O'Flaherty, Roderic (DNB00)
O'FLAHERTY, RODERIC (1629–1718), historiographer, born in 1629 in the castle of Moycullen, co. Galway, the ruins of which are still standing, was the only son of Hugh O'Flaherty by his wife Elizabeth Darcy. His family, whose tribe name was Muintir Murchadha, traced their descent from Flaibheartach, twenty-second in descent from Eochaidh Muighmeadhon, king of Ireland, who died in 366. They were at first settled in Magh Seola, to the east of Lough Corrib, but in the thirteenth century were driven from their original home by the O'Connors, and conquered a new territory in West Connaught from Lough Corrib to the sea. There were several septs of the clan, and Hugh O'Flaherty was head of that of Gnomore and Gnobeg in the barony of Moycullen. On the death of Hugh in 1631, his son Roderic, then in his second year, was the acknowledged heir, and became a ward of the crown.
Under the government established for Ireland by the parliament of England after the civil war, O'Flaherty was deprived of much of his property. Through an appeal at law in 1653 he obtained restitution of a considerable portion of his patrimonial lands, which, however, became of little value in consequence of heavy taxations and the general impoverishment of the country. O'Flaherty was educated in Galway, at the excellent school of Alexander Lynch, with whose son, John Lynch [q. v.], author of 'Cambrensis Eversus,' he formed a lifelong friendship; and also came to know the learned Capuchin, Francis Brown (Ogygia, p. 30), bishop Kirwan of Killala, and other learned men. He studied Irish literature and history under Duald MacFirbis [q. v.], then resident in the college of St. Nicholas in Galway.
In 1677 he recovered by legal proceedings a further small part of the lands of which he had been dispossessed, and in 1685 he published at London a quarto volume with the following title, 'Ogygia, sen rerum Hibernicarum chronologia.' The book was printed by R. Everingham,and the Irish type used in it (in quotations and in giving the true forms of names) is that in which the sermons 'Seanmora ar na Priom Phoncibh na Creideamh,' translated into Irish by Philip MacBrady [q. v] and John O'Mulchonn, were printed in 1711 by Elinor Everingham. In this work the author treats of the history of Ireland from the earliest times to the year 1684, with synchronisms and chrono-genealogical catalogues of the kings of England, Scotland, and Ireland to the time of Charles II. He shows a thorough acquaintance with the chronicle of Tigheamacn O'Braein [q. v.], with the manuscript known as the 'Book of Lecan,' with the 'Liber Migrationum' of Michael O'Clery [q. v.], and with much mediæval Irish literature. He had also read Bæda, Higden, and Hector Boece. He displays scrupulous accuracy throughout, and is a trustworthy guide to the history of the Irish kings. His work was the first in which Irish history was placed in a scholarlike way before readers in England, and it found its way into many good English libraries of its period. In a dedicatory epistle to James, duke of York, O'Flaherty mentions the old connection between Ireland and Scotland, and traces the descent of the royal family of England to the ancient monarchs of Ireland. He refers to his own misfortunes after the death of Charles I, and laments that the restoration of the monarchy in England has not had the effect of redressing his wrongs.
A Latin poem by O'Flaherty on the birth of James, prince of Wales, was published at Dublin in 1688, under the title of 'Serenissimi Walliæ Principia, Magnæ Britanniæ et Hiberniæ, cum appendicibus dominiis hueredis conspicui Genethliacon.'
Edward Lhuyd [q. v.] of Oxford, who visited O'Flaherty in 1700, described him as 'affable and learned;' but, added Lhuyd, the late revolution in Ireland had 'reduced him to great poverty, and destroyed bis books and papers.' In 'Archæologia Britannica,' published in 1707. Lhuyd bore testimony to the erudition of O'Flaherty.
Sir Thomas Molyneux [q. v.] saw O'Flaherty in April 1709 living 'in a miserable condition at Park, some three hours to the west of Galway.' 'I expected,' wrote Molyneux, 'to have seen here some old Irish manuscripts, but his ill-fortune has stripped him of these as well as his other goods, so that he has nothing now left but some few pieces of his own writing, and a few old rummish books of history, printed.' O'Flaherty died on 8 April 1718, and was buried within his house at Parke, co. Galway. His treatise, left in manuscript, entitled 'Ogygia vindicated against the Objections of Sir George Mackenzie,' was published at Dublin in 1775 by Charles O'Conor [q. v.] It formed an octavo volume, divided into twenty-one chapters, the last of which was unfinished in the manuscript.
Of the 'Ogygia' an inaccurate English version by the Rev. James Hely of Trinity College, Dublin, appeared in two volumes in 1793.
O'Flaherty's 'Chorographical Description of West or H-Iar Connaught' was edited by James Hardiman [q. v.] for the Irish Archilogical Society in 1841. The book gives an interesting account of the chief features of the country and of the islands off the coast, and of much of the local history. In this volume were printed original memoranda by O'Flaherty on Borlase's account of Ireland, written in 1682; on Chinese chronology, and on the relations of prelates in Ireland with Canterbury. A reproduction of a letter from O'Flaberty to Edward Lhuyd in 1706 was included among the Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland, edited by the present writer, pt. iv. p. 2, plate xcv.
No vestiges have been found of a work entitled 'Ogygia Christiana,' which O'Flaherty was supposed to have compiled. A collection of unpublished letters of O'Flaherty is now being prepared for the press by the author of the present notice.
[Nicholson's Irish Historical Library. 1724; Ware's Writers of Ireland, 1740; Dissertations on History of Ireland, 1766; Miscellany of Irish Archæol. Soc. Dublin, 1846.]