Parnell: Historical Apology for the Irish Catholics

Pdf Parnell, William. Historical Apology for the Irish Catholics. Dublin: H. Fitzpatrick, 1807.
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William Parnell (1780-1821) [later Parnell-Hayes] was born at the families Avondale estate in Wicklow in 1780. He was educated at Cambridge and used the Hayes name in view of his father inheriting the estate from the Hayes family; the name Hayes has for some reason been dropped by the subsequent heirs of the property.

William Parnell-Hayes was a quiet, studious, country gentleman who was interested mainly in his books and his estate. He was interested in politics and opposed to the Union to the extent that he wrote and published a pamphlet entitled An Enquiry into the Causes of Popular Discontent.  In this, he showed a deep sympathy with the persecuted Papists.   In 1806, he then published this book entitled An Historical Apology for the Irish Catholics, in which this sympathy was again evident. It detailed the Irish Catholics’ many grievances and sufferings from the reign of Henry VIII to the nineteenth century.

William Parnell was the Deputy Lieutenant of Co. Wicklow in 1817, 1819-20 and then was persuaded to enter Parliament as MP for Wicklow in 1817. He died on January 2 1821, aged forty four, as a result of fever brought on by a severe cold.

The Parnell family had always been known for their defending of the misused Catholics, and it was the reputation of his ancestors in this respect which secured support for his grandson, Charles Stewart Parnell, when he proffered himself as a Nationalist candidate.

On February 15 1821, an individual, who signed himself “C”, wrote to the Freeman’s Journal extolling the greatness of William Parnell. The writer stated that he “could not refer to the position of his Catholic countrymen with anything but shame and abhorrence” and was “not content to linger out his days in inactive and unprofitable sympathy”. His main aim was to improve the standard of living and education for the poor Catholic children. “The first emotion of his generous and exalted mind was sorrow for the condition of his country, and his first desire was to remedy some portion of her manifold evils”.

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