Healy, James (DNB01)

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HEALY, JAMES (1824–1894), Roman catholic divine and humourist, one of twenty-three children of John Healy, provision dealer, by his first wife Mary (Meyler), was born in Francis Street, Dublin, on 15 Dec. 1824. From the Vincentian school, Usher's Quay (entered 1834), he proceeded (1839) to St. Vincent's College, Castleknock, co. Dublin, but quitting the Vincentian rule he matriculated (11 Sept. 1843) at Maynooth, where in 1847 he became a Dunboyne student [see Butler, John, D.D.] under John O'Hanlon, D.D., a critical theologian and a wit, and Patrick Aloysius Murray [q. v.], from whom he learned his admirable elocution. He was not a hard student. Leaving Maynooth in 1850, his first appointment was as reader at St. Andrew's, Westland Row, Dublin, and chaplain to the sisters of mercy in Baggott Street; his next (1852) was to a curacy at St. Michael and St. John's, Dublin. He lived in an attic in the chapel-house, Smock Alley, Essex Street West, and was a model of punctual devotion to his calling, fearlessly risking his life during a visitation of cholera. His appointments were from Daniel Murray [q. v.], archbishop of Dublin, to whose principles

in religion and politics Healy adhered through life. From Dublin he was transferred (1858) by Paul Cullen [q. v.] to a curacy at Bray, co. Wicklow. His intimacy with William Nicholas Keogh [q. v.] stood in the way of his professional prospects.

Becoming more friendly to him, Cardinal Cullen appointed him (1867) administrator of Little Bray, co. Dublin, on the other side of the Dargle. In this cure he remained, without further preferment, till in 1893 he was appointed parish priest of Ballybrack and Killiney, co. Dublin, by archbishop Walsh. His income never exceeded 200l. a year; most of a sum raised for him by his friends was lost in Wicklow copper mines. Beloved by his parishioners, his social charm made him a coveted guest in the highest circles of Dublin society. The spontaneity of his humour, the brightness of his repartee, his manly purity, and the inimitable expressiveness of his voice and gesture made his neat little figure a unique personality. At his Saturday dinners the arrangements were of the simplest (his housekeeper was his only servant); his guests included prominent persons of every rank and section. Latterly he paid almost yearly visits to London; he was much courted, but his keen good sense, equal to his kindness of heart, never failed him. In 1886 he visited America. His health began to break in 1889; he suffered from gall-stones and dyspepsia, and went to Carlsbad. In 1892 he took a prolonged tour in Spain and Italy with his friend Mr. Henry Arthur Blyth. Another visit to Carlsbad in 1894 failed to restore his strength. He died on 28 Oct. 1894, and was buried at Ballybrack.

[Memories of Father Healy, 1898, 3rd edit. : a book full of good stories.]

A. G.