O’HANLON, Rev. John. Lives of The Irish Saints, with Special Festivals, and the Commemorations of Holy Persons, compiled from the Calendars Martyrologies and Various Sources, relating to The Ancient Church History of Ireland. With original list of subscribers, folding diocesan map and numerous illustrations.
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A MAGNIFICENT MONUMENT TO HIS GENIUS AND ERUDITION
Ten volumes. Dublin: Duffy, n.d. (c.1875). Royal octavo. Publisher’s green cloth over bevelled boards, elaborately decorated in gilt on upper cover and spine. Some mild fading and staining to a couple of volumes, a few nicks to a few spine ends. Overall a near fine set of the exceedingly rare complete edition.
John O’Hanlon (1821-1905) was born in Stradbally in 1821. At the age of thirteen he went to study at the Preston School in Ballyroan specialising in Latin and Greek, and six years later he entered Carlow College to study for the priesthood. His stay in Carlow lasted only a year as the family emigrated to America and settled in Millbrook, near St. Louis, in Northeast Missouri. He was admitted to the diocesan college in St. Louis and ordained in 1847.
John O’Hanlon ministered in the St. Louis area until 1853 when he returned to his native Stradbally due to ill health. A year later, his health having improved, he offered his services to the Archdiocese of Dublin. In 1880 he was appointed Parish Priest of Sandymount and Ringsend, and ministered at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, Sandymount until his death in 1905.
During his fifty years ministering in the Dublin Archdiocese he wrote many works of historical and religious content. He laboured for many years on his Magnum Opus; The Lives of the Irish Saints - which is a month by month sequence of the feasts of the Irish Saints as they were recorded in the ancient martyrologies.
As early as 1857 he announced his resolution to compose a series of lives of the Saints of Ireland in twelve volumes, following the order of the calendar. The Jesuit Henry Fitzsimon, the priest Thomas Messingham, above all the Franciscans Patrick Fleming, Luke Wadding, Hugh Ward and John Colgan, had all toiled variously and with great success, in the first half of the seventeenth century, at a great compilation that was eventually to be known as the Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae or the ‘Lives of the Saints of Ireland’. O’Hanlon has chronicled the lives of 3,500 saints of Ireland, some of them dealt with briefly, but many at very great length. This great work consisting of ten large volumes is the fruit of infinite research in all the departments of Irish hagiography in printed and manuscript form. Canon O’Hanlon had an intimate acquaintance with all this material; he was likewise master of the contents of the rich public libraries of Ireland and of other cites, as well as of valuable private collections of books on the topography and antiquities of Ireland. In the course of his labours he was encouraged and often helped by such erudite Celtic scholars as John O’Donovan, Eugene O’Curry, Dr. Todd, and other Irish antiquarians of the first rank. The beautiful font of Irish type occasionally used in his Lives of the Irish Saints was originally designed by Dr. Petrie for the Catholic University of Ireland.
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