Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/O'Kelly, Patrick

O'KELLY, PATRICK (1754–1835?), eccentric poet, known as the 'Bard O'Kelly,' was born at Loughrea, co. Galway, in 1754. He seems to have obtained a local reputation as a poet before he published his first volume, 'Killarney: a Poem,' in 1791. His fame rapidly spread, and subsequent volumes were issued by subscription. When George IV was in Ireland, O'Kelly was presented to him in Dublin. His majesty, when Prince of Wales, had subscribed for fifty copies of his second volume of poems. He travelled over the south and west of Ireland selling his books. In July 1808 he wrote the well-known 'Doneraile Litany,' which is his best production. It is a string of curses on the town and people of Doneraile, co. Cork, where he had been robbed of his watch and chain in the locality. On Lady Doneraile replacing his property, he wrote 'The Palinode,' revoking all the former curses. He met Sir Walter Scott at Limerick in the summer of 1825 (Lockhart, Life of Walter Scott, 1 vol. Edinburgh, 1845, p. 602). O'Kelly died about 1835.

His works, which are all in verse of a very pedestrian order, are:

  1. 'Killarney: a Descriptive Poem,' 8vo, Dublin, 1791. O'Kelly complained that Michael McCarthy's 'Lacus Delectabilis,' 1816, was almost entirely taken from his poem.
  2. 'The Eudoxologist, or an Ethicographical Survey of the Western Parts of Ireland: a Poem,' &c., 8vo, Dublin, 1812 (containing the 'Doneraile Litany').
  3. 'The Aonian Kaleidoscope,' 8vo, Cork, 1824.
  4. 'The Hippocrene,' 8vo, Dublin, 1831 (with portrait).

There was another Patrick O'Kelly who published, in 1842, a 'General History of the Rebellion of 1798,' and translated works by Abbé McGeoghegan and W. D. O'Kelly on Ireland.

[Brit. Mus. Cat.; O'Donoghue's Poets of Ireland; Croker's Popular Songs of Ireland; Watty Cox's Irish Magazine, September 1810.]

D. J. O'D.