James Warren Doyle
Irish bishop; b. near New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland, 1786; d. at Carlow, 1834
Doyle, JAMES WARREN, Irish bishop; b. near New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland, 1786; d. at Carlow, 1834. He belonged to a family, respectable but poor, and received his early education at Clonleigh, at Ratheonrogue, and later at the Augustinian College, New Ross. Shortly after 1800 he joined the Augustinian Order and was sent to Coimbra in Portugal, and there, at the university, first manifested his great intellectual powers. In the university library he read everything, Voltaire and Rousseau among the rest. As a consequence his faith became unsettled; but his vigorous intellect soon asserted itself, and subsequently he became the fearless champion of the Church in which he was born. During the French invasion he did sentry work at Coimbra, and accompanied the English to Lisbon as interpreter, and such was the impression he made at the Portuguese Court that he was offered high employment there. He declined the offer, however, and, returning to Ireland in 1808, was ordained priest the following year. Then for eight years he taught logic at the Augustinian College, New Ross. In 1817 he became professor at Carlow College, and two years later the priests of Kildare and Leighlin placed him dignissimus for the vacant see. Their choice was approved at Rome, and thus, in 1819, Doyle became bishop. At that date the effects of the Penal Laws were still visible in the conduct of the Catholics. Even the bishops, as if despairing of equality and satisfied with subjection, often allowed Protestant bigotry to assail with impunity their country and creed. This attitude of timidity and acquiescence was little to Dr. Doyle’s taste, and over the signature of “J. K. L.” (James, Kildare and Leighlin) he vigorously repelled an attack made on the Catholics by the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin. He also published an extremely able pamphlet on the religious and civil principles of the Irish Catholics; and a series of letters on the state of Ireland, in which the iniquities of the Church Establishment, the exactions of the landlords, the corrupt administration of justice were lashed with an unsparing hand. The clearness of style, the skillful marshalling of facts, the wide range of knowledge astonished all. And not less remarkable was his examination before two Parliamentary committees in London. Seeing his readiness and resource, the Duke of Wellington remarked that Doyle examined the committees rather than was examined by them. He joined the Catholic Association, and when O’Connell was about to contest Clare, Doyle addressed him a public letter hoping “that the God of truth and justice would be with him”. After Emancipation these two great men frequently disagreed, but on the tithe question they were in accord, and Doyle’s exhortation to the people to hate tithes as much as they loved justice became a battle-cry in the tithe war. Meantime nothing could exceed the bishop’s zeal in his diocese. He established confraternities, temperance societies, and parish libraries, built churches and schools, conducted retreats, and ended many abuses which had survived the penal times. He also waged unsparing and incessant war on secret societies. He died young, a martyr to faith and zeal.
E. A. D’ALTON