John Gray [Sir]

Life
1816-1875; b. Claremorris, Co. Mayo; supporter of O’Connell’s Home Rule Movement; he was tried with O’Connell in 1843-44; ed. Freeman’s Journal, sole proprietor, 1841 [var. 1850], and keen ally of Parnell; elected Lord Mayor of Dublin; centrally concerned in installing Dublin water supply; issued Observations on House and General Sewerage &c. (1855); Speech of John Gray ... in Vindication of the Municipal Council of Dublin (1864); there is a monument to him on O’Connell St.; his son Edmund Dwyer Gray (d.1888) succeeded him as proprietor of the Freeman and greatly expanded the circulation but moved its allegiance to Tim Healy. DIB DIH DUB

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Works
Observations on House and General Sewerage [ ... &c. ] (Dublin: Hodges & Smith 1855); Speech of John Gray [ ...] in Vindication of the Municipal Council of Dublin (Dublin: John Falconer 1864).

The Church Establishment in Ireland: Freeman’s Journal Church Commission (Duffy 1868), xv, 406pp. [Hyland Books Cat. 214];

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Criticism
‘The Gray Testimonial’, Freeman’s Journal (14 Aug 1861) and notices in Irish Builder ( 15 Aug. 1861 & 1 July 1879); Felix M. Larkin, ‘“A Great Daily Organ”: the Freeman’s Journal, 1763-1924’, in History Ireland (May-June 2006), pp.44-49 [account of Sir John Grey and his son Edmund Dwyer Grey].

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Commentary
Richard Kain, Dublin in the Age of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce (Oklahoma UP 1962; Newton Abbot: David Charles 1972): ‘A favourite joke among Dubliners is to explain to visitors that Sir John Gray’s exploits are to be found on the back of his statue in O’Connell Street. When the curious stop to read, they find the pediment blank.’ (p.17.)

Donald Torchiana, Backgrounds for Joyce’s Dubliners (1986), pp.215-16, gives a full account of the Gray family members, their record in national politics and public life, and the dismissive treatment meted out to them (‘None of the Grays was any good’) in Joyce’s story  “Grace”.

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Notes
Edmund Dwyer Gray (1845-1888), Sir John Gray’s son, inherited the Freeman’s Journal and was proprietor of the Belfast Morning News; MP for Tipperary, Carlow and St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin during 1877-1888; issued The Plantation at Coolgreany (Dublin: Freeman’s Journal 1890), and Treatment of Political Prisoners in Ireland (Dublin: Freeman’s Journal 1889). He expanded the Freeman’s Journal to 30,000 daily circulation and converted to Catholicism on marriage to an English Catholic wife, Caroline Chisholm (dg. of Dickens’s Mrs. Jellyby in Bleak House), who controlled the paper with 40% capital at the time of the Parnell split.

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