Early life and education
Achilles Daunt descended from a cadet branch of the Daunt family of Owlpen, Gloucestershire, settled since 1575 at Tracton Abbey, County Cork. He was the eldest son of Achilles Daunt who died 28 August. 1871, by Mary, third daughter of John Isaac Heard, Member of Parliament for Kinsale.
He was born at Rincurran, near Kinsale, on 23 August 1832. He was educated at Kinsale endowed school, and at the early age of sixteen entered the university of Dublin, where he gained a classical scholarship, and was awarded the vice-chancellor's prize for English poetry in 1851. At the degree examination in 1853 he came out second senior moderator and gold medallist in classics.
He held the curacy of St. Matthias, Dublin, for seven months in 1855, and was afterwards presented by his grandfather, Mr. Heard, to the vicarage of Rincurran. Here his earnest preaching attracted large congregations, and he soon had to enlarge the church. Among other works commenced and carried out by him with great success were a special class for servants and the chaplaincy to the garrison at Charles Fort. On 11 January 1867 he resigned Rincurran, was for a short time rector of Ballymoney, co. Cork, and then became rector of Stackallen, County Meath, and private chaplain to his friend and diocesan, Samuel Butcher. In August 1867 he left Stackallen for the vicarage of St. Matthias, Dublin. In the metropolis his fame crowded his church, where he preached morning and evening every Sunday, and when it was found necessary to rebuild his church, he preached in the large concert hall in the exhibition palace to congregations which averaged upwards of three thousand persons. After a last service held in this place on 31 July 1870, he took possession of his new church.
His influence in Dublin was great, not only among adults, but with students and young ladies. As soon as the new constitution of the ‘disestablished’ church came into action, Daunt was elected to the responsible office of diocesan nominator. He was also chosen the representative canon in St. Patrick's Cathedral for the united diocese of Dublin and Glendalough, and was named a member of the committee connected with the general synod called the ‘revision committee’, where he sided with the ‘party of movement’; but his influence was largely exercised in acting as a peacemaker. The incessant labour in Dublin was now telling on Daunt's health, and his old friend John Gregg, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, offered him in 1875 the deanery of Cork and the rectory of Saint Finbarre's Cathedral, which he accepted.
He was the author of a number of books, including:
- The Church. A Lesson-book for Angels, 1872.
- The Person and Offices of the Holy Ghost: Six Donnellan Lectures preached in the Chapel of Trinity College, Dublin, 1879.
- The Morning of Life, and other Gleanings from the manuscripts of the late A. Daunt, 1881.
- Boase, George C (1888). "Daunt, Achilles, D.D. (1832–1878), dean of Cork". Dictionary of National Biography Vol. XIV. Smith, Elder & Co. Retrieved 2007-11-16. The first edition of this text is available as an article on Wikisource: "Daunt, Achilles". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.