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Justin McCarthy

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Irish politician, journalist, novelist, and historian, b. at Cork, 22 Nov., 1830; d. at Folkestone, England, 24 June, 1912. He was the son of Michael McCarthy, and was educated at a private school in his native city. At the age of eighteen he obtained a position on the literary staff of the "Cork Examiner". In 1853 he went to Liverpool as a journalist; in 1860 became Parliamentary reporter of the London "Morning Star", which he edited later (1864-68). From 1868 till 1871 he lectured with great success throughout the United States of America and was one of the assistant editors of the New York "Independent". On his return to England he contributed frequently to the "Nineteenth Century", the "Fortnightly Review", and the "Contemporary Review", and for many years was leader writer for the London "Daily News". From 1879 till 1896 he was a member of the British Parliament, representing the Irish constituencies of County Longford, Derry City, and North Longford. In November, 1880, he joined the Irish Land League, which won so many victories for the Catholic peasantry; two years later he became chairman of the National Land and Labour League of Great Britain. In 1886 he revisited the United States. From 1890 till 1896 he was chairman of the Irish Parliamentary party in succession to Parnell, having previously been vice-chairman for many years. His courtesy and moderation won him the respect of all parties in Parliament. Though participating so actively in the political life of Ireland, McCarthy took more interest in letters than in politics. His first novel, "The Waterdale Neighbours", appeared in 1867, and was followed by about twenty others, many of which are still popular. Of these the chief are: "Dear Lady Disdain" (1875); "A Fair Saxon" (1873); "Miss Misanthrope" (1877); and "The Dictator" (1893). Other publications were: "Con Amore", a volume of essays (1868), and biographies of Sir Robert Peel (1891), Leo XIII (1896), and Gladstone (1897). McCarthy's popularity as a writer depends rather on his historical writings, which are always lucid, forceful, and wonderfully free from party spirit. Of these works the most important are: "History of our own Times" (7 vols., London, 1879- 1905), dealing with the events from the year 1830 to the death of Queen Victoria and supplemented by "Reminiscences of an Irishman" (1899); "A short History of our own Times" (1888); "The Epoch of Reform, 1830-1850" (London, 1874); "History of the Four Georges" (4 vols., 1884-1901), of which vols. 3 and 4 were written in collaboration with his son, Justin Huntly McCarthy, well-known as a novelist and play-writer; "Ireland and her Story" (1903); "Modern England" (1899); "Rome in Ireland" (1904). Failing health and old age could not induce McCarthy to lay down his pen, and even as late as November, 1911, he published his "Irish Recollections", describing with his wonted charm the events of his earlier life. He was an ardent advocate of Catholic rights, and, though he had been indifferent for many years, in his old age he returned to the practices of his religion.


McCARTHY, Irish Recollections (London, 1911); IDEM, Reminiscences of an Irishman (London, 1899); IDEM, An Irishman's Story (London, 1904); The Times (London, 26 April, 1912); O'CONNOR, Justin McCarthy in Amer. Cath. Quart. Rev, XXXVII (Philadelphia, 1912), 387-407.

About this page

APA citation. MacErlean, A. (1914). Justin McCarthy. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: The Encyclopedia Press.

MLA citation. MacErlean, Andrew. "Justin McCarthy." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 16 (Index). New York: The Encyclopedia Press, 1914. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Herman F. Holbrook. For the glory of God and in honor of Saint Philomena.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1914. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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