Page:A Compendium of Irish Biography.djvu/25

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COMPENDIUM OF IRISH BIOGRAPHY.


Abernethy, John, Rev., an eminent Presbyterian divine, was born at Coleraine, where his father was minister, 19th October 1680. In his thirteenth year he entered as a student at the University of Glasgow. There, and at Edinburgh, where he completed his education, his brilliant abilities were recognized by the most eminent of his cotemporaries and by his professors. Before he was twenty-one he received licence to preach, and in 1703 was appointed minister of an important congregation in Antrim. In 1717 he incurred the displeasure of the Presbyterian Synod by refusing to leave Antrim and accept a call in Dublin: a violent difference ensued, which gradually widened into what was known as the controversy between the "subscribers and non-subscribers." There can be no question that he and his associates sowed the seeds of that after struggle in which the Arian and Socinian elements of the Irish Presbyterian Church were thrown off as a separate body. In 1730 he responded to a call from "Woodstreet congregation, Dublin; and next year sprang up the most memorable controversy in which he was ever engaged—that in relation to religious tests and disabilities. He took an unflinching stand against all laws that, upon account of mere differences of religious opinions and forms of worship, excluded men of integrity and ability from serving their country. He was nearly a century in advance of his time, having actually to controvert the position that a Catholic or a Dissenter could not be a man of integrity and ability! "And so," says the Encyclopædia Britannica, "John Abernethy through life was ever foremost where unpopular truth and right were to be maintained; nor did he, for sake of an ignoble expediency, spare to smite the highest seated wrongdoers, any more than the hoariest errors (as he believed)." Although austerely temperate, he was carried off by gout in the head, in December 1740, aged 60. "He was a burning and a shining light in his day. Polished in manners, possessing a rich fund of intelligence, with uncommon powers of conversation, etc., he was esteemed and admired as a man in the private intercourse of life. … His Sermons on the Being and Perfections of God were widely celebrated, as is evinced by the many editions which have been printed."16 His grandson, John Abernethy, the eminent surgeon, has often been spoken of as an Irishman, but the latest authority (Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th Edition) places his birth in London. 1 16 125

Adair, Robert, the hero of the song of "Robin Adair," set to the music of the old Irish air of "Aileen Aroon," was an Irishman, a descendant of the Desmond FitzGeralds. He died about 1789. His father, Sir Robert Adair, was made a knight-banneret by William III. on the field, after the battle of the Boyne. For particulars concerning him and the tune of "Robin Adair," see Notes and Queries, 3rd Series. 233 254

Adamnan, Saint, was born about 624, in the district now part of the County of Donegal. Very little is known concerning his early life, except that he was Abbot of Raphoe, a monastery which he probably founded. In 679 he was elected Abbot of the island of Iona, and in 686 was successful in a mission to Britain to plead for certain captives who had lately been carried away from Meath. About 692 he visited Ireland for the purpose of settling some matters connected with the Borromean tribute. In 697 he attended the Synod of Tara. It is probable that between these two visits he wrote his celebrated work, Vita Sancti Columbæ. The latter part of his life was chiefly spent in efforts (attended with little success) to induce his countrymen and the Hebridean Scots to accept the Roman computation of Easter. He is supposed to have died in 704 at Iona. Adamnan is justly considered one of the fathers of the Irish Church—no fewer than ten Irish and eight Scotch churches having been dedicated to, or called after him. His Vita Sancti Columbæ has been edited by Dr. Reeves, chiefly from a MS. of the early part of the 8th century, preserved in the public library of Schaffhausen. The following interesting remarks upon its style are made by the learned

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