Peter Walsh

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes
Life
?1618-1688; b. Mooretown, Co. Kildare; ed. at the Franciscan St. Anthony’s College, Louvain; reader in divinity; returned to Kilkenny by appointment of his Order; guardian by the Ormondists in 1648, he has been called the theologian of the Confederation in 1642 and after; acted as chaplain to the Munster army; he conducted a pamphlet war with Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery, known as ‘the Hammer of the Catholics’ and the organiser of an extensive spy-ring throughout the country in the teeth of Ormonde’s administration;
 
issued A Loyal Remonstrance urging the rights of English kings in Ireland; moved to London on defeat of the Confederation by Cromwell, living there precariously, and on the continent, returning to London at the Restoration, 1660; unsuccessfully sought to persuade Irish bishops at a meeting called by him in Dublin to debate the Remonstrance, June, 1666; condemned by Rome, Louvain, and the religious orders, causing the papal nuncio to say that Walsh ‘vomited worth in one hour more filth and blasphemy than Luther and Calvin together in three years’;
 
excommunicated by General Chapter of Franciscans held at Valladolid in 1670 (and endorsed by Gregory VII); formed the party of the Valesians, consisting of some clergy and laymen, and characterised by Rome as heretics - a formation depleted by the fall of Ormonde, 1669 and virtually extinct in 1671, as reported by Oliver Plunket; appt. seneschalship of Winchester with salary of £100 p.a., on influence of Ormonde, who provided him with a pension in his last years;
 
issued History and Vindication of the Loyal Formulary of Irish Remonstrance (1674) to justify the adherence of Irish Catholics to Ormonde, which, containing numerous contemp. documents, constitutes the chief source on the Formulary and personages involved with it; also issued his correspondence with the Vatican as The Controversial Letters (1673-74); engaged in a late controversy with Bishop Stilingfleet and the Jesuits, attacking Stillingfleet’s case in his own An answer to three treatises (London 1678); he is said to have been reconciled with the Church at the end; d. 14 March 1688. RR ODNB DIW FDA OCIL

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Works
  • Queries Concerning the Lawfulness of the Present Cessation (Kilkenny 1648); The Irish colours folded, or the Irish Roman Catholick's reply to the (pretented) English Protestant's answer [...] (which answer is entitled The Irish coulours displayed) ... (London 1662);
  • The History and Vindication of the Loyal Formulary of Irish Remonstrance ([London & Dublin] 1674) [Wing W634; copy in Bishop Stillingfleet Collection of Marsh’s Library];
  • Causa Valesiana epistolis ternis praelibata (Lon 1684);
  • A Prospect of the State of Ireland from the Year of the World 1756 to the Year of Christ 1652 (London 1682) [see extract];
  • Four Letters on Several Subjects (London 1686).

Bibliographical details

The Irish Colours / FOLDED, / or the / Irish Roman Catholick's Reply / to the (pretended) / English Protestant's Answer / To the Letter desiring a just and mercifull regard of the Roman / Catholics of Ireland. (Which Answer is entitled / The Irish Colours Displayed.) / Addressed / (as that Answer and Letter have been) / To his Grace / The Lord Duke of ORMOND, Lord Lieutentant / General, and General Governour of that / KINGDOME. / Vince in bono malum. London: Printed in the Year 1662. [Copy acquired by NLI in 1971-72; see Report of the Trustees of the National Library of Ireland (1972).] Note: what is given in itals. here is non-ital. on the title page, and vice-versa.

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Criticism
  • Benignus Millett, The Irish Franciscans 1651-1665 (Rome 1964); see also an account of Walsh and his part in the Confederation, in Irish Studies (1988).
 

See also article by J. Hagan in Catholic Encyclopaedia (1913), which also cites his authorship of a “A Prospect of the State of Ireland”, ‘worthless history of Ireland down to the English invasion.’ Bibl. Talbot, The Friar Disciplined (Paris 1674); Carte, Life of Ormonde (London 1736); Gilbert, Contemporary History (Dublin, 1879) & Hist. of Irish Confederation (Dublin 1890); Nicholas French, The Unkinde Deserter (Dublin 1646); Aiaza, Nunziatura in Irlanda (Florence 1844); Curry, Historical Memoirs (London, 1758), Civil Wars (Dublin 1895), & Spicilegium Ossoriense (Dublin 1874); O'CONNOR [recte Charles O'Conor], Historical Address (Buckingham 1810); Plowden, Historical Letter (London, 1812); Brennan, Ecclesiastical Hist. of Ireland (Dublin 1814); Burghclere, Life of James, first Duke of Ormonde (London 1912). [Wikisource: online.]

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Commentary
Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael (Amsterdam 1986), citres Peter Walsh, Prospect of the state of Ireland (Lon. 1682), with comments and quotation: ‘An Irish Franciscan, he endorsed the Ormondite cause and was repudiated by clerical and Gaelic Irish who were Rinuccinian and came ‘close to hounding the hapless friar into Protestantism’ (Leerssen) [321] ‘His conciliatory line is expressed in his praising the English as the conquerors of the Old Irish as they really were, rather than the degenerate race described by Giraldus Cambrensis and others, “I doubt not, all judicious impartial men will acknowledg [sic], how much more it must redound to the honour of the English Nation, to have conquered an ancient, civil, warlike, brave People in the days of Yore, than such an obscure, barbarous, vile, hideous generation of men as partly the Cambrian author, partly others that follow’d the pattern left by him represent those Old Inhabitants of Ireland in their time”.’ (fol. c3r.; Leerssen, p.321-22.)

Muriel McCarthy & Caroline Sherwood-Smith, eds., Hibernia Resurgens: Catalogue of Marsh’s Library (1994), p.40, noting copy of History and Vindication in Marsh’s Library; biog. notice as supra.]

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References
Dictionary of National Biography: Peter Walsh, known in Latin as “Valesius”; Irish Franciscan, b. Mooretown, Co. Kildare; ed. Louvain, div. lect. Kilkenny convent, 1646; encouraged Irish party to resist proposals of Rinuccini and make peace with Ormond, 1646-68; preached against Cornelius O’Mahoney in defence of Charles I title to Ireland, 1647; guardian of Kilkenny convent, 1648-50; chaplain of Castlehaven’s army in Munster, 1650-51; withdrew to London, 1652; visited Madrid, 1654; then Holland, lived obscurely in London, 1655-60; pamphlets on Irish affairs, 1660-62; proposed Loyal Remonstrance to be addressed by Irish Catholics to Charles II; canvassed actively, 1661-62, in London, 1664-65, in Dublin, and again in 1665-69; opposed by Vatican; settled in Rome, 1669; pensioned by Ormonde; excommunicated by Franciscan chapter-gen. Valladolid, 16790; published controversial letters against claims of Gregory VII, 1672-84; replied to Thomas Barlow’s Popery,1686; other works. [No refs. in Foster, Modern Ireland (1988), nor entry in DIB.]

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1, selects A Prospect of the State of Ireland, 268-69; BIOG., 273, obstinately urged loyalty to crown in all circumstances; wrote history of Ireland; d. London, 1688. WORKS, Queries Concerning the Lawfulness of the Present Cessation (Kilkenny 1648); The History and Vindication of the Loyal Formulary of Irish Remonstrance (n.p. 1674); Causa Valesiana epistolis ternis praelibata (Lon 1684); A Prospect of the State of Ireland from the Year of the World 1756 to the Year of Christ 1652 (Lon 1682); Four Letters on Several Subjects (Lon 1686).

British Library Catalogue (1957) lists Irish Colours Displayed, under ‘Ireland, Miscellaneous’.

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Quotations
A Prospect of the State of Ireland [...] (1682): ‘As to their constant ordinary Militia, what it was in their times of peace we find in the reign of Cormock Ulfada (the son of Airt) King of Ireland a little after the birth of Christ. For then it consisted of three Battalions or Divisions, of equal number each, in all nine thousand men, under several Commanders, and Fionn mhac Cuual their General; who was neither Gyant, nor Dane, nor other Foreigner, as no more were any of his Commanders, Captains or Souldiers. He was himself but of the ordinary stature of other men ... and he was an Irish man both by birth and descent lineally come, of his Mothers side, in the fifth Generation, from Nuatha Neacht King of Leinster, and so upward all along from Herimon; whatever is reported by D. Hanmer to the contrary ... Hanmer might as well have made the Cappadocian Knight a Saxon, as Fionn the son of Cuual, a Dane; And so might Hector Boethius have as well turned Huon of Bordeaux, or Amadis de Gaul, or the Knight of the Sun, or the Seven Champions of Christendom, and such like Romances into the very truest Histories, as the Fables written of Fiona Erionn, only to entertain leasurable hours and Fancy ... In short, these Gentlemen Fionn mhac Cuul and Fiona Erionn were the stoutest and bravest fighting men of their time in Ireland. And they were kept in constant pay by the Monarch, Princes, and people of that Kingdom, to guard the coasts from abroad, and keep all at home quiet ... And this is the naked truth concerning these Fiona Erionn so famous in their Generation. On which truth many fabulous stories have been superstructed.’ (Cited in Russell K. Alspach, Irish Poetry from the English Invasion to 1798, Philadelphia: Pennsylvania UP 1959, pp.73-74.)

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Notes
Daniel O’Connell, in Memoir of Ireland (1844), cites Peter Walsh’s Reply to a Person of Quality [n.d., n.p.], ‘Not to dwell on particulars, the whole body of the Catholic nobility and gentry of Ireland did, by their agents at Oxford in 1643, petition his Majesty, ‘that all the murders committed on both sides, in this war, might be examined in a future parliament and the actors of them exempted out of all acts of indemnity and oblivion’. But this proposal the Protestant agents, wisely declined; upon which it was justly observed that if it should be asked wherefore this offer of the accused Irish has been always rejected or evaded by their accusers (for it was more than once repeated afterwards,) there is no man of reason but understands it was, because the Irish were not guilty of those barbarous and inhuman crimes with which they were charged; and because those who charged them so exorbitantly, found themselves, or those of their party, truly chargeable with more numerous crimes and murders, committed on the stage of Ireland, whereon they had acted, and yet but partly, their own proper guilt; for many of them had acted it on that of Great Britain to, even the most horrid guilt imaginable, by the bloody and most execrable murder of the best and most innocent of Kings.’ (O’Connell, op. cit., p.307.)

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