Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Kathleen O'Meara

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 11
Kathleen O'Meara

by Matthew James Flaherty


Novelist and biographer, b. in Dublin, 1839; d. in Paris, 10 Nov., 1888; daughter of Dennis O'Meara of Tipperary, and grand-daughter of Barry Edward O'Meara, surgeon in the British navy and medical attendant to Napoleon at St. Helena. When about five years old, she accompanied her parents to Paris, which she made her home. She visited the United States in the early eighties. In 1867 she published, over the pen-name of Grace Ramsey, her first novel, "A Woman's Trials" (London, 1867). This did not meet with success, which came to her only in later life, after hard work. Mindful of her early struggles, she was ever ready with encouragement to young writers. Of her six novels, "Narka, a Story of Russian Life" is probably the best. Great social problems, such as poverty and suffering, are handled in a large-hearted sympathetic way. The problem is stated in an unobtrusive manner and the solution offered in the old yet new method of Christian charity. Throughout them all there runs a wholesome spirit, remarkable for purity of tone and delicacy of feeling.

Her best work, however, is a biography, for which, it has been said, she had a genius. "The Bells of the Sanctuary" (1st, 2nd, and 3rd series) contain a number of delightful sketches of noted Catholic men and women. "Madame Mohl, her Salon, and her Friends, a Study of Social Life in Paris" (London, 1885; another edition, Boston, 1886) present with a nice sense of discrimination a delightful picture of that unique institution, the Parisian Salon, introducing the men and women who were leaders in the social, literary, and political world. "Thomas Grant, First Bishop of Southwark" (London, 1874) besides doing justice to a noble character that was much misunderstood, gives within a brief compass a clear straightforward account of the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England. "Frederick Ozanam, Professor at the Sorbonne, His Life and Works" (Edinburgh, 1876) is a deeply interesting narrative and is proof of the author's genius for biography. Had she written nothing else, this would entitle her to distinction. No better book can be placed in the hands of a young man to quicken his sympathies and bring out the good that is in him. Her last work "The Venerable Jean Baptiste Vianney, Curé d'Ars" (London, 1891) was not published until after her death. She was Paris correspondent of "The Tablet", and a frequent contributor to American magazines, such as the "Atlantic Monthly" and the "Ave Maria".

Ave Maria (March, 1889); Irish Monthly (October, 1889); Tablet (London, 17 Nov., 1888); Times (London, 13 and 14 Nov., 1888).

Matthew J. Flaherty.