Lenihan, Maurice (DNB01)

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LENIHAN, MAURICE (1811–1895), historian of Limerick, was born on 8 Feb. 1811 at Waterford, where his father was a woollen merchant. He was one of a family of fifteen. His mother was a native of Carrick-on-Suir. His education began at Waterford, but from twelve to twenty he was at Carlow College, where he was a pupil of Dr. Daniel William Cahill [q. v.], and was known as a skilful player on the violin. On the completion of his education he began his career as a journalist by a connection with the 'Tipperary Free Press,' of which his cousin was proprietor. He was next attached to the 'Waterford Chronicle,' for which he wrote some stirring articles in favour of the agitation against tithes. In 1841, when the 'Limerick Reporter' was established, he was appointed editor, but early in 1843 left it to join the staff of the 'Cork Examiner,' the proprietor of which was John Francis Maguire [q. v.] During his short residence in Cork Lenihan made the acquaintance of Father Mathew, who induced him to take the temperance pledge, and became his lifelong friend. At the end of a year he was asked by O'Connell and Bishop Power of Killaloe to conduct a paper in the interests of the repeal movement at Nenagh; and O'Connell in a monster meeting at Limerick announced the establishment of the 'Tipperary Vindicator' under Lenihan's editorship. In this paper Lenihan exposed a police plot known as 'The Shinron Conspiracy,' and obtained the dismissal of the detective Parker, who was its leader, and of eleven policemen who had assisted him. In 1849 he bought up the 'Limerick Reporter' and incorporated it with the 'Tipperary Vindicator.' This paper, published at Nenagh and Limerick, he continued to conduct with great ability on moderate nationalist lines till the closing years of his life.

Lenihan became much interested in the history of Limerick, and from time to time wrote for his paper articles dealing with the sieges. He gradually accumulated much material, and, encouraged by several well-known Irish antiquaries, among whom he was particularly intimate with Eugene O'Curry [q. v.], he in 1866 published at the suggestion of Patrick Leahy [q. v.], archbishop of Cashel, 'Limerick; its History and Antiquities.' This scholarly and well-written volume superseded the earlier works by Ferrar and Fitzgerald and John James Macgregor [q. v.] Two of his primary authorities, the papers of the Rev. James White, and the Limerick manuscripts of John D'Alton [q. v.] he had in his own possession; and he was one of the first who had access to the manuscript works of Dr. Thomas Arthur [q. v.], the friend of Ware. He also consulted the chartulary of Edmund Sexton, and obtained valuable matter from the Carew MSS. through Lord Gort, and the papers in the possession of the Hon. John Vereker. In addition to these a list of nearly 150 authorities utilised for the work is given in the preface. Good maps, copious appendices, and the index, so rare in Irish books, add much to its value.

Lenihan, besides contributing to periodicals, wrote an introduction to T. F. Arthur's 'Some Leaves from the Fee-book of a Physician,' 1874, 8vo. He had collected materials for histories of Tipperary and Clare, but they were never utilised. He took an active part in municipal affairs, was mayor of Limerick in 1884, and was named a justice of the peace by Lord O'Hagan, whose friendship he enjoyed. He was a member of the Royal Irish Academy and intimate with many of its leading members. He died on 25 Dec. 1895 at 17 Catherine Street, Limerick. His son, James Lenihan, succeeded him as editor and proprietor of his paper.

[Limerick Reporter, 31 Dec. 1895, with obituary notice from Limerick Chronicle; Times, 26 Dec. 1895; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. Le G. N.