2004) [q.pp.]. See also James Connolly, ‘Father Finlay, S.J., and Socialism’, from Workers’ Republic (1 July 1899) [infra].

[ top ]

Commentary
James Connolly, ‘Father Finlay, S.J., and Socialism’, from Workers’ Republic, 1 July 1899): ‘[...] We would like to remind the reverend lecturer that he did not place before his hearers such a clear and definite idea of the true Socialist position as he himself possesses. In a lecture delivered in Dublin before the Statistical Society, some few years ago he, in dealing with the teachings of Karl Marx – the ablest exponent of Socialism the world has seen, and the founder of that school of thought which embraces all the militant Socialist parties of the world – Father Finlay laid before his hearers an exposition of the evolutionary nature of the Socialist doctrine, its historical derivation and materialistic basis, which is not at all compatible with the crudely false conception of Socialism to be found in the foregoing quotation.’ Further, ‘[...] In face of this fact, which we would most respectfully remind Father Finlay he has himself most lucidly explained ere now, what becomes of his statement at Maynooth that Socialism “had hopelessly broken down wherever it had been tried.” The statement was crudely false, mischievous, and misleading, and Father Finlay would not risk his reputation by repeating it before any audience of scientists in the world. That be thought it quite safe to make such an utterance at Maynooth is an interesting indication of the low estimate in which he held the intellectual grasp of his hearers on the thought of their generation. Socialism has not “broken down wherever it has been tried,” because, being the fruit of an historical evolution yet to he completed, it has never been tried.’ [...; link].

[ top ]

Quotations
‘Those who seek a comprehensive remedy for the sufferings of the working classes look beyond trades unionism. They perceive that they must modify more profoundly the relations between Labour and Capital; to bridge across the chasm dividing them, and so abolish that rivalry of interest out of which has grown so much inhumanity to man. One class of reformers propose to effect this change by the absolute abolition of private capital – by taking capital, or the material instruments of wealth production, out of the hands of the individuals and classes, and making it the property of the community, vesting it in the State. This scheme – the dream of the Socialist – impossible to work out in practice, hopelessly breaking down wherever it has been tried, violates the fundamental conception of all property. What a free man creates by his labour, that is his property; if it is his property he can do with it what he wills – consume it by present use or reserve it for further production. To forbid him the right to reserve it or use it as capital would be to deny him the right to possess property. From this point of view – as well as from others – Socialism is seen to have much in common with slavery.’ (Quoted in James Connolly, ‘Father Finlay, S.J., and Socialism’, from Workers’ Republic, 1 July 1899) [link].

[ top ]

References
Doherty & Hickey, A Chronology of Irish History Since 1500 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1989); offers variant details: ed. Maynooth, ord. 1876; rector of Belvedere, 1882-87; joint Prof. of Mental and Moral Philosophy, UCD, with his br. Peter; fnd. Lyceum Club, 1884; fnd.-ed. Lyceum, 1887-94; co-fnd. with Matthew Russell The Irish Monthly; supported Horace Plunkett; served on committee of IAOS; ed. chairman of Irish Homestead; Prof. of Economy, Royal University and UCD, 1909-30; contrib. New Ireland Review; Studies; The Economic Journal.

[ top ]