Micheál Ó Mordha

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Micheál Ó Mordha (English: Michael Moore) (c.1639-1723) was an Irish priest, philosopher and educationalist.

Early life[edit]

Ó Mordha – generally referred to as Moore or Moor in contemporary documents – was born in Dublin about 1639. He left Ireland at a young age to be educated in Nantes and Paris, where he taught philosophy and rhetoric at the Collège des Grassins. He was proposed for the position of rector at the University of Paris in June 1677 by a faction who wished to replace the then rector, Nicholas Pieres, but felt compelled to decline the offer.

Returning to Ireland in the early 1680s, he was ordained in 1684. Archbishop of Dublin, Patrick Russell (1683–92) appointed him vicar-general of the Diocese of Dublin.

Provost of Trinity College[edit]

Upon the flight of the provost of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1689, Ó Mordha became the college's first Catholic provost. He acquired the post via the influence of Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell (1630–1691), to whom he was chaplain and confessor. The Catholic Encyclopedia states "The college was seized by the Jacobites, the chapel was made a powder magazine, one portion of the building was turned into a barrack, and another into a gaol for persons suspected of disaffection to the royal cause. .. He {Ó Mordha} upheld the rights of the college, secured it from further pillage, and endeavoured to mitigate the treatment of the prisoners. With the librarian, Father McCarthy, he prevented the soldiery from burning the library, and by preserving its precious collections rendered an incalculable service to letters."

However, a sermon which Ó Mordha delivered in Christ Church Cathedral concerning King James's ecclesiastical policies so offended the king that he was obliged to resign the post in 1690; after this, he returned to Paris. He moved to Rome in 1691 when King James arrived in Paris, after fleeing Dublin in the wake of the Jacobite defeat at the Battle of the Boyne.

In Rome[edit]

While in Rome, Ó Mordha became Censor of Books. He came to the attention and favour of the successive Popes, Innocent XII (1691–1700) and Clement XI (1700–1721). When Cardinal Barbarigo established his college at Montefiascone, he appointed Ó Mordha as rector and professor of philosophy and Greek. The college attracted men of learning, and received from Innocent XII an annual grant of two thousand crowns.

Rector of the University of Paris[edit]

After the death of James II in 1701, Ó Mordha returned to France, where – through Cardinal de Noailles – he was appointed Rector of the University of Paris. He remains the only Irishman to hold the post, serving from 10 October 1701 to 9 October 1702. He was also made principal of the Collège de Navarre, and professor of philosophy, Greek, and Hebrew in the Collège de France.

Final years[edit]

In 1702 he delivered the annual panegyric on Louis XIV. Ó Mordha joined Dr. Farrelly (Fealy) in purchasing a house near the Irish College for poor Irish students. Blind for some years he had to employ an amanuensis, who took advantage of his master's affliction to steal and sell many hundred volumes of his choice library. What remained, Ó Mordha bequeathed to the Irish College.

He died in the Collège de Navarre, and was buried in the vault under the chapel of the Irish College.


  • "Irishmen in the University of Paris in the 17th and 18th Centuries", Patrick Boyle, in Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 14, pp. 24–45, 1903.
  • "Knowledge and Piety:Michael Moore's Career at the University of Paris and Collège de France, 1701-20", Liam Chambers, in Eighteenth-Century Ireland, vol. 17, pp. 9–24, 2002.


  • De Existentia Dei, et Humanae Mentis Immortalitate, secundum Cartesii et Aristotelis Doctrinam, Paris, 1692.
  • Hortatio ad Studium Linguae Graecae et Hebraicae, Montefiascone, 1700.
  • Vera Sciendi Methodus, Paris, 1716.

External links[edit]