MacMAHON, Hugh. Jus Primatiale Armacanum, In Omnes Archiepiscopos, Episcopos, et Universum Clerum, totius Regni Hiberniæ. Assertum per. H. A. M. T. H. P. [Dublin: Printed by Stephen Powell] Anno Dom., 1728. pp. , 8, , 222, , 125, 11, . Contemporary full panelled calf, title in gilt direct on rebacked spine. Ex libris Miltown Park, with bookplates and stamps. Wear to corners. A very good copy.
Hugh MacMahon (1660-1737) was Bishop of Clogher later Archbishop of Armagh, was born in the townland of Cavany, Scotshouse, County Monaghan, the son of Colla Dubh Mac Mahon of the Dartry branch of the clan and Eibhlin O’Reilly, the daughter of Colonel Philip O’Reilly, the Cavan leader in the 1641 Rebellion. MacMahon entered the Irish College in Rome in mid to late 1683, being ordained a priest in October 1688. He probably graduated DD in 1689. He subsequently journeyed to Flanders, remaining there for seven years. In 1695 he was unsuccessfully nominated for the presidency of the Irish College, Louvain.
Hugh MacMahon was appointed as Roman Catholic Bishop of Clogher in 1707. Once there, he quickly became active, attracting the attention of the priest-hunter Edward Tyrrell over the following years. In October 1712 Tyrrell had the house of MacMahon’s father searched. These years also saw MacMahon enter into frequent correspondence with Rome, in which he reported on such topics as anti-catholic legislation, the state of catholicism in Ulster, and the need to appoint an archbishop to Armagh. This correspondence saw MacMahon consulted by Rome in 1710 on a dispute between two rival claimants to the post of vicar general to Armagh. Partly on his advice, one of the claimants, John Verdon, was appointed bishop of Ferns, leaving his opponent, Patrick Dowdall, as vicar general. On 22 August 1711 another clerical dispute led to MacMahon’s being appointed administrator of Kilmore, a post he held until 1728, when he asked to be relieved, citing his old age. Conscious of previous disputes between the archbishoprics of Dublin and Armagh over primacy, MacMahon during these years also actively sought recognition from Rome as primate of all Ireland, though this was not forthcoming.
This dispute between the two archbishoprics flared up again in 1719, as a result of the Rivers case. Valentine Rivers, incumbent of the parish of St James and St Catherine, appealed to MacMahon after Archbishop Edmund Byrne of Dublin sought to remove him. MacMahon offered to arbitrate in the dispute, but Byrne refused to accept this. Later, when Byrne refused to be represented at MacMahon’s ecclesiastical court, the latter passed judgement for the appellant and sent his own clergy into Dublin to assist Rivers. In late 1719 the case was referred to Rome, which led MacMahon to write a report supporting Armagh’s claim for primacy. The quarrel between Rivers and Byrne was settled in 1723, and the latter’s death (1724) put the primatial dispute on hold. MacMahon, nonetheless, wrote ‘Jus Primatiale Armacanum’ that year to support Armagh’s primacy claim. He delayed publishing it in order to reply to another piece by a Fr Hennessy, which supported Dublin’s claim to primacy.
MacMahon also busied himself in other affairs. He helped found a Dominican convent in Drogheda, to which he gave the head of Oliver Plunkett. The report of 1731 into the state of popery in Armagh diocese also indicates that he busied himself establishing schools, chapels, and friaries, and providing an educated clergy for his cure. He himself took up residence in Drogheda (1728). Afterwards, he was active in ensuring clerical discipline. In 1729 Propaganda Fide appointed him to a commission to investigate accusations of malpractice against Bishop Flynn of Ardagh, who was subsequently interdicted on these charges. MacMahon carried out similar investigations on Propaganda Fide’s behalf throughout the early 1730s.
By the time of his death MacMahon’s actions had won him acclaim, and Pádraig Mac a Liondáin (Mac Giolla Fhiondáin) wrote poetry in his honour. He died on 2 August 1737, aged seventy-seven, and was buried in St Peter’s church, Drogheda. His nephew Bernard MacMahon, bishop of Clogher, succeeded him as archbishop of Armagh.
H. A. M. T. H. P. = Hugo Armachanus Macmahon totius Hiberniae Primas.
Printer identified from Bradshaw Irish Collection Catalogue.
‘Prosecutio ejusdem argumenti pro Primatu Armacano contra anonymum’ has separate titlepage and pagination, but register is continuous.