Conor O’Mahony

Life
b. [prob.] Cork; ed. Portugal; taught University of Evora; author of Disputatio apologetica de iure regni Hiberniae pro Catholicis Hibernis adversus haereticos Anglos: Accessit eiusdem authoris ad eosdem Catholicos exhortatio (Lisbon 1645) - purportedly published in Franfort - being an “explanatory argument” challenging the authority of the Protestant monarchy to rule in Ireland; his book was considered inflammatory and was condemned to be burned by the public executioner by the Confederation of Kilkenny.

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Works
John Minahine, ed., An Argument Defending the Right of the Kingdom of Ireland (1645) [rep. edn.] (Belfast: Aubane Soc. 2010), 231pp. [with an introduction entitled ‘Conor O’Mahony, the 1641 Rebellion and the Independence of Ireland’.

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Criticism
Political Thought in Ireland Since the Seventeenth Century, ed. George Boyce, Robert Eccleshall & Vincent Geoghegan. (London: Routledge, 1993), q.pp., and Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin, ‘“Though Hereticks and Politicians Should Misinterpret Their Goode Zeal”: Political Ideology and Catholicism in Early Modern Ireland’, in Political Thought in Seventeenth-Century Ireland: Kingdom or Colony?, ed. Jane Ohlmeyer ((Cambridge UP 2000) [Chap. 6.]

See also Pádraig Lenihan, ‘Reversing The Conquest’, review of An Argument [... &c.], ed. Minahine, in Dublin Review of Books [DRB], No. 19 [2011] - online.

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Commentary
Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin, ‘“In imitation of that holy patron of prelates the blessed St. Charles”: Episcopal Activity in Ireland and the Formation of a Confessional Identity, 1618-1653’, in The origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland, ed. Alan Ford & John McCafferty (Cambridge UP 2005): ‘[...] Conor O’Mahoney’s [sic] Disputatio Apologetica received no public support from any major clerical figure for its exhortation that the Irish should deprive Charles of his kingship and select a new king of native stock. [... O]ne of the factors predisposing the Catholic clergy to ignore O’Mahoney’s arguments was their lack of tactical utility. In effect, fervent expressions of loyalty to their monartch did not prevent the clergy from utilising the confederate oath of association to insist on the attainment of concessions which they kind both politically and morally was deeply reluctant to grant publicly. Nevertheless, the at times apparently naive insistence of the Catholic clergy that no essential conflict existed between allegiance to the Protestant Charles Stuart as a monarch and the profession of Catholicism, cannot be dismissed as mere contrivance. Even the papal nuncio, Rinucinni, was under instructions not to attempt anything that would undermine Stuart sovereignty in Ireland [...] (p.87.)

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Novelguide: Conor O’Mahony, SJ, was probably born in Munster and educated in Portugal, where he taught at the University of Evora; he was certainly in Portugal during the Braganza revolt against the Spanish Habsburgs and shared a viewpoint with the Jesuit scholars who supported the Braganza party at that time. He wrote his Disputatio apologetica de iure regni Hiberniae pro Catholicis Hibernis adversus haereticos Anglos [Explanatory argument concerning the authority of the kingdom of Ireland on behalf of Irish Catholics against English heretics], in two parts (i.e, disputatio and exhortatio), arguing in the former that the Catholics (or Hiberni) were entitled reject the authority of the English kings over Ireland, attacking by turn the legal arguments used to legitimise that authority. He held, more positively, that that the departure of the English crown from Roman Catholicism legitimated rebellion, drawing on Bellarmine, Suarez and Molina to support his arguments. Calling on biblical precedent in the exhortatio, he urged the Irish to choose a new monarch who would be Catholic and Irish, counter to the dominant ideology of the Confederation of Kilkenny which supported the claims of Charles I in keeping with its policy of unanimity against Parliament. He also endorses the killing of tens of thousands of Protestants in the Rebellion of 1641, making him an unlikely text-book for the Confederate. (Based on entry in Novelguide online; accessed 05.06.2011.)

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