The History of the Irish Catholics from the Settlement in 1691, with a View of the State of Ireland from the Invasion by Henry II to the Revolution. Part I. Dublin: Stockdale, 1813. Octavo. pp. vii, , 2-333, , xxix. Full maroon morocco over bevelled boards. Covers framed by a single gilt fillet and double blind fillets enclosing in the centre a harp gilt. Spine divided into six compartments by five gilt raised bands, title and author in gilt direct in the second and fourth, the remainder tooled with a Shamrock tool; turn-ins gilt; splash marbled endpapers; green and gold endbands. Bound in at front and rear are two very interesting historical copy letters from Charles O’Conor to Dr. John Curry of Dublin, dated July 2, 1762 (4 pages quarto) and October 4, 1767 (3 pages quarto). Ex libris Milltown Park Trust with bookplate and stamps. All edges gilt. Minor wear to extremities. A fine copy. Very scarce.
COPAC locates 5 copies only. WorldCat 4. Not in Bradshaw. Gilbert 594. NSTC I O161.
Matthew O’Conor, historian and lawyer was born in 1773 at Belanagare. He was the grandson of Charles O’Conor Don (1710-1791) the famed Irish antiquarian of the eighteenth century. His brother the Rev. Charles O’Conor (1767-1828), a noted scholar and antiquary. O’Conor Don Matthew was educated for the priesthood in Rome, but changed his mind and became by profession a lawyer. He was highly regarded by fellow Irish scholars such as George Petrie and John O’Donovan. To the latter he gave unstinting aid during his field work in Roscommon for the Ordnance Survey; O’Donovan held him in very high regard, not only because of his historical efforts and political work, but also because of his noble descent and status as a Prince of the Royal Family of Connacht. In this he was not alone; during the Tithe War a large assembly of Roscommon Catholics unanimously elected him King of Connacht (in his absence) and sent word to him to meet them at Carnfree for the formal inauguration.
In the advertisement for the book the author states: “The writer of these pages being possessed of several documents, which had been of the historical collection of the late Charles O’Conor, esteemed it a duty to Ireland as well as to the memory of his grandfather, to extract and publish those parts, which regard the later periods of Catholic sufferings. The originals on which he has relied, are scarce; many of them, as the writer is convinced, are entirely unknown”. The ‘History of Irish Catholics from the Settlement in 1691′, was based on letters of his grandfather Charles O’Conor to Dr. John Curry. He died, probably at his seat of Mount Druid, in the County of Roscommon, 1844, aged seventy.
Of the Irish Catholics he wrote: ‘The constant degradation lowered them in their own estimation, and rendered them crouching and pusillanimous. Sorrow and dejection were stamped in their foreheads; their timid gait and cautious reserve marked their abject condition. They did not dare to look a protestant in the face, they avoided the side of the street he walked, just as the slave evades the countenance of the master’.