John Lynch (?1599-1673)

[pseud. “Gratianus Lucius, Hibernus”] b. Galway, son of Alexander Lynch, a classics teacher in Galway, reputedly the master of a school of 1,200 students which was closed by Archbishop Ussher in 1615; ed. by Jesuits in France; secular priest, ord. 1622, returned to Ireland and taught classics in Galway; appt. archdeacon of Tuam; said Mass publicly from 1642; opposed the papal nuncio and O’Neill, and condemned the Confederacy; fled to France when Galway fell, 1652; corresponded with Roderic O’Flaherty (of Ogygia) on ancient Irish chronology and adhered to it predominantly in Cambrensis Eversus - except where Sir James Ware gives a higher authority; issued Cambrensis Eversus (St. Malo 1662) - meaning ‘against Gerald of Wales [Giraldus Cambrensis]’, composed at aetat. 60, being a late response to the publication of Giraldus’s works on Ireland by Ware et al., and culminating with a refutation of Giraldus’s claim that Irish records - apart from the papal Bull Laudibiliter of which no copy is extant - confer the crown of Ireland on the kings of England;
issued Alithonologia, rebutting an attack on the Old English then published in Rome; therein he gives a creditable account of the patriotic conduct of the Anglo-Irish during the reign of Elizabeth I - while repudiating the prefix Anglo-; wrote a letter to Boileau contesting the use of identification of Irish peregrini (i.e., Scoti) with Scotland not Ireland, not Ireland, and received polite endorsement of his learning and his views; wrote a biography of Dr. Kirwan, the bishop of Killala (who was his uncle); translated Keating’s Foras Feasa Ar Eirinn into Latin, 1660; in his last years he wrote an extant letter explaining his reluctance to return to Ireland, including fear of vengeance from the son of man in power (presum. the son and heir of Sir Charles Coote); part of his Cambrensis Eversus that work egregiously trans. into English by Theophilus O’Flanagan in 1795, and later scrupulously translated in a bilingual edition by Fr. Matthew Kelly (of Maynooth) for the Celtic Society in 1848-52;
Lynch coined the pseudo-medieval epigram ‘hiberniores Hibernicis ipsis [more Irish than the Irish themselves]’ commonly attributed to Giraldus Cambrensis of whom he spoke harshly as a calumniator of Ireland; d. prob. at St. Malo; a Latin epitaph was written for him by O’Flaherty; Hardiman, in his capacity as Galway librarian, regarded as he ‘guardian of Dr. Lynch’s fame’. ODNB DIW FDA

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  • Cambrensis eversus, / seu potius / Historica fides / in Rebus hibernicus Giraldo Cambrensi / Abrogata, ([St. Malo] MDCLXII [1662]) [see translation-editions, infra]
  • De praesulibus Hiberniae, potissimis Catholicae Religionis in Hibernia serendae et propagande et conservandae authoribus, 2 vols. (Dublin: Stat. Off., 1944).
  • Pii Antistitis Icon; sive, de vita et morte .. Francisci Kirovani (St Malo 1669), and Do., trans. as
  • The Portrait of a Pious Bishop: or, The Life and Death of the Most Reverend Francis Kirwan, Bishop of Killala / translated from the Latin of John Lynch, with notes by Rev. C. P. Meehan (Dublin: J. Duffy 1848), viii, 198pp. [20cm.; Eng. & Latin; added t.p. in Latin]; Do., [rep. edn.] (Dublin: Stationary Office 1951).
  • Alithinologia .. (St Malo 1664), and Do. [with] supplementum (1667).
Bilingual edition
Translation editions
  • Theophilus O’Flanagan, A.B., [trans.] Cambrensis refuted or rather Historic Credit in the Affairs of Ireland taken from Geraldus Cambrensis(Dublin: Joseph Hill 1795) [see details].
  • Rev. Matthew Kelly, ed & trans., Cambrensis Eversus; or, Refutation of the Authority of Giraldus Cambrensis on the History of Ireland, ed. & trans. by 3 vols. (Dublin: Celtic Society 1848-52) [bilingual edition - see details].
For Cambrensis Eversus, see also Dubhaltach Mac Firbisigh [above].

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Bibliographical details
Cambrensis refuted or rather Historic Credit in the Affairs of Ireland taken from Geraldus Cambrensis, who is proved to abound in most of the blemishes, while destitute of most of the qualifications, of a legitimate historian. By Gratianus Lucius, a Native Irishman. Translated from the original Latin [...] by Theophilus O’Flanagan, A.B., some time scholar of Trin. Col. Dublin; printed by Joseph Hill, No. 36, Denmark-Street. M.DCC.XCV [1795].

Cambrensis eversus, / seu potius / Historica fides / in Rebus hibernicus Giraldo Cambrensi / Abrogata; / in quo / Plerasque justi historici dotes disiderari plerosque / nævos inesse, / ostendit / Gratianus Lucius, Hibernus, / qui etiam aliquot res memorabiles hibernicas verteris et novæ memoriæ / passim e re nata huic operi inseruit. / “Posuit mendacium spem suam. at mendacio protectus est.” - Isaiah, xxviii, 5. / IMPRESS. an. MDCLXII [1662] // Edited with a translation and notes / by / The Rev. Matthew Kelly, / St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. / Vol. I / Dublin: / Printed for the Celtic Society. 1848 [with facs. t.p.]. (See also listing under Rev. Matthew Kelly - as supra.)

[ Cambrensis Eversus (1850) - digital editions at Google Books online & Internet Archive online [both accessed 23 & 28 Jan. 2011]. See also full-text copy of the Introduction by Rev. Matthew Kelly, infra. ]

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  • A. Cosgrove, ‘“Hiberniores ipsis Hibernis”’ [chap.], in Studies in Irish History, eds. Cosgrove & D. McCartney, (Naas: Leinster Leader 1979).
  • Bernadette Cunningham, ‘Representations of King, Parliament and the Irish People in Geoffrey Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Éirinn and John Lynch’s Cambrensis Eversus (1662)’, in Political Thought in Seventeenth-century Ireland: Kingdom or Colony?, ed. Jane H. Ohlmeyer (Cambridge UP 2000) [Chap. 5].

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Syvester O’Halloran, A General History of Ireland (1778), Vol. I - discussing the account of the Irish in Giraldus Cambrensis:

Pope Adrian was by birth an Englishman. It was a flattering circumstance to be sollicited [sic] by an aspiring young prince, (as Henry was in his days), for the donation of a kingdom, which cost him nothing; and it was besides a full acknowlegement of the power assumed by Rome, of disposing of kingdoms and empires at pleasure. The charges made by Bernard on the Irish nation, were made the pretences for this donation, though we see: they could not then have a possibility of existence; and one would be tempted to think that the ministers of Alexander, had also consulted Strabo, Mela, and Solinus, to glean materials for his bull! Soon after the publication of these bulls, Cambrensis, bishop of St. David’s, attended the son of Henry II. to Ireland, and was employed to write some account of the country, He could only hope to make his court to his [xxxvii] master, and to Rome, by vilifying and misrepresenting the nation; and when popes and sovereign princes had set the example, we could not expect, that a simple bishop, deeply interested in the same cause, (for many of his relations were amongst the new adventurers), would presume to more virtue than his betters! The works of this writer had for centuries remained in the oblivion they so justly merited, till the year 1602, when Camden caused them to be printed at Frankfort, by which means his calumnies were spread over all Europe. But they did not pass uncensured; and the learned Dr. Lynch, archdeacon of Tuam, under the title of Cambrensis Eversus, published a work, in which the ignorance, malevolence, and misrepresentations-of this writer are so fully exposed, that he is since, by masters of the subject, never quoted as authority to be relied on. The refutation of this work, in which all the calumnies that had ever been published against Ireland, were collected in the strongest point of view, and in an animated style, one should think ought to be deemed the fullest vindication of the country; and yet this writer, whose want of integrity and candour has been so clearly proved, is one of the principal evidences produced by ill-intentioned, and worse informed moderns! (Op. cit., p.xxxvi-vii; available at Internet Archive - online; accessed 02.05.2024.)

Rev. Matthew Kelly, Introduction to Cambrensis Eversus, Celtic Society Edn. (Dublin 1850)
[...] Archbishop of Tuam, he lived secluded from the turmoil of civil strife, in the old castle of Ruaidhri O’Conchobhair, last King of Ireland. on principle, he was opposed to the active interference of the clergy in the critical politics of his time. He even maintained that such interference had been always, in every couontry, productive of evil; an opinion more in accordance with his own quiet temper and studious habits than with the history of Christian states. But, whatever were his motives, he does not appear as a public character in any of the voluminous contemporary documents on the wars and deliberations of the Irish Catholics from 1641 to 1652. [...]
—See longer extract, attached.

Sean O’Faolain, The Irish (Penguin 1947), p.59, writes: ‘If Lynch’s famous epigram that the Normans became ‘Hiberniores Hibernicis ipsis’ (more Irish than the Irish themselves), is an overstatement, it contains an historical truth - that Ireland, whether Norman or Gaelic, went as much of its own way as the “alternate neglect and capricious interference” of the Dominus Hiberniae [King John] woud allow it to go’.

Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael (Amsterdam: Rodopi 1986), John Lynch, archdeacon of Tuam, lived in St. Malo from fall of Galway in 1652 to his death in 1674, and trans. Keating into Latin; published Alithinologia and Supplementum Alithinologiae, post-Confederation works conciliatory towards Old English Catholics, and sharp against Cambrensis. His attach on Cambrensis was published in 1662 as Cambrensis Eversus, seu potius historica fides, in rebus Hibernicis, Giraldo Cambrensi abrogata [320], defends the Irish against charges of barbarism, and defends the Irish language apolitically, ‘for did the Welsh ever refuse to show obedience to the monarch of England by reason of the fact that they are steeped in the Welsh language? .. Bretons & Basques .. Yet if the Irish have maintained their current and widespread ancestral speech, will they as an immediate result be said to hatch dangerous plots against their supreme prince? I see no reason why the language’s abolition is insisted on so vehemently. (p.16)’ He was a student of Duald Mac Firbis with Roderick O’Flaherty. ([Leerssen, pp.320-21]. Further: O’Conor issued Ogygia Vindicated (1775), with an essay of his own contra Macpherson and a copy of John Lynch’s letter to Boileau, countering Mackenzie’s criticism of the Irish Gaelic claims in Ogygia. [See further under Charles O’Conor, infra.]

W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1984), John Lynch, ed. by Jesuits in Galway, published Cambrensis Eversus (1662); written in fluent Latin, over 800 quarto pags in the 3 vol. M Kelly ed., 1848-2; aimed to impress the recently restored Charles II by quoting widely from classical sourcs to support his view of the antiquity and respectability of the Irish race, in the course of a massive refutation of the slanders of Giraldus on Ireland [205].

George A. Little, Dublin Before the Vikings (1957), ‘One singular and extraordinary fact may be noted here, namely, that to foreign sources almost exclusively are we indebted for a knowledge of these Irish saints. For our native Annals we could not know even their names, with very few exceptions, such as St Virgilius.’ Lynch, Cambrensis eversus, Kelly, cit. Vol. II, p.653). [7]. Further, Gilbert assigns the origin of Gorman’s Gate (or Ormond’s Gate) to Gorman, a descendant of Daire Barrach, [or] of Cathaeir Mór, King of Ireland (Hist. of Dublin, Vol. 1, p.341). In a deed of grant in 1280 (TCD Lib.) it was already Gormond’s Gate (Ibid., vol. 1, p.344), but Cambrensis claims that there was no vestige of it in the 12th c. (See Lynch, Cambrensis Eversus (1851), Lib. III, p.27) [132]. Further, Gildas vouches for the .. number of ships of our flotillas .. describ[ed] as ‘dark swarms’ upon the sea (cited in Cambrensis Eversus, vol. 2, 1850, p.181.)

D. George Boyce, Nationalism in Ireland (Routledge 1982; 1991 Edn.), pp.380f.: ‘As the seventeenth century Old English author, John Lynch [sic], put it: “As seeds transplanted from their native climate to a foreign soil change their nature and qualities, and imbibe the properties of the new land in which they are planted and grow to maturity, so when the old colonist fixes his home and embarks his hopes, and sees his children growimg around him under a Irish sky, the land of his adoption becomes more dear to him that the mother country”.’ (Cambrensis eversus, Vol. 1, p.233; Boyce, pp.280-81.)

Catholic Encyclopaedia (1909) under “Giraldus Cambrensis”: ‘In Cambrensis Eversus (1662), under the pseudonym of Gratianus Lucius, Dr. Lynch, of whose personal history little is known, produced a work which, though controversial in character, entitles the author to repute rather as a painstaking chronicler than as a controversialist of a high order. After criticizing the Topography adversely, and showing that the title of the second book, the Conquest of Ireland, is a misnomer, the writer of Cambrensis Eversus disproves de Barry’s title of historian, and meets his charges against the Irish people. Giraldus is impeached with ignorance of the language, and unfamiliarity with the country; he is said to have embodied in his works unauthenticated narratives, with little regard for chronology; his own admission that he had “followed the popular rumours of the land” is extended in meaning, and perhaps unduly insisted upon. / Nor is the Cambrensis Eversus merely a collection of arbitrary accusations and unsubstantial rejoinders, made with a view to effect the discredit of de Barry as a writer of history. What might be urged as the greatest imperfection of Lynch’s polemic, its too great wealth of detail, had not escaped the attention of the able author, who excuses the diffuseness to which he is compelled by asseverating his determination to follow Giraldus closely to the end. Whatever may be said as to the ability with which Lynch discharged his task of controversialist, there can be no denial of the thoroughness and, above all, the sincerity of his methods. He does not pick out the weak points in his opponent’s armour, and never shirks the issue; but grapples with every difficulty, as the order of his opponent suggests. / Perhaps the most serious accusation levelled against Giraldus, next to the indictment of bias and dishonesty, is that wherein he is impeached of being addicted to the cult of the superstitious and the practice of witchcraft. If this be true, and Merlin would seem to have exercised a considerable sway over the mind of de Barry, then it would be vain to seek in the writings of the latter the reflex of that calm discrimination and sober balance of judgment which should characterize the historian. Finally, it may be said that the student of Irish history, by reading the works of Giraldus in the light of Cambrensis Eversus, cannot fail to derive a helpful knowledge of the period which they embrace. [...]’ Article written by James MacCaffrey [online]. Note: The article on John Lynch by E. A. D’Alton is rather shorter.

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‘Certain it is that within the memory of our fathers, the English burned with savage rage for the destruction of our Irish documents.’ ([Trans. Rev. Matthew Kelly;] quoted in Alice Curtayne, The Irish Story: A Survey of Irish History and Culture, Dublin: Clonmore & Reynolds 1962, p.104.)

Brian Cleeve & Ann Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985), c.1599-1673; b. Galway, d. prob. Brittany; son of Alexander Lynch, famous Galway teacher, and ed. by Dubhaltach Mac Firbisigh and Jesuits; Irish priest on the run, 1622-1641; Archb. Tuam and school-master; fled to France on surrender of Galway; trans. Foras Feasa ar Eirinn into Latin (St. Malo, 1660); Cambrensis Eversus (do. 1662), under pseud. Gratianus Lucius, a refutation of the slanders of Giraldus Cambrensis, and dedicated to Charles II, translated with notes by Matthew Kelly (Dublin 1848). Also wrote answers to Richard Ferral, advocating peace between Irish and Anglo-Irish.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1, [pseud Gratianus Lucius], other refutations of Giraldus by O’Sullivan-Beare, Walsh and O’Flaherty [237]; selects Cambrensis Eversus (Or Refutation of the authority of Giraldus Cambrensis on the History of Ireland), one of the most famous works of Irish historiography, a sustained attack on Giraldus’s veracity and accuracy cit[ing] many interesting sources to discredit his opponent, the translation being that of Rev. Matthew Kelly, 1848-52 [266-68], BIOG, 273, opposed the Catholic Confederation as being too subservient to Rome and asserted loyalty to the English Crown; fled siege of Galway, 1652; d. St. Malo c. 1673 & COMM, see Moody, et al., eds., New History of Ireland, Vol. III; listed [as ‘Lucius’] by Hugh MacCurtin in Brief Discourse &c (1717) as having been cited by the violent historian Sir Richard Cox in his Hibernia Anglicana [880]. Further, biog. ed. by Jesuits in Galway, and in France; returned 1622 and taught in Galway; titular archb. of Tuam; opposed catholic confederation of 1640s on the grounds that it was too subservient to Rome and asserted loyalty to Crown. WORKS [as supra.]

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P. W. Joyce, Outlines [sic] of the History of Ireland from the Earliest Times to 1905 (Dublin: M. H. Gill and Sons 1910), remarks of the ‘colonists’ incensed at the favouritism granted to Englishmen ‘intermarried with the Irish, adopted the native dress, customs, and laws, took Irish names, and spoke the Irish language: so that an English writer complained that they became “more Irish than the Irish themselves”. These were called the “Degenerate English” by the loyal English People, who hated them even more than they hated the natives, and were by them heartily hated in turn. So far was this estrangement driven, that later on some of the Anglo-Irish lords and gentlemen were amongst the most dangerous rebels against the government. [... &c.] (pp.48-49.)

Fate of the Harpers: Rev. Matthew Kelly comments in a footnote to Lynch’s discussion of Irish music (and Giraldus’s uncharacteristically complimentary remarks on the same) that ‘The fate of the Irish harp may be class among the most extraordinary instances of sublunary change’ in as much as ‘The Cromwellians, as Dr. Lynch informs us, vented their political rage on this instrument, their descendents, the Cootes, Cuffes, Kings, &c. &c., and other noble families of the same date, after the establishment of their ascendancy, began to become, on some points, as Irish as the Irish themselves. They patronised the Irish harpers [... &c.] To Belfast, the stronghold of the new settlers, we owe the establishment of the only efficient harp society, and the publications of Mr. Bunting, without which the harp would be as great an enigma as the Irish Round Towers.’ (Note on p.135; italics mine.)

Louise Imogen Guiney, ed., Selected Poems of James Clarence Mangan (London: John Lane 1897), writes in a footnote to “The Expedition and Death of King Daithi” by Mangan: ‘Dathi, nephew to Niall by his brother Fiachra, was the last pagan king of Ireland, and reigned twenty- three years. His proper name was Fearadhach; but he was surnamed Dathi, from the rapidity with which he used to put on his armor: “Daitheadh”, in the Irish language, signifying swiftness He pillaged Gaul and carried his arms even to the Alps, where he was suddenly struck dead by a thunderbolt from heaven, thus expiating his sacrilegious cruelty to Parmenius, a man highly distinguished for sanctity, A.D. 428, A.M. 5627.’ From Cambrensis Ever- susy seu Potius Historica Fides in Rebus Hibernicis Giraldo Cambrensi Abrogata, by Gratianus Lucius (John Lynch), 1662.’ (Guiney, op. cit., p.345; referring to poem on pp.156-58.)

Nollaig O Muráile, The Celebrated Antiquary Dubhaltach Mac Fhibrbhisigh, c. 1600-1671; His Lineage, Life and Learning (Maynooth: An Sagart 1996), holds that the supposed education of Roderick O’Flaherty by John Lynch in Galway is ‘based on nothing but guesswork on the part of James Hardiman’ (pp.211-12). Further, ‘the whole question of whether John Lynch was ever in charge of a school in his native town is fraught with difficulty.’ [idem.]

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