[Fr.] Michael O’Hickey

Life
1860-1916; b. 12 March, Carrickbeg, Co. Waterford; son of a Fenian; ed. CBS Carrick-on-Suir, St. John’s College, Waterford; ord. 1884; Scottish Mission to 1893; PP, Kill; Diocesan inspector of schools, 1895; succeeded Eugene O’Growney as Professor of Irish, Maynooth; The Irish Langue Movement (1902), calling for cultural self-reliance; vice-President of Gaelic League, 1903; obliged by hierarchy to quit office in the League, 1903; involved in agitation to make Irish compulsory in NUI matriculation; publicly attacked Cardinal Logue and other members of the hierarchy as a ‘worthless faction’ and authors of ‘squalid and foolish apostasy’; published An Irish University - Or Else and The Irish Bishops and an Irish University (both 1909) reprimanded and finally dismissed by Daniel Mannix, 1909; appealed to Rome with assistance of Dr Walter McDonald, travelling there in 1910; unfavourable verdict, April 1916; d. Portlaw, Co. Waterford, in house of his brother, 19 Nov. DIB DIH

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Criticism
See Lucy McDiarmid, The Irish Art of Controversy (Cornell UP; Dublin: Lilliput Press 2005).

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Commentary
Sean O’Faolain, The Irish: A Character Study (Penguin 1947): ‘All one’s sympathies, mine do at any rate, will go out to that courageous man Dr. O’Hickey, Professor of Gaelic at Maynooth, who was sacked by Maynooth in 1909 because he fought openly for the introduction of compulsory Irishint the National Univesity, who tried to fight his case to Rome, and who, like many another, died without receiving any decision.’ (p.123.)

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Tim Pat Coogan, ‘The Exile’, in Sean McCann, The World of Sean O’Casey (Four Square 1966), pp.120-23: gives account of Far. O’Hickey’s appointment ‘by dint of some brisk lobbying’ and his downfall ‘also cited in the Autbiographies [of O’Casey] as being that of a decent man unjustly done down by the obscurantist hierarchy’ (p.120); regards the injustice as a matter of opinion, narrating the campaign for compulsory Irish on the matriculation course, and O’Hickey’s strident insistence that the ‘names of the nationalist members of the Senate of the proposed new univerisyt … might be rememberes so that “in after times all men may know who were the false and vile in a supreme crisis of Ireland’s forthuen and who the loyal and true”’, commenting, ‘his tone was one with which those who have had occasion to differ from aspects of the language revivalist’s policy, were to become distressingly familiar in the years which followed’ though ‘his speech was delivered to an audience of senior clergy and representatives of the Hierarchy’ (p.122); warned on ‘the necessity of desisting from undaire controversy’; ‘a public testimonial taken up for O’Hickey by language enthusiasts was a flob and into the bargain the unfortunate O’Hickey lost his case when he took it to Rome. He died, an unhappy man, less than ten years after his removal.’ (p.122); Coogan considers for the rest of the article why O’Casey should have sided with him, citing the moderating account of the affair given by Leon O’Broin when Sec. of Posts and Telegraphs in Studies [n.d.]: “They bishops do not seem to have anything to answer … they were entitled to be aggrieved at the leading part one of the priests took agains them and at the intemperate language he used in the course of the debate’ as well as ‘his addresss to a highly inflammable group of students […&c.]”; holds that O’Casey’s ‘refusal to take the same detached view could be either attributable to his partisanship, or to a blind spot caused by his Protestant origins, or by a growing anti-clericalism [… &c.]’. (pp.122).

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