Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/O'Reilly, Myles William Patrick

O'REILLY, MYLES WILLIAM PATRICK (1825–1880), Irish politician, son of William O'Reilly, esq., of Knock Abbey, co. Louth, by Margaret, daughter of Dowell O'Reilly, esq., of the Heath, Queen's County, was born in Dublin in 1825. He was educated at St. Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, Durham, and at the university of London, where he graduated B.A. in 1845 (London Univ. Calendar, 1870, p. 203). Subsequently he took the degree of LL.D. at Rome. He joined the Louth rifles militia, in which he held a captain's commission. Being invited to Rome by Pius IX, he entered the pontifical service, with the rank of major, and was appointed to the command of the Irish brigade. In September 1860 the battalion of St. Patrick gallantly defended Spoleto against the Piedmontese troops, who were repeatedly repulsed, and O'Reilly surrendered only when the place had become untenable (O'Clery, Making of Italy, pp. 193–5). After his return to Ireland he was elected M.P. for the county of Longford in March 1862, and for many years he occupied a conspicuous place in the House of Commons among the debaters on Irish and military subjects. He was a member of the home-rule party, and was loyal to the leadership of Isaac Butt. He was a magistrate for the counties of Louth and Dublin. On at least one occasion he acted as examiner in classics at the Catholic University of Ireland, at the time when Dr. Newman was at its head. He vacated his seat in parliament in April 1879, when he accepted the post of assistant commissioner of intermediate education in Ireland. He died in Dublin on 6 Feb. 1880, and was interred in the family burial-place at Philipstown, near Knock Abbey.

He married, in 1859, Ida, daughter of Edward Jerningham, esq. She died in 1878. Besides occasional pamphlets and articles, he was the author of ‘Memorials of those who suffered for the Catholic Faith in Ireland in the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries. Collected and edited from the Original Authorities,’ London, 1868, 8vo; reprinted under the title of ‘Lives of the Irish Martyrs and Confessors, with Additions, including a History of the Penal Laws, by [the] Rev. Richard Brennan, A.M.,’ New York, 1878, 8vo.

[Annual Register, 1880, Chronicle, p. 152; Dod's Parliamentary Companion, 1863 and 1879; Tablet, 14 Feb. 1880, p. 216; Times, 10 Feb. 1880, p. 5, col. 3.]

T. C.