Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/O'Hanlon, John
O'HANLON, JOHN (1821–1905), Irish hagiographer and historical writer, born in Stradbally, Queen's Co., on 30 April 1821, was son of Edward and Honor Hanlon of that town. Destined by his parents for the priesthood, he passed at thirteen from a private school at Stradbally to an endowed school at Ballyroan, and in 1840 he entered the ecclesiastical college at Carlow. In May 1842 he emigrated with some relatives to Quebec, Lower Canada, and moved in the following August to the state of Missouri, U.S.A. In 1847 he was ordained by Peter Richard Kenrick, archbishop of St. Louis, and spent the next few years as a missionary priest among the Irish exiles of Missouri. His experiences in America are fully described in his 'Life and Scenery in Missouri' (Dublin, 1890). In Sept. 1853, owing to ill-health, he returned to Ireland. From 1854 to 1859 he was assistant-chaplain of the South Dublin Union, and from 1854 to 1880 curate of St. Michael's and St. John's, Dublin. On the nomination of Cardinal McCabe [q. v.] he became, in May 1880, parish priest of St. Mary's, Irishtown, where he remained till his death. In 1891 he revisited America in connection with the golden jubilee of Archbishop Kenrick. Archbishop Walsh conferred on him the rank of canon in 1886. He died at Irishtown on 15 May 1905. O'Hanlon was devoted to researches in Irish ecclesiastical history, and especially to the lives of the Irish saints. While still a curate he travelled on the Continent in order to pursue his researches, and visited nearly all the important libraries of England and southern Europe. In 1856 he began to collect material for his great work, 'The Lives of the Irish Saints.' The first volume appeared in 1875, and before his death he issued nine complete volumes and portion of a tenth, besides collecting and arranging unpublished material. Apart from this storehouse of learning, with its wealth of notes and illustrations, O'Hanlon wrote incessantly in Irish reviews and newspapers, and published the following:
- 'Abridgment of the History of Ireland from its Final Subjection to the Present Time,' Boston (Mass.), 1849.
- 'The Irish Emigrant's Guide to the United States,' Boston, 1851; new edit. Dublin, 1890.
- 'The Life of St. Laurence O'Toole, Archbishop of Dublin,' Dublin, 1857.
- 'The Life of St. Malachy O'Morgair, Bishop of Down and Connor, Archbishop of Armagh,' Dublin, 1859.
- 'The Life of St. Dympna, Virgin Martyr,' Dublin, 1863.
- 'Catechism of Irish History from the Earliest Events to the Death of O'Connell,' Dublin, 1864.
- 'Catechism of Greek Grammar,' Dublin, 1865.
- 'Devotions for Confession and Holy Communion,' 1866.
- 'The Life and Works of St. Oengus the Culdee, Bishop and Abbot,' Dublin, 1868.
- 'The Life of St. David, Archbishop of Menevia, Chief Patron of Wales,' Dublin, 1869.
- 'Legend Lays of Ireland,' in verse (by 'Lageniensis '), Dublin, 1870.
- 'Irish Polk-Lore, Traditions and Superstitions of the Country, with Numerous Tales' (under the same pseudonym), Glasgow, 1870.
- 'The Buried Lady, a Legend of Kilronan,' by 'Lageniensis,' Dublin, 1877.
- 'The Life of St. Grellan, Patron of the O'Kellys,' Dublin, 1881.
- 'Report of the O'Connell Centenary Committee,' Dublin, 1888.
- 'The Poetical Works of Lageniensis,' Dublin, 1893.
- 'Irish-American History of the United States,' Dublin, 1902.
- 'History of the Queen's County,' vol. i. (completed by Rev. E. O'Leary), Dublin, 1907.
He also edited Monck Mason's 'Essay on the Antiquity and Constitution of Parhaments of Ireland' (1891), Molyneux's 'Case of Ireland … stated' (1893), and 'Legends and Stories of John Keegan' (to which the present writer prefixed a memoir of Keegan), Dublin, 1908. [Autobiographical letters to present writer and personal knowledge; O'Donoghue's Poets of Ireland, p. 188; Freeman's Journal, 16 May 1906; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Life and Scenery in Missouri (as stated in text). Information from Rev. J. Delany, P.P. Stradbally.